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Stern Grove — Nature's Music Box

"What's better than sitting out in the fresh air and having a concert? That really is the best of all." — Joan Levy Zentner, age 86, lifelong Stern Grove attendee.

Throughout my summers growing up, my family and I would take full advantage of the free Sunday concerts at Stern Grove. Sigmund Stern Recreation Grove is a beautiful park located off Sloat and 19th Avenue in the Sunset district of San Francisco. When I was young, Stern Grove catered to classical music, though now they showcase variety of genres, from ballet and opera to rock and jazz. And, as I mentioned, the concerts are free and open to the public.

As a youth, I remember spending many an afternoon at the Grove. Since the concerts happened through the summer months, most weeks I'd dress in shorts and tank tops, nicely prepared for Alameda weather. My dad would make my sister and I bring jackets and we'd do it, though I wouldn't be happy about it. "What am I going to need this for?" I'd say to myself. "It's so hot! If I put this thing on I'm going to die of heat stroke! Geez, now I'm going to have to carry it around all day and…"

Upon arrival in San Francisco, the weather looked good. But by the time we'd make it to Stern Grove, he would be right. I wanted that jacket because it would be cold. And not just cold, but Alaska cold! Unless it was hot. Then it was really hot. Not just hot, but Africa hot!

Gotta love our Bay Area weather.

A few weeks ago, my family and a group of friends took in a concert at Stern Grove and I was reminded of how much I still enjoy it. We went to see the Bay Area's own Sheila E and The E Family and I have to tell you, we were knocked out! The members of the E Family were energetic, full of power and infused the park with infectious Latin beats. Even Pete Escovedo, who recently celebrated his 77th birthday, showed no signs of slowing down. Brothers Juan and Peter Michael playfully interacted with the crowd and Sheila E brought the house to their feet with her -infused hits, Glamorous Life, A Love's Bizarre and others.

Oh, and did I mention that ? Well, I do. Did you know that all four members of the E Family play the drums like they're possessed? Truer words have never been spoken. It was truly a great afternoon.

This Sunday is the last concert at Stern Grove until next summer. Closing out the season will be the San Francisco-based indie band The Family Crest. They will be opening for alternative rock favorite OK GO. Not only a great band, but makers of one of my favorite music videos of all time, "Here It Goes Again." If you're not already engaged this Sunday, I urge you to check them out.

But for Pete's sake, come prepared. Bring your parka as well as bikini, and all the layers in between!

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