July 21, 2014

Brews, Doo Wah Riders Toast Cowboys

Toast the hardworking American cowboy and raise money for Saint Joseph’s Food Pantry at Spirits of the West Brewsfest Saturday, July 26.

Doo Wah Riders in concert at the Convention Center at Big Bear LakeThe third annual event at the Convention Center at Big Bear Lake offers free fun for the whole family with Western action shooters, arts and crafts, live music all day and evening concert featuring the world renowned Doo Wah Riders (separate admission). Those 21 and over can sample more than 40 different beers and another 20-plus spirits, including tequilas and bourbons.

Brews to taste include offerings from Spaten and Warsteiner plus Ayinger, Lindermans Beers, Samuel Smith, Oak Hills Brewery and Hangar 24. Spirits from Duke Bourbon, Russell’s RSV, Wild Turkey, Knot Rye and Maple, Pendleton 1910, Devils Cut, Beam Signature and 1972 bourbon are also featured. Kids get to sample too—real sarsaparilla plus sodas including Pepsi products and Jarritos, a new beverage from Mexico available in mango, kiwi, strawberry and other flavors.

Gates open at 2 p.m. with free admission and a full slate of activities to mark Big Bear’s western heritage that dates back to the late 1800’s, which included cattle drives up to the mountains from the deserts of Palm Springs, Morongo and Yucca basins. Temecula Action Shooters will perform throughout the day and there’s quick draw game, bounce house, cheery seed spitting contest and carnival-style games. Arts and crafts and collective vendors will be selling their wares and Wyatt’s Cafe & Saloon is open with the mountain’s best ranch-style grub.

At 6 p.m. doors open for the concert, with admission $15 or $10 with the donation of two nonperishable food items. For over 35 years the Doo Wah Riders have played "high energy country with a Cajun twist) around the country, appearing in concert with Garth Brooks, George Strait, Alabama, Faith Hill, Tim McGraw, Brooks and Dunn, Willie Nelson among others. The list also includes Waylon Jennings, Dolly Parton, Lone Star, Randy Travis and the Oak Ridge Boys and ranges from John Denver to Joan Jett.

The Doo Wah Riders recorded with Bryon Berline on his Grammy-nominated CD "Fiddle and a Song" and the band appeared in the movie "Basic Instinct," playing their original song "Glowing in the Ashes" and appeared on TNN’s "Prime Time Country" as well as the prime time Dick Clark television production "Will You Marry Me?" Concert tickets can be purchased at the Community Market, No Name Pizza or online at www.bigbearevents.com.

Sampling tickets are a dollar each for beer and $3 for spirits and continue till 8 p.m. For $25 there’s the all-inclusive Yippee-Kai-Yay package which includes commemorative pint glass, 15 sample tickets and admission to the evening’s concert.

The National Day of the Cowboy organization, founded in June 2005 with official resolution passed the U.S. Senate a month later, seeks to preserve America’s cowboy heritage for future generations. Saint Joseph’s Food Panty, one of three in the Valley, feeds 100-plus families a week and is staffed entirely by volunteers.

The Convention Center is on Big Bear Blvd. at Division. Call (909) 585-3000 or visit www.bigbearevents.com.

July 17, 2014

`Summer of Stars' at Cave Big Bear with Tubes, Medley

Headliners like Berlin, The Tubes, Bill Medley and Colt Ford along with great tribute concerts and comedy nights make for a “Summer of Stars” at The Cave Big Bear, the mountain’s hot entertainment venue.

Every seat is front and center at The Cave, which has the feel of an intimate nightclub with full cocktail service to each seat including local wine from Stone Summit Winery and beers from Big Bear Lake Brewing Co., yet offers concert-quality state-of-the-art sound, lighting, lasers and special effects.

