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Arts and Entertainment

You Going? Free Outdoor Music in MacArthur Park 5 Nights a Week

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La Fanfare du Belgistan plays at the Levitt Pavilion | Photo by kimbrough-photo via LAist Featured Photos on Flickr

La Fanfare du Belgistan plays at the Levitt Pavilion | Photo by kimbrough-photo via LAist Featured Photos on Flickr
Thanks to David Kimbrough, a frequent contributor to our LAist Featured Photos pool on Flickr, we learn more about the free concert series at the Levitt Pavilion in MacArthur Park that continues through the end of September for five nights of the week (it began in July). He writes in, sharing with all of us what this great series is all about. Thanks, David!

One of the most eclectic and lively musical venues in Los Angeles is probably one of the least known. In the north-west corner of MacArthur Park is Levitt Pavilion, a band shell built at the bottom of what was 100 years ago a reservoir and now whose banks now form a natural amphitheater.

Over the last three summers the Levitt Family Foundation has funded perhaps the most exciting and diverse musical programs at here. Every Wednesday through Sunday concerts of every imaginable type of music . Wednesday nights are “Música Latina” with everything from tejano and banda to the Irish-Cuban music of Miami based Javier Garcia while on Saturdays it is “American Roots” with C&W, Jazz, and Bluegrass artists like Grammy winner Jim Lauderdale and Texas’ own BettySoo. In between is World Music and Night Rhythms with ska, reggae, cumbia, swinging big bands, hip-hop violin, zydeco and there is even a Children’s Night on Sunday.

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Shows start at 7:30 and go until 9:00 barring a demand for an encore. Seating includes grass, rocks, park benches, or whatever you bring yourself and is strictly “first come, first serve”.

While bringing a picnic basket dinner is a pleasant option, there are local dining options. Less than half a block to the west on 6th Street there is the Chitzen Itza Restaurant with a fine Yucutan cuisine and valet parking while just across the street is the more humble bakery Chapinlandia serving Salvadoran favorites. Further south on 7th Street there is Mama's Hot Tamales Cafe, Paseo Chapin, and a variety of catering trucks. The thrifty and adventurous will find street vendors selling corn on the cob on a stick (these elotes can be served with butter, mayonnaise, lemon juice, and/or chile), steamed tamales served in banana leaves, Salvadoran soup atol de elote, and plenty of others (just listen to the vendors sing out the names of their dishes).

There is street parking but the Pavilion is just a block from the Westlake / MacArthur Park stop on the Red and Purple Lines as well as the many buses the run along Wilshire and 6th Street.

The audience is every bit as diverse as the performers, people come from all over plus locals who are in park to avoid the heat of their un-air conditioned apartments. Where else can you listen to country-western music while a boy in a karate gi does somersaults in front of the stage and a little girl cradles her blue headed parrot in the palms of her hands, all on a cool mid-summers night with the light of the crepuscule can be seen reflecting off of the glass towers in downtown LA.

Plus it is all for free.