You know the day destroys the night
Night divides the day
Tried to run
Tried to hide
Break on though to the other side!
So the Doors sang, opening their set with their hit “Break On Through (To The Other Side) at Wiens Family Cellars. Jim Morrison in his leather pants hovering over the mic stand, Ray Manzarek leading the melody via his organ, Robby Krieger riffing on his six-string, and John Densmore keeping the ship sailing with his strong backbeat. Except…it wasn’t Jim Morrison and the Doors circa 1969 – it was Wild Child, and it was this past Saturday evening. For those in attendance, there really was no difference. Jim Morrison & the Doors were indeed on stage…long live the Lizard King!
For those not “in the know,” Los Angeles-based Wild Child has been performing the last 20 years as the world’s premier Doors tribute band. They mirror the depth, energy, emotion, and danger of the Doors’ concerts as they were back when Nixon held office and the war raged in Viet Nam. Some of the most important and influential music from that turbulent time in our history was brought to life via Wild Child’s amazing performance. The Sixties were alive & kicking this blustery May evening, and the audience – many who experienced the late 1960s first-hand – were out in full effect.
Golden Crown Productions are the vehicle and the heart behind such shows, as they produce concerts throughout the summer months here in Temecula to raise money for numerous charities, such as the Unforgettables Foundation, California Family Life Center, and the Musicians Workshop. With Wiens Family Cellars, they have found the perfect co-partner and venue for their concerts, which has included the English Beat, Tommy Tutone, Stan Ridgeway, and Berlin. Tonight was the first of five such concerts to take place this year at Wiens Winery.
Against the landscape of grape vines, orange trees, and snow-capped mountains, the stage at Wiens provides the picturesque backdrop that sets a Golden Crown Prod. concert apart from all others in the Temecula Wine Country. Those who purchased VIP tickets were seated at tables in front of the main stage (where they enjoyed a scrumptious dinner provided by Smokey Mountain Catering), while those with general admission tickets enjoyed seats right behind the tables. The property was transformed into a major concert venue (Golden Crown puts on a first-class production), but with a smaller, club-like vibe. Maybe even, say, “down-home.” Being an outdoor venue, it brought back memories of attending a family reunion in Iowa when I was a teenager. It was at a cousin’s house and he had a huge backyard with tons of grass area and picnic tables, where we barbequed hamburgers, passed the potato salad, and played softball later in the day. And that’s what it was like at Wiens – tons of friends and family, a little BBQ grillin’ going on, and fantastic wine flowing. The only difference is that this “reunion” just happened to have a great band belting out Doors songs that we all know and love.
Wild Child’s performance was spot-on and as realistic as they come – it was as if aliens had lifted the Doors from the Whisky A Go Go stage in 1967 and gently set them in front of us on this gorgeous stage in the vines. The evening’s semi-dark sky welcomed the performers as they hit the stage. It was past twilight, but not yet fully night – we were in that weird, mysterious, almost spooky part of the evening. A perfect entrance, really, as much of the Doors’ music can be described as such – dark, enigmatic, and eerie. Front man Dave Brock as Jim Morrison is a sight to behold – not only does he have Morrison’s vocals down to a “T,” but he’s got his mannerisms and stage presence in his back leather pants pocket. Brock prowled the stage as the Lizard King did back in the day – relentless & sensuous, yet never going completely over-board. He pushed and tested the limits, but never fell over the side of the boat into the water. All great rock and roll is about tension & release and straddling that fine line in-between the two. Jim knew that – he lived his entire life flirting with that ethos. Tonight, we witnessed Dave Brock do the same.
Wild Child’s set included many of the Doors’ biggest hits and most popular songs: “Touch Me,” “Love Me Two Times,” “Alabama Song,” “Roadhouse Blues,” “When The Music’s Over,” “Light My Fire,” “LA Woman,” and their cover of Van Morrison & Them’s classic, “Gloria.” As the hits continued, the crowd in front of the stage grew and grew, until the entire area was filled with dancing and singing fans. Perhaps, if the wine country’s ten o’clock curfew didn’t hold true, we’d have been witness to such favorites as “Riders On The Storm,” “People Are Strange,” and “The End.” I guess there’s always a next time, right?
The evening also brought out a few select VIPs, such as sponsor Intrepid Cycles’ co-owner and Don Biron and original Alice In Chains’ bassist and reality TV star Mike Starr, who was there to support his friends from the evening’s opening band, Timmy and the Po’Boys, a Creedence Clearwater Revival tribute band. Look for a Taste of Temecula piece on Intrepid Cycles in the near future.
Congratulations to Golden Crown Productions for putting on a great show while raising money for a noble cause (Musicians Workshop), Wiens Family Cellars for being the perfect hosts, and of course Wild Child for their scintillating performance. Golden Crown and Wiens’ next scheduled concert is the Beatles tribute band, A Ticket To Ride, on June 19th – see you there.