Thirteen-year-old blues prodigy Ray Goren returned to the Jazz in the Pines Festival for the third consecutive year. Photo by J.P. Crumrine

Clear skies, warm days and good music were the right medication to help the Hill recover from the recent fire siege — Mountain, Strong and Silver fires.

Many attendees from previous jazz fests returned for the 2013 20th-annual Jazz in the Pines. Caltrans opened Highway 243 and visitors had little difficulty getting to Idyllwild for the two days of virtually non-stop music.

Cornelius Reffegee and his wife, Patrica, were first in line on both Saturday and Sunday. This year was their fourth trip to the Hill to hear jazz in the open.

“A lot of jazz festivals are having fewer and fewer jazz performers,” Reffegee said. “R&B and rock performers are being billed as jazz. This festival is true jazz.”

The Reffegees have been to many other jazz festivals, such as Long Beach, Jazz West and Pasadena. They tend to be more commercial, “… not so much selling here.” At Idyllwild they find the venues more comfortable and different with friendlier crowds and no need to worry about “good” seats, he stressed.

On Sunday, Reffegee, again at the head of the line, said, “We enjoyed [Saturday’s entertainment] tremendously.” Harvey Mason’s Chameleon Project and Diane Schuur were two of their favorites.

Once again, the crowd at the 20th Idyllwild Jazz in the Pines Festival enjoys the music, the weather and the ambiance of a great weekend. Photo by J.P. Crumrine

This well-received attitude was again revealed at the gate. Jazz Chair Marsha Lytle said two weeks ago that the advance sell of tickets was the best in several years and the sale of tickets at the gate re-enforced the festival’s popularity this year.

“It was very good,” Lytle said with anticipation. “The final analysis will be after the bills are paid. But I think it is good compared to last year.”

Popular vendors such as Big Dev’s and Sacher’s Foods returned again, but the Associates of Idyllwild Arts added a major new offering — ice cream. Coldstone Creamery was located near the entrance to the French Quarter, and they were very happy with the patronage.

The warm temperatures not only encouraged ice cream consumption, but the mimosa and margaritas were again very popular ways to cool off.

Diane Kurr made sure she had plenty of mix and was able to provide dozens of consumers on both days.

Not only were the vendors satisfied with their success this year, but the performers were overwhelmed with the receptions they received.

“It so wonderful, I want to stay for three weeks,” John Daversa told the Holmes Amphitheatre crowd. Many, including local Casey Abrams, said they were already anticipating the 21st festival in 2014.