On November 4 from 6pm to 10pm, participating Bixby Knolls businesses will be promoting local musicians to encourage more dialogue between the independent artists who perform and the community of Long Beach. That means four hours of countless opportunities to listen to some good jazz, all within a single street.
This is a monthly event, called “First Fridays Long Beach,” and it happens on the strip of galleries, restaurants, and stores along Atlantic Avenue in downtown Long Beach. This historical area, which stretches for about eight blocks from Bixby Road to San Antonio Drive, is a hotspot for local businesses and artistic endeavors, located in one of the most affluent areas in Long Beach, called Bixby Knolls. But the wealth of artistic opportunities and community engagement is hardly reserved for the rich. It all started when Krista Leaders, owner of Chroma Glass Designs, wanted to spread the word about her new business without having to foot the staggering cost of advertising. Knowing there were many local artists looking for places to display their work, Leaders decided to show their work in her store. On the first Friday of every month, the artists would spread the word about Ms. Leaders’s stained glass studio and in turn, she would publicize the artists.
This was in 2006. Now there are more than fifteen businesses in the Bixby Knolls area who are supporting these local artists, and the clientele has extended from painters and photographers to musicians, dancers, comedians, sculptors, DJs, and so on. The monthly event has become so iconic that two mascots have been created to represent the artistic spirit of Atlantic Avenue – the Knolls Ranger and his girlfriend, Bixby Belle. Whether it’s an office, book store, yoga studio, or tattoo parlor, each store promotes at least one musician, painter, or designer. The beautiful thing is that everyone does their part to support the local artists.
Here are the jazz events that will be going on during November’s First Friday. At Bella Cosa Boutique, the beautiful sustainable arts-and-crafts gallery, Hot Club du Bop will be performing their swing jazz. Nino’s Italian Restaurant will be featuring the music of fusion jazz band Four Level Interchange from 7pm to 10pm. At FreeSpirit Yoga, critically acclaimed jazz singer Annie Walsh will be performing tunes from her latest album. At EXPO Arts Center, jazz-funk band Third Perspective will be performing from 7pm to 8pm. While you’re listening to the music, you can also make some awesome skull and skeleton-themed crafts in honor of Día de los Muertos. For more details and a listing of all the other events that will be going on, visit http://firstfridayslongbeach.com/index.html.
Anything goes at a First Friday – you can walk around, talk, look, listen, and enjoy to your heart’s content without feeling any pressure to buy anything from the store. The event is sponsored by the Bixby Knolls Business Improvement Association; call them at (562) 595 0081 or visit their website at http://firstfridayslongbeach.com for directions and other information.