As the Downtown Long Beach Association’s Summer and Music (SAM) concert series goes on its eighth year, it has provided free live music of the highest caliber while promoting and lifting the musicians of Long Beach onto the pedestal they deserve—which is precisely why we felt obligated to assure that its marking on Long Beach’s music scene isn’t lost but documented.
Summer and Music: A Documentary was first proposed by DLBA President and CEO Kraig Kojian in his office, ruminating about how DTLB has become the hub for live music in Long Beach. After all, Live After 5—DTLB’s free music scene every second Thursday of the month—was birthed due to the success of SAM. And even more importantly, what were its supporters and creators doing to assure that its influence couldn’t be dismissed?
The idea for the documentary became fully realized when Long Beach filmmaker and musician Graham Lovelis was asked to helm the documentary process over the course of the summer of 2015, capturing not just the vibe of last year’s festivities but the history, dedication, and love of music that has made S.A.M. what it is.
The now-complete documentary will screen for free at the Art Theatre on Retro Row on May 19 at 6PM, complete with free live music courtesy of Tigers in the Sky, DJ Dennis Owens, Contrapunktus, and a very special performance by Greater California backed with a choir.
De Lux performing at Fingerprints during a media preview in 2014.
“Music and Long Beach has this impossible-to-undo relationship,” said Justin Hectus, co-founder of S.A.M. “But our music was seemingly always under the shadow of Los Angeles… That’s exactly what we tried to escape by bringing S.A.M. out. It was to put a little money in the pocket of those talented musicians that make our city better and finally lift the Long Beach music scene to the platform of recognition it deserved—and we’re proud to own the fact that we achieved that.”
S.A.M’s unparalleled performer history includes the Cold War Kids, Nick Waterhouse, Matt Costa, De Lux, Delta Spirit, Everest, Fartbarf, Beachwood Sparks, Chicano Batman, Sam Outlaw, the Tijuana Panthers, and more—and despite where these performers have gone to or come from, there is one thing that S.A.M. is mightily clear about: it’s about Long Beach as a place that fosters and grows musical talent.
Fartbarf performing at SAM’s Twisted at the Pike.
“Even before I was asked to take on this project, I had a connection with S.A.M. as a musician,” Lovelis said. “My band The Fling has performed at S.A.M. I’ve toured with a lot of the bands that have been a part of S.A.M. like The Blank Tapes. So for me, in approaching the film, there was already a personal connection that I wanted to convey—which is perfect for S.A.M. because like all things Long Beach, it’s personal. It’s specific. It’s us.”
Summer and Music: The Documentary will screen on May 19 at 6PM at the Art Theatre, located at 2025 E. 4th Street in Long Beach. The event is free and open to the public but is limited in capacity; seats will be provided on a first-come-first serve basis.