Free SAM Kickoff Features Film and Music at Art Theatre Today • Long Beach Post

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Rand Foster. Photo courtesy of SAM.


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2016 marks the eighth season of the successful and popular Summer And Music concert series, which is produced by Fingerprints Music owner Rand Foster, Justin Hectus, and Ashley Hectus. The series, which is sponsored by the Downtown Long Beach Associates (DLBA), presents concerts that showcase local and national talent—sometimes on the same stage.

Today at 6:00PM they’re presenting a free kickoff event at the Art Theater, which will include performances by DJ Dennis Owens, Tigers in the Sky, Kontrapunktus, and Greater California. The event will conclude with the screening of a new documentary film that captures the excitement of last year’s SAM concert series.

Long Beach Post: What was the impetus for creating this film?

Rand Foster: We decided, last year, that it would be helpful to document the season, thinking it would be helpful in telling the story to artists and sponsors for this year’s event. As the conversation developed, [we thought] the idea of making something in more of a documentary style might be an interesting project, and it would still give us the tools for getting bands and sponsors. Plus, if it came out well, it might also give us an event. Happily, that’s kind of how it worked out.

Had there been any documentation of previous years?

Yes, but it was usually much more casual, and scattered, with different people/crews capturing different events, sometimes with different objectives. That left us scrambling to create consistent tools for the following season. Also, there wasn’t a complete document with a narrative; it was much more vignette-based.

What kind of planning went into documenting last year’s series?

The biggest difference with the project was that we had a clear goal; to capture the feel and vibe of the whole season. It’s loaded with crowds, and scenes from Long Beach, and works really well as a document of the season. It’s a great spotlight for some of our favorite bands, the people who come out to the events. It serves as a love letter to Long Beach which, from pretty early on, was the feeling we were going for.

Were there any surprises?

It’s always surprising to see yourself and the things you do filtered through someone else’s eyes. Happily, working with Graham Lovelis, who’s also a local musician who’s performed at several of our past shows, understood the intent of the series for Justin, Ashley, and me.

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Fartbarf performs at SAM. Photo by Graham Lovelis.

Has the experience of producing the film changed any aspects of how you’ll approach this year’s series?

I might plan some of the things I say from the stage a bit more, and will likely let Justin hold the mic more often, since he only pretends to not be good at public speaking.

I think we do a good job of advocating for local artists, and it’s really been a driving theme for us to help foster the local scene. There are a couple of really great moments where artists talk about that, so maybe one of the surprises was, in the hustle and bustle of producing a show, that element is not only noticed, but that it was captured.

For all of us, after we watched the first version, we were pretty excited and energized to start on this season’s shows. That was surprising, too, because I was thinking we were making this to get other people excited about SAM. That it worked on us was a nice surprise.

How do you think your efforts have affected the local music scene, outside of SAM itself?

I always struggle with this type of analysis. Because it’s so self-centric. There are so many important components that make what we do work. [In Long Beach, we have] a rich pool of local talent, a city and business district [DLBA] who have supported us, and an audience who not only come out for the shows, but that also gets involved in them; whether it’s bringing friends, volunteering, or just drinking enough beer to help us fund the events.

In the case of the city, I feel they’ve learned from our events that music and culture don’t just have intrinsic value, but they can also be economic drivers, which has changed the landscape and opened the doors for a lot more music programming.

The bands have discovered that they don’t have to go to L.A. to have an audience. That’s helped places like 4th Street Vine and Viento y Agua (and others) build a calendar that reflects the neighborhood, while giving bands a stage to play on. We started on the streets because that was our only available venue, and we’re really happy to see that changing.

Do you feel like the work you’ve done opened the door to other large events, like Joshua Fischel’s Music Tastes Good festival?

I hope we’ve contributed in some way, either by smoothing the path, or providing inspiration, because what they’re doing is awesome. We’ve only played very minor direct roles, and anything more is too intangible to try to claim.

Are there any programming tidbits that you can reveal about this year’s series?

We’re bringing back our favorites, including BuskerFest, 720 and Twisted. We are working on a new event that we’re super excited about, but that one is still coming together. Hopefully it will be ready by Thursday. Also, I think we do a good job of adding fresh elements and refining our tent-pole shows, so look for some changes there too.

And what about Funk Fest?

Our goal with Funk Fest, from the beginning, was to nurture it through its infancy so it could stand on its own, which it did at the Queen Mary last year. It was world-class, but I think Bobby [Easton] is taking this year off to reinvent and focus on some smaller venue-based shows. Hopefully, it comes back full-scale next year.

What’s happening at the Art Theatre tonight?

We hope people will come out for a taste of what this year has in store, and a fun look back on last year. Media/kick-off events can be bone dry, but we’ve worked really hard to make this event stand on its own, and we think people will really dig it. Hopefully, some of them will even see themselves in the film.

It’s a free event, beginning at 6:00PM with DJ Dennis Owens setting the mood, followed by short performances by Tigers in the Sky, Kontrapunktus, and then Greater California with a choir. Following that, we’ll eat popcorn and watch the (short) film.

The Art Theatre is located at 2025 E 4th Street, just East of Cherry Avenue. The event is free, but seating is limited, and access will be granted on a first come first served basis. To learn more about this year’s Summer And Music concert series, visit SummerAndMusic.com

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