By Michael Aushenker
‘Tis the season to be jolly… lounging poolside and cooling off with some froyo or an ice-blended margarita. But summer is also a time to hit some of the outstanding treasures the Westside has to offer – namely its beaches, parks and promenades… and the municipal cultural forces that be are offering a variety of entertainment options to add some sparkle to your season.
Approaching its third decade as a local summer fixture, Santa Monica Pier’s 29th Annual Twilight Concert Series will go down every Thursday from 7-10 p.m., beginning July 11 through Sept. 12.
Food, fun and games are a given from week to week at the 104-year-old Santa Monica Pier. However, the Santa Monica Twilight Concert Series adds a whole other element with its eclectic mix of live pop, indie and world music.
Kicking off the concert series on the alternative tip July 11 will be West Palm Beach indie rockers Surfer Blood, who will likely play “Swim,” the debut song which put the Floridian band on the map back in 2009, and “Weird Shapes,” the lead single off their latest album “Pythons,” which came out this year. Opening for Surfer Blood is the quintet Terraplane Sun, a local alternative act based in Venice comprised of front man Ben Rothbard, guitarist Johnny Zambetti, drummer Lyle Riddle, bassist Cecil Campanaro and keyboardist Gabe Feenberg. Fusing blues, rock, dance and soul, Terraplane Sun, who count oddball urban performing artist Sobe Lash as a prime influence, are set to perform tunes off of their album “Get Me Golden.”
Concert series highlights in August will include The English Beat (“Mirror in the Bathroom,” “I Confess”), fronted by Pacific Palisades resident Dave Wakeling, on Aug. 15, and the bluesy, Huntington Beach-raised young musician Nick Waterhouse headlining Aug. 22, before reggae legend Jimmy Cliff (“The Harder They Come”) steps in to bring the whole program to a thrilling, Kingston-style climax on Sept. 12. “You Can Get It if You Really Want It…” Yah, mon!
SUMMER BECOMES SYMPHONIC
The Marina del Rey Summer Concert Series returns with its “Symphonic Thursdays” every week at 7 p.m.
Under the musical direction of Frank Fetta, the concerts kick off on July 11 with “Opera at the Shore,” followed by “American Influences” on July 25.
As an alternative to classical, “Pop Saturdays” will launch on July 20 with singer Billy Ocean, best known for his 1980s hit singles “Carribean Queen (No More Love on the Run),” “Loverboy,” and “When The Going Gets Tough, The Tough Get Going.” Pop star Taylor Dayne and Poncho Sanchez are among the promised August pop acts.
The action goes down at Burton Chace Park, 13650 Mindanao Way, Marina del Rey. Information, visitmarinadelrey.com.
ALL THAT JAZZFEST
Westside Jazzfest takes place every Saturday from 6-8 p.m. in July at the Howard Hughes Center in Westchester. Sponsored by KJAZZ 88.1, the free outdoor jazz concerts will feature a heady mix of Latin, world beat and every stripe of jazz music, from contemporary to bebop to smooth jazz. The line-up begins with Cleveland native Elijah Rock on July 6, hosted by Bubba Jackson, when Rock will likely play “That First Time,” the single off of his debut album “Elijah Rock Live in Hollywood.”
The series continues with Peruvian native Octavio Figueroa y La Combinación Salsa Band, hosted by Brad Williams, on July 13; with John Egizi, hosted by Helen Borgers, headlining on July 20; and The Luis Conte Ensemble, hosted by Jackson, on July 27. The Gumbo Brothers, Elliott Caine and Western Standard Time are among August’s featured acts.
The Promenade is at 6081 Center Drive, Westchester.
BLOCKBUSTERS OF SUMMERS PAST
Cinema on the Street in downtown Santa Monica will take place on three consecutive Fridays at 7:30 p.m. this month. On Friday, July 12, the 1985 comedy blockbuster “Back to the Future,” directed by Robert Zemeckis (“Forrest Gump”) and starring Michael J. Fox in one of his signature roles as Marty McFly.
Screening on Friday, July 19 is “Despicable Me,” the 2010 hit animated feature about the super-villain Gru, which inspired the just-released sequel, “Despicable Me 2,” both featuring the vocal talents of Steve Carell as Gru. On the final Friday in the series, July 26, director John Landis’ (“Animal House,” “The Blues Brothers,” “American Werewolf in London”) 1986 comedy “¡Three Amigos!” screens. The film stars three kings of 1980s comedy, Steve Martin, Martin Short and Chevy Chase, with a screenplay co-written by Martin, musician Randy Newman and “Saturday Night Live” creator Lorne Michaels.
Visitors are encouraged to bring beach chairs and blankets to catch these blockbusters of summers past for free at the 1200 block of Third Street Promenade in Santa Monica. Information, santamonicapier.org/twilightconcerts.