JD – the man behind SURF RODEO
“ you better tell a good story with your show”
Interview by TIM AMOROSO
Written by SILVIE MIETZEKATZE
Beach, live music, surfing, pie eating contests, bikini girls and just a really freakin’ good time? – That my friends is the SURF RODEO – and it is happening this year again – turning the PIERPONT area into party central.
And if you have ever wondered who is behind this awesomeness…meet JD – the Kevin Lyman of Ventura.
Tim: What was the thought process in the infant stages of surf rodeo?
JD: A friend of mine was putting on a fair by Seaward and so I committed to do a surf contest. I had been in so many surf contests that just doing a regular one is a little bit boring, so after a few beers and going back and forth with the boys we decided – : let’s make it a rodeo kind of format and one thing let to another and we said ‘alright – we will bring cowboy hats and instead of riding a normal board you will be riding a board from the 70ties and 80ties. So that these people won’t be familiar with the board just like a bull in a rodeo. You draw that bull and then – good luck. That was our concept and it worked – everybody liked it and it had a lot of soulful feeling to it – it always had been a labor of love.
TIM: Surf rodeo is always something that we will remember as a staple of our town…
JD: Yeah as long as we do a good job and put smiles on peoples faces – then why not. We took a ten year break – we did 5 rodeos and took a decade off. But over those ten years I would run into people and we would look at each other and smile and chuckle, because we had rodeo history together. So when we announced that we are coming back do another one –the people were stoked.
TIM: What was the reason that you guys stopped for so long?
JD: Well I lost a ton of money. I lost money every year but after the last one my dad got sick and passed away at the end of the year so I decided to take one year off.
And THAT turned into ten years…. But during that time I also went on to do a lot of other things like working for the Warped Tour with Kevin Lyman and I made a movie… Through all this I just learned more about production and budgeting – story telling in different ways – so when I came back I was ten years older, 5 years wiser but still dumb enough to do it….
Tim: What had been your best memory of the Surf Rodeo?
JD: It was the little magic moments throughout the crew. Whether they became friends or somebody that just completely had a great time for that brief second or hour. Then you know you have done a pretty good job right there. The road to the rodeo means that you put every bit of energy into it for the last 6 months and then, it just intensifies. Every single month leading up to it – it gets worse and worse or better and better…. depending how you look at it. But you have gotten into trenches with some of your closest friends and workmates and when you get to the actual rodeo you don’t even see these people so much. For example I might see my buddy but I can’t talk to him right now because he is helping a band to load in or out and I am over here and I am here walking with the environmental health people or something like that ….We can’t really hang out but it doesn’t matter because we both know – “here we are – and we are dancing now” I like that feeling.
TIM: tell me more about this years SURF RODEO…
JD: Well we always try to do a combination of things – like to pay a homage to the local scene as best we can – but at the same time we try to get some international names that kind of fit our budget. We got RISING SON and KYLE SMITH who is a local guy who is blowing up right now… and then there is a mutual Warped tour friend of Kevin Lyman and mine and it’s BEEBS AND HER MONEY MAKERS and she fronts this SKA band and then you got LONG BEACH DUB ALLSTARS AND FISHBONE closing it out. And then to warm it up we got us with RAGGING ARB AND THE REDHEADS
We also have PIE EATING contests for the kids. I always ask myself – would I like it? Do I think it is funny. Then we have an obstacle race course and there are surfers and they are all in the finals and now this is points based so they can end up being the champion just by running the obstacle course and that’s true rodeo fashion – where you gotta be good overall. We like to bring in humor.
Tim: What are the things you have learned in all these years?
JD: Well when I took that break, I learned about production and budgeting and things like that … It is important, that at the end of the day, you have to cover your expenses and you gotta make sure you stay ahead of the curve. So when I came back and did the first rodeo after ten years, we needed to readjust how to do it.
For example we have now great sponsor relationships. And we are having to budget the door – and in order to charge at the door, you better put good music on the beach – and if you gonna do THAT you better tell a good story with your show. And what are we doing? This is the SURF RODEO – so what is the story here? We got – again pie eating contest, you have a bikini girl contest – you have an obstacle course and you got music that fits the variety of genres that people may like. You are putting on a show and you’re telling a story. If they are going to open up the book and read – they better like what they are reading.