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Santa Maria Sun / Music

The following article was posted on September 13th, 2018, in the Santa Maria Sun - Volume 19, Issue 28 [ Submit a Story ]
The following articles were printed from Santa Maria Sun [] - Volume 19, Issue 28

MUSIC: Tales from the Tavern concert series expands to include the all-day Ya Ya Festival

By By Joe Payne

More than a decade ago, siblings Ron and Carole Ann Colone decided to start a concert series in Santa Ynez Valley, a place where they say live music was sorely lacking at the time.
The music-going community of the valley and the greater Central Coast was waiting for it, they said. The very first season of their series, which they dubbed Tales from the Tavern in 2003, sold out in an hour.

Ron (pictured left) and Carole Ann Colone (right) spent years touring with their brother’s group before moving to the Santa Ynez Valley and starting the Tales from the Tavern concert series that celebrates working singer-songwriters.
“I just think it was a new thing in the community for people, a new experience,” Ron said. “It was really part of a collective effort, a collective will to bring more live music to the valley.”
The series has been a sold-out success ever since, bringing singer-songwriters to the valley for intimate shows that prize storytelling artists over flashy bands or famous faces. They’ve cultivated an audience of sponsors and true music fans, they said, just as much as a roster of talented performers.
Now the Colones are bringing something else new to the Santa Ynez Valley, an all-day music festival at the Solvang Festival Theater, called the Ya Ya Festival, on Sept. 22. The event is presented by Tales from the Tavern; the Artist Advocacy Foundation, the Colones’ nonprofit; and their partner, local businessman Jonathan King, who came up with the festival’s name. The festival will feature some of the most beloved artists that have performed for Tales from the Tavern over the years.
The Ya Ya Festival’s headlining performers include Dave Alvin & The Guilty Ones, Michael on Fire, Ruthie Foster, and Steve Poltz. The Colones have always carefully curated the lineup for their concert series, something that has ensured not just an excited audience, but artists motivated to perform for them as well.
“These musicians who make their living on the road, they’re not household names, they’re not the image-based artists,” Carole Ann said. “These are people who are working people who are making their living on the road and they’ve heard of Tales from the Tavern. They want to work here because they’ve heard about our audience.”
One of the Ya Ya Festival’s headliners is another Colone sibling, Ron and Carole Ann’s brother, Michael, who’s performed for years as Michael On Fire. They all used to tour together, Michael explained, when Carole Ann played in his band and Ron handled transportation and other management duties for his group.
Across years of touring, they all knew firsthand what made a bad gig, Michael explained, and so when Ron and Carole Ann moved to Santa Ynez and decided to start Tales from the Tavern, they tried to remove every annoyance that artists face. They called their brother to be the first featured act, and he offered his guidance and ideas as well before the season began.
They created a dream experience for the artists, he explained.
“When I go there it’s always really exciting because I know I’m walking into a professional environment,” Michael said. “People know they can go in there and get, whether they like the artist or not, they know they are going to get something that is honest. They don’t have any amateurs in there.”

Michael on Fire is one of the headlining groups at the Ya Ya Festival in Solvang, which is part of the Tales from the Tavern concert series. Siblings Ron and Carole Ann Colone began the series in 2003 with their brother Michael’s group headlining the first show, and now, the all-day festival.
That curated experience was present from the beginning of Ron and Carole Ann’s efforts to bring live music to the valley, but it’s also something they’ve had to cultivate to throughout the years.
“We really made it our business to try and communicate to the audience what the audience’s role is in creating a great gig,” Ron said. “And after two years, people were starting to come to us going, ‘I get it, I get it. How great it’s going to be tonight depends in part on me being a good listener.’”
The Colones’ judgement on which artists to bring in partly explains the loyal audience base. Artists like Steve Poltz have become favorites in the valley, Ron explained, and newcomers are always greeted with a listening crowd.
The Ya Ya Festival will bring an artist “new to the valley,” Ron explained, named Ruthie Foster, an acclaimed blues singer and guitarist. Foster is a veteran who was in the Navy band, he said, and signed to Atlantic Records before walking away from her contract after differences with the label over her artistic direction.
“She went this really rootsy route,” he said. “She’s amazing, she’s great.”
The daylong festival will also include more than just the music in the Solvang Festival Theater’s famous outdoor amphitheater, but also local groups performing in the courtyard before and between the main stage acts.        

The festivities begin at 2 p.m., the Colones explained, and there will be plenty to see and do in the courtyard beyond just the music.
“People will walk into this world of wonder,” Ron said. “There’ll be food and drink and booths with clothing and jewelry and arts and crafts and all kinds of stuff going on, on a small scale, obviously.”
Part of the mission of the Ya Ya Festival is to provide a music festival experience, but not at the multi-day scale that requires camping and days of setup and tear-down. It’s a one-day celebration, the Colones said, that rests on the foundation of their concert series but strives for more.
“Tales from the Tavern is such a quiet, intimate listening concert,” Ron said. “Ya Ya Festival is Tales from the Tavern trying out its outside voice. We’re looking for energy and fun.”
“Yes,” Carole Ann added, “spirit in the whole event.”

Managing Editor Joe Payne uses his outside voice inside. Contact him at

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