Santa Monica Lookout
Main Street Santa Monica Gets Ready to Bare Its Soul
By Jason Islas
August 24, 2013 -- For the 13th year running, Main Street Santa Monica is getting ready for its annual street festival that celebrates the mile-long stretch of road, lined with boutiques, bars, restaurants and coffee shops just a stone's throw from the beach.
The Endless Summer SOULstice kicks off Saturday with a sidewalk sale along Main Street -- south of Pico Boulevard -- and finishes up Sunday with four stages that will host a wide variety of live music, ranging from a "country punk" act to a Bob Dylan tribute band called “Highway 61 Revisited.”
While the entertainment and sales alone usually draw crowds, for Gary Gordon, the executive director of the Main Street Business Improvement Association, the festival is about celebrating Main Street's unique charm.
“It has the feel of a street that isn't big-box stores, that's close to the beach and nestled between neighborhoods,” said Gordon, who has been with the Association for nearly two decades.
Though it may feel like a quaint, small-town thoroughfare complete with slow traffic, plenty of bikes and constant streams of pedestrians, Main Street certainly isn't provincial, said Gordon.
There's Mexican food, Irish bars, high-end cafes, a gourmet European deli, a place to stop for wine and tapas, a community garden and Santa Monica's last used bookstore just off the main drag. ("Santa Monica's Last Used Book Store Thrives the Old-Fashioned Way," March 11)
Main Street's a place where visitors can find stores that sell original clothes, go to the gym -- or yoga class -- and even drop in at a juice bar on the way home.
“It's got this tremendous variety,” he said. “There are a lot of places to hear music. Some places are having comedy in the evening.”
The annual SOULstice celebration is meant to remind residents and visitors alike about the resource they have right in their back yard, said Gordon. And it's about bringing that community together in that realization.
While it can be a tremendous undertaking, he said, organizing the event is always worth it.
“Last year, I was exhausted,” Gordon said. But, he recalled, in the midst of the celebration, looking around and suddenly feeling elated.
“I saw people laughing; I saw people dancing,” he said. “I thought, 'This is what it's all about.'
“We want people to have a good time,” he said.
To that end, Gordon and his team have scheduled nearly 20 different bands to play on the festival's four stages Sunday.
The lineup includes some of the festival's staples like the Bob Seeger tribute band Turn the Page and The Rising, a tribute to Bruce Springsteen. The Neil Deal -- a tribute to Neil Young -- will play along with Petty Theft, paying homage to Tom Petty.
Sunday's performances will also feature Moose, “a band of elementary and middle-schoolers who have been playing around LA for the past 3 years,” organizers said.
Moose will perform covers by some of the of rocks biggest stars, including Jimi Hendrix and Deep Purple.
For more information about the SOULstice festival, including Saturday's street sale, stage locations and performance times, visit mainstreetsm.com.
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