La Jolla to hop on the horn?


With the calendar full of crowd-drawing events La Jolla boasts — could a jazz festival be next? At the La Jolla Village Merchant’s Association (LJVMA) meeting June 8, David Payne of RTE Productions (the team behind the San Diego Bayfest at Petco Park) announced he would like to bring an upscale jazz festival to Scripps Park this fall.

Making the rounds at La Jolla’s various community advisory groups to drum up support, Payne said the name and date of the event have not been determined. He told La Jolla Light he hopes the concert series would “have the elegance of the Concours d’Elegance car show and the glamour of the Masters Golf Tournament with higher-end performers.”

Stirring the board’s excitement, so long as it’s not “elevator jazz,” Payne said the concert would span three nights, and bring about 2,500 people to La Jolla. “Artists we’d pursue would be (R&B legend) Smokey Robinson, Peter White, Mindi Abair, Brian Culbertson, George Benson and Dave Koz,” he said, adding there would likely be three bands each night.

The event would be reserved-seating only. “We would set it up so the performance area would be fenced off, with a separate area for vendors, but the south side of the park would be completely open.” Ticket prices have not been determined.

Payne is pursuing a weekend in October, but noting other area events planned for that month, including the Art and Wine Festival (Oct. 8-9 on Girard Avenue) and the Triathlon Challenge (Oct. 23 at The Cove), LJVMA member Ike Fazio suggested a pre-holiday festival in November might be easier to accommodate.

With tentative approval from the City of San Diego, pending local approval, Payne said the two major concerns he wanted to address were traffic and care of the grass at the park.

“At a previous events, thousands of people were parked off-site and we were able to bus them in and out. For something like this, we would do something similar where we park people off-site to minimize the traffic and parking impacts on the Village area,” he said. “We work with San Diego Police and … area high schools or community colleges because they have the parking but are often closed on weekends. Lots are staffed with attendants, portable toilets and trash receptacles. We want a traffic plan that minimizes impact on local merchants but at the same time brings 2,000 people to the area.” Bussing would begin in the early afternoon, so those that want to shop or eat in the Village will have a few hours to do so before the concerts begin.

With a 25-year history of putting on concerts in unconventional venues, Payne said he has experience with leaving grassy surfaces in pristine condition. “At past events, grass has been left in the same condition as when we got there,” he said. “We put down wood over the grass so it doesn’t get damaged and make sure the trucks don’t do sharp turns on the grass to prevent damage.”

He added, “Scripps Park, in my opinion, is one of the most beautiful parks in San Diego, so we want to bring a high quality event to high-end area such as La Jolla for the citizens and for those that would come to the event and showcase what La Jolla has to offer.”

With so much yet to be determined, LJVMA was not able to vote on the festival, but LJVMA Executive Director Sheila Fortune and Concours d’Elegance chair/ LJVMA member Michael Dorvillier volunteered to assist with future presentations. “This sounds like a great even that everyone is excited about, and we want you to be successful,” Fortune said.

— Although the agenda has not been posted, the jazz festival will likely next be heard at the 4:30 p.m. Monday, June 26 La Jolla Parks & Beaches meeting, both at the Rec Center, 615 Prospect St.