Camarada set for first public 2021 indoor concert Friday as Humphreys and Westgate Hotel gear up for summer

Camarada mainstay Beth Ross Buckley, seated at right
Beth Ross Buckley, seated at right, will lead Camarada’s Friday Stevie Wonder tribute concert, “In the Key of Life,” at the La Jolla Music Society’s Baker-Baum Concert Hall in front of a reduced capacity audience that will be masked and socially distanced. The performers include, from left, pianist Danny Green, violinist Bridget Dolkas, guitarist Peter Sprague, singer Rebecca Jade, Buckley, drummer Duncan Moore and bassist Gunnar Biggs.
(Monique Feil / Courtesy Camarada)

Upcoming San Diego concerts include Camarada’s Friday Stevie Wonder tribute, two Gilbert Castellanos-led jazz series and a Mt. Joy and a Trampled By Turtles double-header


It remains to be seen if indoor and outdoor concerts in San Diego and throughout California will be able to resume without any restrictions on June 15, contingent on the number of COVID-19 hospitalizations at the time and the amount of available vaccines.

Nevertheless, several San Diego concert presenters announced Monday that they are gearing up for renewed activity.

Humphreys Concerts by the Bay confirmed its first booking of 2021 — a pair of Aug. 17 and 18 standing-room-only shows by the Philadelphia folk-rock band Mt. Joy and the bluegrass-fueled Minnesota group Trampled By Turtles. Tickets go on sale this week for the concerts at the 1,450-capacity Shelter Island venue, whose 40th anniversary last year was pushed back to 2021 because of the pandemic.

The Westgate Hotel will resume top trumpeter Gilbert Castellanos’ weekly Friday jazz series, which is being moved outdoors, on May 14. The Westgate has also set a June 24 launch for its Castellanos-curated weekly Thursday Sunset Poolside Jazz Series, which will become a ticketed event for the first time in its nine-year history. The lineup includes such notable artists as flutist Holly Hofmann, pianist Joshua White and saxophonist Christopher Hollyday.

More information about the Humphreys concerts and the two Westgate series appears below.

But first up is Camarada, whose previously announced audience-free April 24 livestreamed “In the Key of Life — The Music of Stevie Wonder” tribute concert has been moved to this Friday and will be open to a limited number of ticketholders to attend in person.

Friday’s 7 p.m. Camarada performance will be held at La Jolla Music Society’s state-of-the-art Baker-Baum Concert Hall. It is set to become the first ticketed indoor concert with a live audience to take place in San Diego County since the COVID-19 pandemic shuttered all live events here last March.

The concert, which will be filmed for streaming on the original April 24 date, is being underwritten by arts patrons Sheryl and Bob Scarano. The lineup of musicians includes singer Rebecca Jade, guitarist Peter Sprague and some of the area’s leading jazz, Latin and classical musicians.

“We’ve been working very closely with the La Jolla Music Society to ensure we’re following all the guidelines,” said Camarada co-founder and flutist Beth Ross Buckley. “The society has been super helpful, and we’ve had hours of meetings with them. We’re kind of like a guinea pig for them!”

As per county health guidelines, attendance for Friday’s concert will be limited to just 15 percent of the Baker-Baum’s usual 513-seat capacity for a total of 76 people. That number includes the seven musicians, along with a handful of audio engineers, camera operators and other production staff members. The 60 concert attendees will have to each sign a waiver before being admitted. They will be seated 6 feet apart in assigned seats on the venue’s main floor, where members of up to three households can be seated together at their request.

The concertgoers will enter and depart the intermission-free concert incrementally. They will remain masked until they have left the venue. And each attendee will be asked several COVID-related health questions before being admitted, as was also the case at the La Jolla Music Society’s two courtyard chamber-music concerts last Saturday by pianist Inon Barnatan, cellist Alisa Weilerstein and violinist Philippe Quint.

“We could do Friday’s ‘In the Key of Life’ concert with 35 percent capacity, if all the people attending showed (proof of) vaccination cards,” said Buckley, who co-founded the nonprofit Camarada 27 years ago. “But since we are so close to Friday’s concert, it’s easier to opt for 15 percent capacity.”