BERLIN featuring TERRI NUNN, who came in at #11 on VH1’s list of the “100 Greatest Women in Rock,” headlines at The Cave on July 18. The hit single “Take My Breath Away” from the movie “Top Gun” rocketed the group to stardom in the 1980’s along with other hits like “No More Words,” the controversial “Sex (I’m A),” “Tell Me Why” and “The Metro.” Premium and upfront seats are just $25, VIP $40. One night later on July 19 is a tribute to female rockers of the 1980’s—The Go-Go’s, Cyndi Lauper, Bangles, Pat Benatar, Blondie, Eurythmics, Pretenders, Tina Turner, many more—by high energy band LADY LUCK Tickets are $15 or $25 VIP.

Reggae heavyweights BIG MOUNTAIN headline at The Cave Saturday, July 26. Lead singer Quino is one of the most recognized voices in reggae music and Big Mountain has toured in over 30 countries and sold more than two million albums and six million singles. Big Mountain’s reggae version of Peter Frampton’s “Baby I Love Your Way” in 1994 became a classic that for two decades has been the most played, noncurrent hit song on radio worldwide. Opening is One Drop Redemption, a Bob Marley and The Wailers tribute lead by Jamaican born singer Ras Jahmark Tafari. Tickets are $15, $30 for VIP.

Future headliners at The Cave include THE TUBES on August 2, playing hits like “She’s A Beauty,” “Talk To Ya Later” and the iconic “White Punks on Dope,” with tickets starting at $25. A week later it’s an intimate evening with BILL MEDLEY on Aug. 9. Perhaps best known as one-half of the legendary Righteous Brothers with hits like “You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feelin,’” “Unchained Melody” and “(You’re My) Soul and Inspiration,” Medley has also compiled a successful solo career. Songs like “The Time of My Life” and “He Ain’t Heavy, He’s My Brother” from the Rambo III soundtrack have introduced his music to new legions of fans. Tickets start at $20.

Other shows at The Cave Big Bear include alternative rock band TOAD THE WET SPROCKET on Aug. 16 with hits “All I Want” and “All She Said.” “BRITISH ROCK MEETS AMERICAN POP” on Aug. 23 stars Denny Laine from Paul McCartney’s band Wings, Dennis Tufano of the Buckinghams, and Cannibal and the Headhunters. ERIC LINDELL plays Aug. 29 and Southland surf sound favorites THE WHEELAND BROTHERS on Aug. 30. The Cave Big Bear hosts comedy night on Aug. 1.

For information call (877) 825-4388 or www.thecavebigbear.com.

July 13, 2014

Two New Snow Leopards at Big Bear Alpine Zoo

Two spirited Himalayan snow leopard sisters now have a new home at Big Bear Alpine Zoo, which in turn is finally going to be moving as well.

Snow leopard kittens together at Big Bear Alpine ZooJust another chapter in the sage of Big Bear Alpine Zoo, which has become home for countless injured or rehabilitating animals since it was founded after a forest fire in 1959. In this case it’s snow leopards Asha and Shanti, both born with a relatively rare congenital eye anomaly called multiple ocular coloboma, settled into new specially-designed enclosures at the zoo after arriving via FedEx last month.

Asha and Shanti each have had their right eyes removed to prevent infection and other complications. That doesn’t keep them from pouncing on perceived prey but it does eliminate them from breeding the Species Survival Program into which they were born, which aims to propagate endangered species. As a result they arrive as animal ambassadors for snow leopards at Big Bear Alpine Zoo, well-known for its rehabilitation program.

The two cats come from Woodland Park Zoo in Seattle, Wash. where they became quite the celebrities. Both are a welcome addition after snow leopard Milo passed away of an aggressive form of mouth cancer that afflicts cats in captivity a year ago, only after another magnificent cat, Ivan, also passed from the disease.

"They are going to love their new home," said curator Debbie Richardson of the new arrivals. "They will live inside an enclosed exhibit space that has a Plexiglass window viewing deck that features a giant white rock mountain, big tree and two rock dens."

In fact it was designed to be easy to move and set up at the zoo’s future site, at Moonridge Rd. and Clubview on the opposite end of the golf course from its current location. Groundbreaking is set for spring 2015 with a fall 2016 anticipated opening. Some $7.1 million has been pledged by the Board of Supervisors from the general fund with remaining monies coming from grants, corporate fundraisers and private donations.

