Eight years ago, Freddie Dilworth found himself feeling ecstatically intimidated.
The Cypress native had been playing the guitar for a few years in his city, which admittedly didn’t have much going on in terms of a local music scene. Through word of mouth at the community college, he learned about the small but teeming open mic scene at Portfolio Coffeehouse. That was his introduction to Long Beach.
“I still remember going on stage and shaking the whole time,” Dilworth, 28, recalls. “As small as it might’ve been, it was like a utopia for me. There was so much talent, I couldn’t believe it. I would’ve paid 15, 20 bucks to see any of these people perform.”
Today, with local musician friends Rob Graveley of Bearwulf and Tyler Berg of These Are Villains, Dilworth is working to crank up the exposure on these very artists with their new project called Long Beach Compilations. Over the next year or two, the group plans to release a series of mixtapes showcasing local music by genre, including hip hop, electronica and acoustic.
Their goal is to proliferate the talent stemming from Long Beach: they are raising money to produce 500 physical copies, including 100 cassette tapes, and make them available in record stores across the neighboring O.C. and L.A. and eventually across the country.
“We want to see how many people can connect with us on a national level,” he says. “In a year from now, I would like to see people in Brooklyn talk about the compilations coming from Long Beach."
The first release, Mixtape Vol. I, features tracks from 15 rock-oriented bands that call Long Beach home, including Freeman’s Dead, Karl?, Mr. Moonshine, Thy Squid and The Vespertines. The three founders’ bands are included as well. Dilworth, who plays lead guitar for The Barrelhousers, says this first mix of selected bands represent groups that have inspired them and are “near and dear” to them, those that have been active in the scene for some time.
“It’s exciting to feel like we can put in all this work to help elevate not only our own art but everyone around us,” he says. “I want more community awareness — people need to be aware of how many wonderful bands are coming from Long Beach right now.”
Other ideas for Long Beach Compilations are already brewing, from creating a YouTube channel with interviews and live sessions with featured musicians, teaming up with local studios and organizing a festival with multiple stages.
While the trio is leading these efforts, they hope that their community will help fund this project. For their series of shows featuring the select bands at 4th Street Vine, a number of local businesses on Retro Row have donated about $300 worth of raffle items.
Following his initial brush with the open mic scene, Dilworth quickly found a home in Long Beach. He also plays lead guitar for MOVE, a prolific rock group widely considered to be Long Beach’s community band. The Barrelhousers is in the midst of recording its first full-length studio album after nearly eight years of playing together.
“Even though there’s a lot of talent, not enough people leave Long Beach,” he says. “It’s a great thing to have such a supportive community, but it becomes very safe and we stay stuck in our community. The compilation, I hope, is gonna be a wonderful opportunity for us to start breaking out. It’s gonna put the spotlight on Long Beach."
Mixtape Vol. 1 is available for digital downloads at longbeachcompilations.bandcamp.com. Physical copies will be available later this month. Its third fundraiser at 4th Street Vine will take place at 7 p.m. on Tuesday, June 16, featuring Big Sun, The Barrelhousers and Doctor KA. For more information, visit Facebook.com/longbeachcompilations.