In a city like Long Beach that has long harbored a tenuous relationship with live music (aka it's hard to find places with the permits play it and rarely does the city make it easy to host festivals that feature it), an entirely free summer series that brings music to the streets sounds like downright insanity.
For the last five years, however, the Downtown Long Beach Associates--a nonprofit organization funded by residents and businesses in the dowtown area--has put on Summer and Music, a series of four events over four months that each feature local bands, food and beer in a themed, often family-friendly setting.
Though some of the events have changed concepts, locations and genres over the years, constants like Buskerfest (a good-natured competition which pits small-time bands against each other in the East Village Arts District) and Funkfest (with acts like Charles Wright and Fred Wesley, James Brown's bandleader) has helped Summer and Music be thrice named OC Weekly's Best Music Festival.
This summer, local music fans can expect more of the same and some of the different, according to the lineup for SAM's sixth iteration, released Thursday. Notably missing is Funkfest, which last year had to move to a ticketed system and this year will be a Queen Mary event held on September 1. Below are the four SAM events coming to Long Beach streets this summer:
Dancin' In The Streets, June 28, 7 p.m. - 11 p.m., Promenade SAM starts this year with the third Dancin' In The Streets, an all-night dance party that will see The Allah-lahs headline over Long Beach bands California Lions and Greater California before DJ Lithuanian Prince takes over for eternal booty shaking. Beachwood BBQ and Brewing will host a beer garden.
Twisted at the Pike, July 11, 6 p.m. - 11 p.m., The Pike at Rainbow Harbor Fartbarf and De Lux headline this new event that will create a dark carnival theme in the shadow of the Pike's iconic ferris wheel. Described as "a cross between your favorite dreams and a dark carnival," the night brings the kings of electronic thrash and Innovative Leisure's indie-dance darlings to SAM for the first time.
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Bicycle Drive-In, August 2, 6 p.m. - 10 p.m., North Pine Art Park A night of film (Wes Anderson's Moonrise Kingdom), music (by Rosie Harlow and the Tall Tale Boys), food (from Kress Market) and of course bikes (valet courtesy of Bikeable Communites) will dominate this event's second year as it moves from next to Fingerprints to the quickly revitalizing North Pine neighborhood.
Buskerfest, September 6, 5 p.m. - 10 p.m., East Village Arts District SAM's staple event will have four yet-unnamed bands performing on flatbed trucks, busking for wooden nickels to determine which will win the grand prize, which in past years has varied from a free vinyl pressing to recording time at a local studio. A launching pad for new talent over the last six years, winning Buskerfest bands have gone on to release albums, sign record deals and open for major acts.