Tag Archives: Starlight Bowl

Starlight Bowl’s Concert And Fireworks Show Spectacular To A Sell Out Crowd

This year’s Starlight Bowls opening show with The Company Men and the Spectacular Fireworks that followed pleased everyone inside the Starlight Bowl and community around.

(Photo by © Ross A. Benson)

The lawn at Starlight Bowl was filled to capacity and the seats from front to back were nearly full as well. 

(Photo by © Ross A. Benson)

The evening started off with Grooveline and followed with the main act The Company Men. The Fireworks fired off a little past 9:00 PM and the oohs and ahhs could be heard everywhere.

In the morning many residences of West Burbank had a mini parade off of Clybourn Street, the Queen of the Parade was longtime Burbank resident Lois Bennett who celebrated her 95th Birthday. 

Here is a photo gallery of Independence Day activities.


Fireworks and Joys of Independence Day Were Seen all over Starlight Bowl

Burbank residents and others got to enjoy this years Independence day at Burbank’s Starlight Bowl. Families gathered as they have for years at Burbank’s Starlight Bowl July 4th Celebration, decked out in hat’s with Red, White & Blue and enjoying the holiday.

Our Chief Photographer Ross A. Benson was on hand to capture some of the enjoyable sights of the evening.

(Photo by © Ross A. Benson)

(Photo by © Ross A. Benson)

(Photo by © Ross A. Benson)

(Photo by © Ross A. Benson)



Starlight Bowl Season Announced

The Starlight Bowl is thrilled to announce its sensational summer concert season for 2016 including the annual 4th of July spectacular as well as a fabulous series ending show with fan favorite The Fab Four!

The Starlight Bowl website, www.StarlightBowl.com, will go live on Sunday, May 1, 2016 with all details on the upcoming concert season available online.

The beloved 4th of July Star Spangled Salute will be a real crowd pleaser with performances by Kings of 88 and Stone Soul, plus the always dazzling fireworks show! Lower reserved seating is $25 per person and $20 for seniors while upper reserved seating is $20 per person and $15 for seniors. All lower and upper reserved seating is assigned. Seats on the grass are $15 per person and $10 for seniors, and children under 2 years of age are free. A 10% military discount is also available to our servicemen and women. Box seating is $140 and based on availability. Tickets must be purchased in advance; there will be no tickets sold at the gate the day of the concert.

The Starlight Bowl concert season officially kicks off on July 9th and runs through August 7th, 2016. Following is the fantastic summer lineup:

July 9, 2016 – Ozomatli

July 16, 2016 – John Burroughs High School Powerhouse and Under the Street Lamp

July 23, 2016 – Kenny Metcalf as Elton and Queen Nation

July 30, 2016 – Video Star and Berlin

August 7, 2016 – The Fab Four

Tickets for the 2016 season will go on sale Tuesday, May 17th, 2016. Online ticket sales begin at 7:00 a.m. at www.StarlightBowl.com while in person ticket sales begin at 9:00 a.m. at the Park, Recreation and Community Services Department on the third floor of the City of Burbank, Community Services Building located at 150 North Third Street. Payment is by cash, check or credit card, though all credit card sales will incur a service charge per ticket.

The Starlight Bowl is pleased to once again offer the Park Lover’s Pass. This pass is a terrific deal at $60 for the entire summer season of shows. These passes are for grass seating only and do not include the July 4th show. Season ticket prices for box seating are $400, which holds 4 people and include 1 prepaid parking pass per box. Premium seating is available for $100, which is within the first 8 rows and includes 1 prepaid parking pass per 2 tickets. All season tickets and box seating are based on availability.

Individual concert tickets are available at $15 for adults, $8 for children ages 3 to 12, $8 for seniors and the disabled, and free for children ages 2 and under (excluding box seats). There may be a limited number of tickets available for purchase at the gate on the evening of a performance for an additional $2 per ticket. Individual ticket pricing does not include the July 4th event.

Parking at the Starlight Bowl is $8 cash per vehicle. Carpooling is highly recommended! Parking opens at 4:30 p.m., the gates open at 5:30 p.m., and concerts begin at 6:30 p.m.

Public Invited to Take Survey on Starlight Bowl

Starlight Bowl would love to get your feedback as they prepare for the upcoming Starlight Bowl Summer Concert Series. This is your opportunity to let them know who you would like to see at the Starlight Bowl in the future, what days and times you prefer, and the best way to let you know what’s happening at the Starlight Bowl.

