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[whitespace] Villa Montalvo

15400 Montalvo Rd,., Saratoga

WOW! Now this is more like it! After a 2003 season that relied on old familiar (emphasis on old), Montalvo bounces back in 2004 with a lineup that shakes out the sheets. Though N.E.R.D aren't suddenly going to wind their tour bus to the top of Montalvo Road, many top names in jazz, pop, blues, classical and literature appear on the same schedule as groups with serious funk in the trunk.

There are some major coups for the idyllic venue in 2004. One of the three tenors, JOSE CARRERAS, headlines a "casual evening" on June 9. LINDA RONSTADT fronts a 40-piece orchestra on July 23. The Beatles White Album is re-created live for two nights in late October. Ukulele prodigy JAKE SHIMABUKURO performs with DAROL ANGER and MIKE MARSHALL on Nov. 12. And the GIPSY KINGS, GEORGE BENSON and DAVE KOZ get the Front Lawn treatment over the summer. THE GO-GO'S (July 28) and NATALIE MERCHANT (Aug. 17-18) appeal to the '30s crowd. On the literary front, MAXINE HONG KINGSTON, GAIL TSUKIYAMA, GARRISON KEILLOR, ANNE GARRELS and HARVEY PEKAR all have dates.

Some local artists get headline shine, in particular, a CHRIS CAIN/SHANE DWIGHT double bill on May 23, TRAIN covers two nights in July and Saratoga native VIENNA TENG plays her own backyard in October. DAVID BENOIT jams with the ASIA AMERICA YOUTH HONOR ORCHESTRA and the SAN JOSE YOUTH SYMPHONY.

As for the funk, standouts include a CHIC fest with NILE RODGERS, ROSE ROYCE and MAXINE NIGHTINGALE on June 27. INDIA.ARIE returns after last year's triumphant showing on July 20. And I've circled the FUNK BROTHERS (pictured) on Sept. 9 and EARTH, WIND & FIRE on Sept. 23-24 as must-sees.

Partial List: (For full list: www.montalvo.org)
Apr 24: George Cleve 30th Anniversary Gala Concert
May 23: Chris Cain and Shane Dwight
Jun 9: Jose Carreras
Jun 13: Wynton Marsalis
Jun 27: Chic Fest
Jul 1: Gipsy Kings
Jul 18: Cassandra Wilson and Jesse Cook
Jul 20: India.Arie
Jul 21-22: Train
Jul 23: Linda Ronstadt
Jul 25: George Benson
Jul 28: The Go-Go's
Aug 17-18: Natalie Merchant
Sep 9: The Funk Brothers
Sep 23-24: Earth Wind & Fire
Oct 21: Maxine Hong Kingston
Oct 22: Vienna Teng
Oct 29-30: White Album Live
Nov 3: Harvey Pekar
Nov 12: Darol Anger, Mike Marshall, Jake Shimabukuro

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From the March 31-April 6, 2004 issue of Metro, Silicon Valley's Weekly Newspaper.

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