Before Coachella, Stagecoach and Kaaboo Del Mar festivals made their mark on the Southern California landscape, there was Orange County’s own Doheny Blues Festival.
The two-day music event celebrates its 20th anniversary this year and returns to Doheny State Beach in Dana Point May 20-21. Boasting three stages and a wide range of blues, roots, soul, classic rock and Americana artists, the festival includes Joe Walsh, Jason Bonham’s Led Zeppelin Experience and Robin Trower on Saturday, and Melissa Etheridge, Chris Isaak, Mavis Staples and Moreland & Arbuckle on Sunday.
“Has it become harder (to produce our event)? Indeed, there is more competition than there was 20 years ago,” says Rich Sherman, president of festival organizer Omega Events. “What we found is that the competition isn’t necessarily what is happening in California, but every weekend on the calendar there is going to be a festival somewhere in North America, even the world. The real issue isn’t Coachella or Arroyo Seco (the latter a new festival coming to the Rose Bowl June 24-25), it might just be a great festival in North Carolina or Florida or Texas. And so the advent of music festivals as a whole has made it tough on scheduling.”
In addition, while Staples has been a featured performer at Coachella, the majority of artists on the bill at Doheny are not necessarily being targeted to play at the other large festivals in Southern California.
What stands out about the 20th anniversary celebration is how many names are appearing for the first time on the bill.
“We’ve tried to secure Joe Walsh several times in the past to play the festival, but that’s a complicated puzzle given (his role in) the Eagles. Joe was one of our early targets (for 2017). It’s an incredible opportunity to have him coming to Doheny State Beach for sure. And Melissa, she has had this new Stax Records tribute…