Humphreys plans to operate at its full 1,450 capacity when the outdoor venue reopens this summer

Gilbert Castellanos
Gilbert Castellanos is set for double musical return at The Westgate Hotel.
(Eduardo Contreras/The San Diego Union-Tribune)


The Westgate will move its Friday night jazz series from its indoor Palace Bar to its new outdoor restaurant, Veranda, which has a capacity of 50. The Veranda will continue to feature Monday evening performances by guitarist Julio De la Huerta and Friday performances by versatile singer Victoria Robertson, who will move to Thursdays on May 20, after taking May 13 off.

Capacity for the Westgate’s 21-and-up Sunset Poolside Jazz Series — which has been 150 in previous years — will be capped at 75 this summer, according to Westgate Marketing Manager Tina Hingle. Castellanos will once again curate the rooftop series.

“Gilbert Castellanos has kept jazz alive in San Diego and has amazing talent and charisma,” Hingle said of the trumpeter, whose tenure as the Westgate’s jazz curator and featured performer began 11 years ago.

Castellanos, who is the founder of the Young Lions Jazz Conservatory and the jazz curator for the San Diego Symphony, is excited about his return to the Westgate.

“I haven’t played there since the last week in February 2020, the week before my (dental) surgery,” said the trumpeter. “It was always my intention to return after my surgery, but then COVID hit. And when the Westgate approached me last summer to do some outdoor concerts in different formats, I wasn’t really ready to play yet, physically or mentally. So, it’s great to be able to come back now.

“I have so many fond memories of playing at the Westgate and of the many great musicians — including Kurt Elling, Jon Faddis, Melissa Morgan and members of the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra — who would stop and sit in after their gigs at the Balboa Theater or the Spreckels Theatre.

“I honestly feel like things are starting to feel somewhat normal again, not just with my gigs but from watching other musicians start to work again. It’s very encouraging and motivating to bring the music back. Because this is what people really want and need.”

Camarada presents “In the Key of Life — The Music of Stevie Wonder”’

When: 7 p.m. Friday (live) and April 24 (streaming)

Where: La Jolla Music Society’s Baker-Baum Concert Hall, 7600 Fay Ave., La Jolla

Tickets: $150 (limited to 60 attendees for live concert), $20 for April 24 stream

Phone: (619) 231-3702


Mt. Joy and Trampled By Turtles

When: 6:30 p.m. Aug. 17 (with Trampled By Turtles headlining) and Aug. 18 (with Mt. Joy headlining) on what is being billed as their “Fall Tour 2021”

Where: Humphreys Concerts by the Bay, 2242 Shelter Island Drive, Shelter Island

Tickets: $55 (standing room only)

Online:, on sale to the general public 10 a.m. Friday; fan club pre-sales begin Wednesday at 10 a.m.; venue pre-sale begins 10 a.m. Thursday (password: GV2021)

Westgate Hotel Friday Veranda Jazz Series and Thursday Sunset Poolside Jazz Series

When: 6:30 to 9:30 p.m. (Friday Veranda series begins May 14 with Sam Harris; 21-and-up Sunset series begins June 24 with the Charlie Arbelaez Quartet; the full series lineup appears below)

Where: The Westgate Hotel, 1055 Second Ave., downtown

Admission: $25 food and drink minimum for the Friday Veranda series (reservations suggested); tickets for the Thursday Sunset series, priced at $15 per concert, go on sale June 1

Phone: (619) 238-1818


Westgate Sunset Poolside Jazz Series lineup

June 24: Charlie Arbelaez Quartet

July 1: Dennis Gittens Quartet

July 8: Zion Dyson Quartet

July 15: Lori Bell Trio

July 22: Gilbert Castellanos Quartet

July 29: Leonard Patton Trio

Aug. 5: Jessi Carr Quartet

Aug. 12: Irving Flores Trio

Aug. 19: Joshua White Trio

Aug. 26: Holly Hofmann

Sept. 2: Matt Hall Quartet

Sept. 9: Ross Mallett

Sept. 16: Rob Thorsen Trio

Sept. 23: Christopher Hollyday Quartet

— George Varga is a reporter for The San Diego Union-Tribune