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Fillmore Jazz Festival 2023


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This year's 2023 edition of the San Francisco Fillmore Jazz Festival, felt like a breath of fresh air with its inclusive artist lineup, crafts booths and food vendors. It was nice to report weather wise, the chill was gone. The climate was warmer compared to other years. The extensive roster featured some FJF favorites and new faces. Saturday's lineup had: Kim Nalley, Charged Particles, Groove 8, Keys All-Stars Trio, Ricardo Scales' Highway to Heaven Choir, Lori Carsillo, Loafers & Sneakers, Juan Diego, Villalobos, John Walker, Oddity & Friends, Jones Memorial United Methodist Church Gospel Choir, Rob Dehlinger's Alpha Rhythm Kings, and much more. Taking place in the heart of the city's historical Fillmore District, the fairly warm weather combined with great food and libations enhanced the musical smorgasbord weekend.

For nearly two decades, the crowd-pleasing Groove 8 has made the trek from Charlotte North Carolina to perform for their growing fan base at the FJF. The veteran eight-piece band had busked in front of the former Marcus Books shop that provided a unique fan interaction for years. This time, the cool owners of the Aqua Forest Aquarium continued the long-running tradition by allowing them to play to massive crowds on both tree-shaded days. Saturday provided an unexpected treat when FJF stalwart Kim Nalley sat in for an impromptu session with Groove 8. Playing festival sets during the day, G8 would take the stage at night in the nearby Boom Boom Room, the late John Lee Hooker's club. The large sidewalk gallery was savoring every moment. Group percussionist Antonio "Tony" Diaz commented, "We have performed there( FJF) for 18 years. I love the energy of the crowds that came to our stage. The love they gave us."

On Sunday, the warm weather continued for the day's artists including Supersonic Jazz, Lori Carsillo, Fillmore Slim Band, Grammy winner Tammy Hall, Masterz of DIsasterz, SLUGish Ensemble, Jazz Mafia, Lyle Henderson, Mission Delirium, Sylvia Cuenca Group, Karl Havoc, Mary Williams, and Kim Nalley. One of the festival's many draws was San Francisco's Zepparella, an immensely popular all-women Led Zeppelin cover band. They simply crushed it on this afternoon. It was standing room only as the stage venue was densely packed with admirers and festival visitors.

One of the Bay Area's favorite vocalists and FJF headliner, Kim Nalley closed the sun-drenched weekend. She and her crack band including Grammy winner Tammy Hall, were surrounded by a full gallery of people dancing and singing in front of the stage. Nalley stayed long after the concert was finished to meet her supporters and friends for greetings and photos. Stage security waited patiently for the crowd to thin out for a picture with the engaging jazz songstress.

The new, post Covid organizers and promoters of the San Francisco Fillmore Jazz Festival 2023 presented an invigorating holiday weekend mix of varied musical artists, local artisans and food vendors. A city resident and attendee summed up the SFFJF well. "The Jazz Festival was an overdue breath of fresh air to The City that did not include fog. Good music. Good people... and good food on a beautiful sunny day in The City. I can hardly wait for the next one." His pleasant assessment was shared by thousands more including this photojournalist.
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