REGION — A pair of local bands will take to the stage on Jan. 12 at one of the most unique music festivals in San Diego County.
Kate Usher & The Sturdy Souls of Encinitas and L.A. Edwards of Carlsbad were selected to perform and participate at the Springboard West Music Festival in Ocean Beach.
While fans and music lovers of all types will enjoy 48 bands starting at 3 p.m. on Jan. 12 at five locations in Ocean Beach, the bands and artists will also engage in a two-day boot camp to network and learn more about the industry and how to grow their careers.
Three thousand bands applied, but only 48 were selected to perform, according to Barry Coffing, founder of the festival. This is the third year for the San Diego version, although it began nine years ago in Houston, which still plays host to an annual festival in the summer.
Proceeds benefit several charities focused on autism. Tickets are $20 each.
“We try to balance the people that are playing,” Coffing said. “We catch people wherever they’re at in the need pool. We try to help as many people we can.”
The boot camp ran on Jan. 10 and Jan. 11, giving those selected bands the chance to showcase their skills. Coffing said the bands are at various stages and picked based on those metrics.
Those include bands who should have a record deal but don’t; those one hit single away from exploding or needing social media work; those who need work; and finally those who are talented but starting from scratch.
Some are nearly ready for bigger events, while others are at the ground level and need guidance and more work before being ready for a deal or tour. In addition, the bands are put on the spot where they must write and perform a song in under two-and-half hours, along with other exercises testing their ability to adapt quickly.
The camp mentors are industry professionals with major credits, such as managing or songwriting for legendary artists like Guns N’ Roses and Taylor Swift, to name a few.
But the ultimate goal, Coffing said, is to be the anti-South by Southwest (SXSW), the legendary Austin, Texas, music festival, which has turned more into a tech and film festival in recent years.
“We felt like they moved on and left a hole in the world,” Coffing said of SXSW. “We tried to get bigger and bigger, but the bigger we got the less good we felt we did for everybody.”
Kate Usher & The Sturdy Souls is a duo consisting of Usher and Kevin Angiulo. They hail from Long Island, New York, having met and formed the group three years ago, and now call Encinitas their winter home.
Angiulo described their sound as alternative pop rock with a reggae influence and they have opened for Paul Simon and Matisyahu. Splitting time between San Diego County and their hometown of Monrauk, New York, the duo aims to grow their base and reach, even if it’s one person at a time, Usher said.
With the festival, the duo said the opportunity to reach influential producers and industry insiders is a driving force.
“We started as a cover band, then started writing together and traveling together,” Usher said. “It’s been an interesting ride. A lot of ups and downs.”
L.A. Edwards, meanwhile, was also formed three years ago by Harrison, 25, and Luke Andrew Edwards, 31. The brothers originally hail from Lake Cuyamaca near Julian, but call Carlsbad home now. The Americana rock band, Harrison Edwards said, plays a style influenced by Jackson Browne and The Eagles.
The festival is an opportunity to break through barriers, and is also a launching point for this year, Edwards said. Their schedule is full of national festivals and the band is also coming off a major milestone, landing a track in the movie “Overboard,” starring Anna Faris and Eva Longoria.
“It’s just like classic American music,” Edwards said. “This kicks off a very strong year for us. It’s definitely our strongest foot forward.”