Hansen: Music festival to challenge stereotypes

March 06, 2014|By David Hansen
  • Always working deals, Blue Water Music Festival organizer Rick Conkey is pulling off another big event, March 29-30, at the Sawdust grounds.
Always working deals, Blue Water Music Festival organizer… (David Hansen, Coastline…)

Most people segment their lives in broad categories: family, work, play.

Each category comprises many activities. In the play bucket, for example, there might be art, music, cinema or duck hunting.

But what if there were no categories? What if our lives were not defined by boxes, straight lines and order?

That, in essence, is the premise of Laguna's first real contemporary music festival in more than a decade. The Blue Water Music Festival will be held on the grounds of the Sawdust Festival March 29-30.

It's called a music festival, but it's more like an eclectic artistic convergence of sight, sound and soul.

"It has a soul to it," said organizer Rick Conkey. "That's what we've been trying to put into this. It's just trying to show how powerful the arts are. It's so much more than a music festival."

Broadly defined, it's a way to celebrate the many local musicians who have contributed to untold causes including autism awareness, the environment and education. Half the general admission ticket sales will be donated to a variety of local nonprofits.


There will be dancing, food, performance art, booths and of course music: two days, three stages and about 30 bands. For details visit

The city's planning department approved the project at its Feb. 26 meeting, where supporters rallied behind the effort.

"We're very excited that music does matter to the people of Laguna," said long-time resident Steve Kawaratani.

Local businessman and Coastline Pilot columnist Billy Fried also supported the festival, acknowledging Conkey's hard work to make it happen.

"We're always known as an art town, visual arts, but he's making sure that we're also known as a music town," Fried said. "And that brings in a whole new set of visitors. It's good for the economy; it's good for the town."

Ticket prices for the event are $65 for one day or $120 for both days. Other VIP options are available. By contrast, the Coachella music festival starts at $375.

Ever the promoter, Conkey is proud of his musical lineup, which boasts a variety of genres, from funk to reggae.

"I actually think we have a better lineup than Coachella does, if you take away the major headliners," he said. "It's not U2, but these are the best people who have not been signed by major record labels."

Artists include David Lindley, Wally Ingram, Pato Banton, Jason Feddy, Common Sense, Missiles of October, Rebel Rockers, Sasha Evans, Salty Suites, Ken Garcia Band, World Anthem and many others.

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