By Genoa Barrow | OBSERVER Senior Staff Writer
In a 2013 issue of her newsletter, “On Track,” the late District 8 Councilmember Bonnie Pannell wrote about infrastructure that would aid in the construction of the Delta Shores shopping center and expansion that would extend local light rail service to South Sacramento.
Pannell also talked about another of her “babies” — the annual Meadowview Jazz & Cultural Festival. “For many years, we hosted the Meadowview Jazz Festival in my district drawing thousands of people and national talent,” Pannell wrote. “Unfortunately, the City’s budget constraints have precluded us from hosting an event of this magnitude for some time now.”
The City opted to host smaller neighborhood concerts instead. The events were successful and Pannell expressed her pride in seeing them “bringing our community closer, one park at a time.”
Nearly a decade later, community organizer Berry Accius is picking up the baton and bringing back the annual concert in a collaboration between RDA Entertainment and Black Blue Printz. A “remixed” Meadowview Jazz and R&B Festival is set for September 17-18. The two-day event will be held in Meadowview Park, located at 7760 24th Street, from 12 noon to 7:00 p.m.
The concerts of old brought such acts to the stage as Con Funk Shun, Cameo, the Dazz Band, Zapp and Midnight Starr. This year’s lineup includes Lyfe Jennings, Mya, Pleasure P, Lakeside, Slave, Sol Development, Changing Faces, and RL, lead singer for the group, Next. There will also be a few surprises, Accius promised.
He wants to see the concert be a beacon for the community that it once was.
“When I first moved to Sacramento in 2000, that was one of the things that folks were lining up and talking about,” he said.
Accius recalled the concert’s ability to draw people from throughout the region.
“Though it was centered in Meadowview, it was about culture and community altogether, where you have a lot of folks from other communities coming in there. It was one of the premier events in Sacramento at one particular time. It was one of the festivals that you checked off every year.”
What was a tradition and source of pride became a thing of the past as budgets, priorities and leadership changed. Pannell died in 2017 after serving in District 8 for 16 years. A community center in the heart of Meadowview now bears her name and that of her late husband, Sam Pannell, whose place on the city council she originally stepped into.
It’s the same community center where Accius and two other Black chefs hosted free pop-up dinners during the early months of the pandemic.
“We were among the first folks to jump in and say, ‘What can we do to serve the needs of our community?
“Not only did we serve hundreds of families in Meadowview, but we had other people coming in and nobody was worried that it was Meadowview, there wasn’t this type of fear,” Accius said. “I want to be able to show that there are these golden opportunities in these places that don’t get the kind of exposure that they probably have had in the past, like downtown has, that we could do things in our community. We could separate things that happened in our community that are negative from all the positive things that are happening and there’s a lot of positive things and people doing great things. We want to highlight some of those people during this weekend festival.”
In recent years, Meadowview has gotten a bad rap for gangs and has sadly become known for tragedies such as Stephon Clark who was killed by police officers in March 2018 and the death of another father, Ernie Cedena, who was fatally shot in August 2017 while watching a video being filmed in Meadowview Park.
“This was something that was important to kind of re-energize the community and take away a lot of the stigma of Meadowview,” Accius said of revitalizing the concert.
“We have to take away that stigma and present it in a way that it should be presented.”
Accius wants people to see a different Meadowview. “I want people to see the Meadowview that I’ve served.”
Accius says he’s worked behind the scenes to ensure a safe event and wants folks to have a good time while enjoying good music.
“Music is a connection. We’re bringing something that’s going to not only help the community and support the community, but it’s going to bring back a vibe and it’s going to bring back tradition.”
Current District 8 City Councilmember Mai Vang said she’s excited for the return of the cornerstone event and proud to see Accius speareheading its rebirth.
“We want to cultivate an environment where the residents of District 8 are empowered to reach out and lead the programs they want to see happen in our neighborhoods,” Councilmember Vang said. “The Meadowview Jazz and R&B Festival is a wonderful example of how our community takes the lead in putting on amazing events and programs for our district.”
For tickets, visit meadowview fest.eventbrite.com.