OHANA Festival was held on Friday, September 28 through Sunday, September 30 at Doheny State Beach in Dana Point, CA. The 3rd annual OHANA Festival was all about “storytelling” and the ohana celebration included roaming throughout the beach and lush grass areas of Doheny State Beach, right off the shore of the Pacific Ocean, taking in the sites and sounds of some of the top singers, songwriters, musicians, and artists taking place just steps away from the sands of one of Southern California’s most iconic beaches. Libations included a plethora of craft beer, wine, signature cocktails, as well as artisan food options from local restaurants and food trucks served throughout the day and into the night. With a libation in hand, the sea breeze in your hair, and musical vibes in the air… this festival was all about a good time and great story.

The OHANA festival site is a combination of park and beach at one of Southern California’s most beautiful and picturesque venues located in the infamous south Orange County. The grounds offered not only fun in the sun at a sandy beach, but a big grassy park, lined with many palm trees to kickback and chill whether it be on a hammock, beach chair, towel, or park bench. There were two stages and plenty of space for the plethora of entertainment to be had by all. The Cali sun shined nicely during the day as usual, and the nighttime glimmered as the palm trees lit up with colorful lights adding even more ambiance to the cool and vibing beats.  

Ohana means family and this festival is not only a family friendly event, but showcases artists at all levels of their craft from new to seasoned. Festival entrance, both general admission and VIP, allowed for roaming throughout the lush grass areas of Doheny State Beach, right off the shore of the Pacific Ocean, to touching the sand. The festival included many libations that not only involved craft beers, food, and live music, but a weekend of entertainment that featured oversized interactive games such as Jenga, Beer Pong, Cornhole Bean Bag Toss to vendor interactive booths with freebies, fresh flower headbands, and many photo ops and selfie stations. Vendors, Bai, Kind, and Boulder Canyon fueled the festival crowd by passing out what seemed like an unlimited supply of “Bubbles,” Bai sparkling water, a variety of Kind bars, and bags of Sea Salt kettle chips. People watching alone was very entertaining in and of itself, but the vendors definitely added to the fun with their creative interactive booths and giveaways. For those wanting to go above and beyond, there was a separate VIP area, which made the experience extra special for additional price. Storytelling artistries unfolded throughout the park during the weekend, such as the “Ohana” sandcastle sponsored by Bai and the painting I dubbed the “Queen and the Leo” by artist, Sonny Sundancer, a british-born street artist and muralist from South Africa, whose art was inspired by a technology world going back to the tribal world by going back to nature to start over again, depicted in his painting of an African Queen with a lion and butterflies… this all added to the artistry craft curated at this festival.

The third annual OHANA Festival, is a 3 day event curated by Pearl Jam frontman, Eddie Vedder, and had over 40,000 attendees this year. Doors opened at noon everyday and went into the night yielding a full day of festival fun. The concert headliner lineup included Eric Church with a special acoustic set on Friday, Eddie Vedder on Saturday, and Mumford & Sons closed out the festival on Sunday night. The weekend lineup across the board was a blend of 33 awesome artists from iconic to new acts. The mix of artists and genres included a variety of rock, folk, country, and pop, from newcomers Timmy Curran, The Alive, Plague Vendor, NoMBe, The Wild Feathers, to the soulful and funky Fantastic Negrito, The War And Treaty, Pow Pow Family Band, Lauren Ruth Ward, just to name a few of the standout acts.

Performances took place on the Main Stage, the Tiki Stage, and the Storytellers Stage located within the Cove. The daily lineup included the following:

