SM PIER — The 25th Annual Twilight Dance Series is combining social action with songs tonight, bringing two music acts to the pier known for their dedication to community service in honor of the Surfrider Foundation’s 20th anniversary.
Founded in Malibu, the Surfrider Foundation works to protect the world’s oceans and beaches through the preservation of beach and water ecosystems. It is fitting, then, that both bands performing tonight contain members who have grown up living near or surfing along the Southern California coast.
Headlining the night is Venice. Named after the city they call home, Venice is made up of four cousins from the Lennon family.
“We’ve all grown up together and singing together,” said Kipp Lennon, one of the band’s lead singers. “Traveling with our families, going on vacations with 10 people in a station wagon, it trained us to be in a band.”
Venice formed in 1977 and over the years has gained a following not only in Los Angeles but also in Europe. Its sound is often described as Southern California rock in the style of the Eagles or the Beach Boys.
“We’ve developed a really nice following in Europe, especially in the Netherlands of all places,” Lennon said. “Over there they really love what they call West Coast music, the Southern California sound.”
The Lennons are best known for their four-part vocal harmonies, which they alter to fit whatever new direction they take their music.
Venice likes to make all its concerts unique, often playing cover songs of other popular rock tunes and creating an energy with the audience.
“It’s a very communal feeling at our shows,” Lennon said. “It’s more like a big party that we create together. It’s a really high-energy partying show where by the end people are dancing and going crazy.”
While music is important to the band’s members, they also take the time to get involved in the community they’ve grown up around. When they’re not working on new albums, they also work with a non-profit called Artists for the Arts, which helps raise money for arts programs in public schools.
As a part of this program, Venice performs yearly at Santa Monica High School with Samohi students and well-known artists such as Jackson Browne.
“It’s really a blast,” Lennon said.
Venice will be joined by Luke Nelson and the Promise of the Real.
A new band that released its first EP this May, members have taken their own love of surfing to the next level by working with Surfers Healing, an organization that uses the water and surfing as a healing method for autistic children.
“A big part of our band is activism and giving back,” said drummer Anthony Logerfo. “The way we look at things is we definitely like to play music, but with our music we like to spread joy and change.”
Lead singer Luke Nelson has also worked with the real Patch Adams and acted as a hospital clown in Cuba.
The band’s sound combines electric with acoustic, drawing influence from Jimi Hendrix and Neil Young. This summer the band is touring for the first time, performing with other musicians such as the Dave Matthews Band and Willie Nelson, before recording its first full-length album.
For Venice, playing in Santa Monica is a homecoming and a welcome break from touring.
“Some of our earliest memories of the beach were parking just south of Hot Dog on a Stick and hanging out there with all of our family in the ‘60s,” Lennon said. “We tour all around the world, but there’s nothing in the world like doing that show up there on the pier.”