WAM Weekend includes virtual concerts, neighborhood treasure hunt and wine tasting

WAM Weekend is on! Albeit remixed for a special 2020 edition that changes the event’s block party vibe to a house party one.

The Westchester Arts & Music Block Party, affectionately referred to as WAM, is usually a day-long celebration of community, art and live music that brings thousands of people to Emerson Ave. to enjoy the last days of summer. This year marks the popular event’s fifth anniversary, and WAM has really hit its stride, says event producer, John Sharpe.

“We had a great turnout, had expanded to two stages for music and entertainment and the support from the community and businesses was unreal,” said Sharpe. “We were just about to start planning this year’s event and brainstorming on how to take it to the next level, when COVID appeared.”

In late spring, the committee felt it had no choice but to cancel WAM, which benefits the Emerson Avenue Community Garden. They were unsure if businesses would be in a position to sponsor the festivities or how Safer at Home orders would impact the feasibility of people gathering to watch bands, line up at food trucks and visit community booths offering art activities. In late June, however, the committee had a change of heart and decided to move forward with WAM, although “remixed” for this unusual year.

“I don’t think any of us thought we’d be dealing with this for so long,” said Sharpe. “As the months have dragged on, and we’re all largely stuck in our homes with limited opportunities for entertainment and looking for activities for our families, it became apparent to us that we should help fill the void and make WAM something that people could look forward to from home.”

The committee decided to host a WAM Weekend, which brings some of WAM’s most popular elements–performances, family-friendly fun, supporting artists and good food and drinks–to people’s living rooms and front yards.

WAM Weekend will kick off Friday, September 11 at 6 p.m. with Friday Night Live, a one-hour concert streamed via Instagram @wamblockparty, featuring the Folk/Americana sounds of husband and wife duo, Pilgrim Life. During the pandemic, WAM has been hosting these virtual concerts weekly to offer musicians an outlet and a chance to make tips, as well as give music-lovers some new tunes to check out. Following the concert, those 21-and-over can host their own personal wine garden from their home with a virtual Wine Tasting at 7 p.m. Kits with three bottles–a Pinot Noir, Viognier and a Rose of Grenache–provided by Sweetzer Cellars, which usually provides the drinks at WAM, will be available for $70 each (plus tax). A portion of the proceeds will benefit the garden and the kits will be hand-delivered at no charge to those that sign up to participate by Wednesday, September 9 at wamblockparty.org/wine-tasting.

Saturday, September 12 through Sunday, September 13 at 5 p.m. WAM festivities will move from a virtual experience to “about town,” as the community is invited to play an “I Spy Art Treasure Hunt.” Check out wamblockparty.org/treasure-hunt for the cross streets and clues to find 20 pieces of art printed on lawn signs throughout Westchester. Grab the whole family for a leisurely bike ride through the neighborhood to find the art, and when you do, take a selfie or photo in front of it. If you find all 20 pieces by the deadline, either post on social media, tagging @WAMBlockParty and using the hashtag #WAM2020ART or email your photos to wamblockparty@gmail.com to be entered into a random drawing to win a $500 cash prize (limited to one entry per family). The winner will be drawn live on WAM’s Facebook page. To get an early start on mapping out your route, clues for the treasure hunt will be made available on wamblockparty.org starting on Wednesday, September 9 at noon.          

“We envision all the families that usually attend WAM to show up in full force on their bikes, scooters, skateboards or walking around town to play the game and make a memorable weekend,” said Sharpe. “The cash prize and a little friendly competition between neighbors also add to the fun.”

 After a day of tracking down art, head to Facebook.com/wamblockparty on Saturday, September 12 starting at 4 p.m. for WAM Remixed, a watch party featuring performances from eight different artists playing half-hour sets. The lineup pulls from some of Friday Night Live’s most popular acts including Jessie Payo, Leeann Skoda, Nico Franc and RAINNE.

“We’re really excited about the entertainment we have planned,” said Sharpe. “We have a great mix of artists performing. A major part of WAM has always been about supporting artists–whether musicians or the vendors selling their handmade items–and with nowhere to perform in person this year, they can use all the help we can give them.”

On Sunday, September 13 starting at 4:30 p.m. the community is invited to join a virtual cooking class, hosted by the chefs behind Tomat, a new cafe opening next year in The Book Jewel. Tune in to learn how to create an amazing dinner using delicious veggies inspired by the Emerson Avenue Community Garden. The cost to participate is $15 and will benefit the garden. Reserve your spot for the demonstration on WAM’s website. 

