About the Whale & Jazz Festival
The "Mendonoma" Coast extends from the Fort Ross State Historic Park
in northern Sonoma County to Elk in Mendocino County. This breathtaking
stretch of northern California is known for its rugged beauty and quiet
More than fifty miles of spectacular coastline is punctuated
with pocket coves and sandy beaches providing access to residents and
visitors alike for recreation, wildlife viewing and scenic vistas. Highway
One acts as the lifeline and "Main Street" to the towns and villages along
this stretch of coast.
Nature's splendor, along with the tranquil pace of coastal living has long
attracted a wide spectrum of residents including ranchers, loggers,
tradespeople, writers, artists and professionals. From this diverse blend
of personalities, the cultural scene is filled with hometown picnics,
quality art exhibitions, concerts, theatrical performances, fairs and
The Whale & Jazz Festival came about in 2003 when
Karel Metcalf, (then Executive Director of Gualala Arts) and
Jan Harris, (then Executive Director of the
Redwood Coast Chamber of Commerce),
collaborated to create an event that would bring
visitors to the coast during a 'shoulder' season.
Metcalf envisioned a Jazz
Festival, as the well-established Sonoma County jazz festivals in
Guerneville on the Russian River, in Healdsburg and the town of Sonoma were
a big draw to their respective areas, so why not try one here?
to emulate the two-decade-old Whale Festivals in Mendocino Village and Fort
Bragg, especially since the same Gray whales passed Gualala during their
annual migration north every spring. Inevitably, they combined the two
ideas.and the Whale & Jazz Festival was born.
Following Metcalf's retirement in 2004, new Gualala Arts Executive Director,
David "Sus" Susalla,
along with KTDE 100.5 FM radio personality and jazz aficionado,
joined Harris as the Festival Steering Committee.
took on the role of Festival Music Coordinator and media champion
with his on-the-air Coastal Interviews that often focus on Festival
musicians, his jazz programming and his remarkable knowledge of the genre.
As the Festival grew, local businesses and individuals came on board as
Festival venues, Chowder Challenge chefs, marketing and technical support
Starting modestly with only a couple of events over a single weekend, this
coastal festival has become a major attraction that includes many diverse
jazz events from Timber Cove to Point Arena throughout the entire month of
April. Events occur at Gualala Arts Center, several local restaurants,
Arena Theater, Annapolis Winery and notable sites like Fort Ross Historic
State Park and Point Arena Historic Lighthouse.
For more information about the Festival, visit the
Past Whale & Jazz Festivals page.
establishments offer discount packages to Whale & Jazz Festival attendees.
In addition to world-class jazz music, the gray whale migration that
continues during the Festival is celebrated with educational and ecological
activities suitable for the entire family.
Gualala Arts Center
Gualala Arts is a community arts organization, located in Gualala,
California and run by paid staff and numerous volunteers.
The Gualala Arts
Center, a magnificent structure on eleven acres of redwood grounds, serves
this area with art exhibits, workshops & classes, classical & popular music
performances, theater, lectures and five well-established, annual festivals:
Whale & Jazz Festival,
Fine Arts Fair,
Art in the Redwoods,
Studio Discovery Tour and
Festival of Trees.
Statement of Purpose
Our purpose is to provide quality festival concert venues and audiences in the redwoods of the Northern California Sonoma / Mendocino Coast, presenting
a diverse palette of the highest caliber of creative forces.
This purpose allows these artists to both perform their original works and to showcase their instrumental and vocal virtuosity to entertain and educate. We also reach out to local students of all ages and their teachers, through unique lecture / music performances.
Located along the Pacific Ocean, whale migration ecological slide show / lectures are a vital element of our yearly schedule, which targets both local residents and visitors alike.
The Gualala Arts Center, located at 46501 Old State Highway in Gualala, CA,
is open weekdays 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m., and weekends from noon to 4:00 p.m.
Please call (707) 884-1138 for more information, or email
Serving the coastal communities of northern Sonoma & southern Mendocino Counties.