La Jolla concert series future in doubt

Yet another La Jolla community event is danger of becoming extinct: Concerts By The Sea.

“The Concerts By the Sea program is in real dire straits,” La Jolla Town Councilman Egon Kafka informed the group last week, noting six of nine remaining concerts in the 11-weeek summer series have yet to be underwritten at a cost of $2,400 each.

“If no one steps forward with any money at all, at the end of this season, Concerts By The Sea Inc. will have expended every nickel, and they will just fold.”

Since 1984, La Jolla Concerts by the Sea has been filling Scripps Park at La Jolla Cove with free, live music on summer Sunday afternoons. A nonprofit corporation staffed by volunteers runs the events and relies on the generosity of local sponsors and donors to pay its production costs.

Sharon Wampler pointed out community-run events have fallen on hard times.

“The economic realities have changed to where we need to start raising funds for classic La Jolla events like fireworks and Concerts By The Sea,” she said. “To do this, from now on, we need to pool our efforts. Together we need to have a fund and allocate it for events. That’s something to explore - providing more financial assistance.”

Kafka agreed. “These things we think collectively are precious in our community, that are otherwise going underfunded, we need to put them all together in a sort of united givers fund,” he said. “That could be done through our Town Council Foundation here, or it could be done through the La Jolla Foundation, or some combination.”

A similar situation occurred recently with the 24th annual Cove Fourth of July fireworks display co-sponsored by La Jolla restaurateur George Hauer who announced about a month before the event that it was being canceled due to the economic recession and rising costs.

But an 11th-hour Internet fundraising drive launched by La Jolla businessman Adam Harris and networked by Deborah Marengo raised in excess of the $27,000 needed to stage the display. A fait accompli, the event was saved and it went off without a hitch. In fact, it was bigger and better than ever with the inclusion of a 40-piece military band playing patriotic music.

Approached about the idea of broadening their newly forming foundation to include raising funds for other needy community-oriented events, Adam Harris said: “That could be something that we would want to fund. We wrote it (charter) in such a way that we could go out into the community.”

But Harris gave this caveat: “We have to be careful. We need to make sure that we could cover it. Our attorney told us that the original funds (collected) were for fireworks. But going forward, as an autonomous foundation, we could include the concerts in cooperation with us on the Fourth of July. I think that would be a great cause and another thing we could do for the community.”


The remaining 2009 La Jolla Concerts by the Sea are held from 2 to 4 p.m. at Scripps Park at La Jolla Cove.

July 12:

Big Time Operator (Big Band)

July 19:

The Legends (Rock N’ Roll Revue)

July 26:

Joe Rathburn’s Island (High Energy Island Music)

Aug. 2:

Incendio (Latin Jazz Fusion)

Aug. 9:

Delta Heat (Blues)

Aug. 16:

The Corvettes (Doo-Wop/Motown)

Aug. 23:

Rockola (Rock & Roll)

Aug. 30:

Mariachi Real De San Diego (Mariachi)

Sept. 6:

Benny Hollman’s Big Band Explosion (Big Band Jazz)