By Margie M. Palmer
The 2017 edition of Adams Avenue Unplugged will take place on Saturday, April 29, and as in years past, attendees will be able to enjoy a full day of music and food at some of the area’s premier restaurants, bars, galleries and coffee shops.
More than 100 performances will occur on 32 stages inside businesses along Adams Avenue in eastern University Heights, Normal Heights and Kensington. While the popular event will share many staples with those held in the past, a notable change to this year’s Unplugged is that it has been downsized from two days to one.
“This is actually our 23rd year,” said Scott Kessler, executive director of the sponsoring Adams Avenue Business Association. He said Unplugged has undergone several refinements since day one.
“It used to be called the Adams Avenue Roots Festival. Prior to that, it was the San Diego Folk Music Festival. This is all about keeping up with what works. For example, in the past we used to close the streets but now we set up stages inside restaurants and bars,” he said. “Sunday has always been a slower day so we wanted to see if holding it on Saturday works. We still think the same amount of people who came on both days will come on one.”
One thing that hasn’t changed is the quality of the performers.
Among this year’s headliners is former Byrds guitarist John York and his acoustic performance will take place at 8:15 p.m. inside the Normal Heights United Methodist Church, located at 4650 Mansfield St.
York said he’s excited to return to the venue.
“I played that room with Barry Maguire a number of times and I always thought I’d love to play [there] on my own. The sound in that room is phenomenal,” York said. “I’ve been wanting to play more in San Diego and I haven’t been down there in a long time.”
York will be playing a few songs from the Beatles and the Byrds, but he’ll also be playing some of his own music.
“I would encourage anyone who has an interest in music from the ‘60s to come out because there are only a few off the real guys left. It’s quite easy to go hear cover bands but to hear musicians, that are the real musicians, it’s a rare opportunity now,” he said. “The church is a wonderful room for music and when you hear the acoustics, it’s a really lovely sounding room.”
Kessler said that despite its evolutions, the festival continues to be well-loved by locals, visitors and music lovers alike.
“People come for all different reasons; some come for the food, some come for the people watching and others come for the music. People have come to expect quality music along Adams Avenue and that’s something we focus on with our festivals,” Kessler said. “I think what people like most is that they’re able to have a great time in great settings and just enjoy themselves. They get to experience the best of Adams Avenue. It’s a great community.
“We would encourage people to view the Adams Avenue Unplugged pages on our website. We have links to all the artists, music samplings and schedules,” Kessler said. “We also have a mobile app that you can download for free which can help you plan accordingly.”
—Margie M. Palmer is a San Diego-based freelance writer who has been racking up bylines in a myriad of news publications for the past 10 years. You can reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.