With the 27th annual San Jose Jazz Summer Fest just around the corner, Brendan Rawson is balancing excitement and a fair amount of stress. It is Rawson’s second Summer Fest since taking the helm of the San Jose Jazz organization in 2013 and he is feeling the immensity of the undertaking. Still, the South Bay native is looking forward to the three-day party, which will bring thousands of jazz and blues fans to downtown San Jose to take in performances by musicians from all over the world. The music aficionado is also a co-owner Naglee Park Garage. When he’s not helping build up the local music and nightlife scene in San Jose he likes to get outside and play soccer.

How long have you lived/worked in the Bay Area?

I was born and raised here in San Jose. Went to school at Santa Clara and at Cal. Lived in New York for a couple years and then came back.

What are some of your favorite parts about living in the Bay Area?

Well it’s an incredibly beautiful corner of the world. We are incredibly lucky with the geography. From out in the bay to up in the mountains, it’s nice to be able to get out and about. The other part I really like is the Bay Area still has a decent amount of its eclectic and bohemian character that sets it apart from other places in the world.

What’s your favorite place to listen to live music? Besides the festival, of course?

I love the Over the Hill in Felton. Don Quixote’s is also a great spot to check out music and Douglas Beach House in Half Moon Bay is a great hidden gem. Poor House Bistro is always a fun time, it’s pretty cool little place.

Why do you think jazz music is such a popular draw for so many people?

It’s really built into the DNA of jazz, the part of how comfortable it is continuing to adapt and change. Improv and being able to adapt is an essential part of jazz. It keeps getting more exciting the further you go.

It’s this great American export to so many places around the globe. They’ve enfolded it in their own history and folk instrumentation. We get all this great experience of jazz coming back from every continent. I think folks are really drawn towards that sort of diversity and richness.

What is one thing you would change about San Jose?

I would make it a lot denser in neighborhoods. I think the post-war era, being designed around the automobile, kinda decimated some of the smaller commercial downtown areas. I think I would want it to be a bit more urban and not so dominated by suburban landscapes defined by cul de sacs. Think more areas like Willow Glen and Japantown. I think folks are craving to be out in public spaces more. Santana Row is a destination that shows people are comfortable with that density. I’d create a broader variety of denser neighborhoods with their own distinct energy.

Besides the festival, what Silicon Valley event do you most look forward to every year?

I really look forward to the annual Octoberfest at Naglee Park Garage. I’m a part-owner there, so that might sound a little self-serving, but it really is a good time. Maker Faire it’s pretty wild. It’s this extravaganza of folks very much in the DIY culture, selling crafts and design. There’s lots of tinkerers and builders. Every year there’s a huge one in San Mateo, but there are more smaller mini-Maker Faires showing up in places like History Park. I think there’s a long history of that here in the Silicon Valley.

How do you like to spend your free time?

I like to sneak off and play soccer anytime I can get. I love playing or checking out the ’Quakes games. Definitely an escape for me. I also like checking out a lot of the different music stuff going on in the area other than jazz. I like both indie and R&B. The music scene has been growing here in San Jose and there are more consistent music activities throughout the week. It has been very exciting to see that.

Any advice for those attending the festival?

I would say, try to see as much as you can. I think that’s the thing about our festival. We offer so many different genres. That variety I don’t think you get to see very often. I would suggest trying to see a little bit of all the stages. Bring a good pair of shoes!

What performance are you most looking forward to this weekend?

When I first came onboard for my first Winter Fest in 2013, The first artist we booked was Jose James. It was an excellent show and it was a real springboard for our Jazz Beyond program. Great young talented folks, it’s our first time bringing one of them back, so it’s a really fun performance that I’m looking forward to revisiting. He’s performing on Saturday on the Jazz Beyond Stage.