As Summer Luvin’ fest evolves, organizers say goal continues to be promoting ‘big local artists’

Just a few years ago, Tony Valdivia and Rayleane Martinez were Long Beach City College students talking art, music and aspirations while serving boba at the Hiccups Traffic Circle location.

Now the duo is working to produce what will be their second annual Summer Luvin’ music festival at Shoreline Village through PeaceArt, an organization they started as a way to promote “big local artists and musicians.”

This June, expect to hear an eclectic mix of locals and out of towners who will be bringing with them the English and Spanish sounds of cumbia, disco, indie and alt-rock; even the Peruvian rooted chicha music. Visual and craft artists will also be on hand to sell their creations.

And while the group is still experiencing growing pains, their focus is to evolve as they learn more about the business of festival organizing. However, to pull off a bigger and better show (the first festival took place in an empty North Long Beach lot) they’re hoping for a little help from the community.

In order to keep the free fest operational while showing their support for musicians, they’re looking for a few more sponsors and donations to pay bands. They set up a GoFundMe a few weeks ago that the public can donate to.

“They live to play but we do believe in paying back,” said Valdivia, who, along with Martinez, does not get paid.

The start of PeaceArt

What began as long and unorganized podcasts and videos in mid-2017 has morphed into what PeaceArt is today: a series of short, MTV-like online episodes featuring performances and interviews with primarily area bands that culminates with a summertime festival.

It all revolves around PeaceArt’s motto—“Inspire people to think rational, act with passion and always do what they want.”

Martinez, who is 21, said the whole concept came out of a simple conversation after class at LBCC. But it was a setback that befell Valdivia, 27, that helped switch their mindset from talking to doing. After he was involved in a car crash that left him $10,000 in debt, Valdivia said he wasn’t afraid to “make some real moves” toward his passion.

“I’m already in debt, where else do I go? I grew up with everybody around me telling me I can’t do things,” said Valdivia, who was born in Hollywood before moving to North Long Beach as a kid. “They didn’t’ believe in me or projected their insecurities.”

Since launching PeaceArt, Valdivia has been in charge of all the designs—putting to good use what he learned at the Art Institute in Santa Monica. It paid off when he secured a job at a Signal Hill print shop after showing a portfolio of work he did for PeaceArt.

For Martinez, a student at Cal State Long Beach, she uses the knowledge and wisdom she learns from interviews with musical guests to encourage students at Banning High School in Wilmington—her alma mater—where she works as a teacher’s assistant.

“I’m living in the same areas, living the same experiences,” Martinez said. “It’s not always positive. People like us are set at a disadvantage, but I tell [the students] to turn it around and work hard.”

Martinez described their live-streamed web videos as part live performance and part interview where they avoid any personal details and instead focus on the musician or band’s inspiration, what drives them to keep going and what advice they have for others.

“We share their stories and we’re learning from each other’s experiences,” Martinez said.

That includes the importance of working hard, being dedicated to your craft and finding a good support network. It’s also a chance for artists to be honest about how tough it can be—whether it’s living a broke college life or working menial jobs.

The webisodes are ultimately edited and packaged by Anthony Lopez, who the duo consider the “third leg” in their tripod.

The evolution of Summer Luvin’

Valdivia and Martinez said they’ve learned a lot about organizing festivals since their first run last year, during which Valdivia said he had “three nervous breakdowns.”

Valdivia recalled one incident where he had to give money set aside for the porta potty man to the stage guy because he didn’t want to wait for a city official to stop by with his payment.

Last year’s festival featured performances by nearly a dozen bands, multiple art and food vendors and even coincided with a mural painting organized by North Long Beach community groups.

Now, when the Valdivia and Martinez go to music festivals throughout the region they rarely go to simply enjoy the show, instead, they find themselves observing layouts and which vendors they may want to contact for Summer Luvin’.

“This year we planned way ahead and know to be prepared for the worst,” Valdivia said.

And this time around they engaged followers on their Summer Luvin’ Fest Instagram account to let the audience help build the lineup. The result was hundreds to thousands of comments on multiple posts and a band all the way from Northern California among those scheduled to play.

While the new festival account has only garnered a couple of hundred followers, the main PeaceArt Instagram account has over 25,000—no small accomplishment for a grassroots effort.

“We consider social media to be without any borders,” Valdivia said of PeaceArt’s online presence. “We don’t consider ourselves to be only in Long Beach.”

As PeaceArt and Summer Luvin’ grows, the pair said the focus will continue to be “to simply put on a good show, with good people, art and music.”

Summer Luvin’ will take place Saturday, June 15 at Shoreline Village. For more information click here.

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Stephanie Rivera covers immigration and the north, west and central parts of Long Beach. Reach her at [email protected] or on Twitter at @StephRivera88.