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12 Sep 2019

Community Rocks: The First Idyllfest's Goal—Help the Town Heal Via the Power of Music

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The Falling Doves will perform at Idyllfest. The Falling Doves will perform at Idyllfest.

In July 2018, the Cranston Fire devastated the town of Idyllwild, burning more than 13,000 acres—and those fires were followed by downpours and that destroyed roads and created sinkholes.

Despite the chaos, Idyllwild is still standing.

“They went through a really rough time—the fires, the floods—and they’re barely recovering,” said Chris Leyva, organizer of the Idyllfest Music, Art and Craft Beer Festival, taking place Saturday and Sunday, Oct. 12 and 13.

The goal of the festival is to “bring back commerce, music and inspiration from the surrounding music community, with Idyllwild bridging the gap (between) Los Angeles, Palm Springs and San Diego.” Leyva, a musician himself, talked to me as he was finishing a tour with his band, Falling Doves.

“I offered to help out by planning a festival and inviting some of the bands I’ve booked and toured with,” Leyva said. “They’re all in different markets, from here all the way to Las Vegas. We’re bringing everybody down for a two-day festival, and it’s going to be a lot of fun.”

Leyva said he wants to make Idyllfest a great experience for both the audience and the performers.

“If you ever play festivals, you always feel like you have to get your gear out and go, so we’re eliminating that by having a backline for everyone, as well as providing room and board,” he said. “The event is colliding with the Art Walk and Wine Tasting event,” taking place on Saturday, Oct. 12, “so we’re going to be able to join forces with them, and allow our attendees to attend their event, and vice versa. It’s all about community, about togetherness and getting the word out there.”

The lineup features Leyva’s band, as well as Los Angeles’ Beck Black, San Diego punk legends Authentic Sellouts, and many others.

“It’s a collective event,” Leyva said. “Being able to tour the planet, I meet a lot of amazingly talented bands that unfortunately don’t have the opportunity to play really cool festivals, so I wanted to throw a festival for them. I didn’t want to do it in Hollywood. I’ve done a few beer festivals there, and bands always just play and leave. I want to be able to have whoever is playing up there stuck up there, so they stay to support and discover new acts.

“A lot of the bands playing are the top in each market, from San Diego to L.A., and a few coming in from Vegas. I, as an entertainer, don’t believe in playing for exposure. We all have gas; we all have to eat. It’s not cheap. We came up with a stipend, so everyone’s getting paid the same. The point of the event is to just make sure everyone has a good time. Ticket sales are going to pay for production, permits and port-o-potties.”

Idyllfest organizers are also selling T-shirts, which will benefit a local charity.

Leyva talked about the hopes that this first Idyllfest will not be the last.

“Usually you need to wait three to four years before something really kicks off, but I have a feeling that by keeping a low profile, we’ll be able to reach the proper demographic,” said Leyva. “That will open up the doors for us to bring in international bands—Japan, Australia, Liverpool, etc. It’s our first year, though, and the only thing we expect is being able to bring a completely different platter of music and commerce up there.”

The Idyllfest Music, Art and Craft Beer Festival will take place Saturday and Sunday, Oct. 12 and 13, at 25585 Alderwood St., in Idyllwild. One-day passes are $15; two-day passes are $25. For tickets or more information, visit www.eventbrite.com/e/idyllfest-music-art-craftbeerfestival-tickets-63618366246.

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