Crowd enjoys performances at sold-out fundraiser

With the historic Tent City recreation set up and ready to go for the 46th annual Atascadero Colony Days celebration, music lovers from far and wide flocked to Sunken Gardens the night before the big event for an evening of live performances under the stars surrounded by the soothing ambiance of 1915 Atascadero. 

The doors opened at 5 p.m. and members of local folk/bluegrass group Bremen Town were on stage entertaining concert-goers as they arrived. They played simple folk songs with the twang of the banjo and soulful singing dominating their sound. Bremen Town served as event emcees and entertained the crowd between sets and although they were not one of the officially billed acts, they were every bit as entertaining as the acts that followed. 

As the sun set and the beer/wine line grew longer, the warmly lit tents surrounding the concert area came to life, glowing in the darkness along with several strings of lights overhead. Added to the festive atmosphere was a buzz of activity and the savory smell of grilling peppers and onions coming from the cafe tent. 

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Bear Market Riot performs at Tent City After Dark.

Eclectic act Arthur Watership, from San Luis Obispo, was the first official performance of the night. The group bills themselves as an alternative rock act, but their unique instrumentation and folksy edge set them apart. Lead singer Taylor Belmore let the crowd know that the large stringed instrument she was playing was not a cello but a “viola de gamba,” with real gut strings. Backed by several other instruments including guitars, cello, violin, keyboard and more, Belmore’s sometimes warbling, sometimes powerful voice rang out across Sunken Gardens, forming quirky melodies that seemed familiar and fresh at the same time. 


As Arthur Watership neared the end of their set the folk faded into the background as they channeled the intense psychedelia of Jefferson Airplane with droning guitars and pounding drums and Belmore ramping up to a wild wailing not far off from Grace Slick. 

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Los Osos “power-folk”/Americana duo Bear Market Riot took the stage next. Mixing in a healthy dose of humor, BMR kept the crowd tapping their toes through a set of fast-paced and funny folk songs, both originals and covers, inviting the crowd to gather close to the stage and dance. 

“Dancing is not required but it sure is encouraged,” said BMR member Nick Motil who was also celebrating his 10th wedding anniversary the night of the show. 

If Bear Market Riot got the party started, the final act of the night, San Luis Obispo’s Moonshiner Collective kept it going and spectacularly finished the evening with attendees filling the space in front
of the stage to dance along with the group’s funky, bluesy rock offerings. 

The Moonshiner Collective left their usual acoustic guitars and fiddle at home and instead opted for a rocking set full of electric guitars, keyboard and driving drum beats. They even brought along their fedoras and sunglasses to finish off the look.

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Moonshiner Collective takes the stage at Tent City After Dark.

With 200 people attending the sold-out concert and donations from several local businesses including Sunshine Bottleworks, Robert Hall Winery, Vintage Cowboy Wines, Pianetta Winery, San Antonio Winery, Air Wright and Brian’s Bread, the event brought in approximately $2,000 for the Colony Days committee to spend on next year’s event. 

“We had more than 200 people in attendance and are looking at how to expand the concert in the future,” said event organizer Heather Young. “We are happy with how the event turned out. The bands, attendees and volunteers all had a great time and are looking forward to next year’s event. Thank you to all who attended, volunteered and donated to the event. The whole community made this fundraiser a success.”