DreamWeek San Antonio

San Antonio Growth for the Eastside (SAGE) is hosting an entire day and night of live music with a lineup as diverse as the surrounding neighborhoods. This Saturday, local legends and rising stars will do what they do best for the second annual SAGE Music Festival at the AT&T Center’s Bud Light Courtyard.

Critically acclaimed Allen Stone, San Antonio native Mel Waiters and Grammy nominee Ram Herrera will share the stage with Big Al, Orquesta Tropicante and Soul Fruit. From 3 p.m. to midnight, the Eastside will come alive with this eclectic line up of classically Texan genres: blues, Tejano, gospel and salsa.

“Music is the common denominator,” said Jackie Gorman, SAGE executive director and board member of the Alamo City Black Chamber of Commerce. SAGE is a nonprofit organization that serves as an economic development resource for current and new businesses on the Eastside, traditionally considered the heart of the African-American community. The festival celebrates the Eastside and its historical role in the identity of San Antonio, she said.

“Music is something we can all relate to,” Gorman said, who added that the concert casts a positive spotlight on a changing community.

The recently approved Alamo Brewery and bordering neighborhood Dignowity Hill demonstrate that the Eastside is undergoing not only a facelift with many home and building renovations, but economic invigoration as well.

The area’s revitalization received a jump-start in 2010 when the U.S. Department of Education named the United Way of San Antonio and Bexar County to receive a $312,000 Promise Neighborhood planning grant, one of only 21 awarded nationwide.

The process resulted in a five-year implementation plan for programs geared toward developing the local economy and investing in future generations in the Eastside.

Eastside native and SAGE Music Festival performer, Mel Waiters has roots in the neighborhood going back decades. Waiters grew up on the Eastside and said the SAGE Music Festival is a good opportunity for others to experience the change underway and consider their own possible involvement and investment in the area.

The SAGE Music Festival will come after Waiters headlines the New Orleans’ Crescent City Blues and BBQ Fest. Waiters tours relentlessly and has performed with many renowned blues musicians, including BB King.

A drummer and vocalist, Waiters has “more gear than (he) knows what to do with” at the recording facility built in his home and feels “more (like an) engineer” than a drummer lately.

Waiters tours with a band that includes two back-up singers, drummer, keyboardists and guitarists, some of whom have been touring with him for 15 years.

Waiters is scheduled to perform at 8 p.m., just before rising star Allen Stone takes the stage.

The son of a preacher, Stone’s music has been compared to Stevie Wonder and Marvin Gaye by The New York Times. Stone has garnered the attention of critics nationwide over the last few years – Billboard, Esquire and CNN have all named Allen Stone an artist to watch.

Stone performed at the famed Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival in Indio, California and has been on national television performing on Late Night with Conanand Jimmy Kimmel.

Also on Saturday’s bill is Grammy nominated Tejano legend Ram Herrera. With multiple gold records, Herrera is no stranger to the stage or to San Antonio. Expect everything from cumbia to salsa to Latin rock.

Fun Fact: One of Herrera’s concerts in Houston was depicted in the 1997 film, “Selena.”

Herrera and the Outlaws won’t be the only group to get the crowd moving. The 11-member salsa and Latin jazz band Orquesta Tropicante will blast salsa standards with a full band, including horns and percussionists.

Soul Fruit kicks off the day with gospel and Big Al takes the stage around 6 p.m. with his brand of R&B.

And you can’t have a festival without food and beer. Among others, Fatty’s BurgersDa Smoke Bar-b-Queand Alamo Beer will be there.

Local vendors and a centrally located venue helps to tie together the SAGE Music Festival as a homegrown, community-oriented concert, Gorman said.

Spurs Sports & Entertainment made one of the most important contributions to the festival: The venue. According to Gorman,  the AT&T Center wouldn’t have been an option for the small nonprofit without the donation.

You can purchase tickets through Ticketmaster or at the SAGE office at 1149 East Commerce St., Suite 210. Individual tickets are $22 in advance, $27 at the gate. VIP passes are available for a gathering on Friday as well. Attendees are encouraged to bring cash for food and beverage vendors, and lawn chairs for the outdoor venue. Parking is available on site.

Miles Terracina