New 'old' LA
The seventh annual Lummis Day Festival brings the best of historic Northeast LA together for a day of music, culture, food and fun
By Carl Kozlowski 05/31/2012
Charles Lummis was one of Los Angeles’ most colorful citizens, standing out as one of the artistic and cultural leaders in the early days of the City of Angels at the turn of the last century.
In fact, Lummis made such a strong impression on the people and places around him that his legacy is still being celebrated.
On Sunday, the seventh annual Lummis Day Festival brings the Heritage Square neighborhood to life, featuring eclectic musical styles ranging from salsa and rock to Tex-Mex and country, with Native American music in between.
Lummis Day organizers have quickly established the festivities as one of the best days of the year for people to discover unique music they might never have heard otherwise. Add in the fact that the streets will be alive with animated poetry readings, multiple vibrant dance troupes and several intriguing art and history exhibitions, and you’ve got an event that can’t be missed.
“We have the most diverse lineup we’ve had in our seven years,” says Eliot Sekuler, one of the event‘s organizers. “We have some hip hop with Maya Jupiter doing Latino hip hop music, plus Paul Livingstone’s Arovia Ensemble is doing a fusion of Indian music and raga jazz, and another group called Is playing Taiwanese pop. We have something for everybody this year, and I think it all works together.
“The music is very different, but people will find they’re surprised by how much they like music they’ve never heard before,” Sekuler continues. “And we have a capoeira [martial arts mixed with dance] performance, which will be very exciting to watch because we never did it before. There’s a lot of stuff we’re trying for the first time, Heritage Square is very accessible with the city really providing services for us, and the community has embraced it all.”
Indeed, just one of the day’s top acts — Paul Livingstone and The Arohi Ensemble — are expected to stir the crowd into a frenzy with their “raga jazz chamber music,” which features extensive musical improvisations within tightly knit composed sequences echoing classical ragas. Also performing are Orchestra Charangoa, which is hailed as Cuba’s most elegant dance orchestra, and rockabilly/ska/blues band Los Lobos Locos, which is rapidly becoming one of East LA’s most popular groups.
But you haven’t seen anything until you’ve witnessed the magical music and elaborate costumes of Maya Jupiter and her ace backing band The Solar System for a hearty blend of soul, dance hall and hip-hop music driven by live instrumentation including such exotic instruments as Mexican harps, tarimas and jaranas to go with lyrics as feisty as those of the controversial Sri Lankan hip hop artist M.I.A.
“What Lummis Day does is bring together the many cultures of the Northeast LA community, and we think it’s a unique event in that regard because it brings together every group in our community across every ethnic group, age group, and just people of different tastes and backgrounds in a way that we can celebrate together,” says Sekuler.
“Lummis thought LA would be influenced by and become a place where Latino, Anglo and Asian culture would come together and forge a new identity, and those are issues that are still important to us today,” Sekular says.
The seventh annual Lummis Day celebration takes place from 10:30 a.m. to 7 p.m. Saturday, centered around the Heritage Square Museum, 3800 Homer St., Los Angeles. Other events will take place at the Lummis Home, 200 East Avenue 43, Los Angeles. Admission is free. Visit Lummisday.org.