By filling out the survey you also enter your name into a drawing to win a complimentary set of two concert tickets of your choice to the Burbank Starlight Bowl 2016 Summer Concert season (this promotion excludes the 4th of July).

Deadline to enter survey: January 8, 2016

Click here to go to the survey

Burbank Summer Theater Camp Puts On A Hip Shakespeare

The Burbank Youth Summer Theater Institute (BYSTI) debuts a fun and contemporary take on Shakespeare with A Midsummer Night’s Dream at the Starlight Bowl Thursday evening, June 26.

Approximately 20 kids and teenagers participated in the 2014 Burbank summer theater camp, learning lines, working on acting chops, painting scenery and immersing themselves in the world of the stage.

“I really like acting and BYSTI is such a family – all the lords and ladies are really helpful and supportive,” commented twelve-year-old Addie Miller. The adult directors of the camp are referred to as “Lord” or “Lady” rather than “Mr.” or Mrs.,” she explained.

Burbank Youth Summer Theatre Institute 2014. Back row, left to right: Drew Anderson, Susie Miller, Emma Shannon, David Prather, Dvean Shahnazarian, Louie Zekowski, William Rodriguez, Crystal Robbins; Middle Row, left to right: Lisa Dyson, Matthew Molaro, Addie Miller, Shayna Gerard, Julia Skillsky, Alexa Klohn, Desiree Cooper, Jaden Gerard, Michael Cutone; Front Row left to right: Taaryn Cooper, Clare Collins, Phoebe Kellogg, Cassius Clay-Harris, Harry Zekowski, Holden Schade, Michael Goltry.(Photo By Lisa Paredes)

Burbank Youth Summer Theatre Institute 2014. Back row, left to right: Drew Anderson, Susie Miller, Emma Shannon, David Prather, Dvean Shahnazarian, Louie Zekowski, William Rodriguez, Crystal Robbins; Middle Row, left to right: Lisa Dyson, Matthew Molaro, Addie Miller, Shayna Gerard, Julia Skillsky, Alexa Klohn, Desiree Cooper, Jaden Gerard, Michael Cutone; Front Row left to right: Taaryn Cooper, Clare Collins, Phoebe Kellogg, Cassius Clay-Harris, Harry Zekowski, Holden Schade, Michael Goltry.(Photo By Lisa Paredes)

Miller, who will begin seventh grade at Muir Middle School in August and performs the role of Helena in the production, also said, “I learned a lot. I’ve been attending this camp for five years and this was my first big role.”

Starting out at Woodbury University, BYSTI has drawn kids ages 8-18 from Burbank and surrounding communities for the past five years. The brainchild of Dr. David Rosen, BYSTI was founded by Lisa Dyson, Beth Morrison, David Prather and Crystal Robbins, after Dyson was introduced to Rosen by Peggy Flynn, BUSD Visual and Performing Arts Coordinator.

The acting and theater camp focuses each summer on one play by William Shakespeare to study and prepare for the culmination of the three-week experience.

Burbank Youth Summer Theatre Institute presents "A Midsummer Night's Dream." (Photo By Lisa Paredes)

Queen Titania and the fairies pamper Bottom in BYSTI’s “A Midsummer Night’s Dream.” (Photo By Lisa Paredes)

BYSTI moved to the Starlight Bowl this year, after an invitation by Victoria Cusumano, Recreation Supervisor for the City of Burbank. The directors of the camp and the kids all agree the Starlight Bowl venue is pretty great.

“I like it up here a lot,” added Miller. “The stage is so much bigger and the acoustics are great.”

“We are having a blast up here at the Starlight Bowl,” Dyson, the theater camp’s Artistic Director, said. “It’s great to have a real stage to work with and the setting is awesome.”

Burbank Youth Summer Theatre Institute presents "A Midsummer Night's Dream." (Photo By Lisa Paredes)

Demetrius, Helena, Lysander and Hermia tussle in BYSTI’s “A Midsummer Night’s Dream.” (Photo By Lisa Paredes)

While many of the camp’s attendees are returning from previous years, some youngsters are new to the experience and are enjoying it.

“This is my first year doing BYSTI and it’s really exciting,” commented Louie Zekowski, age 12. “It’s something I really enjoy, from the drama and the acting, to the attention.”

“Weirdly, I even enjoy learning my lines,” Zekowski added. The Luther Middle School eighth-grader performs the role of Lysander in the production. “I’ve found there’s a spark in acting for me.”

