May 6, 2001
'I think I heard something about Konocti," said Third Eye Blind guitarist Tony Fredianelli, jogging his memory for any cobweb of a flashback. "A couple of the members of the band were trying to figure out why we we're playing there, now I remember ... there must be some money there or something."
It all depends on who you talk to: Mention Kelseyville's Konocti Harbor to Eddie Money, the Doobie Brothers, Jethro Tull, or even country acts like Vince Gill and Trisha Yearwood, and it's like mentioning Shangri-La. It's one of those safe havens on their tour they can count on every year (and several times a year if you're Tom Jones).
On the other hand, younger bands haven't exactly flocked to the Clear Lake resort. There have been random sightings provided by the likes of Smashmouth, Sheryl Crow or Marcy Playground.
But, just as Konocti slowly overcame routing restrictions imposed by San Francisco bookers (finally landing bands like Brooks and Dunn or Reba McEntire), this summer more than any other the lineup boasts a younger, hipper set of bands like Third Eye Blind, Counting Crows and Blues Traveler.
"It just seems like more of the younger bands are out there this year and more of them are looking for our size venue," said Konocti general manager Greg Bennett.
"For some of the acts instead of playing the 20,000-seaters, selling out the 5,000-seater is the way to go. It's a pretty safe play, as they say in the business."
Size also equates with money. Just do the math: Given Konocti prices (Counting Crows tickets are $39, $49 and $59), the total gross for a sold-out show can be between $180,000 and nearly $300,000.
"It's kind of a stepping stone effect," Bennett said. "Once you get a few of them -- the Hooties, the Sheryl Crows or the Spin Doctors -- those have all been little stepping stones. This summer, getting Third Eye Blind, Counting Crows and Blues Traveler is a big stepping stone for us. It rounds out the lineup and should solidify us for future talent in that area of the music industry."
Konocti recently remodeled the Clear Lake amphitheater, installing new reserved seating ("like Pac Bell seats") and two jumbo video screens, renovating the backstage area and improving the sight lines.
The hardest part is convincing fans to scale the mountains into Lake County.
On a hot summer night on a lake with the mountains behind it and the moon rising overhead, and all of the seats within 200 feet of the stage, Bennett said, "There are very few venues around like us."
-- John Beck