Thursday, September 11, 2008

West Beach bigger and better than before

The West Beach Festival of Music and Art has certainly come a long way from its humble beginnings last October as a small one-day concert featuring exclusively local acts. The big day was unfortunately washed out by unseasonably cold and rainy weather, but a line-up headlined by Sugarcult and ALO wasn’t going to draw a much bigger crowd to the West side of Stearns Wharf anyway.

But the Pemberton brothers who run Twiin Productions learned from last year’s financial fiasco (nobody could fault the production itself) and have come back strong with a very ambitious three-day event, a jam band-rock-and reggae extravaganza that boasts a rather impressive line-up meant to appeal to a broad demographic.
The festival gets underway tomorrow night with headliner Jason Mraz, the upbeat pop singer-songwriter who might have been labeled a Jack Johnson clone had he not preceded the former Isla Vista into the mainstream. Supporting Mraz on the main stage are the multi-talented singer-songwriter-guitarist Jackie Greene (he recently toured with the Grateful Dead’s Phil Lesh) and indie pop-rocker Kate Voegele (whose appearances to “One Tree Hill” have catapulted her career), both of whom wowed the crowd in recent separate gigs at the Stateside Lounge.
Saturday’s headliners include Ziggy Marley, the eldest and most persuasive of reggae legend Bob Marley’s offspring; Natasha Bedingfield, the Grammy-winning English pop singer (“Unwritten” in 2007) whose “Pocketful of Sunshine” was one of the lingering hits of the summer; and 1990s rock sensation Big Head Todd & the Monsters. Whose “Bittersweet” is a staple of classic rock radio. Sunday’s closing set brings George Clinton and Parliament/Funkadelic, the 67-year-old funkmeister and Rock & Roll Hall of Fame member who as an innovator has been compared to James Brown and Sly Stone.
About 30 more acts will populate the opening slots as well as three more performance areas, including the KRUZ stage – which is the size of last year’s main arena – for some jam bands and singer-songwriters (Poor Man’s Whiskey is offering a bluegrass version of the Pink Floyd classic they’ve renamed “Dark Side of the Moonshine”); the Oasis Stage, a fully-illuminated area in the center of the space boasting 120 imported palm trees and 360-degree sound system for an electronica village (similar to Coachella) featuring non-stop DJ music; and the Sandbox Stage, a kids area that will encompass all sorts of family-friendly entertainment, including a Saturday afternoon mini-set from Marley.
There will also be many peripheral activities, including dozens of vendor booths and art sections for both viewing and crafting, including a surfboard artist who will create custom boards on site.
About 10,000 people are expected to attend the three-day festival in total, an order of magnitude increase over last year’s figure.
“We have a lot of momentum this year,” Jeremy Pemberton said. “It’s all about having a good time on the beach.”
West Beach Festival tickets are $115 for a three-day pass, or $35-$55 for a day pass, and are available, along with information and a full schedule, online at

• • •

If, on the other hand, the idea of a beach bash by the downtown waterfront leaves you ready to leave town – as so many residents do on July 4th, for example – you don’t have to run that far.
Just a mile down Cabrillo Boulevard at East Beach, the Citizens Planning Association & Foundation hosts the sixth annual Sandcastle Festival, a wholesome, alcohol-free all-day event that’s perfect for the entire family.
Participants can mould a masterpiece mansion out of nothing but fine granules and water, or sculpt sand into shapes of all sizes and styles as both castles and sculpture contests are staged.
But you don’t even have to get your hands dirty to enjoy the festivities, as admission is free to observe the construction (which takes place officially from noon to 3 p.m.) or just stop by and take a quick look once the construction is done.
Activities include a treasure hunt, inflatable bouncy house and slide, and a Surf-a-Duck race for the kids, and a full slate of live musical performances – this year featuring Kelp, Bruce Goldish, Long Story Short and DJ Gerry DeWitt – and a variety of vendor booths for adults. Be sure to stop by and say hello to the team from the Daily Sound.
The festival runs 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday on the sand in front of Each Beach Grill. For details and entry forms, call 966-3979 or visit

• • •

There’s also a smaller, environmentally oriented music festival that has some pretty impressive names of its own just 35 miles down Hwy. 101 on Saturday afternoon. The Ventura Hillsides Music Fest has always drawn top-shelf musicians, as previous performers over the past five years include Jackson Browne (three times), Jack Johnson (twice), Los Lobos, Lucinda Williams, Robert Cray and many more. This year’s line-up is headlined by Little Feat and Taj Mahal. Mason Jennings, Todd Hannigan and the Heavy 29’s, and Rey Fresco are also on the bill.
It all takes place in a cozy spot located on a gently sloping grassy hill in Arroyo Verde Park, and all the funds go to the Ventura Hillsides Conservancy, which aims to protect open space in the area. Show times is 1 to 5 p.m. and tickets cost $45 general, $150 VIP which includes premium reserved seating on a souvenir beach chair you get to take home along with a poster. Call 643-8044 or visit

No comments: