San Jose Festival Draws Record Crowds


The annual gathering of the faithful was well under way Saturday as the music began at noon in downtown San Jose. We’ve been seeing them for 20 years now, those San Jose Jazz Festival early birds, streaming into the Plaza de Cesar Chavez with their lawn chairs and umbrellas in tow, staking out the best shady spots from which to savor the jazz wailers, the blues belters, the New Orleans rhythm kings.

Groups like the Wild Magnolias, the venerable second-line funk band from the Big Easy. They were Saturday’s opening act on the main stage at the 20th annual festival, which continues today on nine stages.

The group, a number of its members extravagantly beplumed, Mardi Gras-style, was tempting the crowd Saturday with “Iko Iko,” the oft-covered tune from New Orleans:

Talkin ’bout

Hey now

Hey now

Iko iko an nay

Jockomo feena ah na nay

Jockomo feena nay.

Translation: Get on your feet and dance.

Which Fred Harris, an amateur saxophonist from the East Bay who spent a year or two in New Orleans in the 1980s, was doing with half a dozen members of his extended family.