Ken Dahleen, Idyllwild Summer Concert Series organizer and lead man for the opening act, assembles a park bench on Thursday during the Idyllwild Community Playground build. Photo by Halie Johnson

The 13th annual Idyllwild Summer Concert Series begins with a musical preview in the Fourth of July Parade. Six float-borne members of Ken Dahleen’s Big Band Staff, this season’s opening act, will send out an instrumental invitation along the parade route. As the series’ pied pipers, Dahleen’s combo will use its music to entice attendees to the July 5 concert at the Idyllwild Playground and Community Center site. “People often aren’t clear when the series starts,” said Dahleen, “with so much going on each summer. We thought a musical reminder in the parade would be a good thing.”


Next week we’ll highlight Dahleen and his band as the series’ opener, offering a taste of what the maestro has cooked up for this post Fourth of July special.

Returning popular acts include Grupo Bohemio with its Santana Tribute (July 12); the Louisiana delta-bred, foot-stomping musical contagion known as Lisa Haley and the Zydecats (July 19); the Coachella Valley Symphony under new maestro, Broadway conductor and pit orchestra veteran Wayne Abravanel (July 26); City Beat Rock and Roll, composed of serving or retired police officers (Aug. 2); Rick Grady and the United Blues Band (Aug. 9); and popular jazz song stylist Sherry Williams with the Keith Droste Quartet (Aug. 16).

The United States Marine Corps San Diego Recruit Depot Band is new this year, replacing the long popular 29 Palms-based Combat Center Band that was deactivated in January of this year. The San Diego Recruit Depot Band, under the direction of Chief Warrant Officer 2 Stephanie Wire, band officer, and Master Sergeant Stephen Jeremiah Jr., bandmaster, plays on Saturday, July 21 from 3 to 4:30, the only day they were available, noted Dahleen.

Following the Marine Band concert, the Lemon Lily Festival moves from the Nature Center to the center of town with “A Little Bluegrass” concert starting at 4:30 p.m. between the Fort and Jo’An’s Restaurant. The street will be closed, tables will be set, and food and beverages will be available.

With the two events, Idyllwild will be filled with a rich mix of live music and musical styles.

Dahleen noted the difficulty that faces him and his board each year is fundraising. With a roughly $20,000 budget for the summer concert series, Dahleen begins each year on a wing and a prayer with marginal money on hand, relying on the generosity of the community and series donors and sponsors to put the series in the black before the season is over. Potential donors and sponsors can contact Dahleen at [email protected].