La Jolla snuffs out its 33-year-old Concerts by the Sea series

Nonprofit team thinks, Make them miss us

Bluesman Bill Magee says Scripps Park is “a beautiful setting...a great way to spend the afternoon. The city needs to listen to the people...”
  • Bluesman Bill Magee says Scripps Park is “a beautiful setting...a great way to spend the afternoon. The city needs to listen to the people...”

Having La Jolla in your name can choke your bottom line.

“They think that everyone in La Jolla is rich and they can charge us whatever they want.”

Ron Jones was one of the ten volunteers who represent the nonprofit that puts on the La Jolla Concerts by the Sea. He says it was bureaucratic greed that snuffed out the life of the free-admission summertime concert series held 2–4 p.m. Sunday afternoons in Scripps Park.

The series is dead but could be resuscitated if a name sponsor steps up and underwrites the whole series.

The series is dead but could be resuscitated if a name sponsor steps up and underwrites the whole series.

The eight-date series averaged 800–1000 in attendance and this year featured Bastard Sons of Johnny Cash, Bill Magee Blues Band, Zydeco Patrol, and Sue Palmer. The Heroes played the final show on September 4.

“This was our 33rd season. When we started, the city provided everything.” Jones says the City of San Diego covered the stage, P.A., soundman, and trash expenses back in the ’80s.

“Now we have to pony up for everything. Plus, they have increased the fee to use the park 250 percent.”

But it got worse.

“We used to sell hot dogs and ice cream. Then the county came in. After 30 years they told us that their regulations said we had to have a sink with hot water because we had to have a place to wash the pot that boiled the hot dog water. Pop-up tents don’t have sinks. So we had to subcontract with a company. We get a small percentage of profits but it’s very small.”

So, who is the city councilperson?

“Sherri Lightner. We reached out to her and she got us grants from the Arts and Culture Commission to sponsor two of the shows.”

But that’s all she did.

Jones says the per-show cost has now spiraled to $4000–$5000 and that civic sponsors aren’t as forthcoming as they used to be. “One show, we couldn’t even get a sponsor and we had to dip into our savings.”

“It’s a beautiful setting,” says bluesman Bill Magee. “It’s a great way to spend an afternoon. The city needs to listen to the people who look forward to it every year.”

Jones says the series is dead but could be resuscitated if a name sponsor steps up and underwrites the whole series.

“We’re looking for $150,000 for a five-year commitment. That will save us the problems of dealing with the city; plus, we’ll have a little cushion. Like our president said, ‘Let’s make them miss us.’”

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