From dozens of concerts to seminars and guest speakers, this two-day conference is a music-lover’s dream
By Logan Broyles | SDUN Reporter
The San Diego Music Thing is an annual two-day music conference and festival, held this year on Sept. 14 and 15 at the Lafayette Hotel in North Park. With the aim to enrich the local music community through discussion panels and guest speakers, the festival also features dozens of live performances by local and national bands.
The festival is organized by the San Diego Music Foundation, a North Park nonprofit founded in 1991 to make music performance accessible to children of need throughout San Diego County. The Foundation also facilitates the annual San Diego Music Awards.
“The [Music Thing] conference is a great opportunity for musicians and others in the music community to learn more about the industry on a national level, not just what happens here in San Diego,” said Kevin Hellman, president of the San Diego Music Foundation. “The Lafayette Hotel is a historic property and is located in a great spot for this event, since many of our evening music festival venues are also in north Park.”
During the day, there will be guest speakers, a trade show, happy-hour parties, listening stations, pop-up live performances and interactive roundtable discussions with renowned panelists and speakers from throughout the music industry.
Special guests include rapper and founding member of Public Enemy, Chuck D. There will also be instructional workshops for students of the music business, covering topics like “How to Pitch Your Band,” “The Business of Touring” and “Lawyers, Guns and Money.”
During the evening, over 150 bands will perform at 14 venues around town, including Bar Pink, Soda Bar, Eleven, The Casbah, U31, The Whistle Stop and the Tin Can Ale House.
Performing bands include Dead Feather Moon, Family Wagon, Ghetto Blaster, Gregory Page, Jamuel Saxon, Low Volts, Erika Davies, Pinback, Retox, Sculpins, The Heavy Guilt, The Howls and The New Kinetics.
Playing the Music Thing for the first time as a group is Hills Like Elephants, fresh off winning the award for Best New Artist at this year’s San Diego Music Awards.
“As a local artist, it’s always nice to be involved in any sort local festivities, especially when they’re incorporating touring acts from out of town as well,” said Sean Davenport, lead singer of Hills Like Elephants.
Saying they planned on making their performance a “big night,” Davenport was coy about what the band had planned. “There will be lots of energy, lots of sweat, lots of whiskey and a couple of surprises. We may bring some new accessories and toys for effectual purposes,” he said. “It will be epic.”
Davenport is not the only local musician that is excited to be a part of the festival.
“Watching the event grow over the last few years and bring in bigger and better bands definitely makes it a cool thing to be a part of,” said John Cooper, guitarist and lead singer of the Howls. The Howls will be playing a set at Bar Pink on Sept. 15.
“Tim Mays of Casbah fame asked us to play and pretty much every show we’ve done that he’s been involved with has been amazing.”
Playing a set at U31 on the first night of the festival, Sept. 14, is local band The Heavy Guilt.
“Our band is thoroughly invested in the local music scene and this event is a great opportunity to get to play with our friends and to catch a little knowledge about the music industry,” said Alfred Howard of the Heavy Guilt. “Also, The San Diego Music Foundation is doing great things to expose the youth to music and that’s something we can get behind.”
In its fifth year, the San Diego Music Thing was created as a way to allow fans and industry insiders to come together and share their passion for the local music scene.
Originally called North X North Park, Hellman said the idea for the festival came from the Foundation’s board of directors who wanted an annual conference where “musicians and others” could attend, learning from professionals who would attend from across the nation.
Highlighting several of the panel topics, Hellman said the festival was also a good way to incorporate “local, regional and national acts” into several North Park establishments. “For one price, you can get into every venue to see quite a few bands,” he said. “People should get out and see something they have never heard before.”
Single-day and two-day access passes can be purchased online or at the event. The Lafayette Hotel is located at 2223 El Cajon Blvd., and for the full list of venues, music performances and seminar schedules visit sandiegomusicthing.com.