By Rachel Katz, Special to the Independent
“For me, what I enjoy most is the interaction with the musicians,” said Ken Aubuchon, performance organizer for the annual Fete de la Musique, taking place this Saturday, June 17 starting at 12 p.m. in downtown Laguna Beach.
The event organized by the Laguna Beach Sister Cities Association mirrors one put on by Laguna Beach’s first sister city, Menton, France. The town’s other adopted siblings are San Jose del Cabo, Mexico and St. Ives, England. This festival dates back to the 1980s with Menton’s celebration of the International Day of Music known as Fete.
“It’s amazing to see something grow and become so popular,” said Karyn Philippsen, founding president of the Laguna Beach Sister Cities Association. She said Laguna’s other sister cities were selected based on similarities of food, art, population and geography.
Myriad performers will be entertaining those planning on attending the event or just people passing through downtown. This year, the event expands to 52 locations, compared to 38 last year, with locations along Coast Highway to Legion Street as well as a few venues in the HIP District, also along Coast Highway between Thalia and Mountain Streets. Many performers from previous years will return alongside 22 newcomers.
“Their enthusiasm and dedication to performing is inspiring to me,” said Aubuchon, who has organized the festival’s talent for the past five years.
New to the festival is the newly organized local group, The Skeleton Crew, a Grateful Dead tribute band.
Orin Neufeld is the band’s most loyal deadhead, as the band’s fans are called. “To me, I love The Dead. I’ve seen them probably 300 times.”
Neufeld said he attended his first Grateful Dead concert in 1979 when he was just 15. “After that concert, I was hooked,” said Neufeld, who taught himself how to play a guitar he found in his parents’ attic at age 14, inspired by the album “Tommy” by The Who.
Alongside playing in the band, Neufeld owns the Laguna Beach Batting Cages on Laguna Canyon Road, coaches youth baseball, and also plays in a semi-pro baseball league himself. “It’s all supposed to be fun. This is the reason I don’t work in an office everyday.”
He and his fellow band members Paul Kaas, Bob Campion, Dan Shapero and Paul Brow now regularly play at local venues.
All are invited for the day’s activities starting at 12 p.m. on the Main Beach cobblestones, with a children’s parade and The Swing Set Band playing jazz tunes, and a closing ceremony in the same location at 4 p.m.