Photos by Asia Morris.
The Summer and Music (SAM) concert series is arguably the thriving, pulsing heart and soul of Long Beach’s music scene, and if a packed Art Theatre, with attendees happily standing in the back without a seat to find and crowding the foyer with anticipation of its kick off event isn’t telling of this eighth year to come, we don’t know what is.
Sponsored by the Downtown Long Beach Associates (DLBA) and produced by Fingerprints Music owner Rand Foster and siblings Justin and Ashley Hectus, SAM’s kick-off event last night featured the screening of Graham Lovelis’ artfully made Summer and Music: A Documentary, a 20-minute dive into the music series' successful history of showcasing free, live music from national and local musicians with the utmost talent and passion.
Preceding the screening was of course an eclectic lineup of live music. DJ Dennis Owens set the vibe before Kontrapunktus Baroque played with classical precision, followed by Tigers in the Sky, who brought their chilled-out beach band vibes to an audience drowsy on Beachwood brews and Lola’s Mexican Cuisine's to-die-for bacon-wrapped jalapenos. The Greater California Choir left quite an impression before Hectus called for the lights to be dimmed for the film.
Summer and Music: A Documentary certainly lived up to the DLBA’s description of the concert series as “arguably the most respected, the most attended, and genuinely the most loved music event in Long Beach.” The film elicited whoops and hollers from an audience clearly feeling that Long Beach pride, as the documentary showed the growth of an event that is truly unique to this seaside city.
Prior to the screening Hectus touched back to 2009 when he and Foster first presented their idea to the DLBA, and more specifically, to its CEO Kraig Kojian, a pitch that would culminate in the first SAM in 2009 and 40 shows held in just one summer.
“[...W]e felt really passionate about it but thought we had a snowball’s chance in hell of getting anybody to sign on and put money behind it,” Hectus told the audience. “And I think especially given [...]the fact that [the DLBA] was a business group serving businesses, it took a lot of courage and a real future vision to say, ‘I believe in this, I believe that it can enhance the fabric of downtown and make the place better for everybody, including the businesses,’ and to connect those dots.”
On the horizon, Hectus announced that 720 Pine’s usual skate element will be elevated to include a pro-level show, present a bigger skate course with a re-creation of the locally-famous “cherry gap,” while DJ Tuandigglz, DJ Davendra Banhart, The Buttertones, Korey Dane and Ray Barbee and the Mattson 2 are slated to create “more of a lounge atmosphere, viby and cool,” for the June 25 event. And for the band who wins Buskerfest, SAM’s final and much-loved concert and competition, that group will get to play the first slot on the first day of Music Tastes Good, alongside RX Bandits, Living Colour and more, as was announced by MTG's Meagan Blome.
“[...]Just a couple words on my family of SAM, who has been really an extension of what we believe in, to bring live talent, live music and certainly local creative talent to everyone in our city,” Kojian said. “And we wanted downtown to be that showcase, and now it’s going on eight years. And to think about what we did eight years ago, to put on 40 shows in one summer, we were nuts.”
Be the first of your friends to view Summer and Music: A Documentary, now available to watch online here.
For more details on all the upcoming SAM events, visit the website here.