salsa.jpgThe street renowned for its jazz roots will be singing a different tune at this weekend’s Salsa Festival on The Fillmore.

More than 700 tickets have already been purchased and thousands are expected to attend the second annual festival, which features 16 different salsa-inspired musical acts at various venues on Fillmore Street between Geary Boulevard and Eddy Street, event creator Roy Bennett said.

The festival, which runs Friday and Saturday nights, was designed to infuse the street with vibrant music and dancing, while boosting revenue for local businesses, Bennett said.

“The goal is to revitalize that area, to build it up as an entertainment center like Bourbon Street in New Orleans,” he said. “As long as we create these events, this could be the biggest salsa festival on the West Coast.”

The Salsa Festival on The Fillmore is unique because local bars and restaurants will host the performers, and concertgoers can hop from one venue to the next with an all-access pass.

Two outdoor concerts and an introductory salsa lesson will also be provided for free each night.

“This is for people just starting to get into salsa dancing, (people who) are curious, or people who have always wanted to take a salsa class,” event promoter Rudy Furlan said. “They take the lesson, buy tickets and stay all night dancing.”

Salsa music, which mixes Cuban beats with rock, jazz, rhythm and blues and popular music, reflects Fillmore Street’s own eclectic medley of people, Bennett said.

“The city’s changed. It’s not just black and white anymore. This festival is a way to bring all these cultures together,” he said.

The festival’s kickoff is 7 p.m. Friday and features a free performance by Fito Reinoso, as well as shows from Montuno Swing, Mazacote and Julio Bravo.

Saturday’s lineup includes a free outdoor performance by Los Boleros at 7 p.m. Other acts include Aterciopelados, Fernando Lezama and Gary Flores y Brisa Latina.

Two-day passes for $40 will be available on the Salsa Festival on The Fillmore’s website at until midnight. Tickets can also be purchased at the event for $25 each night.

Rachel Purdy, Bay City News

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