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Station to Station: All aboard in Barstow
Major music and art tour gears up for local stop
BARSTOW • Not long ago, Gene Harvey knew Beck only as “a name in the ’90s,” but Harvey has since refamiliarized himself with the eclectic musician, in part because he’ll be headlining a sold-out show Tuesday inside Harvey’s Skyline Drive-In — and because business this time of year is slow, anyhow.
“I found out (Beck) is still quite popular,” Harvey said Friday by phone from Idaho. “(He) does a lot of touring. I knew who (Cat Power) was. Others I had to look up; some of these names are beyond me.”
Cat Power no longer appeared in the Barstow lineup on the Station to Station website as of Friday night, but Beck, No Age, Cold Cave, Lucky Dragons and others are still on the bill.
Harvey is certain the major music and art tour stop in Barstow — with every one of the maximum-allotted 1,000 tickets sold and all ticket proceeds going to the event’s nonprofit Cultural Fund — will draw more people to his outdoor theater than on a regular Tuesday evening in late September.
He said he is just fine with that.
The event almost happened at Barstow’s historic Harvey House, a former hotel for rail workers and travelers, now an unstaffed Amtrak passenger station and host to museums and city offices.
The Barstow Area Chamber of Commerce calls it home.
“They came and visited us, the individuals involved, almost a year ago,” said Joseph Hisquierdo, public relations director for the chamber. “They were taking a look at the station, measuring, asking about electrical requirements.”
Ultimately, the Harvey House was deemed too small a space for the event, according to Hisquierdo, so the chamber worked to connect event coordinators to the other Harvey.
“We helped Mr. Harvey get in contact with them,” Hisquierdo said. “Keeping it local, that was key.”
The Station to Station train — equipped with separate cars for hanging out, dining, the media, recording, the artists, sleeping and storage, according to the event’s website — will likely park at the Harvey House Station.
“That’s the only logical place they can park (the train) long-term without causing a nuisance,” Hisquierdo said, imagining the train will arrive sometime Monday and then leave for its next stop, Los Angeles, on Wednesday.
Anthony Riley, Barstow’s city spokesman, said the city involvement with the project was minimal outside of selling the drive-in as the ideal venue for the show.
Riley said that since the drive-in falls outside city limits, required permits, such as a “Temporary Special Event Permit” from Land Use Services, needed to be obtained through San Bernardino County.
Like Hisquierdo, Riley was happy the promoter-described “happening” stayed local nonetheless.
“We are pleased that the concert series has decided to make a stop here,” he said, “which is going to undoubtedly serve as a dynamic backdrop for such an amazing charitable event. The national notoriety and economic benefits to our city continues to prove that Barstow is a destination point.”
In addition to the drive-in, at least one other local business is in on the act.
Max Atalla, owner of Los Domingos on East Main Street, confirmed Friday that the restaurant had been contracted to provide the alcohol concessions for the event.
“We’re doing the bar,” Atalla said. “This is probably the largest event I’ve done.”
As far as crowd control, officials from both the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department and California Highway Patrol confirmed they’ll have a presence.
Sheriff’s officials said they will have deputies on hand, and Barstow CHP Officer Don Spiker said two units will keep an eye on traffic around Highway 58 — the only major road that runs parallel to the outdoor theater.
“We’re just going to make sure everyone at the event makes it there and leaves there safely,” Spiker said.
Harvey understood that vehicles would park in one of two places: behind Screen 2 or between the box office and the highway.
Harvey originally hadn’t planned to attend Tuesday evening but said he’s since been persuaded by event coordinators.
“We’re going to completely transform your drive-in,” he remembered them saying. “You’ve got to see what we’re doing to it.”
That transformation is expected to include moving images projected on the drive-in’s two screens along with several works of art on display — a UFO towed through the night sky by a helicopter being one of them — in addition to the musical performances.
Harvey summarized his reaction after reviewing the production notes.
“It’s mind boggling — the logistics of it,” he said.
After Tuesday’s stop in Barstow, Station to Station will hit Los Angeles on Thursday before closing out in Oakland on Saturday.
Shea Johnson may be reached at (760) 256-4126 or at SJohnson@DesertDispatch.com.