Live music will hit the sidewalks of the East Village Arts District once again during the second annual BuskerFest Aug. 28, from 5 p.m. to 11 p.m., as local bands and solo artists busk for wooden nickels and a chance to win five full days of recording time at The Compound Studio in Long Beach.
Designed to be the grand finale of Summer And Music (SAM) 2010—Downtown Long Beach’s award-winning, sustainable concert series providing an entire summer of free music to the public—BuskerFest will conclude on a solar-powered stage at First Street and Linden Avenue, with headlining performances by three home-grown, national acts: Delta Spirit, Crystal Antlers and Pawn Shop Kings.
Last year’s event was an unprecedented success, drawing 3,500 music fans and an undeniably strong sense of community to the streets of downtown Long Beach. With live buskers flooding the East Village, roving audiences voted for their favorite act and Long Beach’s Cold War Kids closed the night with an intense, free show. BuskerFest 2009 yielded a sense of Long Beach pride that music enthusiasts and community leaders are still talking about a year later.
“We were so glad to be a part of Buskerfest,” Cold War Kids lead singer Nathan Willet said of last year’s event. “The night really celebrated the talent of the artists and the splendor of downtown Long Beach in such a way that everybody there looked proud of their hometown.”
This year’s showcase is on track to once again be the crown jewel of SAM, capping the night of street performances with plugged-in sets by three outstanding local indie-rock bands: Delta Spirit, Crystal Antlers and Pawn Shop Kings.
Delta Spirit will close the show, beginning their set on the main stage at 9 p.m. Originally formed in 2005 in San Diego, Calif., and currently residing in Long Beach, this four-piece has been coast to coast this summer promoting their Rounder Records release, “History From Below.” At the SAM Release Me showcase in July, Delta Spirit delivered a soulful performance to an intimate audience—one that left some music critics wanting more. At BuskerFest, they will play once –again, prior to heading off for their UK tour, at twice the volume, on a stage fit for lead singer Matthew Vasquez’s freight train voice and the extremely skilled group of musicians who back him.
Second in the line-up, Crystal Antlers will play on the main stage at 8:00 p.m. Releasing their first full-length, “Tentacles,” in 2009, this five-piece was once a band of chimneysweeps—doing door-to-door
hustle with broom and top hat by day and songwriting by night. This eclectic group has toured feverishly at home and abroad since 2008. Their music blends together psychedelic, garage and progressive rock in such an unusual way, it’s hard to place them and harder still to stop listening.
Opening the Main Stage are the Pawn Shop Kings—the same band that won BuskerFest 2009 and got to open for Cold War Kids, moving the crowd with their powerful rendition of Bob Dylan’s “I Shall Be Released.” As stated in their biography, these gents are, “driven by formative, familial experiences on their Arkansas plantation, born in Texas and raised on the beach in Southern California. They, “play American music with equal parts rock, soul and pop.”
Lead by Master of Ceremonies Writebloody poet Derrick Brown, BuskerFest 2010’s street performers include We Barbarians, Boris Smile, Chicano Batman, Tijuana Panthers, Sam Outlaw, 60 Watt Kid, So Many Wizards, New Fidelity, OO Soul, Korey Dane, The Brook Lee Catastrophe, Alicia Murphy, Michael Silversmith, Fort Wife and Jenny Stockdale. The complete BuskerFest and schedule will be announced in the coming weeks; updates will be available on the SAM website (www.summerandmusic.com).
True to last year’s form, more than a dozen bands-turned-buskers will play 25 minute, stripped-down sets for a roving audience. Participants will be equipped with wooden nickels that they can drop into the respective guitar cases of their favorite acts. Skirting the East Village’s perimeter in five different locations, performers will play one of three sets per stake-bed stage, sure to resonate off the historic buildings, downtown restaurants and sidewalk cafes.
Interestingly enough, each busker stage is, named after a stop on the famous London Tube, where many buskers perform on a regular basis due to naturally occurring acoustics in the mass transit tunnels. The five stages are appropriately titled “Hammersmith,” “Waterloo,” Reading,” Hyde Park,” and “Paddington.”
New to this year, BuskerFest will also feature a beer garden, so attendees can have a brew while they view the concerts on the main stage. Another new component: BuskerFest will be accented by non-musical buskers, including magicians, cartoonists and other unique acts. These street performers won’t be competing for wooden nickels, however, and would certainly appreciate some silver from the roving audience.
At 4:45 p.m., BuskerFest information booths will open, giving audience members a chance to collect wooden nickels, a map and a schedule of the different musical performances. The first round of busking will begin at 5:15 p.m. on two of the five stages. Performances on the remaining three stages will begin at 5:30 p.m. Buskers will compete from 5:15 p.m. to 7:15 p.m. While the audience heads to the main stage, judges will tally the wooden nickel counts, declaring the winner after the headlining performances.
The group with the most wooden nickels by the night’s end wins five full days of recording time with Compound Studio sound engineer Anthony Arvizu—owner of The Compound Studio, who recorded Oscar winning musician Ryan Bingham, among many other incredible musicians.
This free, all-ages festival event will allow attendees to stroll along the art deco streets of the East Village Arts District on foot. Alternative transportation to the event is encouraged, with several public transit options offered by Long Beach Transit. Long Beach Cyclists will also be offering free bicycle valet parking to folks who commute to the show on two wheels.
SAM is co-produced and sponsored by the Long Beach Redevelopment Agency (RDA) and the Downtown Long Beach Associates (DLBA) in partnership with SAM co-founders Rand Foster and Justin Hectus.
For more information, visit www.summerandmusic.com or call (562) 436-4259.