AMP Oakland—a curated busker program—livens up lunchtime with free music

Oakland is finding a new way to showcase its musicians and attract people to downtown at the same time during the lunch hour.

The series of street performances, called AMP Oakland, made its debut Wednesday.

In Oakland's Uptown District, people passing by got a surprise, a free lunch hour concert by Oakland blues singer Lady Bianca.

At the very same time, a few blocks away, a vocal group from the Oakland School of the Arts was also performing.

These mini concerts kicked off a new free performing arts series in four different places in Oakland all at the same time.

Fantastic Negrito, Oakland's two-time Grammy award winning musician, came to show support.

"That's the heartbeat of the city. The heartbeat of the streets. The culture. It's music," said Negrito. 

Like Oakland's popular First Friday Art Murmur, Oakland AMP is designed to showcase local performing artists.

Over the next six months more than 300 performers will showcase their talents every Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday from noon to one pm. The venues will be at four public plazas throughout downtown Oakland. All free of charge.

"We want to make sure the daytime is active lunch hours. We want to pull people out of their buildings and invite people downtown for lunch and enjoy some of the incredible talent we have," said Steve Snider of Oakland Central which is sponsoring the performance series.

The musicians say they hope it catches on.

"It's giving out love and getting love back," said Lady Bianca.

Those walking by stayed to listen. They had no idea this was going on.

"Wow. Fill this space sound. Beautiful voice. It's awesome," said Eric Rubin of Oakland.