For more than three decades, the Water Music Festival on the Long Beach Peninsula has given audiences an experience to enjoy and remember. This year’s festival — taking place Friday through Sunday, Oct. 13 through 15 — will be no exception.
Swing Fever, of San Francisco, kicks off this year’s festival Friday, Oct. 13, at the historic Inn at Harbour Village with a program full of classic jazz, jumping and jiving.
George Gershwin, Cole Porter, Count Basie and Duke Ellington are but a few recognizable names from the era. Vocalist and crowd favorite Denise Perrier is backed by trombone, bass, guitar, saxophone, clarinet and drums, plus additional vocalizing from the group.
“This music is our passion,” Swing Fever founder Bryan Gould said. “We’re crazy for the classic tunes from the 1930s and 40s. It’s romantic, torrid and witty.”
Swing Fever not only plays music but talks about it: colorful stories, historical anecdotes, biographical sketches about the music and the people who created and performed it.
Did you know that Nat King Cole was a starving musician in 1943? And that when he wrote his first hit, “Straighten Up and Fly Right,” he sold it for $50? The rest, as Gould would say, “is history.”
Doors swing open at 6 p.m. for a no-host wine bar. At 7 p.m., Swing Fever ups the tempo. Get ready to tap your toes and clap your hands. “Watch out — you might catch Swing Fever, too!” Gould said
Music at the Mission
There’s a new twist on the Water Music Festival this year.
San Francisco’s Music at the Mission Chamber Players will perform in the Leadbetter Lighthouse in Ocean Park. Towering high in the sky, the lighthouse is on the grounds of the private 60-acre Leadbetter Farm estate.
On Saturday evening, Oct. 14, the fire-breathing dragons guarding the gates, along with tireless festival volunteers, welcome ticket holders at 6 p.m. for a no-host wine bar. The Chamber Players perform at 7 p.m.
The concert repeats on Sunday afternoon, Oct. 15. Gates open at 1 p.m. for a no-host happy hour. The concert follows at 2 p.m.
“The Lighthouse seats 100, which is pretty amazing when you think of a lighthouse — it gives you some scope of the size,” Diane Marshall, the festival chairwoman, said. “It provides fabulous sound, too.”
Saturday evening sells out well before the concert date, she said; offering two different times allows the festival to offer more people the opportunity to attend the chamber music program in a remarkable setting.
Music at the Mission Chamber Players is a small, elite group of musicians who gather several times a year to perform at Mission San Jose in Fremont, California, in a series they call “Chamber Music Outside the Box.”
“Our goal is to continuously strive for artistic excellence by providing audiences with provocative, engaging and high-caliber programs,” said Rhonda Bradetich, the group’s flutist.
Six musicians demonstrate their expertise on flute, piano, double bass, violin, cello and viola. Their program includes Bach, Mozart and Prokofiev, and will feature Franz Schubert’s Piano Quintet in A Major (aka the “Trout”).
‘Icing on the cake’
In keeping with the festival’s ongoing dedication to music programs in area schools, student performances precede each concert.
On Friday night, the Ocean Beach School District student jazz trio opens the evening with Christopher Lake and Tristan Trudell, accompanied by Tom Trudell. On Saturday and Sunday, vocalist/pianist Elle Personius is front-and-center.
On Monday morning, Oct. 16, Music at the Mission players will continue the WMF Education Outreach program, sharing their talents with area students.
Each year, a portion of funds raised goes back to music programs in the school district. Locals lodge, transport and feed the visiting musicians.
“WMF volunteers do just about anything they can to help,” Marshall said. “Then the musicians put the icing on the cake, so to speak.”