A sold-out BeachLife Festival returns in 2021 as the largest music festival to appear on the west side of Los Angeles, with a range of talent including alternative rock, reggae, blues, pop and even metal. Local LA headliner Jane’s Addiction, NorCal Counting Crows and Ziggy & Stephen Marley performing Songs of Bob Marley will join a host of acts such as Cage The Elephant, Ben Harper & The Innocent Criminals, Gary Clark Jr., Portugal. The Man, Fitz and The Tantrums, The Revivalists, Men at Work, Silversun Pickups, The Wallflowers, G. Love & Special Sauce, Larkin Poe, Zella Day, Cam, Sugar Ray, Fortunate Youth and many more.
The second installment of the event was of course canceled like most every festival in 2020, a crushing blow to the entertainment industry with rippling effects on several other industries from hospitality to transportation. BeachLife Festival endearingly refers to last year’s roster of artists as The Forgotten 2020 Lineup (we know, Steve Miller Band, UB40 and Sublime with Rome would have been the rage!) But the good news is Ziggy Marley & Stephen Marley’s Bob Marley Celebration was rescheduled for this year, along with Counting Crows and Ben Harper & The Innocent Criminals (among others). The founders and creative team of BeachLife Festival have been working tirelessly to make sure the 2021 edition is not only a success but a safe and hassle-free event for all ages. Rob Lissner and Allen Sanford launched BeachLife back in 2019 to offer something different to the SoCal music fan – a beachfront cultural getaway – and though it’s been an unpredictable ride, they are ready for a festive weekend.
“It was a bit of a roller coaster and unfortunately there wasn’t a playbook for how to handle everything”, said Lissner. “Beyond the financial burdens that everyone was dealing with, the biggest difficulty was keeping the core team together and involved and hoping we could get some key people back when the time came. Our small team makes us tick. They were vital to the success of our first event and even more important now as we evolve and work out some kinks”.
The inaugural event featured Bob Weir, Brian Wilson, Jason Mraz, Ziggy Marley, Slightly Stoopid and the-one-and-only Willie Nelson and this weekend’s shin-dig includes another impressive slate of talent for the coastal fest, with a new stage, some additional food and beverage options and a variety of artistic visuals to experience. “More than anything, I’m looking forward to taking a step back towards some normalcy and celebrating with friends and family again, safely of course”, said Lissner. “Hopefully we get to enjoy the event a little more this year having gone through it once already. It was a little tougher to do the first time around until the very end, which was Willie Nelson so no complaints here”.
The artists, some veteran acts and global icons, others on the road for years or emerging are all proud to get back on the stage. American reggae rock band Fortunate Youth lead singer Dan Kelly who plays Sunday night, (same night as Gary Clark Jr., Portugal. The Man, Ben Harper and the Marley brothers Ziggy & Stephen) reacted as a local artist ready to rock the beach. He said his band Fortunate Youth is all about “peace, love & unity” and that they play a lot of reggae festivals but have also enjoyed the mixed-genre events. “Since I’m coming from Mississippi and living here for twenty-four years, having kids, starting a band and a whole life, there’s nothing that gives me more pleasure than to be playing in my backyard with the likes of so many legendary artists”, said Kelly. “I’m glad to be part of the lineup and it’s truly a dream come true”. His band member, bass guitarist Greg Gelb echoed the sentiment, “It’s definitely an honor to be included on such a stellar lineup alongside world-class artists. Awesome to perform and connect with our hometown community especially after a year without shows. We have a long history with those putting on and attending this festival and it is great to see it all come together, putting our local stamp on the music map”.
Artist reactions like this are perhaps the reason so many in the industry do what they do – to illuminate talented acts, give them a home at a festival and create memories for fans. But it hasn’t been entirely rosy for the independent promoters at the helm of the project with the pandemic and the previous hurdles with permits and other logistics. “It clearly wasn’t fun”, said Lissner. “That said, it was hard times for a lot of people out there and it didn’t always get better for them. We’re still here and having another festival in less than a week with tremendous support from the community. That’s all we can ask for”.
This week’s BeachLife has some new things in store, including a first-ever fourth stage called SpeakEasy presented by Jack Daniels with acoustic-only sets for an intimate environment as well as a Punk Rock & Paintbrushes art show with works from festival performers as well as local artists. The real attraction however is hearing tunes with the ocean breeze and the sunset.
“I think first and foremost it’s our location”, said Lissner. “We are fortunate enough to be the only festival that is literally on the beach in LA County. What could be better than that? We also are considered a “boutique” festival, which we like. It forces us to get a little more creative with lineup decisions. It also gives us an opportunity to pay more attention to the little things and experiment with offerings like The Side Stage Restaurant which turned into a huge hit our first year”.
Though BeachLife Festival is sold-out, their partner LYTE enables verified ticket exchange, for those looking to buy or sell tickets. Artists and fans alike are eager for a celebration that we all need right now. “I’m looking forward to seeing our community coming together to enjoy a great weekend of music by the water”, said Fortunate Youth’s Gelb. “There are so many amazing artists I’m looking forward to hearing and completing a full circle from the past to present, remembering when I was first introduced to their music as a kid and now sharing the stage and watching them perform in 2021”.
From The Revivalists’ “Wish I Knew You” to Fitz and The Tantrums’ “Handclap” to “Get Up, Stand Up” and more from the Marley medley, there is something for everyone this weekend in Redondo Beach, all while keeping mindful of the environment, safety and celebrating togetherness. “I’m honestly most proud of the fact that the community has been overwhelmingly supportive of what we’re doing following our first event”, said Lissner. “From the locals to the city officials and businesses, it’s been so awesome to feel like we’re impacting the community in a positive way. It’s also made it easier for us to use our platform as an opportunity to raise awareness and funds for the nonprofit partners for this year’s event who support the causes closest to us”.