‘The goal is to be the Balboa Park of North County.’
— Jerry Van Leeuween, Executive Director, California Center for the Arts
Melissa Etheridge comes to town on Nov. 6, playing the only North County venue large enough for such a major act, the California Center for the Arts in Escondido.
The center has had a troubled financial past. However, nobody can deny it has been an artistic and entertainment success.
As good as the music and fun might be, Center leadership continues to grapple with a perplexing dilemma. While first-class acts obviously appeal to a lot of people, actually getting them to Escondido has been a problem despite its central location and easy accessibility by freeway and public transportation.
The Center’s fall season kicked off Sept. 23 with the San Francisco comedy competition. Following that, Vince Gill and then Etheridge are coming in to get people off the road and into the 1,500-seat concert hall. The Center jus announced a Lyle Lovett and John Hiatt joint concert for Nov. 8.
An Academy Award and GRAMMY winning artist, Etheridge, will take the stage to perform songs from her new album, “This is Me,” as well as some of her greatest hits like “Come to My Window,” “I’m The Only One,” and “I Want To Come Over”.
Known for her soulful, smoky vocals, confessional lyrics, and riveting stage presence, Etherdige will share personal stories about her remarkable journey through life and the inspiration behind some of her most beloved songs. his show is expected to sellout.
Etheridge is coming off an appearance and performance at the CLIO Awards on Oct. 1 that turned heads and prompted chatter across the celebrity-verse. The CLIOs are an annual award program recognizing innovation and creative excellence in advertising, design and communication.
Etheridge belted out an impromptu, no-holds-barred rendition of Janis Joplin’s “Mercedes Benz.” She also gave out the Grand CLIO Music award and introduced the main musical acts X Ambassadors and Salt-n-Pepa.
“Have you been good?” she said to the crowd assembled at New york’s Museum of Natural History. “You’re good, so I will leave you with one little musical thing.”
That was “Mercedes Benz” one of the iconic branding songs although certainly Joplin was anything but a Mercedes Benz advertising person.
Expecting a sold out hall, Center officials are counting on the likes of Etheridge to bring in the public from near and far.
“Someone came from Del Mar, and I was chatting with them at a reception,” Center executive director Van Leeuwen said to KPBS recently.
They said, “‘You know, it’s not quite as far as I thought it was and we even checked to see if there’s any hotels along the way,” Van Leeuwen continued. “So, it may be not as far as you think it is and we think it’s always worth the trek,”
The Center attracted 300,000 last year. It generated $5 million in revenue with 10 sold out shows and all the other attractions and events. A lot is going on there for sure.
The arts complex also includes a conference center that provides a source of revenue to help support its arts and education programs.
“The goal is to be the Balboa Park of North County,” Van Leeuwen said to KPBS. “We want people to come here to have their festivals and personal celebrations, their weddings; we’ve had weddings on this very stage and great events here. We had NerdCon here a couple weeks ago; the board has said we want to get a different audience on the campus and we achieved it that day.”
For more about Etheridge tickets call (800) 988-4253, or call (760) 839-4138 for information about the Center. Otherwise, visit http://artcenter.org.