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Arts & Entertainment - August 28, 2013

Teen organizes music festival

Four teen bands will perform on Sept. 7

by Sam Borsos

Steffan Salas, a Menlo Park resident and a senior at Menlo-Atherton High School, has once again organized a free teen-band music festival that will be held this year on Saturday, Sept. 7, at Mitchell Park in Palo Alto.

Four local teen bands will perform from 2 to 5 p.m. at the outdoor Hurricane Music Festival, organized through the Teen Arts Council of Palo Alto. In addition to the music, there will be food and a "Skateboard Jam" hosted by Skate Works in Los Altos.

Steffan, who has organized the event for the past two years, says the idea to put on a teen-oriented festival came to him when his own band, Reckless Flesh, had trouble finding local venues to play.

"I thought that it would be awesome to somehow find the best teenage bands in the Bay Area and be able to showcase them at an event where they would get a lot of exposure," he says. "As long as they're talented at what they do, I wanted to showcase the newest rising musicians in the area."

The four bands are The Neighbors from Menlo Park and Remi and Chloe from Palo Alto, which both play rock; Build the Empire from Hollister, which plays alternative rock; and Headcreep from San Jose, which plays grunge and punk music.

The festival, he says, is centered on the idea that teen bands can perform for people of all ages, which is not the case at age-restricted venues like bars.

"None of us are 21 so we can't really play those venues," he says. "You can go to San Jose, San Francisco or Berkeley to play, but the venues are really big."

He also sees the festival as an opportunity for teens and others to hear live performances, rather than be limited to online downloads and streaming.

"There aren't many chances to hear the local music, so I'm excited," says Jackson Sheppard, lead guitarist of The Neighbors and a senior at Menlo-Atherton High School. "Especially nowadays, the live music scene is definitely diminished. This gives a chance for bands to play and have people to listen to them."

This year, along with music, the festival will add something it didn't have last year: a "Skateboard Jam" hosted by Skate Works. There will be rails, boxes and ramps set up for any skateboarders to use, and there will be competitions between the band performances, Steffan says.

"As a skateboarder, I know that skateboarding and music go hand-in-hand," he says. Skateboarding could create "a whole new energy" for the festival.

Last year the event attracted between 200 and 250 people. This year, he expects more than 300.

The city-sponsored event takes place at Mitchell Park at 600 East Meadow Drive in Palo Alto.


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