For moer than three decades, Jim Lindberg’s name has been synonymous not only with the punk scene primarily through his work with seminal SoCal vets Pennywise, but with the surf and sea cultures in Los Angeles’s South Bay as well. And while his “day job” projects like Pennywise and Wraths are still very much active, Lindberg has now lent his talents to a different, more behind-the-scenes role in the music scene: creative director of the upcoming BeachLife Festival.
If you’re not yet familiar, allow me to hum you a few bars. BeachLife is a first-of-its-kind festival taking place in Redondo Beach, California, from May 3rd through 5th. It’s happening outdoors at Seaside Lagoon, a beachfront park right in the heart of the community. As a bonus, BeachLife will also feature more intimate, acoustic performances from some of the festival’s performers that’ll take place not on a large stage but on-board a handful of the boats that’ll be moored in the adjoining harbor. The artists headlining the festival may not be the first performers that come to mind when you hear “Jim from Pennywise is the creative director of this festival.” Instead, it features some down-right legendary artists from across the musical landscape of the last fifty or sixty years: acts like Willie Nelson, Brian Wilson, Bob Weir, and Ziggy Marley.
We recently caught up with Lindberg over the phone from LA, where he was helping put the final preparatory touches in the lead-up to the festival. We spoke not only about the unique position that he finds himself in as a longtime performer at festivals around the world, but about just how much work went in to getting a massive, three-day festival off the ground. It all started with Allen Sanford, a local promoter who also happens to run the Hermosa Beach club Saint Rocke. “(Saint Rocke) is only about a 300-seater, but (Sanford) also started doing these concerts on the beach for Hermosa Beach, and he had a lot of good bands come down and play for them,” explains Lindberg. “A lot of mellower stuff, like Pepper, Revolution, Everclear…bands that would get by the city council’s purview. They didn’t want any bands like Pennywise coming down and playing, that’s for sure!“
After a decade of putting on such shows in Hermosa Beach, 2019 finds Sanford focusing his efforts on the next beach down the coast: Redondo. They found an ideal venue in Seaside Lagoon, essentially a parking lot located right near what used to be the renowned Fleetwood nightclub that played home to many an early Black Flag/Circle Jerks/X/Germs show nearly four decades ago. The new spot allows for an even bigger event and some bigger artists than its Hermosa Beach predecessors. When it came time to put a lineup together, Lindberg notes that even though Redondo Beach was cool with the festival coming to town, prevailing wisdom was still to tread lightly with the type of acts that would be involved. Explains Lindberg: “Once you get that keystone artist… and for our case, it became Willie Nelson and Brian Wilson – the cool thing is there’s a ton of bands who look up to artists like Willie Nelson and Brian Wilson, and once we got them to open up their schedules and take a chance with this festival, all these other artists started lining up.” Those “other artists” that Lindberg refers to includes a cross-section of artists like Grace Potter, Everclear, Slightly Stoopid, Violent Femmes, Berlin (yes, THAT Berlin) and Chevy Metal, which features Foo Fighters’ Taylor Hawkins. For Lindberg, the hope is to not only continue BeachLife for years down the road, but to bring a little more of his personal musical wheelhouse to the table. “In successive years, if we should be lucky enough to keep doing this,” he notes,”we want to get a lot more edgy bands, some punk bands, on there. We just have to ease into that with the city.”
Lindberg views the BeachLife Festival not only as a way to bring live music back to the South Bay, but to help promote a variety of causes that are near and dear to his heart. Lindberg has long championed the idea of using his platform as a means to raise awareness to issues that effect his local community and lifestyle, most notably when he served on the Board of Directors for the Surfrider Foundation, a charity that’ll be in attendance at BeachLife. “Growing up at the beach and being a lifetime surfer, I definitely wanted it to be a situation where we were giving back to the beach community,” says Lindberg. “We have Surfrider Foundation involved. Also Life Rolls On, which is Jesse Billauer’s foundation for people in wheelchairs and getting them out surfing and into ocean therapy and things like that. Also, Five Gyres, which is involved with reducing the amount of plastic in our oceans, so we have all these great causes we’re working with, and at the end of the day, we’re just trying to put on a really cool festival at the beach with some really great artists and give back to the community.”
Head below to check out our full chat with the great Jim Lindberg – including what it’s like to be in the situation where you have to get the local police department on board with your outdoor festival idea, which is not necessarily the easiest task when you’re the same guy that sang “Fuck Authority.” You can also head here to check out the full rundown on BeachLife, including where to find tickets!