Large claps of percussion and thunder descended on Idyllwild Saturday. Some of them were natural, but many emanated from the 18th Jazz in the Pines. Despite the summer outburst Saturday and light showers Sunday, visitors, volunteers and vendors all had another remarkable weekend of music and merriment.
As B.J Thomas sang, decades ago, “Raindrops Keep Fallin’ on My Head,” and Saturday’s mid-afternoon outburst sent jazz fans scurrying for shelter. While the rain quickly cooled the hot and humid jazz atmosphere, enthusiasm for the concert music was barely dampened.
Fans huddled under the many vendor awnings, in the Barn or whatever relatively dry location they could find. Rather than an inconvenience, the rain forced the multitude of jazz lovers into a closer connection with strangers who quickly became new friends and expanded their sense of a jazz family.
Events, especially at the Holmes Amphitheatre, suffered a delay, but no cancellation. While the venues were mopped and electrical connections and wires checked, attendees spent more time with both art and food vendors.
“It had no effect,” said Big Dev, the San Diego barbecue vendor. “People knew where to come, they came. And the rain came and was gone.”
Janet Everitt, co-owner of Everitt’s Minerals and Gallery, said the rain helped her sales, as several of the people huddled under her canopy bought works of art.
With safety assured, the program resumed with the great vocals of Gregory Porter, which easily reignited the audience.
Then, after the lively fun of Oreo Divaz, Big Bad Voodoo Daddy arrived on stage and mesmerized fans once again. People were clapping and swaying in rhythm with the group’s energetic and upbeat tempo. Although the sky stayed gray, the mood was bright and blinding.
The weekend festival began Friday night with the Patron’s Dinner. Chris Maxson’s effort was a resounding success. Several people who have attended previous Patron’s Dinners raved about the food. This year, the number of dinners served was 33 percent more than 2010.
“I actually chose it from an experience at a Mardi Gras banquet when I was 22,” Maxson said. “The fish was different … pampano, but the en papillote I remembered let all the flavors mingle a bit and kept the food hot. ... And the take it home or eat it now dessert idea went over well. We didn’t have food come back or left uneaten.”
That support carried over into Saturday. As usual, people were lining up at the entrance before 7 a.m. this year. Rick Robertson Van Horn, of Jamul, arrived about 6:45 a.m. in order to get his favorite space. This was his fourth or fifth festival.
Ted Cummings, festival logician, noted buses were dropping attendees farther from the gate than he had ever experienced. Marsha Lytle, festival chair, said the online presales were one of the best.
Sunday dawned bright and clear, and the sunny disposition continued throughout the day, despite a brief and light shower, which cooled the final hours.
Popular and familiar entertainers such as Lisa Haley and the Zydekats, Greg Jones, Rocky Zharp, and the members of the Hot Club of Idyllwild kept all three venues crowded and busy Sunday.
New entertainers, such as Gordon Goodwin, were dazzled by the crowd and its grasp and passion for jazz. When asked about playing in the outdoor theater, Goodwin expressed admiration and gratitude for the audience and admitted he and the Phat Band have encountered more bugs at other venues.
“It really felt like you’re playing for somebody here. It’s a really fine crowd,” Goodwin said.