BeachLife Festival is postponed; Ziggy Marley shares thoughts on COVID-19
by Mark McDermott and Rachel Reeves
The BeachLife Festival last week announced its postponement due to the novel coronavirus outbreak. The festival, scheduled for the first weekend of May, posted a statement on its social media announcing an indefinite delay.
“It is with heavy hearts, but a strong sense of community that we announce the postponement of the BeachLife Festival in May,” said the statement released March 13. “We are working closely with Redondo Beach city officials and staff to determine the most prudent course of action moving forward with the well-being of our BeachLife fans and staff as the guiding light in our decision-making process.”
“We’re all in this together,” the statement said, “and we’ll all come out of this together.”
Festival co-founder Allen Sanford said in an interview Tuesday that the hope is for the festival to take place “by late summer or early fall” but that everything at present is completely up in the air.
“We don’t know yet,” Sanford said. “One of the hard parts about this is every day we get new information, so none of us knows how to handle this, and nobody is set up economically to know what to do here…. It’s been brutal, man. It’s been really hard on our way of life and on entertainment and restaurant work. Just gnarly.”
Sanford also owns Saint Rocke, which he shuttered two days before LA County ordered all nightclubs closed, as well as the local chain of Rockefeller restaurants. He hopes to host live-streaming shows from Saint Rocke during the period of social distancing.
Artist Ziggy Marley, who was scheduled to perform at the festival along with his brother Stephen in a celebration of their father Bob Marley’s 75th birthday, was philosophical about the turbulence.
“We have to roll with every punch,” Marley said in an interview Tuesday. “This life gives us ups and downs. This is a down. So we just have to get through the downs and get back up. I mean, this is just a part of life…. For a society like, say, America, that has never experienced something like this before — because other countries, where we come from, we have a lot of turmoil, we got a lot of downs, generally speaking, and so we’ve been through things — but for those who have never been through something like this before it’s kind of, you gotta have the attitude that what will be will be. But you gotta do your best and you gotta do whatever you can to make it be as positive as it can because certain things you have no power over, but what you have power over is your own way of thinking. It’s difficult, but it’s mental and the mental part is one of the biggest parts. What’s your mindset? Keep a positive mindset, mon. Humans have been through much worse than this before.”
“People go through much worse than this right now, every day. Just remember that this is not the worst. Don’t believe that. This is not the worst. There’s much worse and people suffer every day, all over the world, so keep it in perspective.”
Redondo Beach Mayor Bill Brand, in an interview the day of the announcement, said the postponement errs on the side of safety.
“It’s a very fast-changing environment, and my general philosophy to our city staff and fellow councilmembers is that I’d rather overreact than under-react,” Brand said. “Not that we have overreacted, but when there is a decision that is border-line, I’d much rather be explaining an overreaction in a couple of months than an underreaction. So I think in the interests of safety and health of everyone, it’s best to take a very conservative approach. It is here, it is spreading, and it will kill people who are susceptible to it.”
Sanford said the festival hopes to keep some of the same artists when new dates are announced, including the Marleys. He said the one silver lining he could thus far see is that BeachLife will have a special resonance when people are finally allowed to come back together to fest. Last year, Sanford said, the festival helped heal the wounds from political fights over the Redondo Beach waterfront; this year, he hopes BeachLife will help people regain a sense of civic togetherness and joy.
“We will need a healer again, so hopefully by the time BeachLife comes around, by late summer or early fall, it’s going to meet a lot of people’s needs,” Sanford said. “We’ll take that responsibility really seriously, kind of giving people something to look forward to.”
Ziggy Marley seconded that emotion. He said this challenging time is a reminder of human connectedness.
“What this thing shows us is that we’re all connected,” Marley said. “Do we know that now? Can we realize that now — that what happens to one human being affects us? Can we realize at this moment in time that this is a lesson to learn, that if we understand that we’re connected we can live a better life on this planet? This is one of the lessons of this situation — it’s that something can happen to someone one thousand, one million miles away and we can be affected because we’re human beings and we’re all connected. How we treat each other, how we care about somebody we don’t even know, is just as important as how we care for somebody that we do know. This is the lesson of this thing: the connection of humanity. Although this is a negative example of it, we can take a positive away from it and move forward in the future to learn that connectivity and to make that connectivity a positive instead of a negative.”ER