Doheny Blues Festival: One Of SoCal’s Best, But Where’s the Blues?

Written by on June 3, 2010 in June 3, 2010, Live Reviews - Comments Off on Doheny Blues Festival: One Of SoCal’s Best, But Where’s the Blues?

Doheny Blues FestivalWE WERE LUCKY enough to score some last-second passes to Doheny Blues Festival 13 that happened over the weekend of May 22-23 (thanks Lex Davies and Omega Events!!), held each year at scenic Doheny State Beach in Dana Point (for you geographically-challenged Angelenos, that’s waaay down there in Southern Orange County).

LET ME GO ON RECORD now as saying, Doheny is one of the most well-run festivals around; Omega Events has top-notch people in place — be it those who greet you at the door (or in our case, the will-call press table), to those inside the Festival itself. And unlike other Festivals (i.e. Coachella and StageCoach), they offer a shuttle bus to and from the festival for a very reasonable $5 round-trip fee (with free parking!). So that part is all good.

THAT BEING SAID, we got to the Festival right around 2 p.m. Saturday – timed to coincide with the performance of one of this reviewer’s favorite bands of all time, the Fabulous Thunderbirds. (Editor’s Note: we also came a long way, from up in the Hi-Desert near Wrightwood Ski Resort). While we got checked in quickly, we also quickly realized there was virtually no room left on the premises to spread out our sleeping bag for three people to sit on. Now when you’re young (by that I mean in your twenties, or thereabouts), that’s not such a big deal; by the time you reach middle age, it’s certainly no fun to be standing for hours on end! Unfortunately, that’s the predicament we found ourselves in. But I digress…back to the ‘T-Birds: They put on a terrific set and played all their big hits (“Tuff Enuff, “Wrap It Up”), which my girlfriend Kat and I vigorously danced to. It should be noted that front person Kim Wilson also did double duty performing with guitarist Nathan James on Sunday – no surprise as Wilson has always been one of the hadest-working men in the business!

Doheny Blues FestivalAFTER FINALLY FINDING a place to park our tired butts (oh and by the way – ever try to eat a full cheesesteak standing up?!?) —  we enjoyed a solid set by the one and only Taj Mahal and his Phantom Blues Band, who along with the Robert Cray Band, were the only true blues bands to perform on the main (Doheny) stage. That’s the thing about so-called Blues Festivals these days: Many of the performers (including this year’s Doheny headliners, the Black Crowes on Saturday and Crosby Stills and Nash on Sunday) aren’t really blues. Usually, the real blues bands are relegated to the non-main stages. And there were plenty of good ones here: Lisa Haley and the Zydekats, Otis Taylor, 2,000 Lbs. of Blues and Flat Top Tom, to name a few.

SO IN SUMMATION: If the good folks at Omega Events find a way to accommodate festival-goers with more seating next year – oh, and perhaps also booking a real blues act in at least one of the two headlining slots – Doheny Blues Festival 14 should be every bit as much fun as this year’s was, and then some!