A scaled down version of the new zoo was approved by San Bernardino County Board of Supervisors in spring and all environmental hurdles appear to have been cleared, so Big Bear Alpine Zoo’s move is finally a go after numerous starts and stops. The nation’s only alpine zoo moves from its current 2.5 acre location across the street from Bear Mountain a mile or so north to a larger 5.5 acre location.

Not as big as first envisioned—original plans called for a 20 acre park on the north shore by Discovery Center before a 10 acre facility was called for at the new location—the new zoo still has all the nuts and bolts drawn by renowned planners PGAV Designers. And the new snow leopard habitat housing Asha and Shanti at the current location will be the first example of what exhibits will look like when the zoo finally does relocate.

Bringing in animals that are injured is what Big Bear Alpine Zoo does. Many are rehabilitated and released back into the wild—bears, bald eagles and more have all gotten a second shot at life thanks to Big Bear Alpine Zoo. Those who have injuries that prevent them from being released— or have been impacted by humans—end up calling the zoo "Home for Life."

The park sports one of the largest timber wolf populations in captivity with a dozen animals in three distinct packs, and is one of only two facilities in the state where California’s official symbol, the grizzly bear, can be seen. In this case a marauding mother grizzly with two cubs had raided one too many camp sites in Yellowstone and faced a death sentence. In a great grassroots fundraising drive bricks were sold and bucks were raised to build the necessary enclosure for the mother and her cubs.

Three mountain lion kittens were bottlefed by staff and have grown to be majestic hundred pound-plus cats. Black bears—including another marauding bruin which had a particular fondness for honey and was willing to go to great lengths to get it—are also on exhibit at Big Bear Alpine Zoo, along with bobcats, coyotes, mule deer, bald eagles and other animals found in the San Bernardino Mountains.

Daily noon animal presentations allow guests to meet critters up close. Weekend 3 p.m. feeding frenzy tours are also popular. The zoo is open daily from 10 a.m.-4 p.m., till 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. Admission is $12, $6 ages 3-10/60 and over, under three free.

Old Time Bear Country Fair is at the zoo July 12 from 10 a.m.-3 p.m. There’s pie eating contest, games, raffles, cake walk, crafts, face painting, vendors, food and more, all at regular zoo admission.

The zoo is at 43285 Goldmine Dr. across from Bear Mountain. Call (909) 584-1299.

July 8, 2014

Beatles, Stones tribute bands clash at Cave

Who’s best, the Beatles or Rolling Stones? Fans decide when what the Los Angeles Times called "The Most Unique Tribute Show in Decades" comes to The Cave Big Bear 8 p.m. Saturday, July 12.

Abbey Road tribute band as the BeatlesIt’s an on-stage musical shootout at 8 p.m. courtesy of internationally renowned tribute bands Abbey Road and Jumping Jack Flash. Both bands go to great lengths to make the competition as real as possible; Abbey Road members play modern reissues of the exact same instruments and amps the Beatles used, while Jumping Jack Flash’s "Keith Richards" (Young Hutchison) duplicates the disjointed walk, blacked-out tooth and electrical tape around snakeskin boots made famous by the guitarist.

The bands alternate mini sets and trade improvised barbs and banter between songs to act out the famous "rivalry." From costume changes that take the Beatles from their black suits for "A Hard Day’s Night" and mustaches and wigs a la the Sgt. Pepper era to the wild gyrations of the Stones’ Mick Jagger (courtesy Sir Joseph Infante), both bands present accurate sound and look too.

Since 2011 the shootout has played to sold out audiences across the west, from the Coach House and Canyon Club to Harrah’s Tahoe, Harrah’s Rincon and Pala Casino. The bands recently concluded a three-month run at Harrah’s Reno showroom and begin another long run at Harrah’s Laughlin in December.

Jumping Jack Flash as Rolling Stones TriubteShow producers Tom Maher and Andy Nagle auditioned over 200 Beatles performers at a casting call in 2008, many of whom already played in tribute bands. In this competition concert, the bands strive to be so accurate, even the mistakes are duplicated. "In `All My Lovin’ Ringo forgets the form of the song and goes into the chorus beat by mistake," said Axel Clarke, who fills the drummer’s shoes for Abbey Road. "He plays that beat for one bar, realizes his error, and switches back to the verse beat. Most people might not notice things like that, but it adds a level of authenticity."

