As annual tradition dictates, the swallows returned to San Juan Capistrano this weekend and the 63rd Annual Swallows Day Parade took place Saturday in celebration.
I journeyed to downtown San Juan Capistrano for the parade and then checked out the festivities in the area. I saw a packed town with every bar full of people and live music at almost every venue. Trevor’s at The Tracks had ‘80s tribute band The Reflexx performing live and it looked like a full-capacity crowd.
Next I headed to The San Juan Outpost and it was the perfect day for it; a great, sunny day with lush green hills on all sides of the venue. Guests were playing ping pong and cornhole, some were shopping at the onsite vendors, and others were simply relaxing, waiting for the live music to start.
The first act up was local country band, Westward Sons, and they kicked things off very well. They did an excellent job of getting the crowd warmed up for the headliners with their mix of originals and covers, including a fantastic rendition of Johnny Cash’s “Ring of Fire.”
Up next was country star Lauren Alaina, and she started her set off with her hit, “Georgia Peaches.” The runner up on season 10 of “American Idol,” Alaina was impressive, showing off her high range of vocals by doing a cover of Whitney Houston’s “I Wanna Dance with Somebody.” She had arrived in town the day before and said she was enjoying her visit. She finished off strong with her hits “What Ifs” and “Road Less Traveled.”
Once the sun set, the temperature dropped quite a bit, but that didn’t stop the crowd from staying for Granger Smith. Smith played a variety of his hit songs, including “Backroad Song” and “If the Boot Fits,” along with songs from his feature film, “Moonrise.” Smith stated, “I’m from Texas, but I feel like we understand each other in Southern California.”
Smith knew how to work the crowd and even got them standing up and singing along when he played Lee Greenwood’s “God Bless the USA.” On the last song his set, Smith changed into his alter ego, Earl Dibbles, Jr., and did a great job getting the crowd involved and chanting “It’s a California celebration, we are the Yee Yee Nation!” (Yee Yee Nation is what Smith’s fans call themselves). There were also quite a few fans in the crowd wearing Yee Yee merchandise. It was a fantastic night of music and celebration!
Fortunately, the festivities did not end on Saturday! Country star Chris Lane was on tap to perform Sunday after previously rescheduling due to losing his voice. He had promised he would put on one hell of a performance, and that he did! The crowd was definitely ready for it as they arrived early to tailgate in the parking lot with cornhole and BBQs on another beautiful, sunny day.
San Juan Capistrano locals Holiday State got the evening started with their excellent originals and covers, which included “Famous Friends” by Chris Young and Kane Brown. The band said, “Opening for Chris Lane – it doesn’t get better than this!” My favorite was an original song they wrote about Stagecoach Music Festival called “Indio.” Look out for this Orange County band as I expect them to do very well in the future!
Again the setting sun brought colder temps, but that didn’t stop the crowd from waiting to see Chris Lane. Once on stage, he said, “I don’t know about you, but I came to party on a Sunday night!” The large crowd enthusiastically responded by cheering as loud as they could. Lane was engaging and played some hip-hop cover songs, including “Party Up” by DMX. The crowd was dancing and at one point, Lane had groups competing. As the end of the night approached, Lane brought a little girl on stage and sang his “For Her” and signed her hat. I bet she will never forget that moment!
It was a wonderful weekend of music and welcoming the swallows back to San Juan. See you again next year!