Thursday, December 13, 2018     Volume: 19, Issue: 41

Santa Maria Sun / Music

The following article was posted on June 4th, 2014, in the Santa Maria Sun - Volume 15, Issue 13 [ Submit a Story ]
The following articles were printed from Santa Maria Sun [] - Volume 15, Issue 13

Exciting taste buds and eardrums: The Los Olivos Jazz and Olive Festival features local wines, competitive food pairing, live music


Los Olivos is a tiny town full of residents who are more than proud of its namesake. It’s just as easy to find an olive oil tasting as it is to find a wine tasting among the restaurants and tasting rooms that line Alamo Pintado and Grand Avenue. This passion for the fruit attracts tourists and locals alike.

The Rotary Club of Los Olivos celebrates the town with the annual Los Olivos Jazz and Olive Festival, now in its 10th year. The event is a huge fundraiser for the organization, explained Rotary event chair Peter Robbins, and the funds are funneled straight back into the community.

Denise Donatelli is the featured vocalist for the jazz combo performing at the festival, each member of which is an acclaimed musician from Southern California.

“All the proceeds go towards local scholarships,” he said. “We also support senior centers, a hospital, the Boy Scouts, 4-H; we fund a huge number of deserving beneficiaries from this. These are groups that really deserve this, and we are just having fun and doing a good deed.”

The event includes 30 local wineries pouring their signature wines, and local amateur chefs creating a food pairing designed for each wine, as well as live music. The chefs’ handiwork is actually up for judging, Robbins explained.

“The chefs are competitive. These are serious amateur chefs, not professionals, but people who take pride in what they do,” he said. “But they love each other, too. They come back every year to do what they do. The judging is fun; they know their work is appreciated and understood.”

Besides the food, the main attraction at the event is the jazz combo that assembles every year for the festival. The ensemble includes pianist Stefan Karlsson, sax player Bob Sheppard, guitarist Larry Koonse, bassist Tom Warrington, drummer Joe Labarbera, and vocalist Denise Donatelli—all of the artists are acclaimed musicians based in Southern California.

The Los Olivos Jazz and Olive Festival includes 30 wineries pouring wine paired with an olive dish prepared by competing chefs.

“We are truly beyond our means in this group,” Robbins said. “They are all superb, and Donatelli is always described as having perfect pitch and beautiful tone.”

The band performs at the shaded park at the southwest corner of Alamo Pintado and Grand Avenue, where Los Olivos’ iconic flagpole stands. The park is lined with chairs, so festivalgoers can relax with their food and wine while listening to the ensemble.

“These guys have played for enough years now that, as they are playing, they look at each other and they kind of know what the other guy is going to do,” Robbins said. “The improvisation is so special; you have individuals who soar off into a particular thing, and that’s what makes it so great.”

Several of the musicians—all of whom have successful and acclaimed ensembles in Southern California—also work as composers and performers in Hollywood film studios, helping provide soundtracks and music for television and film. These musicians, paired with the wine and food, draw so many people to the festival, some from across the country.

Catch the show
The 10th annual Los Olivos Jazz and Olive Festival will include local wineries pouring wine, an amateur chef competition, and live jazz with vocalist Denise Donatelli on June 7 from 1 to 4 p.m. at Lavinia Campbell Park, Los Olivos. More info: 325-9280 or

“We are an easy drive from L.A., the weather is great, and the valley just attracts people,” Robbins said. “And the valley is really tuned into supporting these events. It’s the idea, with communities, that they should support themselves, and I think people here are really tuned into this.”


Juicy jams

The Creative Juices Lounge in Guadalupe presents Mark and Larry performing June 6. Natural Remedy performs June 7. Shows run from 7 to 10 p.m. at the Creative Juices Lounge, 874 Guadalupe St., Guadalupe. More information is available at 219-0518 or

Garden music

Riverbench Winery presents Concert in the Garden, including a food truck and live music by Sean Wiggins on June 7 from noon to 3 p.m. at the winery, 6020 Foxen Canyon, Santa Maria. Cost is $10. More info: 937-8340 or

Rockin’ at the Chumash

The Chumash Casino Resort presents Merle Haggard performing on June 5. Gladys Knight performs June 12. Shows start at 8 p.m. at the Chumash Casino Resort, 3400 E. Highway 246, Santa Ynez. Cost is $25, $35, and $45. More info: 1-800-CHUMASH or

Rip it up

The Santa Maria Mussell Senior Club is host to Big Band Dance Concerts featuring the Riptide Big Band each month, including performances June 8 and the following second Saturday of each month from 1:30 to 4 p.m. at the Elwin Mussell Senior Center, 510 Park Ave., Santa Maria. Cost is $10. More info: (775) 843-2830,, or

Live on the lake

The Blacklake Golf Resort presents a Wednesday Night Summer Concert Series featuring Unfinished Business on June 11. The resort is at 1490 Golf Course Lane, Nipomo. More info: 343-1214, Ext. 400, or

Grooving at GreVino

Ca’ Del GreVino Café and Wine Bar presents live music every Wednesday night including a performance by Jacob Cole on June 11 from 6 to 9 p.m. at the Café and Wine Bar, 400 E. Clark Ave., Santa Maria. More info: 937-6400 or

Plant yourself

Standing Sun Winery features the Standing Sun Concert Series including Owen Plant on June 5 from 7 to 10 p.m. at the Standing Sun Wines, 92 2nd St., Buellton. More info: 904-8072 or

Right off the runway

The Radisson Hotel offers live music Fridays and Saturdays including Juan Marquez performing June 6 and 7 from 6 to 10 p.m. at the Radisson Hotel, 3455 Skyway Drive, Santa Maria. More info: 928-8000.

Fresh off D’Vine

The D’Vine Wine Bar and Bistro features Mike Shelton on June 7, Audition Night on June 10, Dan Mally on June 11, and Jerry Stickell on June 12, with shows starting at 7:30 p.m. at 107 W. Ocean Ave., Lompoc. More info: 430-8356 or

Maverick country

The Maverick Saloon offers live entertainment each weekend, including the Hollywood Hillbillies on June 6. Concerts on the Deck with the Hillbillies is June 7 at 3 p.m., with a performance at 8 p.m. followed by Late nite with DJ Totem. Suds, Songs, and Sandwiches with Jerry Stickell is June 8 at 3 p.m. at the saloon, 3687 Sagunto St., Santa Ynez. More info: 686-4785 or


Contact Arts Editor Joe Payne at

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