There’s a block party happening Saturday, and instead of just the neighbors the entire town is invited. To celebrate its centennial season, the Pasadena Playhouse and the Playhouse District are hosting a splashy daylong bash that’s about a whole lot more than just theater. (Not, it should be noted, that there’s anything wrong with theater. Many a pop star has built their career performing Broadway standards, and let’s not even get started listing the musicals crafted by pop composers.)
Along with dancers, Bob Baker’s Marionettes, a magician, storytelling, Taiko drumming, the Pasadena Symphony and POPS’ instrument petting zoo, a science fiction trivia quiz and arts-and-crafty offerings, there will be performers in the afternoon representing the Los Angeles College of Music, Pasadena Conservatory of Music, the PCC Jazz Combo, and School of Rock Pasadena. A brief performance shortly after seven o’clock by political satire trio Culture Clash, currently starring at the Playhouse in the world premiere of their play “Bordertown Now,” will be followed by the evening’s musical headliners: Boogaloo Assassins, Caught a Ghost, and the California Feetwarmers.
The Feetwarmers’ New Orleans-influenced meld of 1920s-era blues, ragtime and swing should prove a congenial transition for family-friendly partygoers. The dapperly suited septet, perhaps best known for their Grammy-nominated collaboration with Keb’ Mo’, 2014’s “Old Me Better,” have no trouble engaging listeners without a famous frontman. Lighthearted instrumental tunes like “Shake It, Break It,” “Betty Brown” and “At the Jazz Band Ball” from their 2016 album “Silver Seas” have a way of charming audiences onto dance floors.
Caught a Ghost are less well known, but you may have heard them without realizing it; their horn-embroidered song “Can’t Let Go” serves as the musical theme opening season four of the Amazon detective series “Bosch.” They recently recorded tracks for an EP follow-up to their 2014 album “Human Nature,” a slickly produced effort whose “No Sugar in My Coffee” seems to point in the soul/R&B direction frontman Jesse Nolan favors.
The street is likely to be packed by the time Boogaloo Assassins launch into “Para Mi” and their slow-burning take on Santana’s “Evil Ways.” Rightly celebrated for their resurrection of the 1960s pre-salsa sounds of Spanish Harlem’s Latin boogaloo (R&B crossed with Afro-Cubano rhythms and instruments, essentially), the veteran ensemble rarely perform in the Crown City. When they get around to asking “Do You Wanna Dance,” the answer will be a joyful no-brainer.
The Playhouse Block Party runs from 12 noon to 10 p.m. Saturday, June 9, at the corner of El Molino Avenue and Colorado Boulevard, Pasadena; free admission. Boogaloo Assassins, Caught a Ghost, and the California Feetwarmers will each perform sets in the evening. For a full list of performers and party details, visit playhouseblockparty.com. To learn more about the bands, check out Boogalooassassins.com, Californiafeetwarmers.com, and caughtaghost.com. n