Street chanteuse April Walsh, an Irish-American lass with a French grandmother and several Gallic cousins, sings the lyrics of “La Vie En Rose” with a perfect French accent that will add a distinctive vibe spilling out of downtown Laguna Beach streets this Saturday, June 15.
Walsh’s sultry flair with songs from the 1930s and ‘40s will mix among nearly 40 street performers scheduled for the sixth annual Fête de la Musique, from 1 to 4 p.m., beginning and ending at Main Beach.
Organized by the Sister Cities Association that has united Laguna Beach with a French sibling, Menton, the festival will also populate performers along Forest and Ocean Avenues and Coast Highway in unlikely mostly outdoor venues.
Traditionally held near the summer solstice on June 21, the musical feast originated in Paris and now springs up in 250 cities from Berlin to Brisbane.
High school students join the lineup for two warm-up acts, at Laguna Presbyterian Church’s rose garden at noon and Dawson Cole Fine Art’s sculpture garden at 12:30 p.m. The music begins officially with a 1 p.m. performance by the Laguna Concert Band Swing Set on Main Beach. In all, 38 musicians will perform, compared to 29 last year, all of whom are donating their time.
To avoid groups or individual performances from overlapping, Pat Kollenda, one of the Fête’s founders, and Festival of Arts events director Susan Davis will take on the duty of “Decibel Divas,” keeping acoustical order scooting around in a golf cart.
With the addition of Baja California’s Cabo San José as the new sister city and St. Ives, England, as a friendship city, the festival is broadening its cultural portfolio with mariachis and folk singers like Richard and Mary, selected by Fête chairman Ken Aubuchon, a self-described Francophile who attended his first festival in France’s Avignon. He sought out the Laguna version last year. “Although I am interested in music, my reason to get involved is cultural,” he said.
A friendship city, by the way, is a precursor to becoming a sister city.
A volunteer for the last three years, Caroline Wright scouted for locations, making her rounds among businesses willing to host performers.
Laguna’s international alliances began seven years ago when Visitors Bureau chair Karyn Philippsen and Kollenda attended a Féte de la Musique in Los Angeles and wanted to transplant the concept. They succeeded, and last year’s fete drew music lovers at every corner.
The SCA will offer a raffle ticket for a trip to Cabo to new members who join on Saturday. Membership costs $25 a year, $50 for families and $100 for businesses.