Outside of writing this column, I spend a lot of time working as a music journalist. As I travel to interview artists and review shows, I'm always left wondering why Huntington Beach does not have a major performance venue.
That's one reason I was so excited to learn about the Huntington Beach Food, Art and Music Festival, which is coming to the state beach, right by Beach Boulevard, from Sept. 5 to 7. I also love good barbecue and art, so this festival, for me, could not be any more appetizing.
Starting with the music, there will be performances by Jefferson Starship, Don Dokken and the original lead vocalists of Kansas, Loverboy, Ambrosia, Night Ranger and Toto, not to mention solo performances by Gary Wright and Al Stewart. That will all be on Sunday.
On Saturday, the stage will feature Michelle Branch, Mark McGrath, Dramarama, Missing Persons, the Gin Blossoms, Sheila E., John Popper of Blues Traveler and more.
Jay Freedman, one of the producers of the event, told me this is unlike anything that has been presented at a Southern California beach. His company, nfuse Marketing, stages events like this all over the country, but for Huntington Beach, it has put together something unique.
As Freedman explained: "Los Angeles is such a hotbed for musical artists, and so, rather than following the path of every show that's on tour this summer, we wanted to bring in a very unique lineup for Huntington Beach. Sunday is all about classic rock, and so we've got about 10 or so really incredible voices and bands from the '70s and '80s. This is the 40th anniversary of Jefferson Starship, and we are thrilled that they came aboard.
"As for Saturday, that lineup became more about late '80s into the '90s, but it's no less exciting."
Then there's the art portion of the festival.
"We're working closely with the Huntington Beach Art Center and will be featuring the wonderful Surfboards on Parade event that is taking place this year," Freedman said. "But we're also bringing in a lot of other really interesting artists to create something special. We know people love food and music, but we think they will be blown away by the art too."
The food is really where everything comes together.
"This is going to be the ultimate barbecue culinary experience," Freedman said. "We're bringing in many winners from all these amazing competitions around the country. You may think you know what it's like to watch barbecue get prepared. But this is going to be serious. The folks bringing the food to this event are some of the best in the country. They compete all year-round, and they plan on putting on quite a barbecue show on the beach for three days."
As Freedman explained, this event is more about adults than kids. The area will feel like you're in the midst of some great private party that's sealed off from the rest the beach.
As of this writing, the promoters are waiting for a permit to serve beer and wine, and I hope they get it. At an event like this, with thousands of adults turning up for good food and music, I can't imagine any reason they wouldn't be allowed to enjoy a beer or a glass of wine. In researching the work that nfuse Marketing has done, I see that it seems to have these events down to a science, and its plans for Huntington Beach look quite impressive.
Freedman told me that for food and art only on Friday, it's only five bucks to walk in the door. Over the weekend it's about 20 bucks per day, or $35 for a two-day pass. A Gold Circle VIP area costs a few dollars more. You can check out all the lineups and buy tickets at hbfest.com.
This looks like a fantastic event. It's so nice to know we will be having major artists performing here again, along with a killer art show and some of the best barbecue in the United States. This is the kind of event I hope takes root here and gets bigger and better each year.
Let's support it.
CHRIS EPTING is the author of 25 books, including the new "Huntington Beach Chronicles: The Heart of Surf City" from History Press. You can chat with him on Twitter @chrisepting or follow his column at http://www.facebook.com/hbindependent.