Street Scene, San Diego’s largest and longest running music festival, celebrates its silver anniversary August 28 and 29 on the streets of downtown’s East Village adjacent to Petco Park.
Created by longtime Bird Rock resident, Rob Hagey, this year’s all-ages event will
feature 45 bands, including the Black Eyed Peas, Modest Mouse, Cake and M.I.A, performing on five separate stages.
“I’m stunned to think about how long I’ve been doing this,” said Hagey as he reflected back to the days when Street Scene was launched as a way to capitalize his now inactive La Jolla Jazz Festival, which later became the San Diego Jazz Festival and ran for over a decade. “I’m not sure the idea ever entered my mind back then.”
Hagey, who since 1979 has been producing concerts in San Diego, realized from the start
the significance of creating an annual event. “That to me was the most important part of doing this,” he said. “The festival is different from a concert. The planning goes into the detail and you work at it and that success feeds into the next year and you start thinking about how you can make it better.”
Jimmy Parker, executive director of the Gaslamp Quarter Association worked as a stagehand on the first Street Scene in 1984 and was involved was with several reincarnations of the event for over 20 years. Parker said that before the ground was broken on the San Diego Convention Center, it was Street Scene that came in and began using entertainment as a redevelopment tool. He pointed out that business and property owners throughout the county of San Diego began to realize that there was a vibrant area in downtown and it got people to come down at a time when the area south of Broadway wasn’t overly inviting to the general populace.
“We all kind of grew together,” said Parker as he described how Street Scene has
transformed from smaller stages with great strong regional and international acts to some huge stages that can accommodate mega acts with large audiences. “Street Scene has definitely earned its place in San Diego’s history.”
While on the subject of change, Hagey explained that over the years the event has evolved into a much more sophisticated operation. He described how the sound systems, video screens and level of music have become much more complex and substantial.
Hagey acknowledged that the talent has been skewed towards a younger crowd. A phenomenon he attributed to the availability of performers and to what makes sense from year to year. “The festival was more “rootsy” maybe than it is now,” he said. “Perhaps that’s because we’re an independent promoter and the event takes place in an urban environment.”
Nevertheless, he admitted that one of the more challenging aspects of staging an event such as Street Scene is exposing new audiences to music that they might not be
familiar with, which Hagey said harks back to what the festival was all about and what
makes it very eclectic.
New for the event this year is an IPhone application from Useful Creativity launched exclusively for Street Scene 2009. Users are provided with event information, band lineups, music downloads, schedule updates and alerts. Additionally, there is an interactive event map, with trolley schedules, directions, parking lot information and a feature to mark your car’s location for easy retrieval after the festival.
Several new vendors have come on board for this year’s event including JB Wagoner of
Skyrocket Distillery in Temecula, maker of Temequila, which has been referred to as the
first American tequila. Also new this year is a micro brewery beer festival with
over 18 brewers participating.
“I’m a Street Scene Vet,” said Scott Hayne of La Jolla Shores. “Last year was my first year back and it was great. I’ve never had a bad time and I can bet that this year’s show is going to be great.”
For more information on Street Scene 2009 go to