Tri-Valley summer of free movies, concerts underway
By Lou Fancher
What on earth is the Tri-Valley coming to? The Apes are throwing rock (tunes) in Pleasanton parks, and Danville isn't any different, what with Hella dancers and Fishpeople going on a Journey Unauthorized.
Folks in San Ramon are acting up too, mixing opera with the odd timing of Whiskey Dawn served in the late afternoon.
If that's not enough, "The Goonies" are in Dublin during July and it's "Frozen" in Emerald Glen Park during August.
With the entire area gone wild, there's little hope of corralling the scofflaws. In fact, they're being encouraged.
Of course, it's actually just summer in local parks. Free concerts and movies -- let's call them "go-out" movies; the 21st century's answer to drive-in movie theaters -- are all the rage.
In 1933, movie buff and early startup tycoon Richard Hollingshead invented and patented Park-In Theaters. Eventually, the term "drive-in" referred to watching an outdoor film from the family or a sweetheart's car.
In a post-World War II phenomenon that boomed in the 1950s and '60s, drive-in theaters across the country grew to define a segment of American culture that bucked tradition. Family feuds were sometimes acted out -- long hair draped over the back seat of a Ford station wagon with fake wood siding nearly caused World War III in my family when my older sister's "stay-off-my-turf" territory was violated.
And a few years later, a first kiss with a new boyfriend blurs any recall of whatever Hollywood film was playing on the enormous screen nearby. If these memories seem like innocent times, well, that's half the charm of outdoor entertainment.
The other half might be calling chips smothered in cheese and a mammoth soda "dinner." In Tri-Valley parks this summer, cuisine at outdoor films and concerts trends in the direction of food trucks and sometimes reaches sophisticated levels, especially at the area's wineries.
Wente Vineyards' Summer Cinema Series offers food from the venue's Wood Fire Kitchen, and Wente wines by the glass or bottle are available. Family Movie Nights at 3 Steves Winery in Livermore hosted by Karen Bartholomew begin at dusk on the third Friday of each month through September.
Concerts in parks located near downtown restaurants -- such as the Pleasanton Downtown Association's Friday night June-through August events -- encourage visitors to pick up dinner or snacks from nearby establishments before staking a claim to a seat with blankets and lawn chairs arranged close to concert stages.
Rock band Damn Dirty Apes (under their "family-friendly name," "The Apes") played July 15 at Lions Wayside Park. Other bands range from classic rock to jazz and blues to big band, '50s and '60s hits to Latin music and more. With plenty of room for dancing, should the urge to groove in the grass take hold, there's nothing more liberating than swinging and swiveling in the great outdoors with friends and family.
Danville's summer concerts encourage toe-tapping with bluegrass-Americana-style JimBo Trout and the Fishpeople in early August, but expect full-body workouts when Journey Unauthorized brings its tribute act to town two weeks later.
Festival Opera's annual concert usually pops up early in San Ramon. If you missed a chance to waltz to Strauss, there's opportunity to soothe your soul with Whiskey Dawn's country crossover music that's sure to include a 3-4-meter hit.
Ultimately, summer concerts are celebrations of Bay Area talent and an opportunity to discover that your kid's geometry teacher or your dentist has a second identity. Two examples: lead vocalist Camden DooLittle of the band Max Cruise shakes things up in Pleasanton during a departure from her regular post delivering singing lessons and running a kids rock band camp in Danville. The band's male lead vocalist, Pete Flores, puts down his roofing company's shingles to pick up a microphone and belt out funk-rock tunes.
It turns out there's a simple answer to the initial question about what's up in Tri-Valley parks this summer. It's family-friendly fun, free and easy.