Despite the substantially notable population of half a million city dwellers, the music scene of Long Beach seemingly remains tucked away from view—a veritable hidden gem. While on the surface it may appear to be out of sight, it certainly does not remain out of mind. For those who are curious and unfamiliar of the local music scene, they will find themselves welcomed with enthusiastically open arms by local musicians and fellow supporters of music alike. Even those who are veterans of the music scene, there is an understanding that Long Beach is a place for growth and experimentation. That is what makes Long Beach so notable—it is a wonderfully supportive community of the arts and a strong advocate of DIY culture. Once you take a step into the music community, it is immediately evident that it is not a community quietly tinkering away, but rather its vibrance will prompt you to ask how you ever missed it in the first place.
Throughout the city are venues that will consistently keep you on your toes. From local record stores like Gary Farley’s Third Eye Records on 4th St. to venues such as Alex’s Bar on Anaheim St. is proof that Long Beach is bustling with spaces and events that has something for everyone of all ages. A personal favorite is Rand Foster’s Fingerprints and the numerous live shows that are hosted there. These shows are always open to the public, and RSVPs are usually free unless a pre-order of the artist’s CD or LP is contingent for entry. Fingerprints itself is a delightfully crafted space from its quirky mass of posters decorating the walls to the amiable folks working behind the counter, not to mention the strange mini finger hands that materialize next to the registers every so often. Did I mention that they are also dog-friendly? It was also recently at Fingerprints that I had caught Benji Hughes’ unforgettable show in promotion of his new album, Songs in the Key of Animals.
If you are unfamiliar with Benji Hughes and listened to one of his tracks, you will first note the impeccably melodic and crooning voice of his. When you catch him live, however, you will most likely be caught unawares as you realize, yes, he really is standing before you on stage in an unbuttoned Hawaiian shirt, red tinted sunglasses, and both long hair and beard flowing in the breeze. He is the very definition of a bold eccentric. From songs about being stood up to himself having physically cascaded to the floor, rolling slowly, unable to rise and succumbing to a from-the-floor delivery, you learn to embrace his motto of going with whatever good vibes hit you at the very present moment. And when he croons lyrics like, “If you’re looking for an invitation, you’re gonna wait a long time, wait a long time, wait a long time,” you’re rocked into a groovy tranquility despite the unabashedly unbuttoned Hawaiian shirt flapping before you. The profound Benji Hughes does not end there. After the show I was asked to help “fluff his hair” simply because I was standing within arms length of him. The man oozes great vibes both on- and off-stage, and the great local turnout was on hand to soak it right up.
One of the beauties that is so attractive about this community is the seemingly unending things that are waiting to be discovered. On a weekly and even year-round basis there are always new things to experience, such as the David Bowie Tribute Night that was hosted last month at Que Sera to the relatively new Folk Revival Festival in the late summer. Regardless of what your musical tastes are, the community of Long Beach readily offers itself as a place of inclusion, support, and growth. Oftentimes it is overshadowed by LA’s own music scene, but there is nowhere else that is as personable or as inclusive as this special space that is built and maintained by the local community’s love for music.[adrotate banner=”4″]