Hot Summer Nights 2011 has been taking place every Friday evening from 6:00 pm until 9:00 pm since July 8th and will continue through Sep 2nd down in Old Town Temecula. Of course, this particular Friday night on July 29th may not have been the hot balmy summer night one might expect, but what the night lacked in temperature, it made up in venue. Old Town was alive with hundreds of people both young and old walking the sidewalks and enjoying a night of eating, drinking, and live entertainment coming from practically every street. One couldn’t help but feel like a kid in the candy store. Where to go first? What to see next? Will there be enough time to hit everything and miss nothing? Yes, Old Town was definitely hot tonight!
It was time to start off the night and, despite the amount of people who were already lining the streets, parking was a breeze with plenty of public parking. Having parked off of Main Street and Mercedes Street, it was natural to head on over to the crowd at Sweet Lumpy’s BBQ. After all, the word BBQ along with the sounds of good country music might be enough to draw many. There were outside picnic benches on the patio and nestled against the restaurant building on one side was a bar serving wines and beers and on the other side a full band of eight calling themselves ‘Older Than Dirt’, serenading diners with the songs of Hank Williams Sr., Johnny Cash, and even some Gospel. And if you have never listened to the unique sounds of the musical washboard with its distinctive metallic scratching sound, you were in store for a special solo performance.
If you want to do some wine tasting while out on one Hot Summer Night, plenty of places were open late for the experience. The historical Palomar Inn’s lobby located just past Fifth St. provides the setting for Curry Vineyard’s tastings of their fine red wines. You could enjoy these wines on this particular night to the slow and melodious music of Patti Pannell & Austin Ladd Roberts who were seated no more than 5 feet away. The soulful voice of Patti with the skillful accompaniment of Austin Ladd on guitar were the perfect pairing to the fine red wines one was able to savor at the counter with Mr. Curry.
Across the street down towards Sixth St., Tesoro Winery was also open late for wine tasting with a selection of both whites and reds from the Temecula Valley.
The general festive atmosphere was provided by numerous bands of all types of genre. Walking up and down the streets of Front Street, you could hear band after band coming into hearing range as if you were perusing the stations on a radio. Between First St. and Second St. in the courtyard of Baily’s were the rhythmic sounds of reggae by the Californians. Off Main St. in the back patio of The Public House, you heard the rock sounds of a young three man band GrooveSession that exuded the dynamic power of their message printed on their card, “Warriors 4 Peace & the Positive Movement”. And if that was a bit too intense for your taste, the Classic Rock Quartet of Two of Us Plus One drew people in with their rendition of “Green River” by Creedence Clearwater Revival and Jim Croce’s “Don’t Mess Around with Jim”. They also offered songs by Willie Nelson, Roy Orbison, and the Beatles.
On the corner of Fourth St. the folks from Q103.3, our Temecula Valley’s own growing local rock station, were parked and set up to broadcast live the night’s events. And lest we forget to mention, they were generous enough to even put in a good word for our very own Taste of Temecula.
Refreshing was what described the show of talent and entrepreneurship of two young men who when approached and asked, “What do you call yourselves?” spontaneously answered back, “Awesome!” John Hughes and Cody Wood, locals to the area, were taking this opportunity to show off their musical talent with their vocals, a guitar, and keyboard. People were continually stopping to listen to the engaging duo.
Perhaps one of the biggest outside draw of people came from a young band of men, Safety Orange, with their appealing upbeat SoCal Beach Rock Reggae sound. Set up just off to the side of Rosa’s Cantina in front of the Old Town Smoke Shoppe and surrounded by the mildly discernable wafting odor of fine cigars, Safety Orange entertained for hours to young and old alike. Their renditions of Sublime as well as oldies like Gloria Gaynor’s “I Will Survive” were a hit with the crowd as well.
Another big hit was down near Sixth Street where the Dalton Gang played Classical Rock to a large crowd at the Temecula Wine and Beer Garden. Sitting right up front near the band were Ross and Andrea Kriso who have lived in Temecula for the past ten years. Ross offered the writer the scoop on how to do the night right. “We took a cab. You need to get dropped off by the Stampede near Second St. and then work your way up Front Street past the Bank.” When asked if they would come again, Ross smiled and stated simply, “Every Friday night.”
One cannot put a close to the sights and sounds of this Friday night without noting the extreme popularity and dedication by Dynamite Dave to the littlest of attendees, the children. A long line of kids were sighted early in the evening standing next to this tall and friendly balloon artist who was capturing the attention of so many little ones with his fun and colorful creations. One girl was eagerly awaiting a “Mohawk” headdress made of bright pink and black balloons. Dynamite Dave could be seen working into the night and the line never seemed to dwindle. Around 9:30 pm, he could be heard commenting with a smile, “Still only an hour line.” Also to the delight of the kids, especially the little girls, was CC & Company offering free face painting. Beautifully painted with colors of lilac and pink with sparkles adorned a patiently sitting little girl.
At the end of the night, you could be sure that the grown-ups would be leaving humming some tune of some genre of music to their liking and the kids contentedly clutching in their little hands a special balloon creation as they nodded off fast asleep on the car trip home. As for this writer, she left contentedly clutching her two bottles of premium wine from the local Temecula Valley, memories of one Hot Summer Night, and a vow to return again. All in all, it was a very good night.