Scott Feldmann and Laurie Wheeler display a poster that is being used as part of the Eclectic’s Social Media campaign. Photo by Henk Frieze

The Eclectic Preview Party that serves as a fundraiser for the highly successful South Pasadena music festival raised about $7,000 for the event that attracts anywhere between 10,000 to 12,000 people on a Saturday in April.

“It was pretty much what we expected and we are so grateful for the support the community gives us for the Eclectic,” said Laurie Wheeler, president/CEO of the South Pasadena Chamber of Commerce. “The Eclectic is growing and it’s free.” Organizers estimate that about 100 people attended the party, which lasted until just after 10 p.m.

The 11th annual Eclectic Music Festival and Arts Crawl is on Saturday, April 27, with the Grammy-nominated Gin Blossoms as the headliners on the Eclectic’s main stage.

The Eclectic is produced by the South Pasadena Chamber of Commerce, in partnership with DeepMix Entertainment as well as the City of South Pasadena. The festival is a collaboration with local organizations including Friends of the South Pasadena Library, South Pasadena Music Center & Conservatory, and SPARC – South Pasadena Arts Council. Donations to The Eclectic Friends of the Arts in South Pasadena, a 501(c)(3) charitable organization, helps keep the festival free.

Last week, the Eclectic organizers had their annual preview fundraising gathering at the Arroyo Seco Golf Course. The annual event costs $60 per person. There were silent and live auctions and the unveiling of the 2019 Eclectic Poster. The auctions, along with ticket sales, brought in the estimated $7,000, according to Wheeler.

“We are so grateful to the community-friends who came to talk up the festival while raising funds that help us keep The Eclectic Music Festival and Arts Crawl free of charge for everyone who comes,” Wheeler said in a prepared statement.  “We look forward to another great family friendly festival this year, with an expanded area for music and art.”

Local artist Pete Morris was in the crowd to help unveil this year’s Eclectic poster featuring the names of all the musicians confirmed to appear this year.  Morris created this year’s bold orange design and signed copies for all Preview Party guests. 

The preview party also recognized Jeff Burke of Burke Triolo Studios for his contributions to art, music and culture in South Pasadena. Burke was presented a beautiful glass-embossed plaque as the Creative Community Award 2019.

Wheeler said that Burke’s contribution to the Eclectic over the years has been “magnificent.”

“Jeff Burke is simply amazing,” Laurie Wheeler said before the fundraiser.  “He has provided all the design and graphics for the Eclectic and so much more to this community. He is most deserving.”

The party also featured musical groups scheduled to play the Eclectic. A smaller version of Teresa James & The Rhythm Tramps played. The full ensemble includes a horn section and is scheduled to play the Mission East stage near the Fair Oaks Pharmacy during the festival. Also, the Elliott Caine Quintet played at the preview and it is scheduled to play at the stage at the South Pasadena Theatre Workshop. David Plenn and Chauncey Bowers also played at the party. 

The Eclectic also has a social media component to promote the festival that spotlights a poster made for online promotions as well as several on-camera interviews.

Partygoers enjoyed soft tacos, ceviche and other Mexican fare from South Pasadena’s La Fiesta Grande and Señor Fish while bidding on dozens of silent auction items.

The festival costs about $100,000 to put on, according to organizers, and that doesn’t include the fees that are waived or other expenses knowns as “soft costs.”

The Eclectic pays for all the entertainment and derives funds from several sources including the business improvement tax (BIT), chamber trustees, beer and wine sales, sponsors and grants.

Wheeler explained: “The use of the BIT funds is restricted to certain activities, basically to provide music and public events and the general promotion of retail trade activities in the area. The chamber has utilized some of these funds to create events that bring people to town, among them are the Arts Crawls and, of course, The Eclectic. Of course, the Eclectic has evolved into arguably the largest event in the city.”

The result is the music fete has become the last free music festival in the San Gabriel Valley of its size featuring name acts like the Gin Blossoms or last year’s headliner, Big Bad Voodoo Daddy.

The Gin Blossoms fusion of melodic rock, pop, folk and country elements has helped pave the way for the modern rock ‘n’ roll of today, according to Eclectic organizers.

Gin Blossoms’ hits have crossed over in five different formats, “taking the airwaves by siege,” and held the MTV playlist captive for most of the 90s, according to the press release issued by the Eclectic organizers last week. Boasting record sales of more than 10 million, the band continues to burn up the road performing over 120 tour-dates annually.

“We are thrilled to have The Gin Blossoms headlining the Eclectic,” Wheeler said. “South Pasadena is a multicultural and multigenerational community and the band’s music reflects the spirit of the city. We’re very excited that their energetic live shows will be part of our festival, which is free and open to the public.”

Brad Colerick, Eclectic music director, has said this year’s line-up is the best ever.

“I am excited about this year’s festival,” said Colerick. “It’s our 11th year and we keep growing and growing. This year the lineup is going to feature about 50 acts. We are going to have several stages again and this year we are planning on shutting down Mission Street from the Gold Line all the way to Fair Oaks Avenue. It’s going to be huge.”

As an example, Colerick shared with The Review the musical line-up so far.

The Main stage, at the intersection of Fairview Avenue and Mission Street, will feature the Gin Blossoms along with Dustbowl Revival, Incendio, and the perennial favorite, South Pasadena Transit Authority.

As mentioned earlier, Mission Street will be closed from Meridian Avenue to Fair Oaks Avenue this year and The Mission East stage near Fair Oaks Pharmacy will spotlight The Main Squeeze, Teresa James & The Rhythm Tramps, plus The Drive and Total Recall (featuring Tim Jones, owner of the South Pasadena Music Center.) 

Luciana Souza will headline the Library’s Carnegie stage along with Julia Vari and the David Plenn Band. The new Mamma’s Brick Oven location will have a stage to showcase Raye Zaragoza, Gurf Morlix, Jude Johnstone, and Joel Rafael. There will be a couple of Dublab DJ/Electronic artists, Callie Ryan and Crudo, at the Mission Tile stage. And the South Pasadena Theatre Workshop will have jazz bands, the Elliott Caine Quintet, the Dave Tull Trio, and Mark Hatch & Group 5. Other stages will be announced soon.

“This is truly an exciting time of year for us,” Colerick said. “South Pasadena is such a unique community with a diverse population and strong support for the arts. This festival is a highlight for So Pas that features so many other fine artistic endeavors sponsored by community groups and the city throughout the year. Yes, it’s about the music, the art exhibits, the films. But it’s also about our city, South Pasadena: the best place.”

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Steve Whitmore is the editor for the South Pasadena Review. Steve has spent more than four decades as an award-winning print and broadcast journalist with a 16-year stint as the senior media advisor for the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department. Steve comes to us from the Keene Sentinel in Keene, New Hampshire, where he covered politics and was a columnist.

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