By Anthony Small
From the minute The Alive took the stage to open the recent Ohana Festival weekend (Sept. 30-Oct. 2), the rock and roll party at Doheny State Beach was on. Eddie Vedder joined the young band onstage, sang their praises and welcomed the earliest arriving fans.
The actual openers were Indigenous peoples native to the SoCal coast. The peoples from the Iipay Nation, the Pauma Reservation, the Acjachemen Nation and Native Hawaii shared their generous spiritual blessings through song, dance, and prayers. It should be noted that there are 109 recognized tribes in California and 80 more are fighting for proper recognition.
Friday’s headliner, Stevie Nicks, mesmerized the crowd and Vedder joined her for “Stop Draggin’ My Heart Around,” singing Tom Petty’s part on the classic duet.
Saturday, Vedder dubbed this year’s gathering a “Tom Fest” with lots of love for, and songs by Petty on the fifth anniversary of his passing. Heartbreakers guitarist Mike Campbell joined Vedder and his all-star band The Earthlings for “The Waiting,” and “Room at the Top” was especially poignant.
Jack White’s explosive set earlier Saturday was probably my favorite of the weekend. Sunday closed out with strong performances by strong women, including St. Vincent and Pink, whose cover of “Bohemian Rhapsody” was outstanding. Find more info at ohanafest.com.
Along with the world-class music, Ohana Festival featured the Storytellers Stage, with panels of leading environmentalists, conservationists and surfers and topics including “The Indigenous Wave” and “Activism: Protecting What We Love.”
Also in The Cove were nonprofits such as Surfrider Foundation, Surfers Healing, and Doheny State Beach Foundation. A couple of the coolest things at Ohana were the Cove Gallery, curated again by Charles Adler, and the exhibit of Steve Sherman’s stunning photography, this year focusing on his shots of Ohana over the years. Check out more info at charlesradler.com and on Instagram @tsherms
Adler shared, “Being asked to return and curate another art show for Ed and the Ohana Festival feels like I’ve come full circle. I almost failed out of Art School in Seattle in the early ’90s because of the explosion of so many amazing bands and the shows we’d see almost nightly. It’s surreal to now find myself working alongside so many amazing people raising funds and awareness for the Vitalogy Foundation.”
Sherman added, “I’ve been here since Day 1 and look forward to it every year. I’m a photojournalist who also shoots interesting portraits. My concert stuff, I like to make it look unique, intimate, and edgy. My favorite photos from last year are one of Eddie backstage working on his setlist and the one of Taylor Hawkins blowing a kiss to the audience that evokes his love and now seems like a kiss goodbye.
REDO Vintage and Maker’s Market returns to the Lantern District on Oct. 30 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Besides the more than 150 vendors lining Del Prado, there’ll be incredible music on three stages.
The Main Stage will feature Dano Forte, Hula Music, Grady Strange and Wes Chilling. Iris & the Shade, who made their REDO debut last year on the Stone Brewery stage, also move up to the Main Stage. Randall Winvick will be playing on the Jazz Stage by Luxe, with his fantastic combo and other guests.
On the stage in the Stone Brewery fun zone by Dana Point Hardware, Andrew Lavin, Violet Iris, and Light Waves (formerly Sea Haven, who also played last year) will show REDO attendees what the burgeoning South OC music scene is all about.
I’ll also be doing a set there with Matt Samia from noon to 1:30 p.m. More info can be found at redomarket.com.
Anthony Small is Executive Director and cofounder of Music Preserves Foundation, a local musician and Ambassador of Music for Dana Point Sister Cities International. Small and his family have lived in Dana Point for 25 years.