Eddie Vedder-curated Ohana Festival in Dana Point keeps spotlight on music and the environment – Daily News

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Since 2016, Pearl Jam frontman Eddie Vedder and Los Angeles-based concert promoter Live Nation have curated the annual Ohana Festival, bringing music, art, education and diversity to the multi-day event, which takes place at Doheny State Beach in Dana Point.

Now in its sixth year, Ohana returns to its seaside home Sept. 30-Oct. 2 with Stevie Nicks, Vedder and Pink topping the bill, along with an eclectic mix of other artists like Khruangbin, Brittany Howard, Jack White, Billy Strings, Manchester Orchestra, St. Vincent, Dermot Kennedy, Grouplove, Bomba Estero, Mike Campbell & The Dirty Knobs, The Revivalists and many more.

“It would be easy to put a bunch of like-minded rock bands on the bill, and you will see some of that, but just look at our headliners alone this year: It’s an incredible lineup,” Rich Best, president of booking at Live Nation in California said during a recent Zoom chat.

Best said that his crew works closely with Vedder and his team, including longtime cohort Mark Smith; when it comes to crafting the lineup each year, it ends up looking much like Vedder’s personal playlist, “very inclusive and diverse,” Best added.

Ohana has a laid-back vibe and has become known as a place for unique performances and once-in-a-lifetime collaborations, which Best attributes to the more communal backstage experience. With a capacity of about 15,000 per day, Ohana has a relatively intimate footprint with a small backstage hangout, which is where a lot of the ideas for the on-stage surprises come about.

“Backstage at Ohana, there’s no ego,” Best said. “It’s a celebration of music and a celebration of the artistry. There’s no, ‘This is my compound, stay out.’ That’s how you get things like Mike McCready and Matt Cameron ripping Soundgarden with Brandi Carlile and I can’t even count how many collaborations Eddie has done. And that’s all been very organic.”

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Vedder takes his duties seriously and shows up to the festival early and is there throughout the three-day weekend. Though he has been spotted taking surfing breaks during the event, he’s randomly popped up to play with acts like Simon Townshend, X and Jack Irons in the past.

“It’s not uncommon for Eddie to greet fans at the doors when the festival opens or to be playing a Beatles or Tom Petty song on the ukulele on the stage 10 minutes after the festival begins,” Best said. “One year, he got up there and just ripped an acoustic version of “Porch” (by Pearl Jam), which no one knew was coming.”

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