For fans of big-time rock bands and other entertainment A-listers, September promises a shore thing: KAABOO.
KAABOO Del Mar is several festivals rolled into one. Now in its second year, the music, comedy, food, drink and visual-art extravaganza returns to the Del Mar Racetrack and fairgrounds September 16 to 18.
This year’s musical lineup includes performances by Aerosmith, Jack Johnson, Jimmy Buffett, Fall Out Boy, Lenny Kravitz, Ludacris and such rising young acts as St. Paul & the Broken Bones, and Chainsmokers.
Also on the lineup are performances from more than 30 comedians, including the cast of HBO’s Silicon Valley, Dana Carvey, Natasha Leggero and Jeff Ross. Food offerings will be available from standout Southern California chefs and restaurants, plus a multitude of spirits, wines and brews.
KAABOO is a “mixperience” aimed “at a more sophisticated and discerning audience than a traditional music festival,” says the three-day event’s mastermind Bryan E. Gordon, who heads Madison Capital Management, a multibillion-dollar private investment holding company based in Denver.
Among KAABOO’s non-traditional concert amenities are a swimming pool with cabanas overlooking the main stage; a volleyball court; gourmet dining options; an indoor spa and relaxation zone (offering massages and blow-dry services); and VIP packages that include valet parking, a personal concierge and access to a backstage artists’ lounge where lucky ticket-holders can meet performers.
Here’s a quick preview of the rockin’ weekend, a guide to what’s neat and what to eat, plus an exclusive interview with headliner Jack Johnson.
Don’t know Jack? That’s about to change...
Jack Johnson’s headlining KAABOO performance on Sunday, September 19, will mark his first performance anywhere in a year. It’s also his only show on the planet in 2016. So what made the professional-surfer-turned-mellow-singer-songwriter choose the 2-year-old festival at the Del Mar Racetrack and Fairgrounds for his sole appearance this year?
“That’s a good question,” says Johnson, speaking from his home on the North Shore of Oahu in Hawaii, just down the road from the house he grew up in. He lives on the island with his wife, Kim, and their three sons.
“I wasn’t sure if we’d tour this year, or not,” he says. “We had to decide pretty early on if we were in or out [with KAABOO]. We decided that, even if we don’t tour, it will be fun to go to San Diego. My wife’s dad lives there, and we have some aunts, uncles and friends there. So, if nothing else, we thought it would be fun to play in San Diego. We’re excited to come there.”
A UC Santa Barbara film studies graduate, Johnson, 41, has topped the U.S. Billboard charts three times. He has headlined major festivals such as Coachella and Bonnaroo, and counts such legends as Neil Young, Willie Nelson and Jackson Browne among his collaborators. His eight albums have sold 20 million-plus copies worldwide.
Armed with a growing batch of songs, Johnson says he may put out a new album next year. Or not.
A devoted environmentalist, he’s now completing music for the documentary film The Smog of the Sea, which chronicles a week-long Sargasso Sea journey he took with friends to study the effects of single-use plastic bottles and other plastics that pollute oceans.
Johnson and his wife are co-founders of the Kokua Hawaii Foundation, which supports environmental education in Hawaiian communities and schools. The couple also head the Johnson Ohana Charitable Foundation, which supports environmental, art and music education worldwide. Since 2001, the two nonprofits have helped raise more than $30 million.
For a man who loves the ocean so much, making music next to it just makes sense.
PacificSD: You’ve performed at the Del Mar Racetrack before, haven’t you?
JACK JOHNSON: We did play there, back in 2001 or 2002. Other than that, I went to a race there once, back when I was in college.
Did you bet?
I don’t think I had any money to bet. A friend of mine put a little money down.
Early on, your music career really got going in San Diego, right?
It really is the first spot our music took off. I was living in Santa Barbara, and San Diego was the first place that really embraced us. 91X was the first radio station to start playing our music.
When will the documentary film The Smog of the Sea be released, and how did it come about?
We’re figuring that out right now and we’ll do a couple of screenings in September. It’s in the final stages of being edited by a friend of mine, filmmaker Ian Cheney, who did King Corn, Truck Farm, The City Dark and a lot of other great documentaries. We met him years ago and started talking. I was invited to go on a trip with him put together by the 5 Gyres Institute.
Is gyres a Latin word?
I think so. Gyres are places in the ocean where the rotating currents bring things together. The institute is a plastic-pollution research group, and they focus on these five places in the ocean, including the North Atlantic, that have gyres.
How’d the movie come about?
