How a New Dana Point Foundation Is Capturing the History of Music and Keeping It Alive

When you ask Patti Compton and Anthony Small who their favorite musicians are, you won’t hear Billboard chart-toppers like Ariana Grande, George Strait or Imagine Dragons. Instead, you’ll hear names, such as Nathaniel Rateliff, Thelonious Monk, and Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit. If you don’t know who those artists are or anything about their musical influences, a new foundation based in Dana Point could be just the thing to help change that. But it goes deeper than that. It takes us back to the roots of American music.

With all the musicians coming through South Orange County every year for the Doheny Blues, Ohana and Driftwood festivals, President Patti Compton and Executive Director Anthony Small thought it was the right time to launch Music Preserves Foundation. Its main goal is to “inspire and educate the community through the preservation and presentation of music.” Compton says one of the ways Music Preserves will accomplish that is by partnering with the Capistrano Unified School District and developing education programs focusing on the cultural significance of the music and what was going on around the music at the time. “The history of American music is really the cultural history of the United States,” Compton says, “It’s a totally different history that’s not taught that needs to be taught.”

Compton, most recently the Public Relations Director for Omega Events and longtime music history buff, has wanted to start a music foundation for about three years. When she mentioned it to Anthony Small, Dana Point Arts and Culture Commissioner and local musician, he immediately said “I want in.” Small, who has volunteered in classrooms at local underserved schools with attendance problems and used his guitar as incentive for kids to come to class, says “I saw how music and structure could impact a child’s life pretty immediately. Those types of things, I want to live that on a daily basis.”

Music Preserves officially launched in March of this year and its founders didn’t waste any time getting things together for festival season. Compton and Small are excited about launching the Music Preserves Stage at the Doheny Blues Festival, where artists and music historians educate the crowd on music history. High school students are being given the chance to go backstage at various festivals and get that VIP glimpse at what happens behind the scenes. Music Preserves is also working on a music documentary film series complete with a Q and A with someone connected to the film. In addition, there will be historian lectures, acoustic performances, informative podcasts and more. Though the heart of Music Preserves remains in South Orange County, the foundation plans to spread its mission across Southern California.

Compton and Small recognize that there a lot of other music foundations but agree that theirs is completely unique. “No one’s teaching the history of music,” Compton says. The two founders feel strongly that Music Preserves will actually help the other music-type foundations succeed. “Furthermore, we think that we can advance and partner with the missions of other nonprofits that are not music-related,” Small adds.

Starting a nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization obviously has its challenges, but Compton and Small already had established relationships with the city, festivals and schools, so it made it a little easier. “What we’re doing is something that they’re all recognizing as a valuable contribution,” Compton tells us, “It’s something they all wanted to be doing as well.” The two music-minded people were excited about the immediate interest Music Preserves garnered. “Pretty much every meeting that we’ve had, the dynamic has been watching the person across the table light up,” Small recalls, “and then watching the marble roll around in their head as they’re thinking, ‘Who can I introduce these guys to? What can I bring to the table?’”

So, how can YOU help. Like most nonprofits, funding is the biggest challenge for the foundation. Music Preserves needs money to produce all the programs. If you’d like to get involved, head to for more information on sponsorships, partnerships and becoming a music preservationist. You can also support Music Preserves by following the foundation on social media and subscribing to their email list.

Jazz, blues, Americana, folk, surf, ska – why not start learning about music history on your own and share it with a friend? Lesson 1: Nathaniel Rateliff, Thelonious Monk, and Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit. “It’s not always going to be a pleasant lesson, but these are things that come through in the music that these geniuses created,” Small says, “and I’m just glad to be a part of exposing and creating the next generation of arts patrons, music lovers and people who are interested in community.”


3 Reasons Dana Point Is the Perfect Home for Music Preserves Foundation

1.      For over 20 years, Dana Point has hosted music festivals featuring world class musicians, such as B.B. King, Elvis Costello and Eddie Vedder.

2.      Mayor Joe Muller proudly states, “Music is a huge part of Dana Point’s identity. For Music Preserves to combine that with exciting opportunities to learn about history from a unique perspective is truly forward-thinking.”

3.      Music Preserves partner, Capistrano Unified School District, and its Visual and Performing Arts Department have been honored by NAMM (National Association of Music Merchants) for their outstanding commitment to music education.