Laguna gains another festival — for one night

Anahi Skidmore plans to be in Masaka, Uganda at the end of June.

As part of a 20-person team, she will spend 11 days going door to door, or "hut to hut," she said, preaching the Gospel.

To benefit this expedition, the Mission Viejo resident, 19, and her fiancee, Sterling Pounds, will host the first-ever Laguna Canyon Music Festival from 7 to 10 p.m. Saturday. Proceeds earned from $10 admission and the sale of art pieces will cover the trip's costs.

Skidmore has organized a variety of events to benefit the organization Invisible Children for the past five years and "got really excited" after stumbling across the chance to aid people not only with their physical but also spiritual needs as part of e3 Partners Ministry.

"It's really hard to raise money for a trip like this," she said. "It takes a lot for transportation, meetings and other expenses — a lot goes into it."

Toward this end, the duo and their friend Mariya Tolmacheva, all of whom are plugged into Orange County's musical landscape, began contacting little-known local bands. Skidmore, who met enthusiasm across the board, said performances by Traveler, Will Winters, Charles Fullwood, Sounds of Satellite and Sunset Pilgrims are in the pipeline.

Chance Espinoza, the singer, songwriter and guitarist of the four-piece Sounds of Satellite, is amped up for the troupe's first show in Laguna Beach, which he hopes will be "super fun."

Knowing friends who have traveled to Uganda and ended up spending upwards of $3,000, he stands in full support of the upcoming voyage.

"Beyond helping people, when you see stuff on the other side of the world, it opens your eyes," said Espinoza, 21, of Dove Canyon. "It's not the same situation or circumstances, but it is the same hurt, and you return more equipped to love people regardless of who they are and what they look like or do."

Once in Central Uganda, Skidmore said, the volunteers will be split into groups of three to teach Bible studies and guide locals who are receptive till they can lead sermons on their own.

"We don't want to get in the way and for them to feel like they need us," she said. "We will facilitate and set up a model for them to create self-sustaining churches."

Employed by the Laguna Beach-based Soul Surfing School, Skidmore deems the surrounding "artsy area" as an ideal venue for the concert. Although the local community, home to the Sawdust Art Festival, Pageant of the Masters, Laguna Beach Live! and more, is steeped in competition, she believes that emerging musicians especially need support.

"People at the different art festivals have been around for years, so the community knows and respects them," she said. "Our festival is an avenue for young artists and new bands to get out there and be heard and discovered."

One such example is Fullwood, 22, a San Clemente resident, who recalls playing the guitar and singing on Forest Avenue when he was 16. The self-described "electro-soul" player is reggae luminary Fully Fullwood's youngest child.

"I'm looking forward to playing more in Laguna Beach and really looking forward to the Laguna Beach Music Festival on Saturday, not only to perform and share my music but also to see and hear the other artists and musicians," he said.

If You Go:

What: Laguna Canyon Music Festival

Where: Vert Skate Ramp, 2003 Laguna Canyon Road, Laguna Beach

When: 7 to 10 p.m. Saturday

Cost: $10 pre-sale ticket; $15 at the door and $20 for a swag bag (including a piece of art, a festival bracelet, a CD and a pair of sunglasses)


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