Ever wonder how this event in such a teeny tiny town pulls such major talent? Ask the Bohemian Club
Monte Rio’s annual celebrity-studded variety show returns with live music and famous entertainers taking stage next Thursday, July 25, at the Monte Rio amphitheater, starting with a barbecue at 4:30 p.m.
The show marks the 108th community benefit put on by San Francisco’s Bohemian Club, whose members and guests include world political leaders, captains of industry and celebrity entertainers who party every July at the club’s 2,700-acre Bohemian Grove in Monte Rio.
Despite taking increased political flack for their global influence and secretive membership, the Bohemian Club since 1911 has hosted its annual community show with members and guests entertaining local audiences to support community causes.
The show’s tradition “is a way for Bohemian Club members camping at the Grove to share their talents and love for Monte Rio,” says this year’s media announcement.
“As is the show’s tradition, this year’s show will feature Grammy Award-winning musicians, rock bands, jazz and special acts guaranteed to delight spectators of all ages,” says the advance publicity.
Acclaimed British actor Malcolm McDowell will serve as master of ceremonies next week, and artists lined up to appear include country music star Kix Brooks and Bay Area vocalist Bobby Vickers.
TV stars such as Art Linkletter and Merv Griffin and singers Bing Crosby and Phil Harris have starred in past shows. More recent appearances have included rock artists Steve Miller, Elvin Bishop and Jimmy Buffet of Margaritaville fame.
“The event is shrouded in secrecy, so there’s no telling who’ll be onstage,” said a Bohemian Club media announcement of the benefit, “but for $30 it’s a steal of a deal.”
Monte Rio restaurateur Paul DuBray says despite years of political protesters calling attention to the club’s all male membership, power and private political policy discussions, the Grove’s annual encampment and the community show bring undeniable economic and cultural benefits to town.
“When I first moved here six years ago there were a lot of varied opinions about the Grove’s existence,” DuBray said. “I took it upon myself to listen to both sides of the story and how people were perceiving them. I quickly came to understand that as an economic value to the town, having the Grove here does come pretty much through business patronage. They will stop at Bartlett’s Market and go to the restaurants. And the people working at the Grove also stop by the markets or stop and have a cocktail after work. If the Bohemians didn’t have that draw, they would be a base that we wouldn’t see.”
As a tradition going back more than 100 years, the variety show is now a cooperative town effort with merchants and volunteers pitching in to make it happen, DuBray said.
“One really important thing that I think residents who might have an opposition to them miss is that the variety show is not something they’re obligated to do,” he said. “It’s a tremendous shot in the arm for the community as well as business owners because it draws so many people who otherwise just wouldn’t be here.”
Last year’s Grove show drew more than 2,000 attendees and raised more than $60,000 to benefit Monte Rio’s St. Catherine’s Catholic Church, the Monte Rio School Foundation and Monte Rio Fire Services Foundation.
A pre-show barbeque, hosted by the Monte Rio Fire Services Foundation, offers chicken or ribs dinners, veggie burgers, hot dogs, popcorn, baked goods, beer and wine and a dessert bar hosted by the Monte Rio School Foundation starting at 4:30 p.m. Beer and wine, hot dogs, and popcorn are available for purchase throughout the evening.
Show attendees are encouraged to bring portable lawn or beach chairs to the amphitheater lawn. Chair set-up starts at 7 a.m. on Thursday morning on a first-come first-served basis. Amphitheater gates then close at 3 p.m. and reopen at 4:30 when the barbecue starts. Local performers take the stage first, followed by the Grove’s lineup.
Tickets are $30 per adult and $15 for youth (age 13-17) when accompanied by a paying adult. Children 12 and under are free with a paying adult.
Tickets are available at the gate, online and through local outlets. It is advisable to purchase tickets in advance.