The bands play five alternating power sets then come together for an amazing encore. So who wins this competition? The audience naturally, enjoying top shelf tributes to two legendary bands in the same evening. Like Orange County Register said: "If you see only one tribute show, see this one...smart and loads of fun."

Tickets for the 8 p.m. show are just $15, $30 VIP. Call (877) 825-4388.

July 7, 2014

Races, demos, party at Big Bear Paddlefest

Races with cash prizes, demos, vendor expo and beach party make for a great day on the water Saturday, July 12 during Big Bear Paddlefest at Meadow Park.

Canoes, kayaks and Stand Up Paddleboards are welcome with events starting at 7 a.m. Vendors include Stand Up Paddleboards from Hobie, Surftech, Coreban and Focus, plus Coast Guard Auxiliary paddlecraft. Others are The North Face, Cobra Kayaks, Keen Footwear, USARC at Bear Mountain, Smith Optics, Big Bear Fishing Adventures, Sweetwater Wear, Clif Bar and FRS.

Races include sprints and relay races plus 5K, 10K and 20K (around the lake) and downwind SUP race from the dam to Meadow Park. Fastest man and woman on SUP or kayak in the 20K split $500 in prize money and there’s great prizes for other categories. Top paddler Chuck Glynn will be defending his record in the 20K.

The free kids fun race for ages 12 and under is at 11 a.m.. Watch races and then take a kayak or stand up paddleboard for a demo during the seventh annual event..

Race fees range from $40-$60 depending on distance and include lake permit, mandatory quagga inspection, limited edition tech tee and swag-stuffed goodie bag. Spectating is free ($5 parking after noon) and the beach party after the 1 p.m. awards ceremony at Swim Beach has food, beer and music. Sponsor New Belgium Beer is holding fun games like volleyball.

Prepare for Paddlefest, presented by North Shore Trading Company, with free SUP training on July 3 at 6 p.m. at The Pines restaurant’s beach. There’s a one hour clinic focusing on rounding buoys and paddle techniques for all ages followed by sprints and award prizes. Bring your own board or a limited number are available for rental with a reservation. Call (909) 866-3414.

July 3, 2014

Berlin with Terri Nunn, Beatles vs. Stones at Cave

Berlin with Terri Nunn will take your "Breath Away," the shootout between Beatles and Rolling Stones bands will blow your mind, there’s a tribute to ladies of rock and roll, comedy and reggae featuring headliners Big Mountain.

All of which makes for a rocking July at The Cave Big Bear, the hot intimate entertainment venue where every seat is front and center and tickets are inexpensive, often $20 or less for headline entertainment. The Cave has the feel of an intimate nightclub with full cocktail service to each seat including local wine from Stone Summit Winery and beers from Big Bear Lake Brewing Co., yet offers concert-quality state-of-the-art sound, lighting and special effects like laser lights and fog machines. All shows are at 8 p.m.

Berlin headlines at The Cave Big Bear in July 2014Up close is the only way to enjoy BERLIN featuring TERRI NUNN, who came in at #11 on VH1’s list of the "100 Greatest Women in Rock." The hit single "Take My Breath Away" from the movie "Top Gun" rocketed the group to stardom in the 1980’s along with other hits like "No More Words," the controversial "Sex (I’m A)," "Tell Me Why" and "The Metro."

Nunn is a rock icon who has been compared to other top ladies of rock, like Grace Slick, Anne Wilson and Stevie Nicks. The group is touring in support of "4Play," its impressive 10th release, featuring both new material and electronic and alternative rock covers from artists ranging from David Bowie and Depeche Mode to Marilyn Manson. Tickets for the July 18 show are $25 or $40 for VIP.

More hot rock is on tap the next night as LADY LUCK presents its unique tribute to female rockers of the 1980’s on Saturday, July 19. That means music from The Go-Go’s, Cyndi Lauper, Bangles, Pat Benatar, Blondie, Eurythmics, Pretenders, Tina Turner and many more.

