For the eleventh year, the Downtown Long Beach Alliance (DLBA)  is proud to present Summer and Music (SAM), the innovative concert series which continues to demonstrate how, in Downtown Long Beach, summer and music go hand in hand.

“Our goal with SAM originally was to create an environment that was more open and friendly to music. There’s a lot more happening musically in Long Beach since we started SAM,” said Rand Foster, who co-founded SAM in 2009 with Justin Hectus.  Justin’s sister Ashley joined the SAM brain trust soon thereafter.

This summer, the continuously evolving SAM plays a supporting role in three events;  Make Music Day, which happened on June 21, The Pow!Wow! Long Beach closing party, which took place last week, and the Live After 5 Bicycle Drive-In, coming up on August 15. On September 7, SAM and DLBA will present Buskerfest, the semi-acoustic talent showcase which has become SAM’s signature event.

“It’s been a privilege to have been part of SAM and participate with this committed and passionate team since the beginning,” said Kraig Kojian, DLBA President and CEO. “While our Downtown has evolved over the past dozen years, our goal and commitment to produce and deliver quality events that amplify a sense of place and community has never waned.”

Foster, who owns Fingerprints Music in Downtown Long Beach, has become a key figure in Long Beach music history with his ongoing support of local musicians and his amazing run of in-store concerts and appearances:  Industry legends and A-listers such as Brian Wilson, Chrissie Hynde, Foo Fighters, Cage the Elephant and Prophets of Rage have all appeared in Foster’s Fourth Street musical emporium. It was this sort of musical influence that led Justin Hectus, who was promoting a concert of local bands, to seek out a Fingerprints sponsorship and forge a partnership with Foster.

SAM started as an every-weekend-during-summer concert series. At the time, there were very few music venues for local musicians in Long Beach.

“Our goal was to put the spotlight on Long Beach musicians, give them a place to play, and, just as importantly, give them a paycheck,” said Foster.  “We felt that the idea of having musicians play for free was unsustainable—certainly not if you wanted to have a thriving musical community.”

Over the years, SAM has brought music downtown in a variety of events and formats.  Besides Buskerfest, a concept by Foster which has been a SAM mainstay since the beginning, the SAM triumvirate of Foster, Hectus and Hectus has presented The Battle of the Tribute Bands, Soul Motion, Dancing In The Streets, 720 (the skate-themed concert conceived by Justin Hectus), and Twisted, a show created by Ashley Hectus with a macabre carnival theme.

On July 27, SAM helped put the finishing touches on the Long Beach iteration of Pow!Wow!, the global mural event.  After a  week of mural painting in over 20 locations citywide, international artists and art aficionados gathered for the Pow! Wow! closing party, in which DJs from event partner KCRW enhanced the vibe of global hipness as street artists applied their visions to large illuminated canvases. DJ Anthony Valadez strung together a cornucopia of grooves that will surely be remembered as one of the best ever to echo through the streets of Downtown Long Beach. KCRW officially made this party a part of its Summer Nights calendar.

On Thursday,  August 15, SAM and DLBA will present the Tim Burton film Big Fish at the Live After 5 Bicycle Drive-In, located on the Downtown Promenade between Broadway and Third Street. Music starts at 6 pm with the film premiering at dusk.   Cyclists and pedestrians are invited to bring lawn chairs and get comfy on the astroturf while enjoying concession stand fare as well as music and spoken-word opening acts for Burton’s film, which is a story about storytelling.

On Saturday, September 7, the eleventh edition of Buskerfest will take place at the corner of First Street and Linden Avenue in the East Village of Downtown Long Beach.  Aside from having the musicians perform on flatbed trucks for greater visibility and a little amplification so the large crowd can hear better, Buskerfest remains true to its stripped-down acoustic roots. KCRW added this event to their Summer Nights calendar as well. 

“There will be trucks, competing bands, wooden nickels to cast your vote with, beer, good food and, most importantly, there will be great community,” said Foster. “To me, it’s magical.”  

Click here for more information about Summer and Music.