Concerts in the Park, your summer neighbor is back in town.
The Latin-themed Fiesta en la Calle festival returns to Cesar Chavez Plaza on Saturday to kick off its eight-show summer season. The free outdoor concert series runs Saturdays through July 27 and features local, regional and national acts performing an array of musical styles including salsa, merengue, cumbia, rock, hip-hop and reggae.
Now in its third year, Fiesta en la Calle, which loosely translates to Party in the Street, has previously drawn sizable crowds of new and repeat fans interested in the many subgenres of Latin music as well as cultural food and fine art.
Saturday night's show is headlined by keyboardist- vocalist Salvador Santana (son of Carlos Santana), who also opened the 2012 series. Opening acts include Ruckatan and Blanca Sandoval.
A few notes: Not every Fiesta act sings in Spanish (some sing in English). And the festival takes on a global flavor with styles and influences coming from Argentina, Spain, Colombia and other countries.
Fiesta en la Calle also mixes new acts with established ones. One of Sacramento's longest-running dance bands, the nine-member Midnight Players, is scheduled to play the closing night show. The group is celebrating its 36th anniversary this year.
Melissa Corona, who handles vocal duties and manages the band's schedule, said members are excited for the opportunity to get Cesar Chavez Plaza dancing again.
"It's our second year playing the festival," she said via phone from Alameda where she was visiting family. "Many of the band members are of Latin descent (and) we really enjoy ourselves in this setting. The cool thing about doing Fiesta en la Calle is that there's such a mix of people from surrounding areas. There are state workers, folks who live downtown and many people who drove in from all over the area."
Midnight Players formed in Oak Park in 1977 and has opened for marquee acts such as War, Midnight Star and Zapp. The band has built a reputation performing old-school hits from artists such as Earth Wind & Fire, Tony Toni Toné, Chaka Khan, Kool & the Gang and the Gap Band.
"We're a working band who plays three to four times a month (at) private parties, weddings, and more," she said. "We also regularly play Harlow's, Bella Bru (in Natomas), Strikes (in Elk Grove) and, of course, many others in between."
Of their impressive longevity, Corona said: "Most groups don't live that long."
Unlike many of its contemporaries, the band still practices semi-regularly and members work in new material whenever possible.
"We still practice once a week and always try and review any of the kinks from previous shows," Corona said.
The performance at the family-friendly Fiesta en la Calle will be another opportunity for Midnight Players to fulfill what the band lists as its mission statement: "uniting communities" by helping them to "gather and celebrate life through the gift of music."
"Our intent is to not be superstars," Corona explained. "We like being local because we've been fortunate enough to have played for many of our repeat customers at either live shows, weddings or parties. We have a great relationship with our local fans and still see many of the same people coming to our shows."
FIESTA EN LA CALLE
What: Latin music series
When: 5 to 9 p.m. Saturdays through July 27
Where: Cesar Chavez Plaza, 910 I St., Sacramento
Who: Upcoming acts include La Castañeda (Latin alternative/pop), Bang Data (Latin reggae, hip-hop and rock), Aladino Mayoma (salsa, merengue and cumbia), El Conjunto Nueva Ola (new wave, cumbia, rock and disco) and Midnight Players (R&B, funk and dance).
Information: Full event details and schedule of performers at www.fiestaenlacalle.com