Lady Luck is a high-energy band featuring lead singer Rhona Melsky, trained as an opera singer but also well versed in jazz and blues since her father was a professional sax player. The whole band brings it though; drummer Roger Cardillo has opened for the likes of Pat Travers and Foreigner while guitarist Lonnie Silverman, midi-guitarist James Popp and bass Rovert Togliatti rock too. The show consists of three sets of nothing but all-time hits sure to keep the dance floor hopping; tickets are just $15 or $25 for VIP.

Reggae heavyweights Big Mountain arrive at The Cave Saturday, July 26. Lead singer Quino is one of the most recognized voices in reggae music and Big Mountain has toured in over 30 countries and sold more than two million albums—six million singles!

Big Mountain’s reggae version of Peter Frampton’s hit "Baby I Love Your Way" in 1994 became a classic that for the past two decades has been the most played, noncurrent hit song on radio worldwide. The band is touring recent releases "Blue Skies" and "Beautiful Summer." Opening for Big Mountain is One Drop Redemption, a Bob Marley and The Wailers tribute show lead by Jamaican born singer Ras Jahmark Tafari. Tickets are only $15 or $30 for VIP.

Comedy night opens the month at The Cave Saturday, July 5. Noe Castillo hosts a night of laughs that features the comedy stylings of Brian Swinehart, Just Mikey, Jamal Colman and Hailey Boyle. Tickets are $15, premium $20, front $30, VIP $40.

The Cave is at 40789 Village Dr. (909) 878-0204 or www.thecavebigbear.com.

July 1, 2014

BBQ, Craft Show Highlight July 4th Holiday

Make the most of the holiday weekend with a full slate of activities set to mark 237 years of American independence.

2013 fireworks show on the lake Rotary Club’s annual Fireworks Show over the lake is on July 4. The show has been named Southern California’s best free show with some $60,000 in shells set to be fired. Each burst lights up the sky and water below to create a visual spectacular that stadium shows can’t duplicate. Any location around the lake affords viewing.

There’s 2,000 bursts during the grand finale alone. Tune into KBHR 93.3 FM to hear patriotic music synchronized to each shell for a treat for the ears as well as the eyes. A special tribute to late Rotarian Skip Suhay, longtime orchestrator of the fireworks show, is planned.

Best seat in the house to see the show is at the annual Rotary Barbecue on the water at Marina Resort. There’s DJ Tom Hastain, midway games for the kids, and barbecue from 4:30-7:30 p.m. $30 includes entry and choice of steak or chicken dinner prepared by Barnstorm Restaurant, or $25 buys hamburger or hot dog meal from Nottingham’s. Beer and wine are available including Big Bear Lake Brewing Co. selections plus festival food for purchase. Bring your own lawn chairs or blankets or Rotary has commemorative holiday blankets for $20 or two for $35.

VIP guests receive served meal and seating on the deck for the show’s best view for $100 while for $50 there’s reserved seating at the water. Barbecue guests also enjoy exclusive viewing of set pieces and shells from a second barge. Call (800) 4- BIG BEAR but get your tickets immediately as the barbecue is close to selling out; visit www.bigbear.com.

Miss Liberty paddlewheeler has prime fireworks viewing as well as she sails from Pine Knot Marina from 8-10 p.m. Guests enjoy climate-controlled comfort as they see each burst from right below aboard the lake’s largest tour boat. $80 includes hors d’ouevres, champagne toast and souvenir. Call (909) 866-8129.

Independence Day Extravaganza is also on July 4 at Captain John’s Fawn Harbor in Fawnskin. Enjoy reggae music, picnic beach, and water sports from 8 a.m. with a great view of the fireworks. Tropical BBQ of Temecula serves smokehouse plus Caribbean delicacies. (909) 366-5109.

The Convention Center’s 20th annual Independence Day Faire is July 4-6, with arts and crafts, live music daily, children’s activities, plus food and drink under the pine trees. Over 50 crafters from the West Coast including Arizona and Nevada are featured, with wire-wrap jewelry, home and garden decor, homemade jams, tire swings, health products, toys and clothing. Some crafters make their wares on site.

