Two of the area’s biggest July 4 celebrations are combining this weekend to throw America the ultimate birthday bash.
This year, Lindy Promotions’ Uncle Sam Jam has merged with HiBall Entertainment’s National Freedom Fest, to bring the Great American Festival to the National Harbor this Saturday. The patriotic party features five live bands and seven DJs performing on three outdoor stages. Famous Dave’s BBQ and Hard Times Café will serve up food and drink all day long. And, of course, no Independence Day celebration would be complete without a fireworks display
Seemingly a reinvention itself, the Great American Festival has set the stage for the rebirth of two of its headlining bands, Ozomatli and Eve 6.
Veterans of musical and cultural mash-up, Los Angeles-based Ozomatli has made a career of musical evolution. The band first got together in the mid-’90s at an L.A. labor protest. Their sound is as diverse as the backgrounds of the now seven-member band, including everything from Latin to hip-hop, rock, salsa and funk.
The festival is just the latest stop on the band’s 2012 tour, and another example of how Ozomatli has managed its continued appeal.
“I feel lucky that we can play for different generations and pull it off,” says guitarist Raúl Pacheco.
“People just want energy,” adds Willy “Wil-Dog” Abers, who plays bass.
While “Ozo” can always be counted on to bring energy to a performance, their music isn’t as predictable.
“We’re always in a different place as musicians,” says Pacheco. “The process is always evolving and I think the fact that we’re open to music [helps].”
Also recently evolved are the group’s dance moves. Although Abers says the band never had any set choreography, they’ve developed their own steps over the years. That changed recently before the band headed out on tour, when the guys brought in a professional choreographer.
“It was good to get some outside help,” Abers says. “It’s been nice and refreshing for us as a band.”
The reinvention of rock band Eve 6 has been a bit more dramatic. After eight years, Max Collins, Jon Siebels and Tony Fagenson are back together, touring the country and promoting their latest album, “Speak In Code.”
The band split in 2004 and had been working on their music careers individually until they began collaborating as a trio again about a year and a half ago.
“We just all got to this place where we realized there were people out there who wanted another album,” says guitarist Siebels.
The Southern California band originally got their start when they were only teenagers. When they take the stage on Saturday, they’ll likely be playing for a mix of fans; some who remember them for hits like 2001’s “Here’s to the Night,” and younger music lovers who are hearing their music for the first time.
“We have all these different types of people coming out to the show,” says Siebels. “This combination of people who haven’t seen us since ’98 and people who found out about us at the time and were young, not thinking about going to concerts. Now they’re in their 20s and can go to concerts.”
As for what those fans can expect to hear from the revitalized Eve 6, Siebels says the band’s time apart helped them to develop the sound for their most recent album.
“We’ve all done a bunch of different projects and spread our wings,” he says. “All of those different experiences added to that new sound.”
Eve 6 continues on its tour throughout the summer with appearances in New York, Boston and North Carolina. Siebels says he expects the band to continue touring into next year.
And for Ozo, next year is bringing even more change. Known maybe as well for social activism as their music, the band teamed up with Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment to write the music for a video game aimed at encouraging young kids to learn through song and dance. And in September, Ozomatli will release a children’s album.
“There’s a kid ... version of ourselves,” Pacheco says. “We’ve always worked with young people and we remember what it was like growing up.”
Abers adds that it is the band’s ability to connect with all ages that has helped them remain relevant for all these years.
“I mean we’re musicians, how old can we get?”