On Friday, Oct. 11, festivalgoers will enjoy a single stage at the foot of Newport Avenue beginning at 4 p.m., where there will also be a beer garden. The night’s entertainment will be a Band Slam competition to pick the best cover or tribute band in the area, resulting in $3,000 in prizes. Artists were chosen through several rounds of “battle of the band” contests at Winston’s Beach Club. On hand will be performers like the Elvis Costello tribute group The Distractions, Top 40 band The Big Lewinsky and —just in time for Halloween — Rob Zombie impersonators American Zombie.
On Oct. 12, there will be a full-day event beginning at 10 a.m., featuring two stages. The Main Stage will be hosted by inimitable local personality and crooner Jose Sinatra, and include sets from the Stranger, Hi Roots, Mike Pinto, Sandollar, Jet West, Atlantic Rising and The Routine, along with authentic oompah music between sets, courtesy of The Bavarian Beer Garden Band and The Rey Vinole Oktoberfest Band.
Beer garden admission is limited to those 21 and up. Admission is $3. Funds raised go to help fund the Ocean Beach MainStreet Association and the Ocean Beach Community Foundation.
But Oktoberfest is not just for the grownups. All ages are encouraged to turn out at no cost to soak up a host of oompah bands and entertainers performing on a second Seaside Stage on Abbott Street, featuring Lobster Bob.
Ted Wigler, talent booker at local venues Winston’s and the 710 Beach Club, has been involved with the event’s music component since it’s inception nine years ago.
“At this point, we look for artists that have some sort of local following and, hopefully, a San Diego following,” he said.
Wigler said the decision to expand music to two nights has added a distinctive element to the festival.
“To make it a two-day event, we wanted to do something totally different and off the hook, as well,” Wigler explained. “We wanted to stay away from cover bands on the main day but realized there’s a huge market for cover bands in the San Diego music scene.”
Ariel Levine of the Elvis Costello tribute band The Distractions is an Ocean Beach resident and considers that to be a bonus when playing the event.
“Absolutely. It’s nice to show my neighbors what I can do and it’s flattering to be recognized around town,” he said. “I’ve only played within OB limits a few times and I always look forward to another opportunity. I think this show, whether we win or lose, will be a real accomplishment as an Obecian.”
He said he loves the outdoor nature of the event.
“I love the festival feeling,” Levine said. “I don’t often get to play outside. Every time I do, it’s a blast. Also, I get to come down off the stage and join the festivities, as opposed to hiding backstage at a venue.” He admits, though, that outdoor gigs offer challenges.
“It’s a bit harder to hear clearly as the sound just escapes immediately. Also, wind can be a pain. But it’s a lot more fun,” he said.
Fellow Ocean Beach resident Chris Warner, guitarist for Jet West, agrees.
“There are, for sure, differences between outdoor and indoor gigs,” he said. “Indoor gigs are great because all that energy from the crowd is harnessed within closed doors. But outdoor shows allow you to connect with your surroundings a lot more and enjoy Mother Nature to her fullest.”
The band has opened the event once before.
“We are very thankful to be able to participate in the events like this one,” said Warner. “Being a part of your greater community is what it is all about, and this festival is a great experience.”