Nothing beats free.
And the people at the Mortimer Levitt Foundation understand that – that’s why they’re giving Angelenos, Pasadena residents and anyone else who wants to drive out the opportunity to see a long list of bands for free. Starting June 18 until Sept. 4, a whopping 100 concerts will take place in MacArthur Park in Los Angeles and Memorial Park in Pasadena.
But this isn’t just any free series of concerts. Despite the fact that the concerts are completely free, a lot of work goes behind making the shows happen.
For Eddie Cota, Artistic Director of the program, the process behind choosing bands is one of utmost importance. Cota attends many music conferences, watching showcases and getting a feel for all the bands out there. Attendees, therefore, can rest assured that the musicians at these concerts aren’t just a random conglomeration of bands who had nothing else to do in their free time and no other venues to grace with their presence.
“I choose artists I believe in for the community,” says Cota.
And as he points out, the Levitt Foundation must compete to get the artists to perform for them, just like any other venue.
“We are a credible concert venue. We compete with other venues for the same talent. It’s cool that we got all these artists,” adds Cota.
Not only acting as a venue for performers to expand or kickstart their careers, the Mortimer Levitt Foundation is also extremely focused on the community. The foundation was created by Mortimer and Mimi Levitt back in 1966 and focuses on raising funds to provide surrounding communities more exposure to music. This is the ninth season for the Pasadena concerts and the fifth season for the Los Angeles concerts, making the events something huge for surrounding communities and music lovers everywhere. The foundation is non-profit and raises money year-round, which means that the artists get paid what they deserve for their performances, along with exposure to hundreds of music lovers.
What’s more, Cota is personally invested in each band he chooses and is not afraid to take risks.
“I have the opportunity to be creative, I don’t have the pressure to sell tickets. I can book new and exciting things and shock our audience and introduce it to something new,” says Cota.
Something new can come in many forms and styles, one of which is powerful trio Girl in a Coma. Playing a show at Memorial Park on Thursday, June 30 at 8 p.m., Girl in a Coma was first discovered by Joan Jett and signed to her label, Blackheart Records. Lead singer and guitarist Nina Diaz says the band loves booking as many shows as possible, and a free show sounded even better.
“We wanted to help out as much as we can,” says Diaz.
Describing the band’s sound as “alternative but punk” with a “Texas style,” Diaz wants attendees to enjoy the show, for whatever reason they might attend.
“We definitely want [the audience] to have a great experience ... people go to shows to get away from their jobs and their problems, to see people and have a good time, turn it off. Have a beer and chill out,” she says.
But don’t be fooled by the relaxed vibe that might come across from the concerts. The artists are veritable, some of them even having been nominated for Grammys. Cota strongly feels that these free concerts takes the top spot on the music programs in Los Angeles and hopes that they will continue for as long as possible.
“It’s gonna go on forever. We want to grow and grow and have our artists get better and better. The summer isn’t enough. People love free shows and great music.”
The concerts are sure to liven up any lazy summer, or as Diaz aptly puts it: “Instead of taking a nap, why not go see a free show?”
For more information, visit levittpavilionpasadena.org.
100 Free Concerts: Now-Sept. 4 @ MacArthur Park and Memorial Park
Nothing beats free.