Sixteen-year-old Susie Miller was helping out behind the scenes, painting fairy tree branches, at a recent rehearsal. She volunteers at the camp, along with other older teens, providing needed off-stage help.

Puck and Fairy King Oberon plot in BYSTI's "A Midsummer Night's Dream."  (Photo By Lisa Paredes)

Puck and Fairy King Oberon plot in BYSTI’s “A Midsummer Night’s Dream.” (Photo By Lisa Paredes)

Eight-year-old Taaryn Cooper likes his first year at BYSTI and especially his role of Philostrate, “Philostrate is more formal and royal and I like to get into the character.”

Robbins, Dyson and Prather use all original lines and scenes from the Shakespeare play they choose to work on each year for the theater camp. By focusing on preparing core scenes, they are able to stage the play in three weeks.

“We always add in some elements that the kids would appreciate, perhaps a bit of a current popular song or dance,” explained Robbins. “It helps our audience, who are mostly young, too, to see these old stories have a lot in common with events and actions that go on today, even on the playground at school.”

BYSTI’s performance of A Midsummer Night’s Dream lasts about an hour and begins at 6:00 pm. Thursday, June 26. Doors open at 5:30 p.m. and picnics are welcome. Admission and parking are free. The Starlight Bowl is located at 1249 Lockheed View Drive in Burbank.



Spectacular Fireworks Show Lights Up Burbank Sky

Burbank’s 2013 Summer Concert Series kicked off with its July 4th event at Starlight Bowl on Thursday.  Several thousand inside the Starlight Amphitheater enjoyed the music of High Street Band with a spectacular fireworks show that followed. Families picnicked on the grass area, while kids ran around to the music of yesteryear. Several thousand more lined the street below the Starlight Bowl to get a glimpse of the spectacular show.

July 4th @ Starlight-1

Kenn Lewis checks all the cannons prior to the firework show. (Photo by Ross A. Benson)

July 4th @ Starlight-6

Several thousand packed the Starlight Bowl for this years July 4. event. (Photo by Ross A. Benson)

Kenn Lewis the licensed Pyro technician who was responsible for the fireworks display said there were over 300 different cannons that will be ignited during the display, that would last 20 minutes. The Burbank Fire Department had Fire Inspectors oversee his installation along with the firing of the fireworks. For fire prevention The Los Angeles City Fire Department had 2 water dropping helicopters staged and standing by on the Mesa that overlooks the Starlight Bowl parking lots. There were no spot fires following Burbank’s Fireworks show, and no injuries reported from the events at the Starlight Bowl or from fireworks in the city.


Tickets for the Starlight Bowl Season Go on Sale June 4

2013 Starlight Bowl Concert Series tickets will be available for purchase beginning Tuesday, June 4th at 7:00am online at www.StarlightBowl.com or at the Community Services Building, 150 North Third Street, Third Floor at 9:00am.

Purchase tickets ONLINE!

Click here for information regarding ticket sales.

You don’t want to miss this season’s line up!

Thursday, July 4th Celebration –

High Street Band
The United States Marines

  • Lower Reserved Seating: $22/$18*

  • Upper Reserved Seating: $17/$14*

  • Grass Seats: $12/$8*

Tickets are not available for purchase at the gate on July 4th.

Sunday, July 14th –

BOSTYX – Tribute to Boston and STYX

LIGHTS -The Premier Tribute to JOURNEY

with Special Guests Country Nation

  • Adults: $12/6*
  • Children (3-12): $6

Tickets purchased at the gate on the evening of the performance will be an additional $2 per ticket.

Sunday, July 21st –

An Evening with Ozomatli

  • Adults: $12/6*
  • Children (3-12): $6

Tickets purchased at the gate on the evening of the performance will be an additional $2 per ticket.

Sunday, July 28th –

The Fab Four

  • Adults: $12/6*
  • Children (3-12): $6

Tickets purchased at the gate on the evening of the performance will be an additional $2 per ticket.

Saturday, August 3rd –


The Reflection of Michael Jackson

  • Adults: $12/6*
  • Children (3-12): $6

Tickets purchased at the gate on the evening of the performance will be an additional $2 per ticket.

Saturday, August 10th –

Led Zepagain and Queen Nation

  • Adults: $12/6*
  • Children (3-12): $6

Tickets purchased at the gate on the evening of the performance will be an additional $2 per ticket.



New this year, Starlight Bowl will be offering a Park Lover Season Pass (grass seating) to the Summer Concert Series for $50!

