Published in the April 12 – April 25, 2017 issue of Morgan Hill Life

By Mark Fenichel

Mark Fenichel

Caravanserai closes the Mushroom Mardi Gras festival with their tribute to Santana from 4 to 6 p.m. Sunday, May 28. Photo courtesy Caravanserai

You can find a variety of food dishes with garlic at the Morgan Hill Mushroom Mardi Gras, and you can find mushrooms in a wide variety at the Gilroy Garlic Festival, but one of the main things both events have in common is music, lots and lots of music.

Personally, I have a long history with the event. In addition to performing a number of times at both festivals, in 2004 I was brought on to emcee the main music stage at the Mushroom Mardi Gras.

At the time I was working as an account representative at KFOX radio and the festival producers wanted to have someone “in the know” to introduce the bands and thank the sponsors.

The acts included the Gin Blossoms and The Greg Kihn Band. At the time Greg Kihn was the top rated morning drive DJ and KFOX was one of the hottest rock stations. So it was a brilliant promotional idea to hire the top morning guy’s band and have the radio station as a sponsor.

Greg and co-host Chris Jackson talked about the event for what seemed like a month leading up to festival day. It was a good memory for me as Greg brought me on stage to sit in with the band on a few tunes including a jamming version of his famous “The Breakup Song.”

Morgan Hill’s Community Park was the location from 1989 to 2004. In 2005, due to construction and remodeling at Community Park, the Mardi Gras was forced to move from the place they called home for 15 years, to downtown Morgan Hill.

The first two years moving downtown, the festival was located on Monterey Road between Main and Dunne avenues. It soon became too large and had to move to its now permanent home, the Community and Cultural Center and along Depot Street from Dunne Avenue to Second Street.

Memorial Day weekend is always the date, and this year the 2017 Mushroom Mardi Gras will offer two stages jam-packed with a wide variety of music.

The Saturday lineup on the Fourth Street Stage begins at 11:30 a.m. with Moondance. Vintage classic rock pros Chubby’s Allstars (celebrating 32 years of rocking Bay Area audiences) will play from 1:30 to 3 p.m., followed by southern rockers Vital Signs playing from 3:30 to 5 p.m., and Tymber & Jones’n will close the afternoon playing classic rock with a twist.

On the main Amphitheater Stage the lineup begins as Rock The Heat starts the day at 11:30 a.m., then The Houserockers a 10-piece classic rock and ’60s soul and funky R&B horn band. The Joint Chiefs follow with their blend of Bay Area funk and classic R&B and then headlining from 5 to 7 p.m. it’s The Lost Boys featuring American Idol finalist and Santa Cruz resident James Durbin.

The line-up for Sunday on the Fourth Street Stage includes local singer-songwriter Frank Dicker and his super talented family band at 11 a.m., followed by local favorites The Fast Lane Band at 12:30 p.m. playing a variety of rock, jazz and blues. At 2:30 p.m. it’s JJ Hawg and Bootleg is the final band at 4:30 p.m.

On the Amphitheater Stage, Shane Dwight and Michael Osborn start the day with American classics and blues.
The Morgan Hill high school students scholarship awards starts 1:30 p.m., followed by The Hitmen at 2 p.m. An extremely talented Caravanserai closes the festival with their tribute to Santana from 4 to 6 p.m.

The Morgan Hill Mushroom Mardi Gras Festival, now in its 38th year, is well worth the drive from Gilroy or from anywhere for two days of free family fun and a whole lot of wonderful music.

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