Backyard music fest Westwoodstock returns; neighbors are cool with it

If you’re anything like Georgia Westwood, a summer without music is hardly a summer worth enjoying. In 2018, she encountered such an artistic deficit following her first year of college. A business major at North Carolina State, Westwood found that reading Adam Smith didn’t offer the same opportunities for musical expression as her previous immersion in the Long Beach music scene.

In response, Westwood, 19, decided to collaborate with some young musicians from her hometown to add a few more tunes to her summer back in the city. And so, on Saturday, July 27th, seven Long Beach musical acts will gather in an El Dorado backyard for the second year of Westwoodstock, a festival with the sole pursuit of sharing music, good causes and onsite taco carts. There’s not much more one could desire from a summer evening… in someone’s backyard.

Westwood’s approach to “add a bit more music” to the summer requires a bit more work than simply jamming with her high school band. In the first year of the festival, pulling the members of the event’s bands together required her to hit the ground running to reconnect with the musicians she had grown up with, to brand the event and, most importantly, to find a place to hold the festival. These pieces began to come together after a family friend offered their backyard for the event.

“Their house ended up being the perfect venue, with its large backyard, side entrance, and accessible bathroom,” said Westwood. “We do warn the neighbors ahead of time that there will be noise during the show, but we try to be as considerate as possible. We didn’t have any complaints from the neighbors last year. We are lucky they are so supportive.” ”

After securing the venue, Westwood set out to define the concert’s aesthetic.

“My mom came up with the name, Westwoodstock, since Woodstock was in the news because of the pending 50th anniversary. I grew to love the vintage rock of the ’60s and ’70s hanging around one of my mom’s bands, Rosewood. Even though the festival is open to all music genres, we keep the overarching grassroots down-home vibe of Woodstock.”

This vision materialized once her father, David, a designer and writer, created all of the festival’s logos, which embody that same saturated ’60s rock feel that Westwood had sonically enjoyed. This year’s event features seven bands, including Soph and the Loafs, set to release their second album, and Victor Ochoa, an established saxophonist from Long Beach City College.

With two artistic parents, Westwood didn’t initially have much choice in whether art and music would be a part of her childhood. Her mother, Sid Andersson, is a singer in several Long Beach-based bands, and both of her parents insisted upon her development as a proficient musician.

Her parents’ aim to grow her musicianship eventually brought her to the studio of Jennifer Cozens, who was her private piano teacher from elementary to high school.

“Her studio is very near Millikan, which is known for its high standards of performing arts in LBUSD,” Westwood said. “For my Quest Senior Project, I performed the solo piano version of Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue. A clip of this landed me several gigs including piano instructor for Stan DeWitt’s School of Rock.”

However, until she began her college career at North Carolina State University in the fall of 2017, Westwood didn’t realize how integral music was in her life. This pushed her to pursue a music minor and, eventually, became the inspiration for Westwoodstock’s creation.

“Going out of state for college made me appreciate the unique musical melting pot of Long Beach. I’m a business major with an entrepreneurship focus in the Poole College of Management at North Carolina State. I added a music minor my freshman year when I missed piano. I also seriously missed performing in ensembles so I started to formulate the idea of Westwoodstock.”

Westwoodstock takes place Saturday, July 27, 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. at 2009 Volk Ave. Tickets are $4 at the door; all proceeds will be donated to Millikan High’s Music Department.

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