2010 Best Of contest winner: Truckee Music Series – Best Place to People Watch
TRUCKEE, Calif. – People watching can be done just about anywhere: The grocery store, the doctor’s office, sporting events and airports.Most public spots will do, but some are better than others. Take a blanket, supper-laden cooler and libations to the gentle grassy slopes of the Salty Gephardt Amphitheater any summer Wednesday evening. Sit down and settle in for a weekly Summer Music Series concert at the Truckee River Regional Park and there you have it: The Best Place to People Watch.The event began about 20 years ago, with solo artists performing, perhaps a string quartet. About 200-300 people would show up. These days, the venue is packed with up to 2,000 full and part-time residents ready to celebrate Hump Day, summer and friendship.The Truckee-Donner Recreation & Park District runs the show. TDRPD Recreation Superintendent Dan O’Gorman, aka DanO, has people watched in the park for 13 years. He noticed as attendees flow into the amphitheater, many sit in the same place week after week.”The first part is mellow, catching up with neighbors, eating and sharing food and unwinding after the first three days of the work week,” said DanO. “The last part of the evening, people are lettin’ their hair down, dancing and moving around.”Always one to watch, JD Hoss, fearless leader of Truckee’s local radio station 101.5, does a Vans-clad waffle stomp interspersed with some air drums and guitar after an on-air interview with the band, giving Truckee Tahoe a taste of what’s to come.”The list of who’s there is way too deep to contemplate,” JD said. “The great thing is the kids, you can cut ’em loose. They have that old home-town look, like when there was a soda fountain and they just beamed at the counter. This is dippin’ down into what childhood freedom is all about.”JD Hoss notes everyone is there: Daron Rahlves with his children, a woman with a bubble machine and a roadie with wizened face and beard who JD likens to Rumpelstiltskin.Niki Holoday, manager at Truckee-Tahoe Medical Group, which sponsored the swamp pop and countrified blues group “Bourgeois Gypies” this summer, has lived here for 19 years and attended the concerts for as long as she can remember.”You see everyone, all your friends and their families,” Holoday said. “It’s a neighborly event, a fun and casual atmosphere.” She took her newborn there, who is now a teen hanging out with buddies. Except for the occasional swing by the home base for a bite. Teens will be teens.”It is definitely a social high point for middle and high school kids who don’t see all their friends as much over the summer or for college kids back for the summer,” said regular attendee Susan Duffy Smith.”One of my favorite things about it is that kids have grown up there. Some people have even met future spouses there,” said DanO. “I’m still hoping for a Beatles reunion!” he joked.The mood doesn’t necessarily keep synch with the type of music. According to JD, it doesn’t matter loud or soft, fast or slow. “The mood is always this is the best place to be right now. We live in Truckee, we’re outside and this place is awesome,” he said.The impeccably kept grounds, from the trim green grass to the perfectly raked dance area sand, rates to perfection in JD’s book. Dancers pack the designated area and rim the arena. “I see young chicks gettin’ it on, older ladies dancin’ and the 60s hippie dancers, too,” said JD. “There’s a lotta people gettin’ it on in their own way.””Music is the reason everyone’s there, though lots of time the social aspect is the most important,” said Duffy Smith. “Everybody tunes in to especially well-played songs and claps, but it’s mainly about who’s there and visiting – and what’s for dinner!”TDRPD set out to have a totally free event from the get-go. There are no food and beverage sales, even though they get requests each year from about 20 vendors. The bands are selected by word of mouth, past popularity and recommendations. Each concert has a sponsor or co-sponsor, the cost of which is $400 or $200 respectively.The 2010 favorite performers were the Blues Monsters, Deja Vu, Jo Mama and Montaa, regulars said in a survey. JD loves the Jimmy Buffet-style Deckheads. Ruth Geresy, who loves Montaa and The Deckheads, said these are the faces she sees: “All types. Young, old, new to the area, longtime locals. It’s a great thing about being in Truckee.”Locals aren’t just on the lawn. Many a performer is also a local. “People are mingling around visiting with whoever they want to. You always see someone you haven’t seen in a long time. We try to see the local bands like Paul Covareli’s Jo Mama and Richard’s 1888,” said Bill Brown, who might slip in some networking, too.Carol Fromson, of Keller Williams Realty in Truckee, suspects in the 14 years she’s been sponsoring Summer Music Series shows she and Jo Mama have just about adopted each other. “Anything to bring the rock n roll in,” said Fromson.Kim Bateman, dean of Sierra College Tahoe-Truckee, agrees: “To look around and see boys shaking aspens, and girls twirling in pretty dresses, older couples swaying in practiced embrace, people sipping wine, and laughing.”To pause for a moment and feel like I belong – to feel part of the fabric of this community – is truly satisfying.”By far the most popular event the TDRPD puts on, DanO is proud to say there has not been one incident during the event’s history. Visit http://tdrpd.org or call 582-7720.
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