Ozomatli Sings Songs in the Key of LA

Ozomatli and guests sing the historic tunes of our city in a free concert.

By Alysia Gray Painter
|  Friday, Aug 2, 2013  |  Updated 9:57 AM PDT
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Ozomatli Sings Songs in the Key of LA

Ozomatli

Ozomatli will sing "Songs in the Key of LA" at California Plaza on Friday, Aug. 2. Admission? It's free.

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What songs do you know about LA? Beyond "I Love LA"? And, nope, "California, Here We Come" doesn't count for this question, as lovely and upbeat a ditty as that is, because we're speaking specifically about the City of Angels, not the whole Golden State.

There've been many locally themed ballads over the decades. As recently as 2012, in fact; remember the contest West Hollywood held for a WeHo theme song?

Yeah. There's a lot to sing about here in Southern California, and LA's own house band'll take on a lot of those historic and local songs at a free California Plaza concert called Songs in the Key of LA.

Of course we speak of Ozomatli, and "house band" isn't a designation we toss around lightly. Our city has many house bands, truly, but Ozomatli easily encapsulates the robustly diverse, noir-velvet, guitar-strummy, often sunshiny spirit of the city and has for years and years.

Songs in the Key of LA, "a multi-platform collaboration between the Library Foundation of Los Angeles, the Los Angeles Public Library, and USC professor Josh Kun... brings to life the Library's extraordinary Southern California Sheet Music Collection." Meaning that there are many, many LA-focused ditties to choose from. They span a century, in fact, from the 1840s through the 1950s.

So what songs will Ozomatli choose to sing at the Grand Performances show at California Plaza on Friday, Aug. 2? Hoo boy. They could land upon "The Chimes of San Gabriel" or "The Song of the Palm" or the "Greater Los Angeles March" or "Calico Rag" (okay, that's going out a bit, distance-wise, to Calico Ghost Town).

The upshot? It's rare to see vintage and oh-so-local sheet music get its due in a big, open-air, free, boisterous concert. That Ozomatli and a few guests'll be at the mics will charm, and that the tunes'll be about LA, as you sit in downtown LA, charms twice.

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