As May gray makes its indistinguishable transition to June gloom-heralding the advent of a Central Coast summer-music lovers from the tri-counties and beyond leave the fog behind and head over the San Marcos Pass to spend Father’s Day weekend at the 2007 Live Oak Music Festival.

Nestled in the shady oaks of the bucolic Santa Ynez Valley, Live Oak Camp comes alive with a three-day outdoor music festival showcasing some of the finest musicians from around the world. Live Oak veterans will tell you it’s more than just a music festival; it’s a timeless experience rooted in music and community. These elements bring several thousand people together to camp and celebrate an aural collage of live music ranging from traditional folk, bluegrass, and gospel to blues, jazz, classical, world beat, and eclectic genres.

It all started in 1988, when a handful of music lovers convened at Linnaea’s Cafe in San Luis Obispo to explore an idea founded on the love of non-mainstream music with historical and cultural origins. The idea took root and a day of music in Arroyo Grande’s Biddle Park sprouted. From the success of that one-day bash, a tender shoot grew into a two-day festival at what was then Camp San Marcos. And then, from that, blossomed Live Oak.

The festival is one of the few of its kind where attendees are encouraged to bring the kids, and provides games, talent shows, videos, and entertainment for children of all ages. Childcare is available, as well. Also provided by Live Oak is the chance for revelers to let their creative juices flow. An open-air artist village showcases a spectrum of exquisite creations made by artisans from the Central Coast and beyond. Sid Lewis’s revolutionary Jamming 101 music workshop will be back by popular demand with new songs, books, and shenanigans at Sid’s “Edutainment” sessions. And nights bring fireside jamming and rowdy barn dances.

But the primary focus of the Live Oak Music Festival is, of course, the main stage. The festival hub features an eclectic lineup of world-class talent from across the globe, many of whom are Grammy Award nominees and winners. Highlights of the 2007 lineup include Grammy-nominated singer/songwriter Eliza Gilkyson, with her Dylan-esque imagination and exquisitely woven song-stories, and Sonny Landreth, a Grammy-nominated Bayou blues guitarist who has performed his bottleneck-slide style with many blues greats. Other highly anticipated shows include the award-winning, Grammy-nominated singer/songwriter Claire Lynch and the klezmer-meets-tango-influenced chamber pop group, 3 Leg Torso. The festival concludes on Sunday night with La Guitara, featuring Patty Larkin, Erin McKeown, Ellen McIlwaine, and Muriel Anderson, and bringing together some of the greatest women guitarists in the world.

The three-day event provides basic camping accommodations under the shady oaks. Full festival tickets (with camping) are $120 for adults, $75 for teens, and $35 for children. Day passes are $40 for adults and $15 for kids. A variety of food concessions, from a breakfast cafe with live music to late-night gourmet pizza, are available to round out the campfire fare.

If you’ve yet to decide how to best honor your music-loving dad, Live Oak might just fit the bill. The temperate climate, the early summer setting, and the slow-moving pace create a pastoral backdrop for relaxing and listening to great music with family and friends. It’s hard to imagine a better way to celebrate Father’s Day and kick off the lazy days of summer.


Live Oak Music Festival 2007 takes place at Live Oak Campgrounds (off Highway 154, next to the San Marcos Golf Course). Events run from Friday, June 15, through 154, next to the San Marcos Golf Course). Events run from Friday, June 15, through Sunday, June 17. For tickets, call 781-3030 or visit


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