Story & Photos By C. MacDonald
AND THE BEAT GOES ON...Poor economy or not...some musicians are still playing and singers singing for the enjoyment of the masses throughout California at Free Public Concerts. Thousands of Golden Staters and tourists from around the World are being treated to every kind of music, from Country & Western and Classical to Rock and Funk. You name it, it's out there, lifting spirits and being enjoyed thanks to sponsors or musicians, who just want to blow the blues away. And they're doing just that. While listening to this wonderful music and song, you temporarily forget your problems and the entire family often becomes upbeat and positive, having fun while on a vacation of the mind. Many listeners even get up and dance, helping both body and mind.
These magical, musical venues range from parks and beaches to arenas and concert halls. Since 1882, the Golden Gate Park Band has been performing (in the early years with my grandpa on horn & clarinet) and can still be seen on certain Sundays in the San Francisco's Spreckles Temple of Music. The Huntington Beach Concert Band also entertains during a Sunday Summer Concert Series below the library in Central Park. The non-profit, volunteer group has been doing this delightfully since 1973. HB also has free musicians performing on Main Street all year during Tuesday's Surf City Nights. One of the greatest performers to appear there is Pianist Sebastian Sidi, whose piano steams and rises as he plays. The sensational showman has been featured on PBS. For over 17 years the city's International Surfing Museum has provided free summer concerts with guest appearances from famed guitarist Dick Dale and Dean Torrence (Jan & Dean) to name a few.
Other bands are performing at the Spreckles Organ Pavilion in San Diego's renown Balboa Park; the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk's Friday Night Bands on the Beach; Long Beach's downtown Funk Fest; the Summer Twilight Dance Series at the Santa Monica Pier; Sacramento's Friday Night Concerts in the Park at 10th & J Streets; plus many more. Even smaller towns have their free toe-tapping, boot-stomping, hand-clapping music that will give you a blast.
Saturday Nights at the Getty is a free contemporary performance series featuring eclectic mixed music, dance and theater at the Harold M. Williams Auditorium in the famous hilltop LA landmark museum. Also, Universal Studios CityWalk has had some free concerts. Seal Beach's Summer Concert Series on Wednesday Nights has thrilled thousands, who have seen a variety of bands perform, from the ever-enthusiastic & creative Robby Armstrong (married to Actress Cameron Diaz' sister) to the muti-talented Eddie Montana, who has mastered nearly every instrument. The Eisenhower Park venue overlooks the Pacific Ocean, providing a fabulous backstage.
Thanks to the "spirtlifters"-the sponsors, musicians, singers, cities and producers-who are helping keep these important Free events alive. To find these much-needed escapes year-round, keep reading SeeCalifornia.com or look on the Internet for what's happening in your favorite town. And remember, the beat will always go on; lets be upbeat and do what we can to help one another. The best is yet to come!