The Carlsbad Music Festival begins playing a new track after the departure of founder Matt McBane
For music aficionados in San Diego who thought something was missing this summer, the three-day Carlsbad Music Festival has been rescheduled from its usual August timeslot into the fall.
The festival’s founder and artistic director, Matt McBane, will also be absent when it returns on Saturday as a lightened one-day event. It will belong to the participants of the 18e edition — on the lawn of St. Michael’s Chapel in Carlsbad —– to decide if anything else is missing.
The six-act lineup of local favorites includes blues singer Whitney Shay, the New Orleans-style Chunky Hustle Brass Band and the all-female Sabrosas Latin Orquesta. The psychedelic soul group from San Francisco Monophonics will close the evening.
“We want to try to keep the festival what it has always been – and that is to have regional and local artists,” said Ahmed Dents, the event’s new general manager. “We want to stay in the same vein, but still keep the festival primarily on a local or regional level.”
Carlsbad Music Festival Board Chairman Bryan Meath confirmed, “That’s what I think.”
McBane founded the festival in 2003 to showcase what he called at the time “adventurous beachside music”. Past festivals have featured fearless musicians such as: Pakistani singer/songwriter Arooj Aftab (2021); Iranian kamancheh player Niloufar Shiri (2019); Irish classical composer Donnacha Dennehy and classical violinist Johnny Gandelsman (both 2018); and electronic magician/singer Julia Holter (2017).
Is the festival still committed to presenting adventurous music by the beach?
“We all love that mantra,” Meath said. “We all want to continue that tradition and become a little more stable, a little bigger and more involved with Carlsbad.”
The festival’s website states that it promotes and supports: “Emerging musicians, established masters and obscure innovators”.
Will this continue in the future?
“You know, I can’t fully answer that question.” Meath replied “I don’t know where we’ll end up on this spectrum. There is nothing in this year’s lineup that is classic. But we intend to bring that back. And we are very open to artists who are more on the margins.
Veteran Adams Avenue Street Fair talent buyer Steve Kader has been hired to book the acts for this year’s Carlsbad Music Festival.
“We’re definitely not old-school rock ‘n’ roll,” Meathe said. “We have a New Orleans marching band, blues, Afro-beat, salsa and psychedelic soul.
Spread out in all directions
Dents is a former KIFM Smooth Jazz 98.1 radio DJ and a longtime member of the recently closed San Diego Repertory Theater. He hopes next year’s Carlsbad Festival will return as a three-day event in August.
The organization’s occasional Eclectic Lawn concerts will be reinstated. Meathe and Dents said they plan to perform other small concerts throughout Carlsbad Village, in partnership with nonprofit organizations and retail establishments.
The change in date and length of this year’s festival was due to institutional issues and scheduling difficulties, Dents noted.
“The bottom line was that we had dates in mind that conflicted with other Carlsbad events,” the San Diego native said. “We have made a good neighborly decision to avoid interfering with other events.
“Because we’re only doing one day this year, we want to expand the vibe, get the musical tone,” Dents said. “Despite the lack of (several) days, we can provide a great experience for people. We also want to attract new guests from surrounding communities. It’s a Carlsbad event, but we also want to make it a regional event.
After working part-time at a few Carlsbad festivals, Dents accepted a freelance contract position this spring while remaining employed full-time at the San Diego rep. Shortly after the theater closed, he became the administrator of Carlsbad’s newly renamed Dea Hurston Fellowship Program. New Village Arts Center.
“We hired Ahmed not to replace Matt but to fill the position of general manager. It’s not the same role. Meath explained. “I can’t (discuss) Matt, other than that he decided to go in a different direction.”
“I hope a big part of Ahmed’s contributions will be his relationships with important arts organizations and artists in San Diego, as well as here in the village.”
Meathe has lived in Carlsbad since 2004, largely in the village.
“We have enjoyed watching it grow and prosper over the years,” he said. “I see the footprint of what I would call the village stretching out in all directions – except to the west.”
Saturday 18e The annual Carlsbad Music Festival will have food trucks rather than food stalls. It won’t have the craft market or the multiple stages of years past.
“I don’t think we deliberately went in a different direction,” Meathe said. “It is the result of circumstances. This year’s festival will be different. Next year will be more like years past.
Festival founder McBane on his way out
Violinist/composer Matt McBane founded the Carlsbad Music Festival in 2003. Now based on the East Coast, he will release his new album, ‘Bathymetry’. November 4.
On October 6, McBane addressed his departure from the festival on social media, writing, “Earlier this year I resigned as Founder and Artistic Director of the Carlsbad Music Festival and have no affiliation with the organization in its new incarnation. ..
“The new Carlsbad Music Festival has nothing to do with me or my legacy and I have nothing to do with it. My legacy is the 18 years of the Carlsbad Music Festival under my artistic direction: memories of the festival that people have shared with me since I went public with my resignation; the collaborations that have emerged between festival artists; the musical discoveries made by the public; and the community fostered by the festival.
18e Annual Carlsbad Music Festival
When: 1 p.m. – 9 p.m. Saturday
Where: St. Michael’s by the Sea, 2775 Carlsbad Blvd., Carlsbad (all outdoor concerts)
Tickets: $35, free for children 12 and under, but must have a ticket. VIP tickets available
On line: carlsbadmusicfestival.org
Wood is a freelance writer.