Laurel Canyon’s ‘Love Street Festival’ made for a groovy musical afternoon

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Review by Greg Rice,
special to The Tolucan Times

“All the leaves are brown, and the sky is grey…” Well, not quite, the leaves were green but wilted and the sky was a blazing not-so-mellow yellow.

I had just returned from the Love Street Festival in Laurel Canyon on July 22 (to raise funds to protect the Canyon from future, unwanted development) with The Mamas & the Papas classic recording playing over and over in my head.  Singers Rosemary Butler, who has sung with everyone from Jackson Browne to James Taylor, and Micky Dolenz of the Monkees, had both performed terrific short sets in the sweltering heat of the midday sun.

Later that afternoon, the Wilson sisters, Carnie and Wendy of Wilson Phillips fame, took the stage along with a dancing Bijou Phillips (youngest daughter of composer John Phillips) and Owen Elliot-Kugell, daughter of “Mama” Cass Elliot.  (W.P.’s Chynna Phillips, daughter of John and Michelle Phillips, could not attend since, as Carnie briefly explained, “She was under the weather.”) The talented ensemble first sang the Beach Boys standard “God Only Knows” (by Wendy and Carnie’s legendary father, Brian Wilson) and then the John Phillips Mamas & Papas tune, the appropriate “Twelve Thirty (Young Girls Are Coming to the Canyon).”

Next, Owen took the lead on a touching version of Carole King’s “You’ve Got a Friend” singing along with Carnie and her young, sweet daughter, Lola, who was making her stage debut. Then, drum roll please…actress and singer Michelle Phillips came out, and together they sang “Creeque Alley” composed by former husband and wife team, John and Michelle. The song is a bouncing biographical ode to The Mamas & the Papas and their musical friends. Michelle, all in white, looked happy to be there, and the growing crowd was joyful and receptive in return. She was then presented by our local senator Henry Stern with a plaque, a declaration celebrating the wonderful and memorable music of John, Michelle, Cass and Denny Doherty—The Mamas & the Papas.  Michelle graciously said she wished “John Phillips could be here…it would have meant a lot to him.” (Editor’s note: Phillips died in 2001.)

There was more to come including an advertised mini-Doors reunion to help christen “Love Street.” But for us, it was time to hit the road. We took the shuttle back up the hill to the driveway where the famed magician Harry Houdini had once lived and to where our car was parked.

Looking back, I really felt fortunate to have been there with my dear friend Rose, seeing her impressive talent on stage, and then finishing our part of the day with the music that resonated with the historic and mystical vibe of Laurel Canyon. Such history.

What a fab and groovy afternoon even if I wasn’t wearing flowers in my graying hair!

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