Despite the changes brought on by pandemic-life, and the rediscovery of outdoor space that came with it, Ocean Beach remains (for the most part) a sparsely populated desert dotted with fishermen, transients, dogs, and the occasional boardshort-wearing-boogie boarder. It has always been the case the the Beach draws a crowd that comes for their own reasons — whether to belong or to disconnect. While looking through some images recently, one such group stuck out to me. Why do musicians seem so attracted to the sprawling dunes of Ocean Beach? Like the rest of us, I’m sure they have their reasons which are more complex than I could describe in a single caption. Below is a series of images over the last two years showing just a few of the musicians I’ve encountered down at the Beach.
Phoebe plays violin in the dunes of Ocean Beach. I met Phoebe while I was riding around the neighborhood, and heard her playing from Great Highway. I wandered over, and after a short bit of conversation asked to photograph her while she played. I enjoy the similarity between her hair and the tufts of grass.
A young man plays drums for an audience near VFWs at Ocean Beach. This was a particularly hot day and the beach was crowded.
A band plays from within a box truck at Ocean Beach on a warm late-summer evening. This group drew a crowd on the promenade.
A man plays trumpet on the beach at sunset in San Francisco. In between winter storms, the clouds opened up to allow for a beautiful sunset.
A group plays a free concert for the neighborhood on La Playa between Judah and Irving. A sweltering day during a pandemic no less, this socially distanced event drew a crowd — as music tends to do at Ocean Beach.