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Pilgrimage to Mecca

By   /   May 3, 2011  /   2 Comments

It didn’t begin with a government handout subsidizing expenses but with the private enterprise and passion spearheaded by one local young man intent on creating a special and enduring event.

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Making New Music and Arts

Mecca – To quench an insatiable appetite for music look no further than Ernest Hoodie Salinas who is the number one guy putting together the Mecca Festival happening this weekend at a desert oasis just south of Coachella. Salinas is creating a music event worth the pilgrimage to Mecca.

This youth-oriented music event may not have the big names recognized by the “over thirty” crowd but that calculated risk is paying off for Salinas.

Attendance at the first festival reached more than 750 people. This year’s attendance is expected to crest around 2,000 fans. It didn’t begin with a government handout subsidizing expenses but with the private enterprise and passion spearheaded by one local young man intent on creating a special and enduring event.

“I’ve been a music festival-goer for the last 10 years and felt I could take the music experience next level,” Salinas said.

Salinas and his partners, Art Cruz and David Loomstein, put the first festival together last year with only 10 artists entertaining over 750 attendees. This year, with nearly 100 performing acts, the festival aims at drawing 2,000 mostly local fans to please the growing appetite for more music festivals in the desert area.

“The three-acre venue can handle 4,000 but we didn’t want to be crowded,” Salinas said. “We have room to grow next year.”

Planning for The Mecca began last November which was intentionally scheduled on the heels of the highly successful Goldenvoice duo festivals – Stagecoach in its fifth year has attracted 55,000 to 60,000 daily for two days, to Coachella in its twelfth year attracting up to 80,000 fans for that three-day festival.

Even Goldenvoice promoters recognized the need to expand and last October 31 they staged a massive Phish concert, then boldly sandwiched The Big Four heavy metal show between their two huge music festivals. Both Phish and Big Four were commercially successful and together the two concerts entertained another 55,000 to 60,000 fans each.

Goldenvoice now has a seemingly bottomless commercial pot of gold with their music festivals, and today local hotels and restaurants recognize them as an important and dependable source of revenue. Some businesses count on the bulk of their year’s profits on the two music festivals, Coachella and Stagecoach. More music festivals just bring more money to the valley.

At first, Goldenvoice also started off small and took several years to win undying acceptance by the local business community. However, recently Goldenvoice promoters are drawing criticism for locking out local businesses in the valley. They also suffer from growing complaints from nearby residents upset over a myriad of issues, including tresspassing, noise pollution, traffic, vandalism and rented “party houses,” just to name a few.

The Mecca music festival under Salinas, who is a graduate of La Quinta High School, aims to support the local business community by involving it.

“The first year we started out serving the locals. We wanted to do something special here that the Coachella wasn’t doing,” Salinas said. “Now we’re finding our groove and it’s easier the second time around. The first time we asked acts to perform. This year, the acts are asking us.”

The Mecca Festival is carving out new genres of music which are not clearly defined as the Coachella and Stagecoach festivals. Mecca has associated itself more with the alternative music crowd. Music fans attending the Mecca festival will find a more DJ-based sound mixed with a lot of techno vibes with some reggae and hip-hop flavors.

“A lot of artists are not using traditional DJ equipment but more are using computers so I don’t know how you characterize that. It’s music they are making up on the spot without turntables. The use of sampling and new high-technology blurs the distinction of what constitutes an instrument and what is a device,” he said.

Performers will be coming from Europe, New York, Texas and LA. Gaudi, the mad scientist of techo hailing from London, thrilled desert denizens at last October’s Joshua Tree Roots Festival where his weird science won a legion of new fans and many critic’s accolades. Other showcase acts include in the Mecca line up are: Quarts Saul from Germany, La Luka from England, Govinda from Texas and Hulk of New York to name just a few.

The Mecca Music and Arts Festival also will feature more hands-on art events, instead of massive installations. Bob Shultz is one artist participating.

For more information, go to: www.meccafestival.com

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About the author

Dean M Gray

Writer, Artist & Publisher. Dean started in the newspaper business at the age of nine earning 90 cents a week walking 3 miles delivering a newspaper door to door. 500 miles later he graduated to a bicycle route. Delivering news evolved into reporting news when he started publishing his first independent newspapers in high school. He served as editor for college newspaper has been published in newspapers and magazines. Dean has been writing his way out of a paper bag and traveling uphill ever since. He is a member of the Society of Professional Journalists and Investigative Reporters and Editors. His publication is Desert Vortex News - http://www.desertvortex.com


  1. Umra says:

    That music is the food of life is emphatically proven by the attendance at these festivals.

  2. Dan OBrien Dan OBrien says:

    But then nothing beats a good hot dog…. Now that is the food of life.

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