By Jen Lothspeich
Music festival looks to bring artists, mentors and fans together
As its name suggests, the Springboard West Music Festival aims to catapult emerging talents to the next level of music-making when it comes to town Jan. 11-13, but it is not for the casual player.
Emerging artists are selected from all over the world to perform at the festival — not just for San Diegans — but for industry professionals who have worked with top talents. Plus, with a two-day “Band Bootcamp,” participants also receive guidance from those qualified mentors and get the chance to perform for them.
The Springboard Festivals started in Houston, Texas, in 2012; last year, they ventured into a new frontier with a sister event named Springboard West in San Diego and are returning for three days of fun this month in Ocean Beach.
The festivals’ founder, Barry Coffing, who has written No. 1 hit songs and placed over 200 tracks in movies and television, has a passion for helping artists who are ready to get serious about their music careers.
Starting with 800 submissions from bands hoping to play the festival, Coffing and his team had to narrow it down to their top 40 selections.
Coffing said that originally, they set out to represent all genres equally, but soon realized the entries themselves led them in another direction.
“We found that our third-best blues artist wasn’t as good as our 20th-best rock artist,” he said. “So, we quit doing that. We just started saying, ‘We’re gonna be genre-agnostic.’”
As a result, the lineup for this year’s Springboard West is a mixture of talents including those that play indie rock, hard rock, pop, and Americana, along with many singer-songwriter types.
While at the festival on Thursday, Jan. 11, and Friday, Jan. 12, musicians will spend their days attending panels and participating in “Moment of Truth” sessions, which might sound intimidating but are invaluable to burgeoning artists.
Coffing said short performances put the bands in front of people like himself along with other music supervisors and industry professionals, with a chance to perform a minute of a song and get feedback.
“You think you’ve got a radio single? OK, here we go,” Coffing said of the on-the-spot pressure for these performances. “We’re not there to be their friends. We’re there to tell them the truth.”
Of course, this festival is not just for those in the industry as the bands also come to play for the San Diego music crowd. Each of the festival dates offer lots to locals who want to discover up-and-coming artists and enjoy supporting local businesses and charities.
Springboard West’s local planning manager, Heather Hudson — who also owns San Diego’s Revolt Wine Co. — said her business’ ideals just happened to fall right in line with Springboard’s goals.
“This is exactly what Revolt stands for,” Hudson said. “Revolting against anything holding you back and going after your dreams. By partnering with Springboard, I’m able to put that mission into action and help make an impact.”
With the bands in place, Hudson was tapped to enhance things with a local flavor.
“One of my biggest goals for Springboard this year is to connect, involve and make a positive impact on the local community,” she said. “I wanted to loop in local businesses including beverages, food, artists, fashion and nonprofits.”
Following the two-day “Band Bootcamp” with the participating bands, the public will also get to experience the fruits of Hudson and Coffing’s labors, as they are welcomed to the OB Theatre. There, the festival musicians will take part in unplugged performances, with these ticketed events also featuring an art show, a fashion element and craft beverages – as Hudson had hoped.
All proceeds from the unplugged show’s $10 ticket price will go to two local nonprofits that work with kids with autism — The Autism Tree Project Foundation and The Pioneer Foundation.
Hudson will be pouring her Revolt wines — which will also be available for purchase at these events — while local craft beer companies Amplified Ale Works, Karl Strauss, Mike Hess Brewing Company and others serve up the suds.
In addition, local artists Thomas Condry, Hannah Kazik, and Jack Stricker will display their work and SAAS Streetwear will also showcase their wares — all for perusing while the crowds enjoy the bands’ stripped-down sounds.
While these local aspects and other types of art come in to play the first two days of the festival, the last is strictly for music lovers.
The festival’s finale — dubbed the Band and Brew Crawl — is on Saturday, Jan. 13, and will feature the 40 bands and musicians chosen for Springboard, all performing at four venues around Ocean Beach: Winston’s, OB Theatre, The Harp and Mother’s Saloon.
With unique artisans, craft libations, performances by emerging bands, and the chance to support nonprofits — Springboard is a win for music fans. And with music industry insiders offering insight to the bands selected to attend, it offers them a priceless stepping stone in their musical journey.
— Jen Lothspeich is a wine-drinking, cat-cuddling native San Diegan who dreams of writing a best-selling true crime novel. Find her on Twitter at @Jen_Evel.