I asked if I could bring my friend, Ian, along on the trip, and he brought sound gear and a camera. We filmed everything and made a documentary. The title, The Smog of the Sea, refers to Dr. Marcus Eriksen of the 5 Gyres Institute. He’s a scientist who was on board for our trip. He equates the plastic-pollution problem we have to pollution in the air and calls it the “smog of the sea.” You don’t really see it unless you take a closer look. When you drag trawls behind a boat, even in the bluest ocean you still pull up these small plastic items. We sailed from Florida to the Bahamas, where we had a three-day youth summit on plastics polluting the ocean, and then sailed on to Bermuda and beyond.
Do your concert-performance contracts include pro-environmental stipulations?
Yeah, especially when we go on tour. Backstage, we always have refillable water stations, and we do that in the [venue] as well. It’s written into our contracts - there has to be hookups for refillable water stations at our shows. It’s also in our contract that fans have to be allowed to bring in reusable water bottles. We have an ability to educate at concerts, especially since a lot of the fans that come are young and are still shaping their consciousness.
What about your tour buses and other factors?
We run all our tour buses on bio-diesel fuel. We have an informational area at every show we do called the Village Green, which has booths for the Surfrider Foundation and other environmental organizations. So we try to incentivize - especially the young new fans - to learn about their local nonprofit groups. It’s an ongoing conversation and learning process.
Jimmy Buffett’s 1977 breakthrough hit, “Margaritaville,” is a song about “wastin’ away” in a tropical paradise. The perennial hit has since spawned Buffett’s Margaritaville business empire, which includes a brand of tequila; two casinos; five restaurant and bar chains; an array of hotels, resorts and vacation clubs; several clothing lines; an online TV and radio station; and more. Buffett’s first musical, “Escape to Margaritaville,” opens in 2017 at the La Jolla Playhouse.
[Editor’s note: Many of Buffett’s other popular songs - including “Why Don’t We Get Drunk (and Screw)” and “My Head Hurts, My Feet Stink and I Don’t Love Jesus” - have enjoyed less merchandising success.]
Factor in his often sold-out concert tours, and it’s no surprise Forbes magazine estimates Buffett earned $35 million in 2015.
In advance of his oceanfront August 13 concert in Atlantic City, N.J., Buffett Tweeted: “If there’s a heaven for me, I’m sure it has a beach attached. With a stage on it?!” His Friday, September 16, seaside performance at KAABOO promises to be paradise for the 69-year-old rocker, not to mention his legions of fans known as Parrot Heads.
ST. PAUL & THE BROKEN BONES
If the show-stealing 2015 Coachella performance by St. Paul & The Broken Bones was typical, expect this red-hot band from Alabama to shake things up in a big way when it performs Friday, September 16, at KAABOO.
Led by singer Paul Janeway - who first attended Coachella as a fan to see Prince in 2008 - the eight-piece Broken Bones specializes in brassy, groove-happy 1960s soul music and funk, which had the Coachella audience dancing and roaring in approval.
Members of Aerosmith aren’t quite ready to retire, but lead singer and frontman Steven Tyler, 68, says his legendary Boston rock band will launch its farewell tour next year. (Tyler and guitarist Joe Perry consumed so much alcohol and drugs in the 1970s and ‘80s that they were nicknamed the Toxic Twins. Somehow, they lasted this long.) This year, the group will perform live at 11 shows worldwide, and the Saturday, September 17 headlining slot at KAABOO Del Mar will be its only U.S. concert appearance of 2016.
Since releasing its self-titled debut in 1973, Aerosmith has sold more than 115 million albums, thanks to such chart-topping classic songs as “Dream On,” “Love in an Elevator” and “Dude (Looks Like a Lady).” And don’t forget “Walk This Way,” a hit for the band in 1976 - and again in 1986, when Aerosmith re-cut the song with pioneering New York hip-hop trio Run-D.M.C., thereby creating the template for rap-rock.
Even if only a small fraction of Ludacris’ 20 million Facebook fans and nearly 12 million Twitter followers shows up for his Saturday, September 17, KAABOO performance, a major crowd will be on hand. Now 38, the man born Christopher Bridges knows how to command a stage, both as a rapper with nine albums under his belt and as an actor whose credits include key roles in four of the Fast & Furious movies. Don’t be surprised, in this contentious presidential election year, if Luda freestyles through an updated version of his combustible 2008 classic, “Politics As Usual.”
Founded 41 years ago in Birmingham, England, Steel Pulse has maintained a loyal international following for its righteous reggae riddims, infectious melodies and thought-provoking lyrics. The group’s commitment to social and political causes is evident on such albums as 1982’s “True Democracy,” 1984’s “Earth Crisis,” 1988’s “State of Emergency” and 2004’s “African Holocaust.”