  • Friday, September 28 – The festival was opened up by Timmy Curran, and followed by Kevin Devine, Dave Hause And The Mermaid, The War And Treaty, The White Buffalo, John Doe Folk Trio, Nikki Lane, Amos Lee, Norah Jones, and night ended with headliner, Eric Church.
  • Saturday, September 29 – Desure opened up the day and was followed by Lilly Hiatt, Billy Raffoul, Plague Vendor, Lauren Ruth Ward, NoMBe, Bahamas, Johnny Marr, Liz Phair, Yeah Yeah Yeahs, and Eddie Vedder ended the night on a special note being so grateful for this event and his fans.
  • Sunday, September 30 – The Alive opened up the day and was followed by The Palms, The Wild Feathers, Nick Hakim, Allan Rayman, Fantastic Negrito, Hiss Golden Messenger, Andrew McMahon In The Wilderness, Switchfoot, Young The Giant, Beck, and Mumford & Sons closed down the festival with an energetic bang.
  • “Storytellers… the world begins where the road ends” Eddie Vedder — The Storyteller Stage was all about presentations and passions from individuals, panels of  legends, conservationists and lifestyle enthusiasts alongs with artists on a global level telling their stories through words, pictures, video, movie, paint, wood, etc. Storytelling involved all types of artists curating live at this event from painter, Sonny, to woodworker, Jeffro Uitto, just to name a couple examples. They created live renderings throughout the festival just like the live music performed, telling their stories through their artistry craft.

Eddie Vedder is all about collaborations and he kicked off the festival on Friday with a cover of the Beatles’ “Here Comes The Sun” on his ukulele — such a special treat for early bird attendees! On Saturday, he treated early festival attendees to an acoustic version of Pearl Jam’s “Porch,” which was also in his main stage set, and showed up throughout the festival joining the John Doe Folk Trio, covering X‘s “The New World” on Friday, Johnny Marr covering The Smiths’ “There Is a Light That Never Goes Out” on Saturday and closing out the weekend by appearing with Mumford & Sons on Sunday for a rocking version of Bob Dylan’s “All Along the Watchtower.” Additionally, during his Saturday headlining set, Vedder was joined by Liz Phair on Pearl Jam’s “Better Man” and later in the set he was accompanied musically and vocally by Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers’ Scott Thurston on three songs, “Wildflowers,” “Room At The Top,” and “I Won’t Back Down” in a special tribute to his friend Tom Petty, who passed away last year and was going to perform at the festival this year.

The OHANA Festival originated in 2016 with Eddie Vedder and pro surfer Kelly Slater launching the event with a portion of the proceeds benefiting the San Onofre Parks Foundation, a California non-profit that works with the California State Parks to develop, preserve and enhance parks around the state. Home is where the heart is and Doheny is were Vedder caught his first waves as a kid so Doheny as the festival site is so apropos for this festival location. Aside from Vedder performing at the event, his collaborations with several of the performers make the event oh so special. According to Vedder, “Music and surf, the ultimate combination. And I hear there’s a swell coming in just for the occasion. Nature Approves. Surf’s Up OHANA!”

Community and giving back is also a big part of this festival. Just before this year’s launch, Vedder discussed OHANA‘s musical camaraderie with by saying that “it’s been a true honor to work with the community and organizers to create a stimulating vibe and uplifting atmosphere for the great crowds and incredible musicians who come out to play in the park. To have the Pixies, X, Mudhoney, Jack Johnson, etc., etc, etc. play your festival has been so satisfying. Far beyond our initial vision for it all.” Click here to read a Q&A with Vedder.

OHANA Festival is a special event to help generating funds, which will support the efforts of maintaining coastal access in south Orange County state beaches. California State Parks, Orange Coast District (CSP-OCD) and its cooperating association, the San Onofre Parks Foundation (SOF CA 501c-3) are focusing efforts toward enhancing and maintaining beach access for the people of California via California State Parks. A portion of the proceeds from OHANA will benefit the San Onofre Parks Foundation and the Doheny State Beach Interpretive Association (DSBIA). A full list of OHANA participating charities is as follows: California Department of Parks and Recreation; California Coastal Commission; Doheny State Beach Interpretive Association; Drop in the Bucket; Parley for the Oceans; Rob Machado Foundation; San Onofre Parks; SHACC – Surfing Heritage & Culture Center; Sea Legacy; Surfrider Foundation, South OC Chapter; Waves for Water; WSL PURE; and Wyland Foundation. Additional details about OHANA can be found at www.theohanafest.com.

Images by Cricket Spiteri

Words by Melissa Butterfly

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