‘What’s better than surfing, rock ‘n’ roll, and doing it all for charity?’


Switchfoot might be a Grammy-award winning band that’s sold millions of albums and toured thousands of cities around the world, but the band’s favorite time is when they give back to their hometown through the annual Switchfoot Bro-Am.

“It’s the best day of the year for us,” said the band’s guitarist, Drew Shirley. “What’s better than surfing and rock ’n’ roll and doing it all for charity? We do it because we believe in the cause.”

Benefiting the Switchfoot Bro-Am Foundation, the Switchfoot Bro-Am surf contest and concert is back again this year and promises to be better than ever. The July 11 lineup at Moonlight Beach in Encinitas includes Needtobreathe, Drew Holcomb & The Neighbors, Colony House, and of course, Switchfoot.

The event typically brings more than 10,000 people to the beach.

“I’ve watched it grow from this little organic surf contest and concert on the beach that we dreamed up 11 years ago, to a community event that’s embraced by not just the surfing and music community, but by everybody in San Diego,” said the band’s drummer, Chad Butler. “I think it’s indicative of the heart that our community has. People in San Diego know that we are so blessed to live here, and people are looking for ways to give back. This is a fun beach day that gives some really deserving causes the spotlight.”

The annual event launched in 2005, after the band decided to do something to give back to their hometown. Over the past decade, artists such as Jason Mraz, OK Go and Chris Shiflett from the Foo Fighters have headlined the show.

“We’re a rock band, we travel the world and play music, but we have a heart for our own community,” Shirley said.

“We get to visit some really cool places around the world playing music, but we always love the feeling of coming home to San Diego,” added Butler, who grew up in North County like his band mates.

“As kids growing up, we felt so lucky that surfing and music kept us out of trouble,” he said. “We looked for a way to involve our two favorite passions in one day, to do something bigger than ourselves, to do something good and rally the community together.”

Since its inception, the Bro-Am has raised more than $1 million for San Diego-based children’s charities. Last year’s event was the most successful to date, netting $140,000 for 2014 beneficiaries.

“That’s the San Diego community, and the generosity of people that have gotten behind the event,” Butler said.

“We owe this event to the community for making it what it is today,” added Shirley.

The 2015 events will benefit the Switchfoot Bro-Am Foundation, which the members of Switchfoot recently created to continue their mission of giving back to the local community through music, surfing and youth development programs throughout the year.

Some of this year’s beneficiaries include A Step Beyond, which offers dance education, academic support and family services for underserved youth and their families, as well as Doors of Change, which provides free music lessons to homeless youth. Event proceeds will also benefit the Encinitas Youth Scholarship Program, Surf Industry Manufacturers Association and StandUp for Kids.

“This is a really fun way to get involved, and raise money and resources for these organizations, but also awareness in the community,” Butler said.

Because the event is free, most of the funds will be raised three days earlier, during the annual auction night soiree at a private Olivenhain estate. The evening will feature a live performance by Switchfoot, silent and live auctions, opportunity drawings, and food and drinks.

“It’s really a fun gathering of the community,” Butler said. “It’s just an incredible evening.”

As in recent years, this year’s surf contest and concert will be streamed online, allowing viewers around the world to tune in and catch the Bro-Am action live. For the first time in Bro-Am history, however, an online auction will allow fans to bid for unique items. The online auction will run June 28 to July 11.

“There’s a chance for people all over the country and around the world to get involved, donate and bid on some really cool packages,” Butler said.

Tickets to the auction night soiree cost $185. VIP tickets cost $260 and include a meet and greet reception with Switchfoot.

The surf contest will take place 7 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. July 11 at Moonlight Beach in Encinitas. The concert will run from noon to 5 p.m.

A free shuttle will be available from San Dieguito Academy. Parking is also available at Encinitas City Hall.

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