Los Angeles - The Department of Cultural Affairs (DCA) celebrates 100 Years of Nuestro Pueblo – The Watts Towers of Simon Rodia, the 40th anniversary of the Annual Watts Towers Day of the Drum Festival, and the 45th anniversary of the Annual Simon Rodia Watts Towers Jazz Festival. This historic occasion is being commemorated by DCA’s Community Arts Division with numerous virtual events honoring the 100-year history of the Watts Towers and the Watts Towers Arts Center Campus (WTACC). DCA and the Friends of Watts Towers Arts Center will host multicultural dance and music performances at the 40th Annual Watts Towers Day of the Drum Festival on Saturday, September 24, 2022 and the 45th Annual Simon Rodia Watts Towers Jazz Festival on Sunday, September 25, 2022 to continue these festivities.
An all-star line-up of international recording artists, local jazz greats, percussionists, and dancers will come together over two days, from 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m., for an unbelievable drum and jazz festival experience under the artistic direction of Rosie Lee Hooks, Patrice Rushen, and Munyungo Jackson. Presented by DCA and the Friends of Watts Towers Arts Center, the two-day festival is free and open to the public.
Saturday’s Day of the Drum Festival, hosted by Masters of Ceremonies James Janisse and Torrence Brandon Reese will kick off with Xochipilli, Aztec traditional dancing featuring Huehuetl and Teponaxtle drums. 1+1 Duo will carry the sound of world percussion from the Middle East and then hand off the rhythms to TaikoProject, one of Los Angeles’s leading taiko groups. La Bamba Collective will perform an Afro-Puerto Rican ensemble, bringing culture through Puerto Rican drums and dance. A tribute to “the Hit Maker,” James Gadson, will feature Munyungo Jackson, Clayton Cameron, Ronald Bruner Sr., Kenny Sara, and Kenny Elliot with Sherwood Sledge and Lynne Fiddmont, celebrating an artist who, “…recorded more hits than any drummer in town.” The program will conclude with Kouman Kele West African Dance Company performing an exciting traditional West African Musical Experience.
The festivals' activities are complemented by exhibitions at the Noah Purifoy and Charles Mingus Galleries including, "I Wanted To Do Something Big,” an exhibition from the archives recording the building, conservation, and preservation of the Watts Towers; and an installation of musical instruments from around the world at the Dr. Joseph and Bootsie Howard Gallery. The festivals will also feature a drum pavilion and universal drum circle led by Matt Gibson III. Supervised children’s activities will take place from 12:00 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. Food and beverages, along with arts and crafts, will be available for sale throughout the day. Guided tours of Nuestro Pueblo, the Watts Towers of Simon Rodia, will be available in addition to tiling and gardening activities at the Garden Studio Gallery.
Both festivals take place at the DCA’s Watts Towers Arts Center Campus at 1727 East 107th Street, Los Angeles, CA 90002. For more information, please call 213.847.4646, or visit wattstowers.org.
40th Annual Watts Towers Day of the Drum Festival
Saturday, September 24, 2022 | 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.
Masters of Ceremonies: James Janisse and Torrence Brandon Reese
11:00 a.m. - Xochipilli
Aztec traditional dancing with Huehuetl and Teponaztle drums
12:00 p.m. - 1+1 Duo
1:00 p.m. - TAIKOPROJECT
Based in Little Tokyo, one of LA’s leading taiko groups
1:00 – 1:15 p.m. – Assemblymember Mike A. Gipson presents a $4 million state budget check for the Watts Towers Arts Center Campus
2:00 p.m. - La Bamba Collective
Afro Puerto Rican ensemble bringing the culture through Puerto Rican drums and dance
3:00 p.m. - Tribute to James Gadson, “The Hit Maker”
Featuring Munyungo Jackson, Clayton Cameron, Ronald Bruner Sr., Kenny Sara, and Kenny Elliott with Sherwood Sledge
4:00 p.m. - Kouman Kele West African Dance Company
An exciting traditional West African musical experience