“The Ranchita Rocks music festival in Ranchita near Ramona was a disaster,” emails attendee Andrew MacDonald of the three-day concert event held September 12—14. “The thousands of attendees got much less than what they paid for. The list of bands that were supposed to appear but did not perform is long and includes many of the headliners.”
Among billed bands that didn’t perform were Leslie West’s Mountain, Particle, Alfred Howard and the K23 Orchestra, DJ Lorin Ashton of Bassnectar, and the Yonder Mountain String Band.
“There were supposed to be six stages of bands,” says MacDonald, “but on Sunday they were down to one stage that had about three bands all day.” (Another attendee says there were two stages in use on Sunday, albeit far from each other.) “The rumor was that bands were not getting paid and therefore refused to perform. There was no communication to the attendees at all about what was happening and who would be performing and when.… There was word of a death of a family member of the organizer shortly before the festival, but it’s hard to see how that can result in no money to pay the bands.”
On the Tuesday after the festival, the main page at ranchitarocks.org included an unsigned post that read: “Due to unforeseen family circumstances, there was confusion about [performer] arrangements.… Those bands [who didn’t perform] absolutely refused to play, despite the fact that payment arrangements were being worked out for immediately after [the event].… We were all working for a cause, and we begged [the performers] to show good faith in us and our intentions, [but] they refused.”
Attendee Tony Lemans emails, “There were no bathrooms, no water for sale, and only two or three stages actually had bands off and on.… This was out in the middle of the desert. If you bought a camping pass, the campground was at least a mile away [from the concert]. Nobody seemed to be in charge and there were hardly any security guards after the first day.… Warm beer was $6 per cup.” Lemans estimated there were several hundred attendees on Saturday but “less than a hundred” on Sunday.
The Ranchita Rocks concert was advertised as the second annual fundraiser for the Protect Our Commun ities Fund, which hopes to prevent SDG&E from building the Sunrise Power link electric transmission line through rural backcountry. Three-day concert passes cost $135; single-day admission, $60. Promoter Carolyn Morrow and her son Stephen Roher held the event on Morrow’s 160-acre Golightly Farms horse ranch. After last year’s Ranchita Rocks event, Morrow reported losing money due to gate-crashers and dust storms that cut short many performances.
Morrow’s phone number on the Ranchita Rocks web site has been disconnected, and messages left for Golightly Farms went unreturned.
– Jay Allen Sanford