Thursday, June 11, 2009
Carmel Valley is a place unto its own. Often 10 to 20 degrees warmer than the coastline, the town is full of vineyards, horses, and mom-and-pop shops. But while that makes it perfect for a relaxing afternoon walk or wine-tasting excursion, the after-dark options are less than ideal.
Enter former Los Angeles radio show host and disc jockey Kiki Whitman. Her work in Southern California put her in the company of many indie musicians, and Whitman even recorded her own material with Grammy-winning producer CJ Vanston. Upon recently moving to the scenic valley, she said she felt as if she “died and went to heaven” – but the lack of entertainment came as a shock.
“I realized I had become unplugged,” she says. “Practically nothing was open past 7pm, much less live entertainment. I wanted to do something about it.”
Whitman called in a few touring acts from L.A. – including James Hurley and Severin Browne – to perform at a renovated Rosie’s Cracker Barrel.
“Not only did we have wonderful talent from outside the county,” Whitman adds, “we also had local artists blow us away.” The run was short-lived, however – truncated once a few complainers had the acoustic revelries put on hold.
Despite the 7pm cap on Whitman’s festivities, a few surrounding neighbors called the county to log complaints. Though she obtained over 500 signatures from valley music supporters, the pressure continued and Rosie’s launched into another phase of construction, so Whitman sought a new home.
“Where one window closed, a better window was opened,” she says. “The Plaza Linda is a better home than I would have imagined.”
With a courtyard, full liquor license, and higher holding capacity, The Plaza Linda Mexican Restaurant and Cantina now hosts Whitman’s events. From acoustic duo The Loveless Estate to returning favorite Rebecca Sayre to Thursday’s Open Mike Night, the talent is free flowing, the sounds eclectic.
Whitman has also paired with Chef Velis Bonilla, Tudor Wines and Radog Wines (to name a few) for five-course food and wine pairings – not to mention the mid afternoon singles mixers complete with drinks and hors d’œuvres.
“I’m having a blast bringing entertainment back to the valley. There’s nothing like music, food and wine. Having it in our backyard makes it truly special.”
PLAZA LINDA OPEN MIKE NIGHT happens every Thursday (admission is free). Kiki Wow, Papa J and Steve Mortensonplay 7-9pm Saturday, June 13, at Plaza Linda Mexican Restaurant and Cantina, 9 Del Fino Place, Carmel Valley. $10 cover. 659-4229.