three concerts for the winter solstice
monday december 21st 2009





concert 1
nathan hubbard solo
sunrise highway mile marker 36.5
1/4 mile north on foot to the rock outcropping
sunrise - 6:47am


concert 2
nathan hubbard/ellen weller
Ponto Beach Carlsbad (north of the jetty)


concert 3
nathan hubbard/passengers
2734 Lytton Street Point Loma CA 92110 (619) 224 6409
8pm $5





These concerts are dedicated to the memory of Maryanne Amacher.

Ringing in the solstice
TUESDAY, DECEMBER 22, 2009 AT 12:01 A.M.

“I guess when you play music that’s a little bit different, you’re always looking for someplace to present your music,” said Encinitas musician Nathan Hubbard as he helped usher in the winter solstice yesterday morning from a rocky amphitheater near Julian.

You can cram a lot into the shortest day of the year. Take, for example, Encinitas musician Nathan Hubbard.

Yesterday, he played three concerts in three places — outside Julian at sunrise, in Carlsbad at noon and in Point Loma at night — to mark the winter solstice.

The day heralds the start of winter. Every year around Dec. 21, when the Earth’s axis is tilted away from the sun at its most extreme angle, the darkest day of the year in the Northern Hemisphere becomes a cause for celebration for some.

The inspirations for Hubbard’s unusual performances were John Bergamo’s “Three Pieces for the Winter Solstice” and, in a roundabout way, Hubbard’s children.

A few weeks ago, en route to the mountain snow with his family, Hubbard stopped at mile marker 36.5 on the Sunrise Highway, just south of Julian, so his wife could feed their baby.

Hubbard took his 3-year-old exploring and came across a rock outcropping that would double nicely as a concert venue. Any classically trained, experimental percussionist with a penchant for playing solo shows in roadside gazebos and recording music in parking structures could see it.

“I never thought about it being that strange,” he said yesterday. “I guess when you play music that’s a little bit different, you’re always looking for someplace to present your music.”

Even if that place isn’t a “traditional, people-sitting-in-chairs kind of venue.” Even if there aren’t any people at a ll.

Hubbard, 33, picked a section of South Carlsbad State Beach called Ponto Beach for a noon show with a friend who plays woodwinds. He chose Desi ’n’ Friends, a more conventional venue with walls, a roof and a $5 cover charge, for the third show.

He plans to put all the day’s video on YouTube this week.

Without much publicity except word of mouth and his Web site, the performances were better measured in miles than smiles. Hubbard laughed when it was suggested that his morning show in particular put a new spin on “solo performance.”

If not for two journalists and Dave Golia, a friend with a camcorder, Hubbard would have been playing only for birds. Not a single person drove by. Not even the park ranger or police officer he feared might.

Wearing a light jacket and a warm hat but no gloves, Hubbard played for 16 minutes, starting at 6:33 a.m. under a lightening sky and ending two minutes after San Diego’s official 6:47 a.m. sunrise.

As he played, clouds over nearby mountain peaks exploded in red.

It was a beautiful sunrise, but lost in performance, Hubbard seemed to miss it. When he looked to the sky, it was gray with clouds colored more like smoke than fire.

Hubbard was in constant motion throughout the show, at one point playing the drums with one hand while coaxing random sounds of static, chatter and music from a hand-held radio in the other and rolling a guiro over the rocky earth with a foot.

The show began and ended with him whirring a red plastic air tube around and around. When the sounds of sampler, drum, cowbell, cymbal, maraca and music box had all become memory, the applause was the whooshing wind.

Turning to Golia, Hubbard said slyly, “Sun’s up.”

“Is it?” came the response.


Looking around, Hubbard joked, “I need a clearer delineation of sunrising. Maybe we need to do one of those concerts that goes on for like six hours so we can really be sure.”

As the day dawned around them, Hubbard and Golia packed up their equipment, walked back to the car and drove away.

Hubbard had two more shows. But first, breakfast beckoned.