One year ago this week, the Long Beach Business Journal was kind enough to publish a guest column that I wrote about how “music and Long Beach are inextricably intertwined.” In the piece, I tried to make the case for the community and business benefits of re-doubling our efforts to make Long Beach a true music city – a place where live performances happen every day, often in small and unexpected spaces, and throughout the year on a more grand scale in our streets, in our parks, in our parking lots and even on our rooftops. Our ability to approach that goal with both velocity and staying power took a massive hit this year when Josh Fischel passed away. Josh was a gifted musician and producer, a lover of Long Beach and a man of outsized ambition and accomplishment. As his lovely wife, Abbie, said, “His strength was his ability to make pipe dreams reality.” With Josh’s passing, as with the loss of Ikey Owens, Markus Manley, Mark Bixby, Shaun Lumachi and others in recent years, the challenge is to continue to be inspired by both their accomplishments and their lack of understanding of their limitations long after they are gone.

Justin Hectus (left) and the late Josh Fischel worked hard to bring live music events and festivals to Downtown Long Beach. Hectus co-founded Summer And Music and continues to foster a musical atmosphere in the city, while Fischel organized the new Music Tastes Good (MTG) festival. Fischel died on September 29 just days after his inaugural MTG festival concluded. (Photograph courtesy of Justin Hectus)


In music and community building, we need more doers and we need to create an environment that incubates and encourages doers. We need more programs like the DLBA’s Live After 5 and the Arts Council’s Microgrants so that new artists and producers with new ideas can plug into institutional support and funding. We need more places like The Expo and The Packard so that ambition can team up with four walls and a roof and have a place to blossom. We need more people like Blair Cohn, John Molina, Kraig Kojian, Rand Foster, Casey Terrazas and Michelle Molina who are patrons of and friends to the arts; people who know that sometimes you just have to open the door for a wild idea to help make it happen and other times you need to open your checkbook and take a risk because the upside is worth more than money. We need boots on the ground like my sister, Ashley, Takotah Skye Ashcraft, Gina Dartt and Alyssandra Nighswonger to actually get the job done. And, we need more Tim Grobatys and Brian Addisons to get the word out about what a good thing we have going.


So, as we wind down the year and toast to absent friends and the doers still among us, let us also find inspiration in all that they turned from thought into action and let us do likewise. There is much in this world right now that is maddening and seemingly out of our control – 2017 should be the year when we each do our part to make amazing things happen in our own backyard.


If you have an idea and don’t know where to start, send me a quick message at and I’ll do my best to connect you with other like-minded doers.