Celestina Ripley (right) sings and plays piano as John Jernigan emcees during the Heart and Sol Valentine’s Drive-In Concert on Feb. 12. (Sean Roney/Staff)

KING CITY — Sol Treasures hosted a small outdoor concert with a pandemic-era format on Feb. 12, with 25 vehicles in attendance.

The Heart and Sol Valentine’s Drive-In Concert was held in the Salinas Valley Fairgrounds parking lot with attendees spaced apart to watch and listen to the musical performance.

Celestina Ripley performed on piano and sang 15 songs, with numerous dedications, while John Jernigan was emcee, announcing the lineup as the evening progressed.

“It was nice and everyone seemed to have a really good time,” Ripley said, who is also an instructor and theater committee member with Sol Treasures. “We need a little bit of live music in life right now.”

Those who were too far back to hear the music directly were able to tune in to a short range FM signal over their car radios.

“It was a good, successful for way for us to do something and give the community some programming that they needed,” said Jeff Hinderscheid, deputy director for Sol Treasures.

The format was based off other venues in other counties and states, as well as Carmel’s Pacific Repertory Theatre, with spaced-out vehicles to keep guests safe under health guidelines.

“We wanted to stay safe and let people feel that they can go and do something without putting themselves at risk, so they can sit in the comfort of their own vehicle and enjoy their evening,” Hinderscheid said.

Ripley said she had already been considering a small performance format from her own house when the plans first formed for the Sol Treasures-hosted concert, and morphed into the final format when they partnered with the fairgrounds.

“We were really appreciative the fairgrounds was able to let us use the facilities and they were easy to work with,” Ripley said.

Almost 20 crewmembers, composed of volunteers and Sol Treasures committee members, guided cars to their spots and took on technical duties during the concert.

“It was an all-hands-on-deck effort and turned out good,” Ripley said.

Hinderscheid added, “It was a great collaboration and a great way to get our feet wet to see if it was something that could work.”

Ripley determined the song list for dedications, and she also added in songs, such as the wrap-up performance of “Love Song” by Sara Bareilles.

“It was kind of entertaining after listening to 14 songs about love, a song that says ‘I’m not going to write you a love song,’” Ripley said.

Hinderscheid said the Sol Treasures crew learned from the event and would consider hosting similar events in the near future.

“I think we have something we can really work with here,” he said. “You can change it to anything … the possibilities are endless.”

“We’re just trying to keep everyone safely entertained,” Ripley added.

Meanwhile, Sol Treasures continues its ongoing programs with pandemic adjustments.

The theatrics group is preparing a showcase for their young students, with a performance only for their friends and families, which has been in the works since November. The 11 students have practiced outdoors when permitted and a date is in the works for March.

The gallery is also open, with a new clothing section.

“We’re just trying to get everybody to still come in and remember the arts are still alive,” Ripley said.

The Feb. 12 concert was attended by 25 vehicles in the Salinas Valley Fairgrounds parking lot, where Celestina Ripley (left) performed 15 different love-themed songs for guests alongside emcee John Jernigan. (Sean Roney/Staff)
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Sean Roney is a freelance reporter for King City Rustler and Salinas Valley Tribune, a unified publication of Greenfield News, Soledad Bee and Gonzales Tribune. He covers general news for the Salinas Valley communities in South Monterey County.


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