Entertainment this time around will be provided by an eclectic mix of performers, including variety dance band Atomic Groove on July 13, Beach Boys tribute group The Surf City All-Stars on July 20, oldies specialists The Mar Dels on July 27, The United States Navy Band Southwest on Aug. 3 and Neil Diamond tribute Hot August Night on Aug. 10.
Additionally, there will be a “Junior Stage,” featuring talent from local junior and high school students.
Music coordinator Bob Randall has been with the event for four years, charged with finding the right mix of music.
“We’ve found that what goes over best is cover bands, playing songs audience members have heard before,” said Randall. “It’s music they can relate to, reminisce to and dance to.”
When it comes to selecting music for the series, event chair Martha Phillips agrees it’s important to have groups with mass appeal.
“One of the things that is a little bit of a challenge for us is that people like to come and know all the words to all the songs, so original music or jazz don’t work as well as old favorites,” Phillips said. “When Dean Colley of Hot August Night belts out ‘Sweet Caroline’ and 3,000 people sing along, it doesn’t matter how old you are, it’s amazing.”
Phillips, part of a 12-person volunteer board, has been with the event since 2004, during which time it has doubled in size. Crowds now number up to 3,000, but don’t expect it to get much bigger. “We’re capped by the real estate,” she said.
One of this year’s highlights will be the appearance by the Surf City All Stars.
“We’ve never had a Beach Boys tribute group before,” Randall said. “It’s the 50th anniversary of the band and everybody knows the songs. You put all those things together and it seemed like a good year to have them.”
Randall said his favorite thing about the festival is the search for bands. Among other criteria, bands can perform no more than two years in a row during the Point Loma Summer Concert Series and there has to be at least two groups each year that are new to the series.
As might be expected, a concert with a potential audience this large attracts a lot of interest from performers. Randall traveled to Los Angeles to audition the Surf City All Stars, one of a half-dozen Beach Boys tribute acts considered for the spot.
“It was difficult because the Beach Boys have a unique sound,” he said.
Randall scored a coup in his selection though — each member of the Surf City All Stars has actually toured with the Beach Boys and even back members Al Jardine and David Marks on solo dates.
Surf City All-Stars drummer Dave Logeman said outdoor gigs like this are among the band’s favorites.
“I just love the atmosphere,” Logeman said. “I love seeing the families and the kids. There’s just a good energy outside. It’s a festive, fun thing that people are looking for. That feeling is contagious and definitely affects us on stage.”
In addition to the main-stage talent, Phillips is also particularly happy to showcase talent from local schools.
“We auditioned the kids at Point Loma Assembly. It was kind of like American Idol in Point Loma,” Phillips joked. “This gives the students an opportunity to play on a big stage with a real sound guy in front of a huge crowd. They’re thrilled to be able to do that.”
Even after eight years of hard work, Phillips remains enthusiastic about the concert series, with work already under way for the 2013 series.
“People just have a wonderful time,” Phillips said. “The best part is, you get paid in smiles.”
• The Point Loma Summer Concert Series takes place from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. on July 13, July 20, July 27, Aug. 3 and Aug. 10 at Point Loma Park, 1049 Catalina Blvd. For more details, visit www.plconcerts.org.