Written by Behnam Vadi & Jordanna Dworkin


Summertime in San Francisco usually means cold temperatures, foggy days, and the ghost of Mark Twain constantly whispering in your ear—make sure to layer up! Once you step out of the 7×7 bubble in each direction, you’ll find yourself encapsulated in pure, unadulterated nature, that will help turn a soggy Summer day into an afternoon filled with deep prana and vitamin d galore. With so many parks, campsites, music festivals/music campouts, residents of the Bay Area (AKA God’s Country) are extremely fortunate to have a laundry list of events to keep their adventurous spirits satiated all Summer long. Being the proud parents of a 15-month-old, the music festival/campout list starts to narrow down like a pair of skinny jeans, as each promoter poses different restrictions upon the under 21 set. Many festivals cater to a specific demographic, with Baby Boomers disregarded and Gen X and Y’ers skeptical of bringing their children. After being denied access to a couple of outdoor music events with our little one, we started to get discouraged by the limitations until we found Guitarfish Festival. These days, it’s pretty rare to find a festival that is unabashedly welcoming to the cross-generational pool. Yet Guitarfish does just that with pride.

On July 25 through July 28th 2018, a few hours north of San Francisco, the Cisco Grove Campground played home to Guitarfish Music Festival, as revelers both young and old journeyed out for an extended weekend of live music, healing, family time, nature, and a deeper connection to the community. Immediately upon entry, we were greeted with smiles and waves of encouragement toward our campsite, making our whole family and friends feel right at home. Cisco Grove is a well-maintained campground, with plenty of woodsy, shaded nooks as well as clearly marked bathrooms and showers conveniently located around each plot. Guitarfish also has a designated family camping area with its own jam band stage for little ones to dance and frolic safely around. A huge perk: our site was steps away from the Yuba River, which beckoned delightfully refreshing afternoon dips in the heat of the day. Not only were there flocks of families on the scene, there were also Boomers, X’s + Y’s, and Millennial’s all galavanting around the way. Everyone was in the mix, drumming up some sweet community spirit. And we LOVED it.

When our stomachs started to growl, web-lined to the food stands, which catered to even the most selective of palates. From the vegan friendly “Not Cho’s that had tacos with flash fried cauliflower drizzled with homemade cashew cheese stepping in as the spruced up meat alternative, to other creative food vendors that sold organic chia pudding bowls, avocado toasts, vegan chocolate truffles and popsicles, legit NY style pizza, java-infused smoothies and classic Indian fare with homemade chai, we thought we had just landed in festival foodie heaven. Bonus for the FREE hydration stations dotting the perimeter of the chow down picnic area. Guitarfish knows how to provide.

After satiating our bellies, we strolled along the clothing and merch path where the friendliest of vendors struck honest conversations with passers-by. Although small scale for festive keepsake action, each vendor had an interesting story to share with an emphasis on sincere interaction, zero sales pitch. We got the chance to know the lovely reps of Bay Area local fave, Warrior Within Designs, and a quintessential onesie was soon selected, sported and purchased for future festival attendance in haute hippie fashion. Yes, there’s a hippie heart in there somewhere;)

When the call for downtime rang loudly and clearly, we took turns diving into epic sound healings with huge gongs and tinker bell chimes provided by Pierrette and her entourage. As cliche as it may seem, each of us felt transported to a new dimension of consciousness (yeah, we really went there), or, at the very least, we got into the deep relaxation zone with total ease. From there to individual massage and B12 activation, our healing bases were fully covered. If only we had made time for the yoga, but you can’t do it all at a festival, especially with a baby on board.

The Main Stage, nestled in the middle of a pristine pine grove, hosted performers and artists from multiple genres that every generation of fans could groove to throughout the day. The main act set times began from Thursday evening at 7pm until Monday 12am, with the likes of Con Brio, Pimps of Joytime, and Jimmy Leslie’s Guitarfish Family Band headlining through the weekend.  As we got acquainted with some of the newer names on the roster, we found a handful of SF based musicians who expressed their talents to a WOW degree. Midtown Social was no exception. The colorful array of musicians took the Friday evening stage with more swagger than Mick could dish out, and we were entranced by the soulful, jazzy, hypnotic tunes that transformed us into their newest, biggest cheerleaders, song after song. Each musician had such style and pizzazz, from a gold glitter sneaker donning male co-vocalist to a funkdafied femme bassist. The group opened everyone’s heart towards the end of their set by inviting children on stage to dance. This genuine act showcased true community values not only by the artists but also by the promoters who supported it. How could a parent not love that?!

Over 2500 folks of all ages attended the 8th Annual Guitarfish Music Festival. The potent music, magical setting, and family-friendly audience combined to create an ultra-positive atmosphere for joyous, long-lasting camaraderie.  Humans are wired for connection, and their mission is to create a space for all to be themselves and to celebrate their uniqueness.

“Guitarfish is about the Joyous (real) connections made while enjoying music in the great outdoors.  The result is a euphoria, or collective effervescence, from the shared experiences that uplift us all.”  – Guitarfish Co-Producer and Curator Barnett English

It’s what drives Barnett and others to produce festivals like Guitarfish, and two Joshua Tree Music Festivals, each year, bringing so much needed goodness to people looking to disconnect from everyday life for a while.  Guitarfish exceeded our expectations at each juncture and helped us recharge our spirits on all levels.

Next up: The 13th Annual Fall Joshua Tree Music Festival Oct 4-7, for pure desert magic- an event you definitely want to have on your calendars!

 For more info on Guitarfish Music Festival go to: www.guitarfishfestival.com

For more info and tickets to Joshua Tree Music Festival go to: www.joshuatreemusicfestival.com