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California’s Musical Coast

Author: esfeld
Date of Trip: March 2003

It was noon on a sunny day in New York when the mail arrived. Okay, so it was only an invitation, but I thought I’d “novelize” the trip report. The invite was to a friend’s wedding in Pasadena. What a great excuse for a trip (as if we really need an excuse). I immediately starting planning the trip. I figured that if we flew into San Francisco we could drive up to Napa Valley for a week and then drive down the coast road … see all the sights, stop in all the right places and then head on into Pasadena for the wedding.

Hertz was my first call. Since this was going to be a classic road trip I opted for a Mustang convertible. The drive from Napa down the coast is not a short one and I wasn’t too sure about the reliability of decent radio stations (Hertz had no idea what satellite radio was) so I started to think along the lines of about 10 hours of road music … actually California road music. The CD that evolved has since become a family cult disc.

The first night we stayed at the St. Francis and had a great dinner outdoors in an alley right off the square in a little boat recommended by a friend. The next morning we were on the road early and as we crossed the Golden Gate bridge, we started out listening to Mustang Sally by Wilson Pickett, followed by I left my heart in San Francisco, Tony Bennett. Well, now, you get the idea.

In Napa we stayed at the Embassy Suites. I prefer multiple rooms to canopied bed B&B’s and it was great. It is very “wine country” and not your standard Embassy Suites operation. That night we wined and dined royally at Mustards Grill (since this is more about the music than the food I will save restaurant info for those who inquire).

We were up at 5 the next morning and headed out to a rendezvous for a hot air balloon ride over the valley. What a marvelous adventure that included lunch at a nearby vineyard. That night we dined at Bouchon, the French Laundry’s little sister (just a year old at the time and we still had a hassle getting a reservation 2 months ahead of time). Still, I would recommend it highly.

The next day we did a catered lunch on the Wine Train ending up at the Grigich Hills Winery for a tour and then dessert and coffee on the train back to Napa. Leaving the Valley early the next morning to the tune of California Dreamin, Beach Boys, we headed down the coast. As we passed San Francisco we were listening to all the old music scene stuff by the Who, The Dead, Procol Harem plus The Eagles and Life in the Fast Lane on our way to Carmel. We have a friend who owns the French restaurant in town so we had booked the Artist Suite at the Tradewinds for the night. Dinner at La Boheme was great.

Passing all the small surfing towns the next day we were well into Jan & Dean and the Beach Boys tunes on our way into Santa Barbara. We stayed at the Oceana (we wanted to be on the water) and dined overlooking SB at El Encanto up in the hills. Another unique situation that I would recommend highly. Leaving SB to the likes of Free Ride, The Doobie Bros and Hotel California, The Eagles thru Randy Newmans I Love LA.

We pulled into Old Pasadena to the strains of, what else but, The little old lady from Pasadena, Jan & Dean. We were just in time to meet friends for dinner. I will recommend the The Raymond in Pasadena for dinner. There’s a garden setting and kitchen of the first order. Or as the review says: With its easy-to-miss setting in a sleepy part of Pasadena, the Raymond is a jewel few locals even know about. This Craftsman cottage was once the caretaker’s house for a grand Victorian hotel called The Raymond. Though the city has grown to surround it, the place maintains an enchanting air of seclusion and serenity. Chef/owner Suzanne Bourg brings a romantic sensibility and impeccable culinary instincts to dishes that are mostly haute American with an occasional European flair.

I could tell you that we flew home to Liza’s New York, New York, but after turning in the car and all the excitement of the wedding, we passed out on the plane and couldn’t wait to get home.

I had a ball putting the list together and it worked out just as planned. Next time you think trip, start thinking music and have a go at it. Here is a sampling to help get you started:

Wilson Pickett – Mustang Sally
Wipe Out – The Surfaris
Roll on Down the Highway – Bad Company
California Dreamin – The Beach Boys
California Girls – The Beach Boys
Fun Fun Fun – The Beach Boys
Little Deuce Coupe – The Beach Boys
Little Gb – The Beach Boys
Surfing Safari – The Beach Boys
Surfin USA – The Beach Boys
Wipeout – The Beach Boys
Little Deuce Coupe – The Beach Boys
Travelin This Lonesome Road – Bill Monroe
Summertime Blues – Blue Cheer
Green Onions – Booker T & the MGs
On the Road Again – Canned Heat
Born On The Bayou – Creedence Clearwater Revival
Free Ride – Edgar Winter Group
Hot Rod Lincoln – Commander Cody
Six Days on the Road – Dave Dudley
Mercury Blues – David Linley
Highway Star – Deep Purple
Rockin Down the Highway – The Doobie Brothers
Free Ride – The Doobie Brothers
Hotel California – The Eagles
Life In The Fast Lane – The Eagles
Peaceful Easy Feeling – The Eagles
Driving My Life Away – Eddie Rabbit
Slowride – Foghat
The Race Is On – George Jones
Move it On Over – George Thorogood & The Destroyers
New, New Minglewood Blues – Grateful Dead
Casey Jones – Grateful Dead
Truckin – Greatful Dead
Running on Empty – Jackson Browne
Little GTO – Jan & Dean
Dead Mans Curve – Jan & Dean
Ball & Chain – Janis Joplin
Me & Bobby McGee – Janis Joplin
Mercedes Benz – Janis Joplin
Somebody to Love – Jefferson Airplane
White Rabbit – Jefferson Airplane
All Along the Watchtower – Jimi Hendrix
Take Another Road – Jimmy Buffett
The Wind Cries – John Mayer
California Dreamin – Jose Feliciano
Six Days on the Road – Various Artists
Walk On The Wild Side – Lou Reed
Dead Skunk – Loudon Wainwright III
Freebird – Lynyrd Skynyrd
Ballad of Thunder Road – Robert Mitchum
White Line Fever – Merle Haggard
A Whiter Shade of Pale – Pocol Harum
Lord, Im Coming Home – Red Foley
Higher Ground – Red Hot Chili Peppers
Ballad of Thunder Road – Robert Mitchum
King of the Road – Roger Miller
I Can’t Drive 55 – Sammy Hagar
Black Magic Woman – Santana
Come On Eileen – Save Ferris
Six Days on the Road – Sawyer Brown
The Race Is On – Sawyer Brown
Leader of the Pack – The Shangri-Las
I Want To Take You Higher – Sly & The Family Stone
Born to Be Wild – Steppenwolf
The Wind Cries Mary – Sting
Summertime Blues – Stray Cats
Running with the Devil – Van Halen
Walk, Don’t Run – The Ventures
On the Road Again – Willie Nelson
I Love LA – Randy Newman
The Little Old Lady – Jan & Dean

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