El Capitan Ranch made a beautiful setting for this holiday weekend party. The concert was held a short hayride from the site’s entrance in a small amphitheatre surrounded by picnic tables and bales of hay. The first act was the Harlequins, who performed a set full of familiar country and folk, mostly from the ’60s and ’70s. Guitarists Drew MacCalla and Sam Ferguson traded off on vocals while the rhythm section of Mike Osborne on bass and Rob Lauderdale on drums kept the beat, with the harmonica and voice of John Ziegler weaving in and out of the mix. The Harlequins provided a perfect soundtrack for the barbecue and the sunset, playing everything from Marshall Tucker to Van Morrison, and even getting the Western-garbed audience up and dancing.
The fact that there were still some technical issues to be worked out with the power supply to the sound system did not deter the next act, pie, from bringing their own form of soft psychedelic rock to the table for a second course. The ingredients in this pie are John Garnett (rhythm guitar/vocals), Al Vergara (bass/vocals), Rusty Dodson (lead guitar/vocals), Rich Rosenbaum (drums/vocals), and Carrie Cropley (lead vocals). Their eclectic mix extends all the way from the Talking Heads to Ray Charles, and Garnett and Cropley both sounded great together.
As the marshmallows were brought out for toasting around a blazing fire and the big sky over Gaviota turned a darker shade of blue, the potential for this splendid country-style venue became even more apparent. With ranch owner Jon Peters’s enthusiasm and concert promoter Jackie Kane’s initiative, we should be seeing plenty more cowboy round-ups like this one in the near future.