Museum to host 2nd Annual Fourth of July Concert

Catalina Island has always had a love affair with live music, especially during the busy summer months.

Keeping with this Island tradition, the Catalina Island Museum has announced the line up for this year’s Fourth of July Music Festival from 1-10 p.m.

Presented by Ohana Harbor Coffee, this year’s music festival offers a full day of live music highlighting a diverse line up of local musicians, Avalon’s spectacular fireworks, refreshments and great barbeque fare provided by Steve’s Steakhouse.

Catalina Island has always had a love affair with live music, especially during the busy summer months.

Keeping with this Island tradition, the Catalina Island Museum has announced the line up for this year’s Fourth of July Music Festival from 1-10 p.m.

Presented by Ohana Harbor Coffee, this year’s music festival offers a full day of live music highlighting a diverse line up of local musicians, Avalon’s spectacular fireworks, refreshments and great barbeque fare provided by Steve’s Steakhouse.

All of this taking place in one of the island’s most picturesque locations: Casino Point.

“Building upon the success of last year’s concert featuring Spencer Davis, the museum is focused on promoting one of Catalina Island’s greatest assets—its music. In its second year, this event has grown to feature a mix of local musicians,” said Michael De Marsche, the museum’s executive director. “We hope to pay homage to the rich musical heritage of Santa Catalina—past, present and future.”

The importance of musical entertainment for the island’s visitors emerged when the Banning Brothers purchased Catalina Island in 1891.

Their first building project was a dance pavilion—where the Pavilion Hotel stands today—and a large outdoor amphitheater that could hold 700 people.

Soon, the Santa Catalina Island Marine Band was formed. During the height of the summer season, they would play a mid-day concert at the amphitheater and then move to the Pavilion for the evening concert.

By the time William Wrigley Jr. purchased the island in 1919, music and dancing was a major part of the visitor experience.

Wanting to increase the island’s music offerings, Wrigley constructed the Sugarloaf Casino. Music and dancing was incorporated into the experience of traveling to the island on the big white steamers. The best bands of that era entertained visitors from the moment they left the mainland till their return.

However, these three main venues could not accommodate the growing need for more entertainment space. In 1929 Wrigley constructed the famous Casino building boasting the world’s largest uninterrupted circular dance floor.

The hottest names in Big Band music played in the Ballroom. Island residents and visitors alike could dance the night away to the sounds of Jan Garber, Kay Kyser, Buddy Rogers and Dick Jurgens, just to name a few.

Regular entertainment in the Casino continued to draw large crowds throughout the 1930s, 40s and 50s. For nearly three decades CBS, and later NBC, broadcast music nationwide: “Live from the beautiful Casino Ballroom, overlooking Avalon Bay.”

The highlight of the 1960s was the Yard Birds performance in the ballroom featuring Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Fame guitar player Jimmy Page.

In more recent years, the Fender Guitar company held an annual blues festival and every year since 1987 the JazzTrax Festival has packed the Casino Ballroom drawing music lovers from across the country.

From rock to reggae, the Catalina Island Museum Fourth of July Music Festival will feature an afternoon full of performances from five local bands—Hot Off the Range, IPA, the Catalina Island All-Stars, Something, and Fighting Chance.

An island music legend will also make a surprise special guest appearance.

Famed DJ Emperor Rosko—whose life was portrayed in the movie “Pirate Radio”—will emcee the festival.  

A self- proclaimed “God of the Airwaves,” Emperor Rosko is known around the world for his lightening-fast “jive talk” and on-air antics that introduced a countless number of British youth to rock ‘n’ roll hits heard nowhere else in the late 1960s.

“Only in its second year, this event has already become a great tradition,” said City of Avalon Mayor Bob Kennedy.  “Music fans from across Southern California should look to the Catalina Island Museum Music Festival as the place to be on Fourth of July. This festival has become a major attraction for everyone and an outstanding entertainment venue for our city. We are looking forward to another great year.”

Tickets for the Music Festival are selling fast. Tickets are only $10 for members of the museum and $12 for the general public. Doors open at 1 p.m. with music starting at 2 p.m. It is festival seating, so bring a blanket or lawn chair.

For more information or to buy tickets, call (310) 510-2414, visit the museum in person, visit the Fourth of July event page on www.CatalinaMuseum.org or mail your payment to Catalina Island Museum, PO Box 366, Avalon, CA 90704 (Attn: Fourth of July).

The Catalina Island Museum is located on the ground floor of Avalon’s historic Casino and is open seven days a week, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. For more information, the museum may be reached by phone at (310) 510-2414 or at CatalinaMuseum.org.

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