Road trip: Music Tastes Good marries culinary and sonic delights

San Diego music fans have it pretty good. Along with a fantastic selection of local live music venues, access to a variety of music festivals is increasing each year.

In addition to KAABOO’s annual three-day weekend and the bi-annual CRSSD Fest events at Waterfront Park, San Diegans have plenty of local festivals from which to choose — such as this weekend’s long-running Adams Avenue Street Fair and the just-completed San Diego Blues Festival.

Local fans also don’t have to travel very far to expand their choices. The two-hour drive to Coachella is being challenged this fall, with October’s Desert Daze psych fest moving from Joshua Tree to just an hour up the road in Lake Perris.

And the trek to this weekend’s third annual Music Tastes Good Festival in Long Beach can be done easily in less than two hours.

Headlined this year by musical acts including New Order, James Blake, Janelle Monae, Joey Bada$$, and Broken Social Scene, the two-day “mash-up” event pairs buzz-worthy acts with a roster of chefs that includes Long Beach locals Arthur Gonzalez and Aliye Aydin, as well as featured guests such as La Jolla’s Christine Rivera. 

Founded by artist and musician Josh Fischel in 2016, Music Tastes Good followed the San Diego Street Scene model and spent its inaugural year in the roadways of downtown Long Beach. Tragically, just four days after the debut of the food and music event, its founder died at 47 from liver disease.

After much deliberation, and under guidance from Fischel’s wife Abbie, the decision was made to continue. Last year’s festival was moved next to the ocean at Marina Green Park, and that’s where its third incarnation will take place again this weekend.

Although she also has another career, Fischel’s widow remains engaged and involved with Music Tastes Good. She is very close with team members and continues to play an active role in many of the creative decisions made. While she claims her main job is to use her “Josh-vision” in answering all of the “what-would-Josh-do” questions, it’s also to make sure that the true heart of the festival remains intact. 

“Josh was a real fan of the arts,” Abbie said. “And that included any and all arts. But I think the reason the festival is so eclectic is that Long Beach is as well. There are so many cultures, styles of music, types of food, and so many different things represented culturally here. He really wanted the festival to reflect that.”

And it certainly does. From vegan carrot cake, barbacoa tacos, and gazpacho to Vietnamese braised brisket, ceviche, and shrimp rolls on pretzel buns, there is an expansive menu available to fans this year.

The music follows suit with a varied assortment of acts such as Shame, Santigold, Parquet Courts, Big Thief, LIZZO, Princess Nokia, Big Thief, and others joining the headliners on Saturday and Sunday. Organizers also have added things like a kid’s zone to cater to the many families who attend.   

With the location now fixed and a steady increase in both fans and profile, Music Tastes Good really seems to have found its footing. And while sadly the festival’s founder won’t get to watch as his project continues to grow, his wife is more than happy to be a part of something that keeps his legacy alive.

“As tragic as Josh’s passing was,” Abbie said, “it was also the exact opposite. He completely realized his vision. Selfishly, of course I want him back. But if I could choose how to go out, that’s one hell of a way to go. He did it on one the highest of high notes. Josh wanted this to reflect something bigger than his ideas. And he made sure that it happened.”

Music Tastes Good

When: Sept. 29-30

Where: Marina Green Park, 386 East Shoreline Dr., Long Beach

Cost: $85-300

Online: mtglb.co

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