5 Tickets included for the following concerts dates:

July 14th

July 21st

July 28th

August 3rd

August 10th

*Senior/disabled: (Over 60, proof of age may be required at time of entry)

Children 2 and under free (excluding box seats)

Group rates are available for groups of 10 or more adults on a single concert night. Group rates will not apply to the Season packages, July 4th Spectacular and The Fab Four concert on 7/28.

For information visit:


For ticket purchase, visit:

Engelbert Humperdinck to Headline Starlight Bowl in August

On August 4th, 2013 Engelbert Humperdinck is returning to Los Angeles to perform at the  Starlight Bowl–LA’s secret intimate and rustic setting. The evening’s program will consist of Humperdinck’s greatest hits and fan favorites. Attendees are welcome to bring their own picnic and enjoy the concert under a night sky full of stars.

Nestled between the Verdugo Mountains and the Burbank Hills, the Starlight Bowl’s natural  Amphitheater lends itself to excellent acoustics and a cozy environment. The theater offers lawn or stadium-style seating. Both seating options provide uninterrupted views of the stage and allow guests to bring their own picnic and wine. Guests can also purchase food on site; food concessions will be provided by BJ’s Restaurant. The Starlight Bowl is a superb arena to feature an incredible talent, such as Engelbert Humperdinck on stage and under a star studded sky.

Engelbert Humperdinck

Engelbert Humperdinck

Engelbert Humperdinck’s extraordinary voice has endeared him to millions of fans around the world. From long-time fans to the MTV generation, Humperdinck’s remarkable talents have stood the test of time. Resonating with contemporary musicians and producers, such as Grammy award winning producer Martin Terefe–who has worked with Train, Jason Mraz, James Morrison and Beverly Knight. Engelbert has just started recording a brand new CD which will feature all-star duet recordings including Sir Elton John, Charles Aznavour, Willie Nelson, Seal, Smokey Robinson, and  Lulu. Humperdinck is the first major act to perform on the Starlight Bowl stage since the Amphitheatre re-opened in 1993. We welcome the community at large to join us in this significant evening of music.

The tickets for this event are expected to sell out quickly. Interested parties are encouraged to purchase their tickets in advanced. They can purchase their tickets through the following ticket outlets:

Online www.itsmyseat.com/EH or www.StarlightBowl.com or

By credit card at 626.8MY.SEAT

In person at Burbank Park & Recreation Community Services Building Third floor 275 E Olive Ave  Burbank, CA starting on June 4 , and also at Beyond the Stars Palace Theater in Glendale 417 N Brand  Blvd, Glendale CA.

To stay current with updates and news about the Starlight Bowl, subscribe to their newsletter or “like” them on Facebook. Visit their website and check out their blog for more information.


Starlight Bowl Turns Scary This Weekend

Burbank’s Starlight Bowl will be the location for the annual Haunted Adventure that will offer a fun and slightly scary Halloween adventure for local residents.

Sponsored by the City of Burbank’s Stough Canyon Nature Center, the Haunted Adventure is in its 16th year.  Originally, it was put on the City’s Parks and Recreation Department at the Luau Grounds at the DeBell Golf Course.   When the Nature Center was built in 2001 the event was moved there.  It is now put on by docents and other volunteers from the Nature Center.

This year the Starlight Bowl will be transformed into an “old haunted theater,” with scary scenes around every corner.  As small groups of guests are ushered from Stough Park into the Starlight Bowl, they will encounter traditional scary scenes in the snack bar area, dressing rooms, storage rooms, and the stage.  A “ghostly audience” may even greet them as they make their way through the 15-minute guided tour.

Carol Mercado, Recreation Supervisor in charge of the Nature Center estimates that 70 volunteers have been working since August to put together the show.  High school students, and some adults, make up the ghostly and sometimes grisly cast of the Haunted Adventure.  They do it for fun, but the volunteers do get fed each night, thanks to Domino’s Pizza and the Handy Market.

Last year’s Haunted Adventure featured a scary tour of Burbank in honor of the City’s Centennial celebration.  Independent Studio Services has generously donated movie props each year.  Many of the props are saved and used over again each year.  The volunteers have cleverly altered them to fit this year’s theme.

The Haunted Adventure will be held two nights only, Friday and Saturday, October 19 and 20.  Admission is $5 per person, and tickets go on sale at Stough Park at 7 p.m. until 9 p.m.  Ample free parking is available in the large lot across the street from the park on Lockheed View Drive.  The park can be reached by driving up Walnut Ave.

