Review of Springboard West Festival in Ocean Beach

by on January 14, 2019 · 9 comments

in Ocean Beach

Diamonds & Whiskey from Charlotte, NC performed at the Harp. (All photos by Bob Edwards unless otherwise noted.)

By Bob Edwards

This past week, Ocean Beach hosted Springboard West, a music festival and conference for aspiring artists. Organized by an LA-based company, the festival featured two days of  panels and workshops attended by 50 artists from around the world and culminated on Saturday with a “Band and Brew crawl” at five OB venues.

Hundreds of music fans from San Diego and elsewhere were entertained at the OB Playhouse, Mothers, the Harp, Winstons, and Te Mana by an eclectic mix of artists. The acts that performed work in a  variety of genres such as singer/songwriter, pop, and country-, punk-, and soul-influenced rock acts.

Festival sign at Te Mana

As in most festival settings, it was a challenge to see more than a handful of the acts as all five stages were cooking simultaneously. Short breaks between performers allowed fans time to move from stage to stage or to grab a drink.

Kate Usher and The Sturdy Souls, a duet from Montauk, New York, opened the Mother’s stage at about 2 PM with a well-appreciated set. Ms. Usher, a vocalist graced with a beautiful voice, was backed by gifted guitarist Kevin Angiula and, like many of the artists who were traveling lightly to the event, also relied on some backing tracks to fill out her sound. Although it has always been difficult to get decent sound quality in Mother’s, the band and sound person did a good job of musically filling but not overwhelming the room.

Kate Usher And The Sturdy Souls (picture from the band’s Facebook page)

Another standout performance the OB Rag attended was a set by Kenny Nelson, a Santa Barbara-based vocalist. Mr. Nelson performed a series of fine love songs with touching lyrics that he delivered with a strength and emotion influenced by the likes of Stevie Wonder and Joni Mitchell.

The festival was well organized with each artist starting on time, decent sound, and good beer and wine. Respect and enthusiasm for Ocean Beach was expressed by all the artists and organizers interviewed by the Rag.

Singer Kenny Nelson and accompanist at Te Mana

Julius Robinson, who is part of Springboard West, was the emcee at Te Mana where acoustic singers and duets performed in a laid back setting. He explained to the Rag that Springboard has sponsored seven such festivals in Houston and three years ago decided to bring the concept to San Diego.

In its first year in San Diego the festival was held at the Music Box in Little Italy but last year the promoter moved it to Ocean Beach. Mr. Robinson said, OB is “a perfect neighborhood for what we’re doing”. He explained that over 3,000 artists submitted samples of their music and 50 were selected to participate.

Bar at the OB Playhouse, ground zero for the Springboard Festival

On Thursday and Friday these artists attended panels and workshops on subjects such as “How To Pitch Songs” as well as tech oriented topics and discussions on how to utilize social media in promoting their music. There was no charge to the artists that participated, though they were responsible for their own transportation and lodging in San Diego. Production costs were assumed by Springboard West, investment groups, and vendor sponsors.

Sons of Levin at Winstons

After her set, Ms. Usher spoke briefly with the Rag and said she had taken full advantage of the panels and felt that they provided valuable information to newer artists.

Springboard West seemed to be an enjoyable experience for all. Hopefully it will return to Ocean Beach in future years.

{ 9 comments… read them below or add one }

Geoff Page January 14, 2019 at 1:52 pm

So, this was what caused all the horrific traffic this weekend. The article doesn’t say who brought this to OB. It says an LA-based company but were any of the locals involved in bringing yet another big event to the Peninsula? I know some folks love this kind of thing but not everyone. I remember when all of this stuff happened in the summer and when the summer was over, it ended. Now, it seems like a never-ending procession of events that make it impossible to get around OB. Anyone have any more information on this?


OB Mercy January 14, 2019 at 3:58 pm

Geoff, most of the traffic was due to the soccer tournaments going on at Robb Field. There were hundreds if not more on that field Saturday and Sunday.


Frank Gormlie January 14, 2019 at 6:46 pm

Thanks Mercy.


Geoff Page January 15, 2019 at 1:39 pm

I’m sure that was part of the problem, Mercy, but not sure how anyone could say that most of the traffic was that. I go back to my question and enhance it now. Who was responsible for the music event here in OB and why was it held the same weekend as the big soccer tournament?


ZZ January 15, 2019 at 4:43 pm

When you find out, send them my complements for creating an event that made a lot of people happy.

I didn’t attend, but I support people having fun, listening to music by unsigned bands, and special events in Ocean Beach in general. I also didn’t notice any traffic issues.

The event founder is Barry Coffing, the songwriter for “How do you Talk to Angel,” which I hated when it came out and was briefly played everywhere. I’ve gotten over it though. I still don’t like that song, but other 1990’s power ballads have grown on me, maybe this one will too.

Regarding the soccer event, I overheard a lady saying she drove in from Vegas with her kids for them to attend. Nice to see kids taking athletics seriously rather than being glued to their iPads.


Geoff Page January 16, 2019 at 1:48 pm

So, you want to compliment an event you didn’t attend because it made a lot of people happy? When they burned witches at the stake in Salem, that made a lot of people happy, is that all that’s required for a serious assessment? You didn’t notice any traffic issues? Did you even go out anywhere in OB that day? Well, at least you said you didn’t attend this, where were you? As for kids playing soccer or other athletics, that is some of their time, doesn’t mean they aren’t glued to iPads the rest of the time. By the way, the Albion soccer event tore the crap out of Cleator and Robb fields because it rained hard the day before and they didn’t cancel the event and should have. But, it’s a for profit league, which explains why.


Vern January 16, 2019 at 6:11 am

All these folks could have parked at Sea World and “scootered” their way into OB – solving the “Last Mile” problem.


Frank Gormlie January 28, 2019 at 11:11 am

The OB Rag received the following email: “Thank you so much for your kind words in the article that you wrote about us in the Springboard West Festival. We are writing because we just wanted to clarify something that you wrote. We actually don’t use backing tracks but we produce a song live in front of the audience through the use of a loop pedal, which is what we think differentiates us from the musicians who are using backing tracks. If possible, we would appreciate if you could make that edit. Thanks again for the write-up and great work.” From Kate Usher of The Sturdy Souls.


Bob Edwards January 28, 2019 at 3:59 pm

Hey Kate and Kevin (The Sturdy Souls), Thanks for the correction. Sorry I got it wrong about you using backing tracks. Glad to hear your music in concert is produced totally live. You sounded great! Best of luck, Bob Edwards


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