By Kristina Pritchett

This weekend, two days full of blues, rock and soul music will fill Doheny State Beach during the 20th annual Doheny Blues Festival.

This year’s lineup includes more than 20 artists on two stages, as well as a smaller more intimate stage called the Backporch. All while guest can enjoy the beauty of Doheny State Beach.

Rich Sherman, president of Omega Events, said as a music fan, he’s looking forward to seeing certain acts on stage.

“But, what I’m most eagerly anticipating is the process of setting up the venue, seeing all the fans arrive and opening the doors,” Sherman said. “There is so much work that transpires in the final few days, it’s a relief to actually blow the doors open and get the first band on stage.”

Sherman said big headliners have allowed Omega to expand their bookings over the last 20 years.

“We can feature more relatively unknown artists,” Sherman said. “We have also incorporated more technology and planning so there are many ways the event has changed behind the scenes. But frankly, the event today looks very much like it did in 1998, just bigger.”

Some of the headliners for this weekend include Joe Walsh, Melissa Etheridge, Jason Bonham’s Led Zeppelin Experience, Chris Isaak, Robin Trower and Mavis Staples.

In past, the festival has featured Lynyrd Skynyrd, Bonnie Raitt, Greg Allman, Buddy Guy, B.B. King, Chuck Berry and more.

This year, Omega created the Doheny Blues Foundation, which will focus on education efforts for children and helping musicians in need.

“We have received a tremendous response to folks wanting to offer their help to the Foundation, and believe this organization can tie together many aspects of the community in a common cause,” Sherman said.

When looking back at the first years of the festival, Sherman said they never had a grand vision of the event.

“We knew what we wanted to achieve in the first year, which was to throw a heck of a party and survive financially,” Sherman said. “We studied what the great music festivals were doing right, even though there were very few when we launched in 1998, then we tried to incorporate the best parts in our event.”

Some things Sherman said guests can look forward to is listening to great music and having a good time.

“While that sounds simplistic, it’s our first goal every year,” Sherman said. “We try to focus on the fan experience, whether it be with the uniqueness of the acts, the speed of the beverage lines or the cleanliness of the restrooms. Half of the attendees come solely for the music and the other half come because they love the overall experience.”

Sherman added Omega is thankful for working closely with Doheny State Beach for 20 years and for their leadership.

“Together, along with the help of the city staff and Harbor Association, we have built one of the finest blues music festivals in the country, one that should make us all proud,” Sherman said.

The event runs Saturday, May 20 and Sunday, May 21. Tickets range from $75-$140.

For the official event guide, click here.

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