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Summer Meltdown concert kicks out the jams May 21

Yes I Can's 8th annual festival is biggest yet, with 30 bands, big sponsors

Posted: May 8, 2011 9:09 a.m.
Updated: May 8, 2011 9:09 a.m.
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The eighth annual all-ages "Summer Meltdown Concert for Social Inclusion and Autism Awareness," staged by the Hart district's Yes I Can students, will feature more than 30 artists on two stages at Golden Valley High School's 2,000-seat outdoor amphitheater on Saturday, May 21, from noon to 11 p.m.

That's more than the 20 acts that appeared at the May 2010 festival, a near-sellout.

Main 2011 stage headliners include Unwritten Law, Tomorrow's Bad Seeds, and P-Nut of 311 with special guests, plus Chris Young, The Feaver, Wicker, Brian Bell, Bridge 22, The Banjo Boyz, Oh No Not Stereo, Humboldt Squad, and Papa Fish.

Also on the bill performing on the Yes I Can stage: Johnny Strat, Martii of Tha Tooonz, Cisium, Excel Beats, Milky & Patik, Protect the Mona Lisa, Zebra TV, Ryan Beatty, Trewone, Dear Dangerous, Left at the Sun, Wait for Green, The Borrowers, and Walkdown.

The marathon show will be hosted by DJ Soulman, who's deejaying with 311 on the Sublime tour this summer. DJ Head Hype, DJ Peter B and DJ Enik will also provide beats between sets on the two stages. The performance order and set times will be announced shortly before the show.

"This year's Summer Meltdown will be the biggest and most elaborate yet," said Bret Lieberman, program advisor at Golden Valley High School for the nonprofit Yes I Can organization, and Summer Meltdown's de facto executive producer, who added that a few more special guests would be announced as soon as the ink was dry on the contracts.

The Yes I Can program combines students with and without disabilities at Hart District high schools, and staging the annual Summer Meltdown concert is part of the program's practical application of social and other skills students need to succeed in the real world. From 300 to 400 students participate in the festival's planning, promotion and production each year.

Delete - Merge Upbodycopy"Unwritten Law is one of the biggest punk groups from California -- they're also being featured on the Vans Warped Tour this summer," Lieberman said. "Co-headlining are Tomorrow's Bad Seeds, a very up-and-coming reggae group we're honored to have at our event. P-Nut of the band 311 will perform a special bass solo performance with some surprise guests."

Along with an expanded talent lineup -- the 2010 festival featured 20 performers for the same $20 admission -- the concert has a title sponsor for the first time: Galpin Auto Sports, which is covering the cost of bigger sound and light systems.

As part of its sponsorship, Galpin in Valencia is also giving a free Summer Meltdown ticket to any licensed driver who test-drives a vehicle before May 21, Lieberman said.

Galpin's sponsorship is the most substantial to come from a local business in the eight years he and Yes I Can have staged the concert, Lieberman said.

: I kind of went over to Galpin and presented the idea of the concept and what we had built over the last seven years and kind of where we wanted to move forward, and explained that we can't take it to the next step without having a big sponsorship behind us. And I think this is kind of the beginning of the relationship - I think, once they've come to the event, there's gonna be really head-honchos of Galpin, and once they see all the hard work of these students, I can't see why any organization, any sponsor, wouldn't want to jump onboard and help for the future. My goal would be to have 98.7 go, "This is beautiful, let us help you out and help you get five or six bands from our radio roster." You know, Galpin's sitting there going, "All right, this is how we can really also help," and these are things we haven't even thought of, you know, that we can do. So brainstorming with their marketing people and all the intelligent, creative, innovative people has really helped the event itself. One of the things Galpin is doing is, if you go and you test-drive a vehicle, you get a free ticket to the Meltdown.

Southwest Airlines is also a major sponsor, helping to cover travel expenses for non-local artists.

Los Angeles radio station 98.7 FM and the Rockerazzi.com website have helped with on-air ticket giveaways, calendar listings and other pre-promotion for the concert.

"It's been amazing -- we even have past students and people in different places in Orange County calling and saying, like, ‘Hey, I heard the festival on the news.'" Lieberman said.

The top-rated station heard about Summer Meltdown via The Feaver. The rock quartet had been a surprise hit of the 2010 festival and a few months later entered and won 98.7's regional Battle of the Bands, beating 75 other Southern California groups.

Part of the prize was a video shoot, and a member of the crew heard all about Meltdown from the band and altered the station's management. "The program director felt that this festival was something they wanted to support and jump behind," Lieberman said.

The food court will be better this year, he added. "We have Chronic Tacos coming back, and Santa Clarita Lanes is donating 500 hamburgers and hot dogs for the students. We're lining up more food vendors so there'll be plenty of food throughout the day and night."

The 2010 Meltdown was videotaped by students in the TV production class at Golden Valley, headed by Charles Deuschle, This year, student crews from Saugus High under the direction of Wade Williams plus a few pro ringers brought in for the occasion will capture the action on a multi-camera shoot..

Last year's Summer Meltdown drew more than 1,500 concertgoers, and Lieberman expects to sell out this year, thanks to the additional promotion and expanded talent lineup.

"We should have a big, big crowd," he said. "This is definitely the most eclectic mix of music we've ever had, from dubstep DJ's to hip-hop DJ's, from reggae, rock and metal bands to jazz and funk -- we'll have it all."

The Yes I Can students, who call their production company "Sick of Detention Productions," worked harder and smarter to produce this year's festival when the local economy is still recovering from the Great Recession.

Talent takes up the largest share of the budget. "This year it's been really hard, as far as performers really helping out," Lieberman said. "I think everybody is really concerned about taking care of families, and a lot of these artists make a lot of their money from touring and going in these shows, so having them really coming here and performing for free has been really a lot harder this year. Some artists who 100 percent get the cause and get the sponsorships, but they have been a lot harder to come by. The students have been really persistent, though.

"On donations, people have been really supportive," Lieberman said. "Vans just sent us tons of free shoes. The students contacted Southwest Airlines and we have round-trip flights for some of our out-of-town artists. Just small, small steps lead to bigger things. We always thought we would be on the radio, but not like we've been with 98.7 FM this year,"

The nonprofit 501(c)3 Yes I Can program combines students with a wide spectrum of special needs with general-education peer mentors.

"The majority of the special-needs students have a form of autism known as Asperger's syndrome," Lieberman said. "Although often gifted academically, their major area of deficit is their ability to socialize and communicate with peers. So we match them with student mentors without disabilities, and they all discover how music can break down social barriers. Our slogan is ‘unity through music and education.' We're like the ‘School of Rock' meets concert production meets autism awareness."

Producing Summer Meltdown takes most of the school year, and provides the students and mentors many opportunities to improve their social interaction skills and build self-esteem as they work with others to achieve an ambitious common goal none could do alone.

"It's essential to provide these students the opportunity to challenge themselves to work together, and practice the techniques they've been taught through the program," Lieberman said.

Proceeds from pre-concert fundraisers and festival ticket sales cover production expenses, with any surplus benefiting Yes I Can.

For more information and ticket purchase, visit www.summermeltdown2011.com. For sponsorship info, contact Lieberman at (661) 298-8140 ext. 1414 or blieber@hartdistrict.org, or visit www.sponsorthemeltdown.com.

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