Article

Moonshine's Laguna Conspiracy

| posted on July 22, 2010

The Moonshine
Festival —
A
Biased Review

By Chris
Dixon

Ever since
leaving his job as editor of Surfer’s Travel Reports, Will Pennartz
has done pretty well for himself. Two years ago, on wing and a prayer,
he opened up The Surf Gallery in Laguna Beach. Since that time, Will has
held exhibitions of many of the surf world’s best, brightest and most
visionary iconoclasts, photographers and artists. And with his gallery,
the tall boy from New Jersey has filled a hole in Surf Culture that most
of us didn’t even know existed.


Pennartz Chats with Bolton Colburn,
Curator of the Laguna Art Museum

So, what
was next for our surfing/artisting marketing savant? Well, on September
1st and 2nd, Will teamed up with The Moonshine Conspiracy’s
Chris Malloy to create an unprecedented arts and music event called the
Moonshine Festival. This first of what will hopefully become an annual
event blew the minds of the 600 or so who were able to get in the door
of a very cool venue in Laguna Beach called Seven Degrees. The Festival
was held as a benefit for The Surfing Heritage Foundation, a group headed
by Dick Metz and Surfer’s Journal wonderman Steve Pezman to name a few.
The Foundation’s ultimate goal is to establish a world-class stand-alone
surf museum that would house a permanent collection comparable to that
which is currently traveling around the Pacific Rim as the Surf Culture
exhibit. If the Moonshine Festival was any indication of the caliber of
fundraisers that Pez and Metz can expect in the future, I’d say their
goal has a reasonable chance of succeeding.


Chris Malloy Gives the Intro to Steve Pezman

“I would
go and hang at the Surf Gallery with Will,” said Chris Malloy. “I sort
of expressed to him that the guys I work with on my films — the artists,
musicians and surfers — it was sort of sad because they had so much to
offer but there was only so much that we could feature in the films. If
we could bring them all together in an event, we figured the benefit would
be exponential.”

“This was
more about getting people together than about turning a giant profit,”
he continued. “And it just so happened that my honeymoon was to fall on
the same night. If it hadn’t been such a cool event, I don’t think my
fiancé would have agreed to put it off for a few days.”

And it was
a damn cool event. Here, some of the most respected artists and photographers
in the surf world had their work mingled with the music of Jack Johnson,
G-Love, Rocco DeLuca, Donovan Frankenreiter, Ken Garcia and an unbelievable
Australian named Xavier Rudd.

“The one
thing I have to say,” said Malloy, “is that it was unique. Having film,
art and music at the same venue happening at the same time was uniqe.
But it fit so well. We made a real effort so that you could stand in any
part of the room and be involved in the works at any place you were."


John Swift
and Fernie

So what were
the highlights? Well, Scott Soens’ longboard photos were simply sick.
Ben Harper’s brother Peter displayed a few very cool bronze sculptures.
Branden Aroyan had a wall to display photos and the cleverly designed
long-distance paddle surfboards that he, Ross Garrett, Dan and Keith Malloy
used to paddle and surf along the Central California coast for an upcoming
Surfer feature. Dan even auctioned off a handmade, wooden Tom Blake-style
paddleboard that he and his pops made on their ranch in Ojai.


Dan, Ross
and Keith paddled and surfed these
boards along 60 miles of California coast.

From behind
the wheel of his beat up white van, and mobile home, Thomas Campbell always
seems to be in search of life, surf and subject matter. He had an impressive
wall art display and also showed a promo for a longboard film he’s working
on called The Seedling. Keep an eye out for this one, it’s going
to be truly amazing. Also on the walls were works by Norcal’s Barry McGee
and Margaret Kilgallen, and Wolfgang Bloch showed quite a collection of
his stark, striking studies of breaking waves.

Performances
and exhibitions on the second night of the festival included skateboarder
Ray Barbee’s guitar stylings and a folk music gathering with Jon Swift.
There was a preview of Chris and Emmett Malloy’s pending surf film and
then this barefoot Aussie got up onstage. His name was Xavier Rudd, and
he showed up with three didgeridoos, foot drums, harmonica and a slide
guitar. “He’s a kid I met in Australia,” said Malloy, “He came up to me
and was very bashful and humble. He said, ‘It’s so nice to meet you, I’ve
really enjoyed your films’. We had a beer that night and I watched him
play. I was blown away.”


Xavier
Rudd blew the crowd away.

For the first
few minutes of Xavier’s set, the noisy crowd paid him little attention.
But within a few minutes, more and more people began to gather around
the small stage. The background noise diminished as this human force of
nature absolutely ripped through one of the most amazing performances
I have ever seen. Cross Bob Dylan, Midnight Oil, and maybe Arlo Guthrie
and you could get a small hint of this kid’s talent. By his last song,
the place was going nuts. Then came Jack Johnson and G-Love — amazing
of course. They were soon joined onstage by Donovan, who killed it with
an improvised Hendrix tune. Eventually everyone, including Xavier was
onstage jamming. If you weren’t there, I hope these words have done the
show a little justice, because it was frickin’ awesome. Afterwards, people
just shook their heads and smiled.


What Would
you pay a scalper to see Jack Johnson
and G-Love from this far away on acoustics?

In the end,
the that thing that was so terrific, or such a bummer, about the Moonshine
Festival, was its intimacy. On the one hand, it was such a priveledge
to be at the kind of event where Kelly Slater, Jack Johnson, G-Love and
the Malloys could walk around without being accosted by hordes of fans.
On the other hand, a lot of people who would have loved the event simply
couldn’t come because tickets were so scarce. That problem, if you want
to call it a problem, may be partially solved next year if the Moonshiners
and Pennartz are able to hold the event at a larger venue they’ve got
their eye on. I hope so, though if it does go down at a larger space,
folks like Kelly won’t be able to just be part of the crowd. That’s the
price of fame I guess.

Impressive
boys. Can’t wait to see what you come up with next year.

Click
here to visit www.xavierrudd.com
There’s an amazing performance on his multimedia page or MP3′s on his
CD Page.