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Listen to the Music

Dana Point, you make my heart sing. Twenty one years ago when I moved with my wife Bonnie and our baby daughter Meg to Dana Point, I looked forward to raising my family in this beautiful area. However, I had no idea at the time of the extent to which our community would guide us and support us as we grew up, pursued our dreams and navigated the times of our lives.

Early on, Bonnie taught me about service to others and engaging in the community. She was a Parent Teacher Association (PTA) president at Malcom Elementary, Marco Forster Middle School and Dana Hills High School and had an absolute blast doing it. Her PTA board members were her rock bands. She encouraged me to volunteer, play music in classrooms and get involved in the PTA Reflections art program.

This past year, Bonnie battled breast cancer. It is in remission and she still looks for ways to help other people every single day (see page 3). We were absolutely blown away by the support this community gave to our family and could never fully express how much it means to us, but it means the world. When we were down, you picked us up and I will never forget that.

I love Dana Point so much and have always connected to it through music and the arts. Being a Dana Point Arts and Culture Commissioner allows me to encourage and promote artists of all types, all ages, from all walks of life. Art is for everyone. It brings people together, it heals and that is a wonderful and much needed part of life, especially these days. Nothing makes me happier than seeing the collective smiles, the joy of people gathered at events like Dana Point Summer Concerts in the Park, ArtFest and the like. It’s also awesome to see the excitement in the eyes of the artists when we tell them they’re going to be featured in LOOKOUT, the quarterly community newsletter when they have their art showcased at City Hall and the Community Center and when we can introduce young musicians to performing artists backstage via the Doheny Blues Foundation and really talk songwriting. I will always encourage others to dream big and then do something about it. Speaking as a musician myself, I can honestly say performing for my community at Dana Point Summer Concerts in the Park is a dream come true. It’s a rock and roll picnic with 3000 of your neighbors!

Just as Laguna Beach is known as an artist’s colony, Dana Point should be known worldwide as a music destination. Our local restaurants, hotels and venues have some of the best musicians on the planet playing every week. I would be remiss if I didn’t pay respect to the great bassist and composer Max Bennett, who passed away last week. He played with the likes of Ella Fitzgerald, Aretha Franklin and Ray Charles and he also played right here in our town. Support local music in Dana Point.

I know I’m not alone in my belief that music is a fundamental part of the identity of Dana Point. Iconic events like our Concerts in the Park, Doheny Blues Festival, Dana Point Symphony, the upcoming Ohana Festival, the Festival of Whales concert on that crazy floating stage (I could go on), let anyone who’s listening know that the music plays on in Dana Point. I believe it’s a great start but just the beginning. I’m excited to see that momentum continue and I encourage like-minded individuals in town, on City Council and City staff to sing out loud and proud and continue pulling in this musical direction, especially as development in the Harbor and Lantern District etc. continues. Make space for music in Dana Point. We are a City of Music. Now, it’s time to let the world know it.

Anthony Small is Chairman of the Dana Point Arts and Culture Commission, frontman for local rock band Small World and a solo singer-songwriter. Small and his family have lived in Dana Point for 22 years. Some of Anthony’s music can be seen at or on Youtube by visiting

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About The Author Dana Point Times

comments (1)

  • Thank you Anthony for continuing your spirited and zealous advocacy about the value of music and the arts to our community as well as Dana Point’s potential as a world class music destination. When I initiated the Arts and Culture Commission as Mayor seven years ago, I was confident the commission would elevate the place of music and the arts in our city. Thus far it has succeeded beyond my expectations. Through your efforts, you and the other commissioners, past and present, have done an outstanding job enriching the lives of our residents and helping shape our city’s identity. Only the best wishes to your wife Bonnie as she continues her arts advocacy and other service in the face of difficult challenges. Finally, RIP to Max Bennett, a towering but gentle artist of international stature, who gave so much of himself to our community without ever asking anything in return. We have lost a legend who was one of our own. I, and I know many others, will miss him greatly.

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