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Surf music fest a dream realized for local artist

LEUCADIA — Mike Schmitt didn’t exactly ride into town on horseback like in an old western movie. More like on a surfboard carrying a ukulele.
The native of Long Island, N.Y., arrived in San Diego in 2007, and moved to Cardiff in 2008. He finally unpacked his bags when he settled in Leucadia in January.
“Leucadia is basically that place in San Diego County I knew existed that was perfect for me,” he said. “It took a while to find it. All the people doing arts have been super supportive.”
Schmitt graduated from the University of Notre Dame in 2006 with a major in liberal arts and great books.
“I was always passionate about the spoken word — literature and poetry.” He credits his neighbor, a student at UCSD, with introducing him to poetry slams.
Assuming the nom de plume “Ruthless Hippies,” Schmitt became part of the local arts scene by running monthly poetry nights such as the open mic Freak for All at the E Street Café and the Poetry Rukas at Ducky Waddle’s.
Volunteering at the last Leucadia ARTWalk was a turning point.
“I was responsible for the stage,” Schmitt remembers. “It was an unfulfilled goal of mine to do music events. I was thinking of hosting a night of surf music. Then I met artist Artie Mattson and she told me about her twin sons, Jared and Jonathan Mattson, the Mattson2.”
Schmitt said the jazz duo came on board.
“They are highly regarded by fellow musicians and were the key to getting other groups,” he said.
That included the Duo-Tones, featuring original surf rock guitar legends Gil Orr and Paul Johnson aka “Mr. Moto.”
Also Skid Roper aka “Man of Mystery” and Laramie Dean who used to play with Dick Dale.
The culmination of Schmitt’s efforts will occur this weekend and next with Leucadia’s first Summer Fun on the 101: A Festival of Surf Music.
The three-day event will kick off at 6:30 p.m. Aug. 20 at Lou’s Records with a set by the Mattson2.
The music will continue at noon Aug. 21 at Surfy Surf’s with entertainment provided by Red Tail Foxes, Glen and The Boys, the Duo-Tones, Seth Petterson, Mattson2 and Laramie Dean.
Concurrently groups will be performing at Revolution Bike Shop including Tod Day Walt’s Pigpen, Blues Dawg, Soul Journ, Skid Roper and the Shadow Casters and Field Trip.
The festival will end on at Ducky Waddle’s on Aug. 27 with a performance by Jon Swift and Seth Pettersen.
“Leucadia storefronts had a hard summer financially this year,” Schmitt said. “Local businesses have rallied for the concert by donating the venues, money and raffle prizes.”
Raffle prizes include sunglasses from Raen Optics, glass art from Bloomberg and flowers from The Plant Lady. There will also be gift cards from Le Papagayo, Shatto & Sons, Sub Palace and the E Street Café.
Other sponsors include Green Decade Entertainment, 454 Tattoo, Falcon’s Surfboard Shop, Swell Stuff, Embellishments, Uncle Duke’s Bar, the E Street Café and PR for Progress Cooperative.
A percentage of proceeds will benefit the Paul Ecke Central School Friendship Garden, which Russell Levan uses to teach kids concepts from conservation to math.
Schmitt works during the day as a lifeguard at Moonlight Beach, but is optimistic about his future as a concert promoter.
“Hopefully next year this will turn into a really legitimate thing,” he said.
Joel Moody is a Cardiff native and owner of Revolution Bike Shop.
“Mike is definitely changing things,” he said. “This is good for the community.”
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