Enjoy live music under the pines featuring Silver Moon on Friday and Saturday plus Skeleton Key on Sunday. There’s also a special children’s Kinder Garten with face painting, bounce house, game booths and a variety of tasty treats.

When hunger strikes hit Wyatt’s Cafe and Saloon for half-pound burgers, a pound of wings or mound of nachos, Big Bear’s biggest tacos and carnival food like shaved ice, kettle korn and hot dogs. Hours are 10 a.m.-5 p.m., 10-3 Sunday. Admission is free all three days. (909) 585-3000.

June 23, 2014

Pine Knot Not the Last Trail to See Work

Deja Vu all over again, like Yogi Berra would say. Yellow caution tape was stretched across Pine Knot Trail on our first day hike of the season.

Last time we tried to hike Big Bear’s most popular path in fall, there was tape across it too, thanks to the Federal closures. This time the tale of the tape was quite different—the trailhead wasn’t closed, just moved, to the far side of the picnic tables.

Pine Knot Trail winds past Deer Group Camp in the San Bernardino MountainsYou can imagine our surprise when we realized that the start to the six-mile (roundtrip) path that eventually reaches the top of the southern ridge at Grandview Point had just moved. With no fanfare Pine Knot Trail now has a new beginning, at the opposite end of Aspen Glen picnic area on Millcreek Rd.

Not that I mind a new beginning, mind you. The old one was never my favorite part of what is otherwise an outstanding hike, an immediate 100 ft. elevation climb grind across loose rock—which it turns out is rare Pebble Plain—on a wide dusty path trodden into a road after years of heavy foot traffic. Not to mention horses. After the hump things got better fast on Pine Knot Trail as it traced alongside a seasonal stream and up into timber and meadow.

The new portal is considerably better as we quickly discovered. Rather than an immediate death march it traverses south with more gradual climbing. Along the way Pine Knot now joins with mountain biker favorite Cabin 89 trail at a well-marked junction. One of the so-called "illegal" trails lining the south shore network, Cabin 89 also has seen rehabilitation as the Forest Service seeks to bring such routes up to its standards.

Pine Knot continues across the ridge to connect with the old trail above the seasonal stream in a merger so seamless we had a hard time recognizing it. Only after giving back some of the elevation gain hikers attain out of the trailhead, just like the old beginning used to do. Just goes to show that some things never change.

A little over a half-mile of trail was built, done entirely by Southern California Mountains Foundation’s Urban Conservation Crew. While the reroute was to protect the endangered Ash Grey Paint Brush associated with Pebble Plain terrain at the beginning, it’s also a welcome addition to the trail. The project cost $6,000-$8,000 and took three weeks to complete.

Past the new section is the same Pine Knot Trail; we encountered several mountain bikers who started on Snow Summit’s Scenic Skychair but instead of playing in the downhill mountain bike park, opted for cross-country. Which are the riders who have always gravitated to Pine Knot, crossing on Skyline Dr. (and now the worldclass singletrack paralleling it of the same name) past Grandview Point.

Deer Group Camp is a great place to pause for the cause, surrounded by beautiful meadow views underneath tall pine trees. After Pine Knot Trail has climbed its 1,400 vertical feet the intermediate-rated trail ends at (2N10) Skyline Dr., but don’t stop there. The quarter-mile (each way) singletrack to Grandview is well worth the effort, serving up 180-degree panoramic views of the Santa Ana river drainage and beyond 11,502 ft. Mt. San Gorgonio and surrounded Wilderness area.

Get used to doing doubletakes out in the forest. Pine Knot Trail is the beginning of an expansive rehabilitation of south shore trails, funded with $273,000 of grants. The east end of Skyline Trail will be completed as well—maybe in time for June 7 National Trails Day (story page 7). Some 23 miles of trail will see work in the next three years and the foundation expects another $270,000 in state funding in 2015. Whcih combined with volunteer hours should be enough for the job, SCMF’s Stacy Gorin said. —by Marcus Dietz

Call Big Bear Discovery Center 909-866-3437.