The Return of La Izquierda to Galveston

La Izquierda surf and music festival is back after a two year hiatus.
La Izquierda surf and music festival is back after a two year hiatus. Photo by Samantha Wiley
Galveston’s only surf and music festival is back. After a two-year hiatus due to the pandemic, La Izquierda is back for a full day of fun on the beach. La Izquierda will take place on Saturday, May 7 at Menard Park.

The event is free to attend and there will be beer from sponsor Galveston Island Brewing available as well as local food vendors on site.

In 2020, founder Robert Kuhn and his team were setting up to move La Izquierda from its previous location at Jimmy’s on the Pier to the public park, requiring a series of city permits and higher level of organization than previous years.

As the pandemic came and forced everything to shut down, the next two years did not allow for Kuhn and his team to comfortably plan anything as the waves of COVID came and went affecting everyone’s sense of normalcy and safety.

“It's been quite the experience this year and it's coming together which is pretty cool,” says Kuhn of the return of this beloved Galveston event.

Since its inception in 2018, La Izquierda sets out to be part surf competition and part music festival while engaging the Galveston community and celebrating the local flavor of the Island.

The surf competition is a longboard event with four divisions; women, men, children and stand up paddle boarding. Enrollment to compete is $50 and all the cash will be divided up among the first, second and third place winners.

“It’s all about style and it’s just to have fun,” says Kuhn of the judged surfing competition. In years past La Izquierda has awarded surfing trips but this year they are taking a different approach. “We are going to do a straight up cash prize. Everybody could use some bucks now. Any good surfers out there, bring it. Now’s your chance.”

Like previous years the music also takes center stage during the full day event boasting a full lineup of bands mainly from the Houston and Galveston area but also from Austin, Los Angeles and Louisiana.

The lineup includes Rich O’Toole, Rusty De La Croix, Deltaphonic, Wi’deya, Justin Stewart, Juan Mendez, Indaskies, Texas Skesis, Dreadneck, Darwin's Finches, Allen Oldies Band and Kuhn’s own project, Galvezton.

“There really is a lot of cool stuff going on,” says Kuhn of Galveston’s thriving arts and music community. “It’s such a small town and the people that have been here for a while all know one another.”

“It’s great because there are so many artists and musicians around here that have been doing it for a while. Everybody that has been playing music with one another are I think just feeding off of one another and learning new things from one another. It’s cool what's going on in Galveston right now, a lot of different styles.”

Kuhn and his team set up the festival so that the music is not coming from the classic, conch shaped stage in the park but from a stage they are building just for the event which will make the music audible to surfers and beachgoers throughout the day.

Kuhn describes hearing the Allen Oldies Band this past March at SXSW and knowing immediately that they would be a good fit for the event. “As soon as they hit that first note and the beat I was like, whoa. These people need to come to La Izquierda.”

Allen Oldies was also part of the lineup during the Save The Locals Summer Concert Series, also held in Menard Park and organized by Kuhn and his team. Proceeds from this years La Izquierda will benefit the upcoming Save The Locals series scheduled for this summer.

“It was really sweet,” says Kuhn of the Summer series which came about as a kind of alternative to La Izquierda.

“People just loved it because it was safe for everybody, nobody had seen each other for a long time and the community was really happy to get together. Every week more people came and everybody started bringing different stuff to contribute because it was all free, we couldn't sell anything.”

“You have to start planning these things a good 6 months in advance and at that time it was still questionable what the state of the world was going to be in so it was hard to make any traction with the idea of throwing a music festival,” says Kuhn of the past two years of ups and downs in planning La Izquierda.

Kuhn says he and his team constantly receive messages and inquiries about the festival's future which led them to bite the bullet and try to pull it off yet again.

"This year I felt if we didn't do it, it was going to fizzle out. So far it looks like the best year ever. We are all just amazed at how great everything is coming together.”

La Izquierda will take place on Saturday, April 7 at Menard Park, 27 and Seawall.  Event begins at 10 a.m. and is free attend.  $50 surf competition registration fee for those who wish to compete.
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Gladys Fuentes is a first generation Houstonian whose obsession with music began with being glued to KLDE oldies on the radio as a young girl. She is a freelance music writer for the Houston Press, contributing articles since early 2017.
Contact: Gladys Fuentes