Enviro-friendly BuFest to rock the Ranch

The indie music festival will feature more than 75 bands, including MXPX, Verve, Meiko and Chronic Stew, and more than 150 booths will feature organic food and green vendors.

By Melonie Magruder / Special to The Malibu Times

The BuFest Music Festival, which takes place this coming weekend, at Paramount Ranch in Agoura Hills, will be the first of its kind, an independent music festival that is fully “green.”

BuFest is the brainchild of Evan Albright, who founded the eco-friendly Green Living Expo, a company that helps green businesses spread the message of environmental awareness. His radio program, “The Green Living Hour with Evan Albright” is a staple on Clear Channel radio stations and he regularly appears as a business-savvy green proponent on Fox television network.

But applying environmentally friendly principals to a music festival is a new wrinkle in the sustainability paradigm.

“A lot of music festivals have reputations as head-banging mosh pits,” Albright said. “But we think people will act differently in a national park like Paramount Ranch. People respond to the environment, so we’re hoping that they’ll come for great music and maybe end up learning something.”

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“Great music” is the operative term here, with more than 70 acts appearing on four different stages during the two days. Albright said the festival’s music review committee received 270 applications. Indie bands ranging from rock to reggae will perform, with headliners Reel Big Fish and Unwritten Law appearing, and several Malibu homegrowns showing up.

Pop to soft rock group MIGGS will be on hand, along with Simi Valley’s Arlene Kole, who plays acoustic guitar and sings her own folk songs in a crystal clear, beautiful voice. Jennifer Hirsh, a jazzy soul singer whose band is formed entirely from her graduating class at Berklee College of Music, is excited to perform in her old stomping grounds.

“I grew up in the Agoura Hills and use to bicycle around Paramount Ranch; so I’m so excited to sing at BuFest,” Hirsh said from her home in New York City. “We were one hundred percent attracted to the Green Expo idea. Musicians need to set an example for being environmentally conscious. When we go on the road, we want to do it in a sustainable fashion.”

Most music festivals have enormous carbon footprints, from the polluting energy generated by gas-fed mobile generators to the tonnage of trash left behind by revelers. Albright’s aim is to re-brand the concept and said he believes BuFest will meet the expectations of a younger, eco-aware generation.

“All our supplies come in biodegradable or recycled packaging, including our water bottles,” Albright said. “The power for the booth vendors will come from SolaRover (a mobile solar-power system) and our soundstage generators are technologically advanced with the energy coming from renewable resources.”

More than 150 booths will feature organic food and green vendors such as hemp clothes, solar panel installers and sustainable building contractors. Water comes in biodegradable bottles, and festivalgoers will receive free samples of Planet Inc.’s environmentally-friendly cleaning products.

“Most music festivals rely on large corporate sponsors like a Budweiser,” Albright said. “But we want to support local ‘Mom and Pop’ businesses, as well as environmentally responsible vendors. So we’re going with people like Clif Bars and Mad River Brewery and (local winery) Cielo Farms.”

BuFest also supports social causes like Cancer Hope Foundation, a nonprofit that sponsors Camp Keepsake, a local camp retreat for cancer survivors and their families.

Addiction recovery advocates Rock Star and Super Star, two rocker brothers who were profiled recently in The Malibu Times, will be raffling off custom Les Paul guitars and signing up local youth for rehearsal workshops to benefit their sobriety nonprofit We Are One.

Considering that BuFest was conceived only recently, Albright said the interest in promoting green music festivals has been overwhelming.

“It’s taken on a life of its own,” he said. “We’re doing a BuFest Hawaii in September and a BuFest Australia in Sydney next February. It’s part of the effort to show people that going green is not a destination, it’s a journey. You do what you can and the collective result is powerful.”

BuFest is offering Malibu residents a ticket discount, while children under 13 have free entry. Parking is free, but there is also an eco-rideshare program available.

“There will be terrific indie music this weekend,” Albright said. “But we also hope to convert a few more ‘eco-sapiens.’ They make the world a better place.”

BuFest takes place Saturday and Sunday, 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. both days at Paramount Ranch, 2903 Cornell Road, Agoura Hills. More information about BuFest, including artist line-up and ticket purchase, can be found online at www.bufest.com

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