Those attending must be at least 6 years old.  Because of the scary nature of the event, no child under 6 will be allowed.  Children 12 and under must be accompanied by an adult.  The first hour on Friday evening will feature the “less-scary” version of the show for children and those who have nightmares.  However, there are no refunds for scared visitors.  Costumes worn by visitors and props are prohibited, in order to keep visitors from being confused with actors.   Flashlights are also prohibited on the tour.   Walking up hill, and walking up and down stairs is involved on the tour.

Refreshments will be sold in Stough Park, as well as face painting, children’s activities, and souvenirs will be offered. There is a fee for refreshments and souvenirs.   For more information about the Haunted Adventure, call 818-238-5440.


Gary I. Grantham- – Music Man and Burbank Business Owner

I met Gary I. Grantham (AKA Gig) about an hour before his band, The Long Run was to be performing at the Starlight Bowl in Burbank last month.  His group would fall in the center of the summer’s hottest line-up, ever.

Gary poses outside of his production studio, Castle Entertainment Group. (Photo by Deborah Dodge)

After our brief introduction, I immediately liked this man.  He was so professional, kind and open to posing for me as the official photographer of the Bowl for the 2012 summer season.  In fact, I got a great feeling from all six band members which includes:  Jim Wootten (bass/vocals), Berto Z (drums/vocals), Chris Sobkowich (guitar/vocals), Galo Pacheco (keyboard/vocals), Bill Worrell (guitar/vocals) and of course, Gig (guitar/harmonica/vocals).  After a quick change from their casual street clothes and into their handsome, sleek dress wear for the stage, they posed for me once again.  Their clothes and cool vibe reminded me of the poster from Quentin Tarantino’s first film, Reservoir Dogs.

As a photographer, one can tell immediately if someone is going to be easy to work with, needs a little coaxing or if someone is going to be difficult.  Well, I have to say that these guys were wonderful to work with.  During the show, they impressed me even more when they played music so authentically to that of the Eagles.  They possessed so much stage presence, charisma, passion and had that something special that is so hard to come by, much less explain.  I was in the pit for most of the show and the screams from the crowd were deafening, but still fun to experience.

After the show, I kept in touch to deliver the band their pictures and learned that Gary is not only a local resident, but a Burbank business man.  Bam!  My next subject was found.   During our interview at his production office, Castle Entertainment Group (located on Victory Blvd), I learned so much more about this benevolent, down-to-earth and all-around really great guy.  He’s the kind of guy you want to work with as well as befriend.



DD:         Why did you pick Burbank to start your business?

GIG:       I have been headquartered in Burbank for years now.  I remember as a small kid watching Laugh In and the announcer would say, ‘From Beautiful Downtown Burbank’.   Then with The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson you’d hear Ed McMahon say, ‘From Hollywood’. But that’s not where the show was really shot.  It was Burbank. Warner Bros is in Burbank, Disney, and other studios are here.  It’s really THE hub of the entertainment industry.  There is life and juice in Burbank and you can also raise your families here.  It’s NOT Hollywood, it’s actually comfortable to live here.   I picked Burbank, because I love it!


DD:         When did you start playing music?

GIG:        Out of the womb.


DD:         That’s what they say!  That is what musicians say.

Gary I. Grantham (AKA Gig) has music running through his veins. Both parents were incredible musicians and music educators. (Photo by Deborah Dodge)

GIG:       My parents were both musicians and music educators.  I say were, my father passed away years ago.  He was a singer.  He could sing opera and musical theatre.  He could sing it ALL.  He was just very musical. He played jazz piano.  My first instrument was drums. That is what I started playing out of the womb.  There is a picture I hope I still have of me at age 2, where I am in the kitchen with my mother’s pots and pans and her wooden spoons making sounds.  Then I got more creative and would take Tinker Toys and make symbols out of her thin pie tins.   I just absolutely wanted to play the drums for as long as I could remember. 


DD:         Tell me more about your parents’ influence with music.

GIG:       When we lived in Manhattan Beach, we had a music studio we called, “the barn” only because it was located behind our house.  That is where my father would teach voice to students.  My mother would rehearse with the groups she performed with or she would coach performers.  We had my drum set and the grand piano back there as well.  I studied  mostly drums in order to learn rhythms, but I loved picking up any instrument to see if I could coax a sound out of it. 


DD:         No need for being self-taught with parents as music educators.

