The Skirball’s brochure of events described the Cafe Z concert series as “casual.” Perhaps for regular museum-goers, it was. But for me and my Israeli-to-the-core boyfriend on our first visit to the pristine cultural center, the free concert on Saturday afternoon was not nearly as laid-back as we had anticipated.
We came armed with a blanket, bottles of cold water and a package of sunflower seeds (the seeds are a very Israeli thing). We were looking forward to sprawling out on a patch of cool grass beneath some large tree, nibbling on seeds and listening to the sensual sounds of Brazilian jazz.
Instead, we sat on white wooden chairs in the back of the Zeidler Cafe outdoor patio, where the main event was lunch, not the Nuevo Arte Trio playing world music in the front. Most of the diners seated at the green linen-covered tables seemed to be there more for the Salmon Pastrami Club than the seven-string guitar. However, there were a handful of true concert-goers other than us.
Most of them were African-American or South-American and clearly appreciated the trio’s talents. One lady in her late 40s sitting next to us has been visiting the Skirball for years specifically for their musical programming. She opened the Skirball brochure an enthusiastically pointed out the Thursday night Sunset Concert Series starting July 19th.
“They have great performers coming!” she said with an accent I could not place.
The afternoon was not the loungy, Central Park-style summer concert I was expecting, but nor was I expecting to see the Skirball attracting so many people from outside the Jewish community. It was a pleasant surprise and a testament to the cultural center’s impressive and varied offerings.
I plan on returning to the Skirball for the Noah’s Ark exhibit, the Israeli travel posters display and even the Sunset concerts. But only if I’m hungry after touring the museum, will I go back to Zeidler’s Cafe for a gourmet sandwich and some ethno-ambient background music.
Cafe Z Music concerts are every Saturday afternoon from 12-2 p.m. Skirball Cultural Center, Taube Courtyard, 2701 N. Sepulveda Blvd., Los Angeles. (310) 440-4544.