100th anniversary weekend
What: Feel-Good Beach Party
When: Saturday, June 9. Gates open at 10 a.m., music starts at 11 a.m. and the festival closes at 6 p.m.
The lineup: The Goo Goo Dolls, Shaggy, The California HoneyDrops, Royal Jelly Jive, David Luning Band, Kingsborough
Where: Johnson’s, Beach Guerneville
Admission: $60-$125 for Saturday only; $100-$210 for both days
What: Russian River Blues Festival
The lineup: Robert Cray Band, Eric Burdon & The Animals, Taj Mahal Trio, Elvin Bishop’s Big Fun Trio, Chris Cain
When: Sunday, June 10. Gates open at 10 a.m., music starts at 11 a.m. and the festival closes at 6 p.m.
Where: Johnson’s Beach, Guerneville
Admission: $60-$110 for Sunday only; $100-$210 for both days
When Dan Poirier and Nick Moore of San Francisco bought the long-popular Johnson’s Beach property in Guerneville three years ago, they knew they were buying into an important part of local history.
And this weekend, they’ll honor a landmark moment in that history with a special event to honor the venue’s 100th anniversary: the Feel-Good Beach Party on Saturday, with The Goo Goo Dolls and Shaggy, followed on Sunday by the Russian River Blues Festival, with Robert Cray, Eric Burdon and Taj Mahal.
“Johnson’s Beach has been around for 100 years because it’s a fun place be and it’s in a great spot on the Russian River,” said Johnson’s Beach co-owner Poirer, who doubles as general manager. “It’s right in town. We have a campground and cabins. It’s a turnkey solution for vacationers.”
The site’s appeal packs an emotional punch that goes well beyond the site’s physical attributes, Poirier’s partner added.
“It has this nostalgic, return-to-summer feeling,” Moore said. “It goes back to your childhood, camping and enjoying the sun all day. There’s that feeling of summer camp and summertime. Johnson’s Beach really celebrates that.”
One of the people who’s looking forward to a day on Johnson’s Beach is John Rzeznik, founding member and frontman of the rock band Goo Goo Dolls, the headliner for Saturday’s big beach party. After that show, the band will celebrate an anniversary of its own, with a summerlong tour marking 20 years since the release of its landmark album, “Dizzy Up the Girl.”
“We’re also doing a month of shows in Europe during July and writing our next album,” said Rzeznik, whose personal history with the band dates back to 1986. “I’m glad that touring and songwriting are still available to us. We’ve been very lucky to have a lot of hits over a long time, and we’re committed to a lot of touring.”
Founded in 1918 by Frank and Gertie Johnson, the Johnson’s Beach venue has become a local tradition and legend. Stewarded first by the Johnsons and then the Rounds family for its first 50 years, Johnson’s Beach continued to thrive under the care of the Harris family for another 47 years, until Poirier and Moore bought it in 2015.
This weekend is also historically significant because the Russian River Blues Festival is returning to its traditional spot on the calendar in early June.
“In history, the blues festival took place in June and then the Russian River Jazz Festival was in September,” Poirier said. That lasted until 2010.
“Then the two festivals were merged into one event in the fall,” he added. “We’re going back to the old format this year, because it’s our centennial.”
The Russian River Jazz Festival, with healthy doses of R&B and funk, will be held Sept. 8-9 at Johnson’s Beach, with the acts yet to be announced, and tickets going on sale later this summer.
This year’s Russian River Jazz Festival is one day only, to make room for Saturday’s 100th anniversary party, but next year the blues fest will run two days in June.
Both festivals have been produced by Omega Events of Mission Viejo since 2007.
“I think the economy improved significantly since the decision was made to combine the two festivals, so we’re going back to the way it used to be, to give our blues fans a truly blues experience over two days and to give our jazz fans a truly jazz experience over two days,” Poirier said.