Jack Tempchin gets peaceful easy VIP feeling at KAABOO

Jack Tempchin is beyond delighted that the KAABOO Del Mar festival is just a 12-minute drive from his home in Encinitas.

“This is the greatest thing!” the veteran singer-songwriter said early Sunday evening, just before he launched into an infectious version of “Already Gone,” the 1974 Eagles’ hit that he co-wrote with Rob Strandlund.

“My friends were worried I wasn’t getting out to hear enough music,” Tempchin continued. “So they said: ‘How about having a giant music festival close to Jack’s house?’ “

He was kidding, of course.

But KAABOO almost qualifies as a backyard gig for the veteran troubadour, whose other songwriting credits also include the Eagles’ “Peacful Easy Feeling” and Johnny Rivers’ “Slow Dancin’,” both of which he performed Sunday for a select audience at the KAABOO Hang Ten Trestles Stage.

His listeners, who numbered just a few dozen, had paid $2,499 each for a Hang Ten pass, the festival’s most expensive VIP option. He was performing on a large balcony overlooking the Del Mar Racetrack’s grassy paddock area and the large Trestles Stage below.

Other artists who appeared at the three-day festival on the intimate Trestles Hang Ten Stage included Matt Costa, The Aggrolites, Blues Traveler front man John Popper and San Diego troubadour Steve Poltz.

Mark Howard, who lives in nearby Cardiff-by-the-Sea, smiled as he listened to Tempchin’s half-hour mini-set. Howard, who sells medical equipment was attending the two-year-old KAABOO for the first time.

“It cost a lot of money,” he said of his Hang Ten pass, “but it was worth it to have this kind of access that is not shoulder-to-shoulder. I’ve never been to a festival before, but this is like a lot of concerts (in one). I think next year I’ll bring my wife; she was busy with our daughter this weekend.”

There was an additional perk for Howard and the other Hang Ten pass holders on hand to hear Tempchin. After his performance, they each received free samples of his award-winning Peaceful Easy Feeling California Cabernet Sauvignon — and an autographed complimentary bottle to take home.

“I’m giving my wine away!” laughed Tempchin, whose newest album, “One More Song,” came out Sept. 2. After praising this weekend’s KAABOO performances by Aerosmith and Jimmy Buffett, Tempchin offered an appraisal of the festival’s VIP amenities.

“I think they’re terrific,” he said. “The Woodstock generation wants to sit in a comfortable chair and they want the music to sound good. I’m part of that generation and so do I.”

— George Varga writes for The San Diego Union-Tribune

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