GIG:       I would get my dad out there and he would play jazz while I played drums.  Because my parents were so involved in the music and arts, the only people we seemed to know were theatre people, singers, and instrumentalists.  They always were taking me to performances, so I got a great upbringing on really really legitimate music; chamber music, orchestral music, jazz, lots of musical theatre and opera.  I had to discover rock n’ roll for myself.  That was not taught at my house.  That was something I had to start learning from my friends.  Not only did my parents take me to everything, but we had people always coming over to our house to work on music.  So, to this day it feels really natural to me to have my music room at my house and have people come over to rehearse.  That’s just a very natural thing that I love; people coming over to make music. 


Gig has been in the music world since he was a baby. He’s followed his passion and works full-time as musician and producer. (Photo by Deborah Dodge)

DD:         You had an interesting childhood.

GIG:        Growing up I felt I had a great balance, because I had my day life when I ran with my buddies in the neighborhood and then I had my night life with the adults that I knew was different from what the  other kids had. 


DD:         Being around the adults, your vocabulary was probably better than your peers’.

GIG:       This is something I really appreciate and I will tell my mother to this day; I was so glad that I grew up around people who were educated and spoke well.  They were people who knew how to use colorful language.   If they cursed it was well-placed.  It wasn’t because they didn’t have the ability to express themselves any other way; it was because they also had that in their expressive bag-of-tricks.  I had the influence of other kids around me, but my biggest influence was the group of adults I was around.  I am sure it was a pain for the adults to have a kid around all the time, but I loved hanging with older people.   I also grew up as an only child. 


DD:         Tell me about your mother.

GIG:       She is one of my biggest music heroes.  She’s a really fine musician….a really fine accompanist.  She never wanted to be a concert pianist.  She never needed the spotlight so much on her.  But she excelled at accompanying singers.  Her playing as an accompanist has taken her to Asia, and all over the US.  To this day she still plays the piano.    I love tapping into her knowledge.    I get to ask her questions about music theory and really benefit from her talent. 


DD:         What are your parents’ names and how did you get the nick-name, Gig?

GIG:       Kay and William.  My full name is Gary Ichiro Grantham.  My mother is Japanese.   My initials are G-I-G.  My mother will swear to this day that it was intentional.   Since my parents were musicians and artistic people, my mom and dad thought that ‘if by chance he absorbs any of this and ever in his life is a performer or is in the arts it would be pretty neat to have that nickname’.  They never asserted that nickname, ever.  When I played drums, my initials were on my bass drum head.  The nickname caught on in high school. 


DD:         Your mother is Japanese.  What is your father? 

GIG:       French, Irish, German, English, Dutch, Illinoian, Hawaiian (laughs).  He grew up in little town of Irving, Illinois.  The population was, oh I don’t know…  27?  Then his family packed up and moved to California when he was 7. 


Along with the harmonica (featured here), Gig plays the drums, ukulele and guitar. (Photo by Deborah Dodge)

DD:         What instruments do you play?

GIG:       Drums, percussion, ukulele, guitar, harmonica.  When I write music, I use my guitar.  I can get around a piano. 


DD:         Take me to The Long Run.  How did you start that band?

GIG:       One of the first bands I was in was called The High Lonesome.  We had music on the radio in the 90’s.  It was a vocal harmony group.  It was a rock band but very rootsy, very accessible with kind of a country twist.  We were compared to people like John Mellancamp and The Eagles to a degree.  We were well-reviewed by Billboard and by Music Row out of Nashville.  We sold some records and got on some charts.  During that time, there were some guys talking about forming an Eagles tribute.  I was talked to about joining the band at the ground floor of it.  My first reaction was…  (shakes his head).   I was just coming off of 12 years from being in an original band and the idea of being what was essentially a ‘cover’ band didn’t seem very interesting to me.  But then, they talked about the business potential of it.  The Eagles’ music was chosen because we wanted to pick a group that had a wide demographic appeal to broad age ranges.  I was brought in on the ground floor of that band.  We would rehearse 3 – 4 nights a week.  It came together in 1999.  We rehearsed and rehearsed with that group of guys.  I am now the one remaining original member.  Over time we had guys move away, and sadly one passed away from advanced Leukemia and now it’s just me.  From its  inception, we’ve had at least 20 members.   Next to me, the longest member of the band is the bass player, Jim Wootten, then the drummer, Berto Z. 


At his office, Gig shows us that he’s up on all of the shows at the Starlight Bowl. (Photo by Deborah Dodge)

DD:         I got such a great vibe from everybody [in the Long Run].