All weekend long, WAM arts & crafts vendors will also be holding an online silent auction with items like ceramics, paintings and jewelry for sale. A portion of the proceeds will be donated to WAM.

“At the heart of it, WAM is really an event for everyone, where you can spend time with people you like, hear good music, buy cool art, eat good food and enjoy a few drinks,” said Sharpe. “We’re trying to replicate those experiences as close as possible, but in a 2020 setting. We’re so thankful for the support of all of our sponsors who continued to support us this year, and are committed to seeing Westchester thrive and families have ways to have a fun weekend, even with the limits of our current situation. We hope people tune in for the concerts and track down that art!”

Major sponsors include the Drollinger Family Charitable Foundation, the Stephanie Younger Group, Zacha Homes, Westchester Rotary, SoCalGas, NCWP and Nanci Edwards. The HomeTown News is also a proud sponsor of this event.

WAM Weekend will take place from Friday, September 11 at 6 p.m. through Sunday, September 13 at 5 p.m. For more information, please visit wamblockparty.org.


WAM 2020 Schedule

Friday, September 11:

FRIDAY NIGHT LIVE MUSIC: Friday, Sept. 11 at 6 pm

Friday Night Live will feature the husband and wife duo called Pilgrim Life performing their unique mix of Folk/Americana music as part of our ongoing weekly concert series, streamed live on Instagram @wamblockparty.

SWEETZER CELLARS VIRTUAL WINE TASTING: Friday, Sept. 11 at 7 pm

A local husband and wife duo started making wine in their West Hollywood apartment on Sweetzer Ave. Now, they will share their stories and provide tasting notes on Viognier, Rosé and Pinot Noir during a virtual wine tasting on Zoom.  The three-bottle tasting kit will cost $70 and will be hand-delivered at no cost. A portion of the sales will go Emerson Avenue Community Garden.  Sign-up by Wednesday, 9/9 at wamblockparty.org/wine-tasting to participate.


Saturday, September 12:

I Spy Art Treasure Hunt Neighborhood Contest: Saturday, September 12 through Sunday, Sept. 13 at 5 pm (Sneak peek starting Wednesday, Sept. 9 at noon)

Grab your bike or your sneakers and travel around Westchester to find art on yard signs around the neighborhood!   Download the pdf of clues on www.wamblockparty.org/treasure-hunt (which will be revealed 9/9/20 at noon) to find the art, snap selfies with the booty, then post them on Facebook and/or Instagram tagging @WAMBlockParty and use hashtag #WAM2020art.  Or email pictures to wamblockparty@gmail.com.  If you find all 20 art pieces and post your pics by the deadline, you will be entered into a drawing for a $500 cash prize! Complete rules at www.wamblockparty.org/treasure-hunt.

WAM REMIXED: Saturday, Sept. 12 4 – 8 pm, via Facebook and YouTube

We are hosting a watch party on the WAM Block Party Facebook page to premier a video of eight popular Friday Night Live acts performing a special set for WAM.

Performances by: RAINNE, Abby Posner, Nico Frank, Leeann Skoda, Skylar Funk, Jessie Payo, Lucy Clearwater and Colton Avery.


Sunday, September 13:

Virtual Cooking Demo: Sunday, Sept. 13 at 4:30 – 6 pm

Hosted by the chefs behind the upcoming Westchester Triangle cafe, Tomat, tune in for a cooking demonstration featuring fresh ingredients including those grown at the Emerson Avenue Community Garden!  Learn how to make a healthy, nutritional, yeast-based dressing perfect for a bowl of crunchy veggies. Tired of avocado toast? A soft-boiled egg toast is just as delicious!  Great on a hot summer day, chilled Persian Yogurt Soup with its perfect combination of herbs and spices will hit the spot.  And the sweet ending to this meal will be grilled peaches with homemade whipped cream.  The cost to participate is $15 and will benefit the garden. Sign-up at www.wamblockparty.org/cooking-class.


All WAM Weekend long:

Arts & Crafts Silent Auction: Bidding starts Wednesday, Sept. 9 at noon through Sunday, Sept. 13 at 5 pm

Help support local artisans and the Emerson Avenue Community Garden by bidding on some beautiful pieces of one-of-kind art. From jewelry to sweaters to paintings and custom furniture, there is something for everyone! A portion of the sales will go Emerson Avenue Community Garden.  Details at www.wamblockparty.org/silent-auction.

Posted September 2020.