A free music series is receiving enthusiastic praise from all corners in its first summer of existence.
On Thursday, Aug. 16, a world music band, the Polyrhythmics, will play the eighth Live at Lakeview concert at Lakeview Commons in South Lake Tahoe.
"It's been going great, the turnout has been phenomenal, just the vibe," founder and promoter Rob Giustina said. "There's just good energy from all the locals, saying that this is one of the coolest things South Shore has ever had."
After an opening party June 20, the first official Live at Lakeview kicked off June 28th with North Tahoe's Dead Winter Carpenters. The band is a regular act at another free summer music series, the long-running Concerts Commons Beach shows on Sunday in Tahoe City.
"I didn't have any idea what to expect," DWC guitarist Jesse Dunn said of Live at Lakeview. "I think we were all thrilled with the event, really immaculate venue. You could really sense the enthusiasm of the community there, for the event and also for the area."
Other performers have included Fruition, Keyser Soze, Huckley, and the Congress, playing music varying from bluegrass, reggae and surf rock to blues.
Last week, the Bay Area's Forrest Day brought its edgy blend of hip-hop, jazz, rock and beyond to an easy-going crowd of hundreds at Lakeview Commons. Vendors sold a variety of apparel and crafts, an enclosed beer garden with a great stage view served beer and wine, and the bike valet area was bustling with concertgoers storing and retrieving bicycles.
"The bike valet has been overflowing," Giustina said. "To me it's one of the best things. The bike valet is run by a different nonprofit every week, so they collect donations. They've been making good money."
Guests are encouraged to bike or walk to concerts if possible. With crowds occasionally exceeding a thousand, the event has significantly impacted parking in the Lakeview area. This is one of a few issues concert staff and the city seek to address.
"It's the smoking, cigarettes and marijuana," Giustina said. "Parking is an issue. Now there's construction so there's even less space."
"We're trying not to be too much of a security force there," he added. "We're putting up signs, but it's a public park you know, we want everyone to be able to police it."
Interim City Manager Nancy Kerry was enthusiastic about the concerts and the community response.
"This is the most extraordinary, positive, wonderful outcome we could've expected, beyond our wildest expectations," she said. "Live at Lakeview is doing a wonderful job of bringing people to Lakeview Commons. We had no idea that thousands of people would be coming out."
Kerry made it clear that she sees the smoking issue as valid but solvable side effect of a thriving community event.
"That's just the result of success. We're happy to address problems resulting from success," she said.
Kerry said that the City Council will consider a smoking ban for South Lake Tahoe's public beaches at next Tuesday's meeting.
Giustina is hopeful that Live at Lakeview will continue in 2013. He said he's happy with both the audience turnout and the response of vendors and sponsors.
"I started out slow with sponsorships, and I'm super happy with everyone that came out and supported it," he said. "Now it seems like everyone wants to be involved."
Concert staff are focused on reducing the event's impact on Lakeview commons and the surrounding area.
"We do a Monday cleanup, we do the whole beach and then the neighborhood," Giustina said.
Live at Lakeview enjoys one more advantage for any musical event: artists want to return.
"We'd love to come back next year," Dunn said. "I wouldn't miss it."