GIG:       It’s a really good group of guys.  We understand also that you’ve just got to be nice, too… ya know?  It’s one thing to be able to play the music, to look the part or to sound the part or any of that kind of stuff…   Being kind is crucially important and I have said it about any business, be it retail, or whatever it was…  you need to be nice.   Especially in this [music] field, with so much competition and lots of other people do what you do.  It’s a given that your product has to be just as good, if not better, than the next guy’s.  It’s so important how you conduct yourselves off-stage or the way you deal with buyers, bookers, agents or people on-site. 


DD:         I have heard of actors that were at the top of their game, but because they were difficult to work with, they’re passed over for jobs. 

GIG:       You want to be a George Clooney.  You want to be someone who cares about everyone who is around you.  (Gig is referring to Clooney’s reputation of being a really caring, nice and down-to-earth man).



DD:         There was something special about your band.  Your energy was so great!  Not just the musical talents you all possess, but the stage presence and you all have the ‘special something’ that is hard to explain.  When I found out that you were a Burbank business owner, I knew that I had to interview you.  I think I just really like nice people.

GIG:       Well, thank you very much.  


Gig (R) is shown here with guitarist, Chris Sobkowich. The crowd went crazy for The Long Run. (Photo by Deborah Dodge)

DD:         You have such a great stage presence, do you act?

GIG:       I have a formal education in theatre and from college on……  going back to talking about being nice to people…  It was so clear to me that we need to treat others with respect and kindness.    I have experienced so many actors who thought that their job was so much more important than the person who was lighting them, or the sound person, or the set designer or the costume designer, the make-up artist, the director, or the stage manager.  I thought, ‘what are you thinking?’  First of all, not only do these people have the power to make you look like crap if you piss them off,  but their job in making this piece of entertainment happen is every bit as important as yours [as the actor].  I love every discipline that goes into the creation of entertainment.  It all excites me. 


Gary (Gig) is featured here with his band mates. They all make up the extraordinary band, “The Long Run”. (Photo by Deborah Dodge)

DD:         What do you have going on with The Long Run?

GG:        We are closing out our six week series of Wednesday night, unplugged tribute at the Simi Valley Cultural Arts Center.  We have had a different group every night.  One night we had Led Zepagain, and another we had Chris Farmer and his band with a tribute to the Beach Boys, just to name a couple.  Chris was with the Beach Boys for 12 years as a bass player, musical director and singer.  Going back to the 6-week unplugged series, the idea was initially born out of my selfish love of the acoustic format.  There are also some good tribute bands working today whose fully- rigged stage shows people know and have seen a lot but who also have unplugged acoustic-style presentations of this music that people may not know as well.  It allows both the band and the audience to embrace the acoustic presentation because, when you think about it, probably most of these songs were written by a few of guys sitting around in a circle strumming their guitars or playing on a piano.  So, it brings it back down to the essence of these songs.  We love doing the Eagles music that way.  Our last night of the series is going to be next Wednesday August 29th in Simi Valley at the Cultural Arts Center Theatre. 


DD:         Do you produce other bands as well?

GIG:       I have just recently started a project called, “A Band with No Name”.  It is an America tribute act.   We bill it as: The America Tribute Act – Approved of by America.  Our young guitar player, Bill (AKA The Young John Mayer) Worrell actually works for America as a guitar technician and guitar player.  Bill is in the real band, America.  He started out tuning guitars for America because his father, Jeff has been their front-of-house sound engineer for 8 years.  Bill, as you know is a wonderfully talented guitar player and so when they needed a guitar player to step in and sub, Bill was right there.  He had already learned the parts.  In late October, he will be doing a few shows with America on the east coast with a Symphony Orchestra.   Bill Worrel was working with Dewey Bunnell and Gerry Beckley, [the two men who started America] when they mentioned that there should be a tribute band to them.  Once Bunnell and Beckley heard about The Long Run and what we were about, they said, “APPROVED”.  So, we have the blessing of America, which is pretty incredible.  We have so many other projects in the works.  One of the reasons I am here, at Castle Entertainment Group is to produce.


Gary picked Burbank to be his home because it’s the ‘hub of the entertainment industry’. (Photo by Deborah Dodge)

DD:         Tell me exactly what you do here at Castle Entertainment Group?

GIG:       Most of what Ron Kurtz, my associate, and I do here is produce live shows that are predominantly music-based.   We have them going on all over the country.  We are really very busy all of the time.


