A family reunion like no other returns this weekend to Doheny State Beach in Dana Point, where Eddie Vedder’s Ohana Festival arrives for its fourth year. The festival—whose namesake is the Hawaiian word for family—is about assembling like-minded musicians for a weekend of great vibes by the beach.
Ohana’s known for surprise moments from Pearl Jam frontman Vedder; a sharp selection of emerging singer-songwriters, solo stars and rock bands; and a focus on ocean and beach conservation efforts that directly impact the South County community.
This year’s bill is the festival’s most rock-heavy offering since its inception, with headlining performances by The Strokes, Eddie Vedder and Red Hot Chili Peppers plus Tash Sultana and LP on Friday; Incubus, Glen Hansard and Mudhoney on Saturday; and Nathaniel Rateliff & The Night Sweats, Jenny Lewis and Jacob Banks on Sunday.
Other supporting acts not to miss throughout the weekend include Devandra Banhart, Dustin Kensrue, Donavon Frankenreiter, Benjamin Booker, Laura Jane Grace & The Devouring Mothers, and Lukas Nelson & The Promise of the Real.
“Eddie Vedder is definitely hands on,” says Rich Best, president of booking for Live Nation in Los Angeles. “(The vibe) stems from putting together a really great collection of diverse songwriters, but mostly artists who are really great people.”
Putting the festival at Doheny Beach, where Vedder first learned to surf, allows organizers to create an intimate setting not often found when matched with the caliber of the lineups being presented.
“We sell 14,000 tickets a day, not 40,000, and a lot of our headliners are playing festivals to 30,000 … 40,000 … 50,000 … 60,000 thousand people or more,” Best said. “That’s not what this is, and we’ve been fortunate that some amazing musicians see that vibe and want to be a part of it.”
The festival is a fundraiser for California State Parks and the San Onofre Parks Foundation, and it has given back between $200,000 to $250,000 per year, according to Best. The money is directed toward conservation and cleaning efforts, as well as education.
In line with that work, Ohana features an area that’s been expanded even more this year. Storytellers Stage in the COVE is where conservationists, artists, photographers, surfers and more share inspiring experiences and stories about sustainability and environmentalism.
With Ohana’s fifth year on the horizon, organizers don’t see any reason to change a formula that’s working for them. Plans for next year are already in the works.
“You always try to bring a couple elements when you announce (the lineup) that people go, ‘Holy Shit!,’” Best said. “We’re fortunate we’ve been able to do that the last few years and I’m confident we’ll have a ‘Holy Shit!’ moment next year.”
Pearl Jam has yet to play Ohana. Could 2020 be the year?