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On behalf of Ownership, Management and the entire Staff at Konocti Harbor Resort and Spa, it is with great sadness that we announce the Resort has been closed, and an era has ended!!!! We are proud of the legacy that has been created over the last 20 years, as well as the 50 year history under the ownership of U.A. Local 38 Plumbers & Pipefitters Union.
We would like to thank our legions of Fans, Members and Clientle, for their support and patronage, during this incredible journey! It is our hope that the Resort will be sold and re-opened soon, and that we will have the good fortune, to serve you once again in the near future!
For more information on the Resort or for inquiries from interested parties concerning a potential sale/acquisition of the property, please feel free to contact Greg Bennett, President & General Manager, Konocti Harbor Resort & Spa, at email@example.com or direct at 707-279-6601.
Konocti Singing a Groovy Tune
By Tony Hicks, Contra Costa Times
Country star Keith Urban stood atop a breezy hill, before 5,000 noisy fans on what used to be a lonely, weed-covered softball field.
Urban, country music's Jon Bon Jovi look-alike, looked around and spread his arms between the steep tree-covered mountain on his right and the wide blue lake on his left. 'Check out the view from up here,' he called. 'Is this the best place in the world or what?'
The crowd roared in agreement. But while the view from the amphitheater is indeed impressive, it is the A-list entertainment that these days draws visitors to Konocti Harbor, a resort on Clear Lake, nestled in the winding mountains north of the Napa Valley.
Once derided as the venue that booked fading rock and country acts on the county fair circuit, Konocti has become a player in the Northern California concert scene. The 2003 summer schedule features acts that would not be out of place at the Chronicle Pavilion or Shoreline Amphitheatre: Bob Dylan, Steely Dan, Goo Goo Dolls, Loretta Lynn, Melissa Etheridge, Kenny Chesney, Third Eye Blind, Toby Keith, Chris Isaak, B.B. King and Jeff Beck.
'They've really upgraded their schedule, and it's far enough away from the Bay Area that artists can play both places,' says Gary Bongiovanni, editor of Pollstar, the concert industry trade magazine. 'Actually, it's kind of amazing. The amphitheater has made the difference.'
The 5,000-seat amphitheater is part of the rebuilding project general manager Greg Bennett undertook in 1990, a year after Konocti founder and union leader Joe Mazzola died.
On the shore of a natural inlet between the lake and very vertical Mount Konocti, Mazzola built the resort in 1959 as a seasonal retreat for members of the Plumbers and Pipefitters Union Local 38. Bennett came in, renovated facilities, opened the doors year-round and began booking musical acts.
'I took over in April and we booked our first show in September,' says Bennett, whose background includes similar resort-rebuilding jobs in Vail, Colo., and Jackson Hole, Wyo. 'The first one was Leon Russell. We took a dining room, put up a stage, popped a hole in the wall for a dressing room and we were off and running.'
Since then, Bennett has concentrated on upgrading Konocti's facilities as well as its concert lineup. Konocti's gone from a 300-seat dining room to having the aforementioned amphitheater as well as a 1,000-capacity indoor concert 'showroom.' And, slowly but steadily, Konocti has succeeded in drawing A-list names to its upgraded venue and pleasant surroundings.
'Getting Dylan was difficult,' he says. 'Getting Steely Dan was equally difficult, because they're very image conscious. But for 14 years we've planted the seeds.'
A convenient getaway
Konocti's about 100 miles from Contra Costa County: a scenic 21/2-hour drive through wine country and up over a winding mountain road. The resort has 250 rooms, 50 of which are taken up by performers on big weekends. And while some fans package a Konocti show around a weekend at the lakeside resort, the majority of the concert crowds come primarily for the music.
'We go to shows in Oakland and San Francisco, but we'd rather come here,' said 17-year-old Jessica Hultberg, who drove over from Ukiah for the recent Kenny Chesney/Deana Carter/Keith Urban show. 'You've got the lake, the cool breeze, and you can go inside or outside. There's a really good feeling here. People come here from Los Angeles and San Diego.'
And, as Bongiovanni notes, Konocti's concerts can be a good hook for the resort, instead of the other way around.
'It's smart marketing,' he said. 'The fact that there's a B.B. King or a Boston to bring in people will make people want to come back.'
Those who stay the night will often find a lively scene. As with many busy Saturday nights, the party went strong into the night after the Chesney/Urban/Carter show. The crowd shifted to the large bar, dance and patio area in the main building until the wee hours, with a cover band playing to a packed dance floor in the showroom.
For daytime recreation, Konocti, which includes a full-service spa and gym, watercraft rentals, multiple pools, a miniature golf course, tennis, a fishing pier and organized activities for kids. There's also a former Hard Rock Cafe that's now known as the Classic Rock Cafe. Tons of memorabilia hang from the walls, much of it straight from resort performers.
The apartment-style accommodations vary, depending on need and price. It resembles the old style summer destination resorts where a family could stay a few weeks at a time.
The amphitheater isn't exactly high-tech, featuring bathrooms in trailers and metal bleachers. But the scenery is good, and the amphitheater is ringed by more concessions than your average venue. There also seems to be a relaxed atmosphere at Konocti, where security is as tolerant and friendly -- even those guarding the stage -- as any in the business. Despite signs out front forbidding cameras, people were repeatedly allowed to bring children up to the stage during the show for snapshots.
In one case Saturday, a security guard actually walked down an aisle and plucked a child and her parent out of their seats, walking them up to the front for a few minutes' worth of a premium view. The relaxed feeling seemed to spark Carter, Urban and Chesney, all of whom practically posed for pictures and interacted with fans during their sets. It's a pretty rare occurrence.
'It's the way we like to do things,' Bennett said, mildly acknowledging that rules get bent. 'Of course it depends on the artist. It's one of those down-to-earth places where the artists feel down to earth.'
Tony Hicks is the Times pop music critic. Reach him at 925-952-2678 or firstname.lastname@example.org.