NZ musician 'beach folk hero'

By Vaimoana Tapaleao

Matthew Dowd performing at Venice Beach, in Los Angeles. Photo / Supplied
Matthew Dowd performing at Venice Beach, in Los Angeles. Photo / Supplied

A New Zealand musician is being hailed a folk hero in Los Angeles after he helped to end the city's regulations governing who can entertain on a popular tourist beach.

Matthew Dowd, from Te Atatu in West Auckland, was part of a group who successfully sued the city of LA.

He and 12 other performers fought a rule which allocated performer spaces at Venice Beach by way of a lottery and the issuing of permits.

A tourist hot spot, the Venice sidewalk has become known for its colourful footpath acts, with street performers, musicians, mimes, magicians and other entertainers.

US District Judge Dean Pragerson ruled that the city's weekly lottery system violated the first amendment of the Constitution, which governs freedom of speech.

Judge Pragerson issued a temporary injunction, saying the city should issue permits on a first-come-first-served basis.

Dowd, a guitarist, has been a hit at the beach for several years, with many people recording his acts and uploading videos to YouTube.

He said the outcome was "unbelievable. It's like my whole life has meaning now, in a way. I've achieved something nobody has been able to achieve for the last five years."

Dowd's bid to challenge the rule began when he started attending Los Angeles Council meetings and making his concerns known.

Local reports said the victory made him a "new folk hero'.

- NZ Herald

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