Business Matters Gareth Kelly

Hoppin Plaza

gareth 4Story by Gareth Kelly
Photos courtesy of SLO Downtown Association

Every Friday throughout the summer there is only one place to be. Between 5.30 p.m. and 8 p.m. the Mission Plaza in downtown San Luis Obispo becomes a concert venue and host to the annual Concerts in the Plaza series. Celebrating its 20th year this unique venue has become the place both locals and tourists alike kick off their weekend, “let down their hair and boogie down” to the sounds of a wide ranging selection of bands including many local ones such as Damon Castillo and the world renowned Young Dubliners.
“This year’s Concert’s in the Plaza is a really special event for the San Luis Obispo Downtown Association because we are celebrating our 20th anniversary of free, live and local music at Mission Plaza said Dominic Tartaglia, Executive Director of the Downtown association. “What started out as a way to bring people together Downtown has grown into a Friday night tradition over the last twenty years.”
With an assortment of eateries ranging from the Brat Stop to Batch ice cream sandwiches, concert goers can wander around the plaza grab a cool beer or wine from the volunteer staffed bar and catch up with fellow locals and digest the week gone by. Even though the event is free to all, there is a huge level of consideration that goes into planning each week’s concert.
Gareths“This year we had over 80 bands apply and from that the committee had to whittle the list down to just 14 bands for the lineup,” said Tartaglia. “When we make a call for the bands we make sure that the bands we are considering are also residents of SLO and Santa Barbara counties and that they are bands that will resonate with all different musical preferences. Just because the event is free doesn’t mean the quality should be cheap, and we consider Concerts to be a premier event for SLO County.”
With a cool breeze blowing through the plaza and the chance to spot local slolebreties, Concerts in the Plaza often lives up to its hype. Families gather towards the back around the amphitheater, people dance in front of the main stage and many simply gather to be part of this great community, all bound by a sense of love for the weekend and the sense of belonging to an event greater than themselves. Concerts in the Plaza is like no other event. Come early with a blanket and a chair to secure a spot atop the grassy knoll and enjoy all that is this quintessential SLO event.
To find out more about Concerts in the Plaza and to see a list of all the bands performing visit

Gareth loves to hit concerts on a Friday buoyed by the expectation of what the weekend may bring. What expectations do you have this weekend? Email