DD:         What is it about tribute bands that make people want to see them?  Are you touching on someone’s memory?  There are a lot of remakes of films and if they’re done well, then it’s great!  What is it about tribute bands that people love so much?

GIG:       I think that to an extent it varies depending on the group that is being emulated.  For example, in the case of a fine Led Zeppelin group or a fine Beatles tribute, you cannot see those acts anymore.  They do not exist.  So, a really nice recreation of that really keeps the spirit of what it must have been like to be at one of those concerts live.  In the case of us, The Long Run… the Eagles are still performing less and less each year, but they’re still performing.  I think that it’s a number of things.   I tread possibly precarious water here.  Some of the types of comments we get from people frequently after a show is, ‘I’m a huge Eagles fan and I’ve seen them quite of few times and I like you guys more’.  We still don’t know how to take that really.  It’s because of them and their existence that we even have this job at all.  What I think it is sometimes is that perhaps we might remind of them how the way the original recordings were.  Or maybe real devout Eagles fans have come to perceive that the Eagles been on the outs, or maybe it’s just a job and they just get together or because they’re not friends anymore.  Then they see a group like us, working together, smiling and enjoying each other.   Maybe they’re thinking, ‘I am hearing the music I love so much, respectfully and faithfully reproduced by a bunch of guys who really enjoy doing it together’.  Perhaps it is that element? 


DD:         Do a lot of young people like your music?

GIG:       A lot of the stuff that’s been produced from the 90’s to now hasn’t even required people to play instruments or sing.  And groups like ours and other tribute groups will have shows attended by really young people who want to play music.  They don’t have the people to look up to as examples of people playing instruments and making music together in a pretty organic way.  The reason the young people are at our shows in the first place is because their parents are at an age to have grown up with the music of the 60’s, 70’s or the 80’s.  So they listened to it and are exposed to that music just like I was exposed to classical stuff, musical theatre and jazz like I talked about earlier.  So, this is becoming their music.  I will boldly state that a lot of today’s music doesn’t qualify as music.   People who are fans of classic rock get to watch it performed by fans of the music.  People that do tribute work successfully have spent so many hundreds of countless hours with the minutia of recreating this music.  I would think that if I were one of the original artist I might kind of say, “Why are you guys practicing our mistakes?…  Stuff on our recordings that we wish we would have fixed and you guys are practicing them”.  Like the Fab Four does!  They’ll actually make mistakes so that the songs sound exactly like the original recordings.   It is one thing is to walk into a bar and hear a top 40 song being covered, but to go and see a show that is a concert at an affordable price by people who have studied this music as real fans and now are bringing it to life again and keeping it alive.  I think there is something very special about that. 


DD:         What do you see in the future for The Long Run?

Jim Wootten (bass/vocals), Berto Z (drummer/vocals), Gary (Gig) Grantham (guitar/harmonica/vocals), Bill Worrell (guitar/vocals), Chris Sobowich (guitar/vocals) and Galo Pacheco (keyboard/Don Henley vocals). (Photo by Deborah Dodge)

GIG:       The Long Run takes a great deal of my administration time.  There is a lot to do, always.  We are always planning at least a year ahead.  I want The Long Run to be around for a long time, even if I have to replace myself like they do in, The Fab Four.  (Gig is referring to the two sets of members that the band has acquired over the last 15 years).  It is about the quality of the product and the ability to keep the people entertained as well.   I have ideas in development that I cannot disclose right now.  I do have a great vision for The Long Run.  It’s more of a multi-media experience.  Very exciting. 




As I packed up my things and chatted with Gig a little bit longer, I learned that this So Cal Native is a devout vegetarian, which explains his great health, vibrant appearance, high energy and incredible focus.  Something to think about.

In a world where there seems to be a deficit in simple good manners, Gig gives me hope.   Meeting someone who is so kind, professional and passionate about their work is so inspiring.  I remember reading a quote in one of my many hours of researching the web that read, “Do what you love and you will never work another day in your life”.   I am guessing that Gig had adopted this mantra when he was a kid.  He’s living out his dream.

Thank you, Gig for a great interview and a special peek into your diverse musical world.  I wish you and your band much continued success and I will definitely be catching one of your upcoming shows very soon.


For tickets to see the last acoustic show at Simi Valley Cultural Arts center, performed by the Long Run, please go to:  www.TheLongRun.net and click on ‘SHOWS’.

August 29th, The Long Run – Experience the Eagles at the Simi Valley Cultural Arts Center.

You don’t want to miss the last show of the acoustic series!