summer and music

May 28, 2011

S.A.M. kick-off event review originally published here…


The Summer and Music concert series is returning for its third season in downtown Long Beach, and Fingerprints Records previewed some of what’s to come Thursday evening with a dynamic stream of in-store performances.

Invited members of media—along with many confused-but-pleasantly-surprised customers—sat around a stage in the record store’s book room watching local veterans of the festival play a few tunes and tell their personal stories about SAM, as the series is more commonly called.

First up was Brett Bixby, who always plays acoustic. Brett was apparently the first person to walk around town with a guitar explaining then-unknown S.A.M. to business owners and hoping for their blessing to busk inside. Most of them said no, but the concept of bringing local music to the people in such a grassroots manner stuck—and on August 27, SAM. will have its third Buskerfest on the streets of the East Village Arts District.


Next up was Korey Dane, a blonde James Dean lookalike in Wayfarer sunglasses—and headliner at’s Green Is Greater Festival last September—who shyly belted out assertive folk-twinged beauties that are otherworldly yet distinctively Long Beach. His win at last year’s Buskerfest gave him a five-day recording session at the famed Long Beach studio The Compound, which he turned into his debut album, Loomer, which sat on shelves just a few feet away.

Mary McKeever, who sometimes plays with Wild Pack of Canaries, and percussionist Robert Lopez joined the multi-talented Jenny Stockdale for an impromptu three-piece session whose existence is testament to the tight-knit music community of this city.

The common thread between all of these musicians is that they not only represent SAM, but they also represent Long Beach.

Stockdale talked about the evolution of the scene since she moved here six years ago and how we have finally put ourselves on the map as a live music destination distinct from both Los Angeles and Orange County. Dane mentioned that his experience at Buskerfest was “the closest thing to a whole scene in one place.”

Bixby reiterated that S.A.M. is about bringing together all the various genres that thrive in Long Beach and “getting bands out in front of people.”

To hammer home all these points, Bobby Easton—the mastermind booker behind SAM’s Long Beach Funk Fest—introduced Lonnie “Meganut” Marshall, a longtime Funk Fest fixture who rounded out the night with a 15-minute set on his rubber box, a “primitive futuristic” instrument made only out of a recycled box and some rubber bands.

The Summer and Music calendar is much beefier than the last two years. Instead of a half-dozen major events scattered in their time and location, they have created a more consistent series of midsize concerts that will be held at the same time and the same place throughout the summer. This Sundays in the Park (or SIPS) series—which starts on June 5—is the new cornerstone of the program with Battle of the Tribute Bands, the Long Beach Funk Fest and the Buskerfest shooting out as major one-off events to complement the weekly offerings in the new Promenade Park.

As organizer Justin Hectus said early in the evening, “It’s our junior year and we streamlined a few more things. You know how the third song on the album is always the best? We’re finally hitting our stride.”


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