Bro-Am: Switchfoot Hits the Surf Scene
By Will Anderson
June 29, 2009
They’ve recorded several multi-platinum albums, but fame seems far from the minds of San Diego band Switchfoot. On Saturday, the band hosted their fifth annual “Bro-Am,” a surfing contest and concert to benefit local chapters of StandUp For Kids, an organization which helps make a difference in the lives of at-risk and homeless teens.
This year’s Bro-Am was held on Moonlight Beach in Encinitas, Calif. A solar-powered stage and sound system, provided by Sustainable Waves, provided live music for those taking a break from the waves. Artists included professional surfer Timmy Curran, who took the stage just minutes after his run in the surf contest.
“My hands were still sticky from the ocean water,” Curran said laughing. He formed a relationship with Switchfoot three and a half years ago after opening for the band.
Looking around, Curran smiled.
“This is the only place where you can surf and immediately come play music for a thousand people,” he said.
More than 30 vendors cluttered the beach, including anything from refreshments to Falling Whistles, a nonprofit devoted to bringing aid to the Congo.
Twenty-three-year-old Tyler Madsen sold self-designed T-shirts through his company, Love Nail Tree. In a shaded booth Madsen explained his partnership with two nonprofits since the start of the company. As a longtime fan of Switchfoot, Bro-Am seemed like an ideal outlet to support another good cause.
“There’s so many people supporting this event and the kids in the StandUp program ... everyone is winning today,” he said.
Switchfoot guitarist Drew Shirley divided his time between giving guitar lessons to kids in StandUp and serving as MC for the all-day concert. In his few minutes of downtime, with his toddler daughter clinging to his leg, Shirley talked about an experience that touched him.
“Last year one of the kids here tried to commit suicide, right before Bro-Am,” he said. Although he didn’t know the full story then, Shirley invited the teen to throw T-shirts into the crowd. The gesture from the band had immense impact on the teen, who started making more positive choices, including drug rehab. This year he returned to Bro-Am with StandUp and shared his story with Shirley.
“That connection with an actual person…that’s why we do what we do. It’s all worth it if there’s one guy who’s taken off those tracks,” he said.
Perhaps none understand this better than Kim Goodeve-Green, director of operations for the Oceanside branch of StandUp. Her nametag which read “the mom” seemed fitting as she simultaneously directed kids to their cars, answered their questions and shared about the organization. She described StandUp as a “grassroots movement” run primarily by volunteers.
“They can come in, get a hot meal, shower and clothing. We get them IDs, help them find jobs, get apartments, whatever they need,” she said.
Goodeve-Green has seen firsthand the positive effect Bro-Am has on the kids in her program.
“They go back and bring their excitement to the center. It motivates the kids to want to do something,” she said.
As always, Bro-Am ended with a performance by Switchfoot. Lead singer Jon Foreman summed up his thoughts on the day during the band’s hour-long set.
“I love Bro-Am because it combines three of my favorite things … music, surfing and a cause that’s bigger than ourselves,” he said.