In 1986, Steel Pulse became the first non-Jamaican act to win a Grammy Award for Best Reggae Album. In 1992, the group became the first reggae act from any country to perform at a presidential inauguration, thanks to roots-rocking Bill Clinton. They will perform on Saturday, September 17.
Some fans will attend Lenny Kravitz’s Saturday, September 17, KAABOO performance to hear him sing “Fly Away,” “Let Love Rule” and some of his other biggest hits. Others will attend to watch the multi-instrumentalist demonstrate his high-octane electric guitar chops. And some, no doubt, will be there hoping that, just maybe, history will repeat, and Kravitz will accidentally rip his skintight leather pants mid-song and expose his junk, as he did at his concert in Stockholm last summer.
Video of the incident went viral, prompting singer Steven Tyler of Aerosmith (which also performs at KAABOO September 17) to text longtime pal Kravitz: ""Dude... No underwear and pierced. F*** me. You never showed me that sh**.” Kravitz shared a screenshot of Tyler’s text with his 5.7 million Twitter followers, adding the caption: #penisgate.
RESTAURANTS: Alforon, Angel’s Salumi & Truffles, BCN, Bobboi Natural Gelato, Bottega Americano, Bugsy’s BBQ, Buona Forchetta, Ca’Momi Bearish, Cardiff Seaside Market, City Tacos, Cream, JINYA Ramen Bar, JSix, The Lanai, The Milk Bar, Poseidon, Puesto, Roti Rolls, Saiko Sushi, Searsucker Del Mar, So Rich Chocolate, Tostadas North Park.
CHEFS: Richard Blais (Juniper & Ivy, The Crack Shack), Josiah Citrin (Melisse in Santa Monica), Michael Fiorelli (Love & Salk in Manhattan Beach), Ray Garcia (Broken Spanish in Los Angeles), Timothy Hollingsworth (Otium in Los Angeles), Brian Malarkey (Searsucker, Herb & Wood), James Montejano (Cardiff Seaside Market), Javier Plascencia (Bracero, Misión 19 in Tijuana), Steve Samson (Sotto in Los Angeles), Anthony Sinsay (previously Dukes La Jolla, Harney Sushi), Marcel Vigneron (Wolf in Los Angeles).
WINERIES: Chateau Montelena (Calistoga, CA), Flora Springs (St. Helena, CA), Ghost Pines (St. Helena, CA), John Anthony Vineyards (Napa Valley, CA), One Hope Winery (Napa Valley, CA), Sequoia Grove (Napa, CA), Trujillo Wines (St. Helena, CA), Villa Maria Winery (Auckland, New Zealand).
CRAFT DISTILLERS: American Revolution Vodka (Boise, Idaho), Blue Chair Bay Rum (Rochester, N.Y.), BuzzBox Beverages (Rancho Mirage, CA), Casa Noble Tequila (Canandaigua, N.Y.), Crystal Head Vodka (Newfoundland, Canada), Double Cross Vodka (Slovak Republic, Slovakia), Dragos Cantina Tequila (Jalisco, Mexico), Gran Centenario -Tequila (Jalisco, Mexico), Mercado de Mezcal (Escondido), Momenti Spirited Ice Creams (Las Vegas, NV), New Amsterdam Vodka (Modesto, CA), Serpent’s Bite Whiskey (Canandaigua, N.Y.), White Claw Hard Seltzer (Chicago, IL), Woodchuck Hard Cider and Wyder’s Cider (Middlebury, Vermont).
CRAFT BEERS: Angel City Brewery (Los Angeles), Ballast Point (San Diego), Deschutes (Portland, OR), Golden Road Brewery (Los Angeles), Kona Brewing Company (Kailua-Kona, HI), Lagunitas (Petaluma, CA), Mason Ale Works (Oceanside), Saint Archer (San Diego), Sapporo (Japan), Uinta Brewing (Salt Lake City, UT), Victoria Beer (Mexico).
Friday, Sept. 16
Jimmy Buffett and The Coral Reefer Band
Fall Out Boy
Daryl Hall and John Oates
Andrew McMahon in the Wilderness
Citizen Cope (Solo/Acoustic)
St. Paul & The Broken Bones
Shovels & Rope
The Dustbowl Revival
Puddles Pity Party
Saturday, Sept. 17
Goo Goo Dolls
Third Eye Blind
Colvin & Earle
Karl Denson’s Tiny Universe
The Record Company
Judah & the Lion
Scot Nery’s Boobie Trap
The Cast of Silicon Valley
Sunday, Sept. 18
The Avett Brothers
G. Love & Special Sauce
The Main Squeeze
Cheech & Chong
Garfunkel and Oates