By Michael Aushenker
Grab the family! Text the friends! Two all-day music festivals – one venerable, one brand new – will rock Venice on Saturday, Sept. 21.
Now in its eighth year, Venice Beach Music Fest 8, a free beachside music festival with a fine arts, performing arts and a literary component, will return to Windward Plaza at 1 Windward Ave., with a full day of programming and food from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.
The Music Fest has evolved into a sizable beachside draw, organizers say.
“Showcasing the best of Venice musicians, artists, and dancers, as well as preserving (founder) Abbot Kinney’s vision for Venice of America as a place to enjoy world class arts and entertainment at the beach,” has been the mission of Milton Rosenberg, producer of Music Fest and its sister festival, Venice Spring Fling. To pay the bills, the Marina del Rey resident oversees the research department at the University of Southern California. But he says his love of rock, ska and reggae has driven him to raise the sponsorship and manpower to put on a rock show every year.
This year’s Music Fest will begin with a samba parade down Ocean Front Walk, led by the dance troupe Samba Da Mudança, onto the festival site, where a non-stop day of music will follow on the Ocean Stage.
Headliners will include Willie Chambers, original member of the soul group The Chambers Brothers; The Familyhood Nextperience, a dub reggae/AfroSoul/ska dance party collective featuring founding members of Fishbone and The Skeletones; Venice ska/punk band Meet Me at the Pub; electronic dance music act Champa 51; Venice-based psychedelic-flamenco guitar virtuoso Michael Jost, with guests Joey Maramba of Ricki Lee Jones on bass and multi-platinum drummer Andy Kravitz; Westside guitarist Stevie Starlight; San Diego-based rock/reggae outfit Jet West; and LOONER, featuring composer Zoë Poledouris Roché and Angel Roché, Jr. of Ziggy Marley.
Headliners in previous years have included Planet of the Abts (featuring Gov’t Mule drummer Matt Abts); violinist Lili Hayden; The Chuck Dukowski Sextet (featuring Dukowski of Black Flag and Milo Gonzalez of Insects vs. Robots); Trulio Disgracias and Dr. Madd Vibe (Fishbone’s John Norwood Fisher and Angelo Moore); and The Tracii Guns Band (the eponymous band of the early Guns ‘N’ Roses and L.A. Guns’ guitarist).
This weekend’s Music Fest has no shortage of locals participating. ATS Bellydance and Drums, also known as the Tribal Dance Jam Collective, will perform American Tribal Style dance, which embodies everything from folkloric-inspired dances to a fusion of ancient dance from North India, the Middle East and Africa. Ya Harissa, a Venice-based dance company, will perform a mix of different styles from traditional to cabaret. The dance performances will take place in between the sets.
Guitar virtuoso Starlight, who has been fretting away on the Venice live rock scene for more than a decade, has also performed at Viper Room in West Hollywood and, most recently, the Lightning in a Bottle festival in Temecula.
Champa 51 consists of husband-and-wife team Marc and Andrea Blackbird, early practitioners of electronic dance music. Meet Me at the Pub, which has shared the stage with Fishbone, The Untouchables, Horny Toad, Eek-a-Mouse, and Toots & The Maytals, formed in Venice in 1999 and has built up a rabid local fan base of surfers and skaters, famously throwing off-the-wall parties at their weekly shows at the recently shuttered Malibu Inn.
Two of Familyhood Nextperience’s band members, Fisher and “Dirty” Walter Kibby II, are founding members of Fishbone, the Moore-fronted neo-ska band from the 1980s who scored such underground classics as “U.G.L.Y.,” “Bonin’ in the Boneyard” and “Slow Bus Moving.” In addition to founding members Fisher and Kibby, current Fishbone members -drummer Steward, trombonist Jay Armant and guitarist Rocky George – will perform alongside the Skeletones’ Kip Wirtzfield (tenor sax) and Paul Hampton (keyboards/percussion). Familyhood’s set will also feature guest vocalists Israel Joseph of the seminal African-American hardcore band Bad Brains, Bronx Style Bob Khaleel and Neb Luv of Da 5 Footaz.
With his brother Joe, Chambers co-wrote the 1968 song, “Time Has Come Today,” a timeless slab of psychedelic soul that has been used on the soundtracks of well over 100 film and TV soundtracks, including Oliver Stone’s “The Doors,” and Spike Lee’s “Crooklyn” and “Girl, Interrupted.” The Chambers Brothers also scored hits with a string of staples: “People Get Ready,” “Can’t Turn You Loose,” “Love, Peace and Happiness.”
Several gourmet food trucks will be on site at the festival: Schmuck with a Truck, a New York-style delicatessen on wheels; the fusiony Firehouse Chefs; and The Paradise Truck, crafters of cookies and ice cream. Also showcasing their wares: Love Nail Tree clothing and accessories; Eclectic Hoops; and Dr. Bronner’s Magic Soaps.
Music Fest will also feature a slew of fine artists, including Audrey McNamara-Garcia, art by sky, Brian Mylius, Alex Avila, Dave Wrathall, Mario Mancia and Ukeim Ortiz.
An after party at Danny’s Venice, 23 Windward Ave., will take place from 7 p.m. to 1 a.m., top-lined by Venice band The Boaters, as well as encore sets by Jost, Fisher, and surprise guests.
Meanwhile, further inland along Lincoln and Abbot Kinney boulevards, the second Venice Music Crawl of 2013 launches at a clutch of clubs and businesses, from the Boys & Girls Club of Venice down to Witzend, 1717 Lincoln Blvd., with each venue featuring 10-12 acts.
Propelled by a clutch of 20- and 30-somethings spearheaded by founders Mark Rojas and Ben Adamson, the inaugural Venice Music Crawl in June shot off to a good start with more than 50 acts playing places such as Witzend. On Sept. 21, Venice Music Crawl returns with its second event, linking Lincoln Boulevard venues Witzend, RG Club and Venice Love Shack with spots such as Wurstkuche to host some 70 music acts.
RG Club’s roster will include War Child, Strange Love, Tropicool and Shae B. Rocking the Love Shack will be Matthew Tembo and Afroroots, Remi Kabaka, Nichole Michelle Jones and Noa Belilti. Wurstkuche welcomes Walla, Sea Lions, Megafauna, Spaceships, Omniflux and Decorator. Floyd’s Barbershop will open its doors to Planet Rock, niceFingers, Das Tapes and A DJ Named Gal, while the Boys & Girls Club of Venice will offer Crash Landon, Jake from Beat Mass, and Jimmy Maheras, among others. What WitzEnd is calling its “Summer of Love” will include the sounds of Kenton Chen, Karen Goh, Amanda Dumas, Drew Ryan, Keaton Simons and The Strands.
Young Artists United Space and the Talking Stick will also participate. However, their line-up was not available at press time. SoFar Sounds will host surprise performances at a secret location.
Information, VeniceBeachMusicFest.com; VeniceMusicCrawl.com.