Les Nubians Chill Out in Stern Grove

les nubians at stern grove 179.jpg
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Supa Sistas: Les Nubians

Yesterday was definitely a day to be outdoors. With thermostats pointing north, inside was the last place anyone would want to be. And why would you want to, anyway? It was nice outside. Hot damn, summer in the city. And, unlike many a summery San Francisco day, Mr. Marine Layer stayed far away. Double hot damn. While many, I'm sure, headed to the beach, the most chill place to be yesterday may have been Sigmund Stern Grove.

Every summer for the past 71 years, Stern Grove has been the site of free concerts. Last Sunday's featured Les Nubians, the French sister act who have become emissaries of Afro-Euro soul. It may be just a coincidence that les soeurs Faussart, whose second album was called Temperature Rising, appeared on one of the hottest days of the year.


Appearing before an overflow crowd of people of all ages and ethnicities--including, certainement, much of San Francisco's expatriate French community, who spilled out into the adjacent meadows surrounding the Stern Grove concert bowl, their performance was somewhat more muted than at past club appearances, yet still quite enjoyable. They ran through my favorite song of theirs, the Caribbean-tinged "Son Reggae," early on in their set, which loped along at a leisurely pace, but picked up a bit at the end, when they covered Fela Anikulapo Kuti's "Upside Down." Strangely enough, they didn't play "Temperature Rising" (which would have been tres appropriate, n'est-ce pas?), but did offer newer songs from their third album Echos and their unreleased fourth album, as well as their signature tune, "Makeda."

Just hearing live music and being outdoors, however, was enough for the crowd, many of whom arrived in large groups and made a picnic out of the day. It was a fun time, and with only two concerts down so far, there's still plenty of opportunities to get out to the Grove this season.

Here's a rundown of upcoming shows: July 5: San Francisco Symphony/ Inouye Jazz; July 12: Joan Baez/ Blame Sally; July 19: Sergent Garcia/ Curumin; July 26: The Lyrics Born Re-View/ The Mighty Underdogs; August 2: Kailash Kailasa/ Delhi 2 Dublin; August 9: Toto La Momposina/ Nation Beat; August 10: San Francisco Ballet; and the season-concluding August 23 performance by the San Francisco Opera. All performances are free (donations are appreciated), and start at 2 p.m. - though you'll need to get there way earlier, like 11 a.m. or noon, if you want to get a spot where you can see the stage. More info is here.
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