Cherry Cove Cockpit Concert returns

Courtesy Photo Dave Barrette, in center with turquoise shirt, began as a solo act in what has become a musical centerpiece of summers on Catalina.

10th anniversary event will be last for the concert’s founder, however

It started as a fun little idea for a gathering and it blew up into a show that has become one of the big draws of Labor Day weekend. The annual event known as the Cherry Cove Cockpit Concert is making a return for its 10th anniversary show on Sept. 4, in Cherry Cove at Two Harbors.

The idea was proposed after its founding member, Dave Barrette agreed to play guitar for a Dinner in the Grove event with the Cherry Cove Yacht Club. Dave was a member and agreed to supply some entertainment. After that show, Mike Wade, the current commander for CCYC suggested the idea of Dave playing off the back of his boat so people could raft up in dinghies for the show.

“I have to credit him (Wade) for the idea to do this off the back of my boat,” Barrette said.

Although Barrette remembers that the first event only had a handful of boats in attendance, the show was an immediate hit and soon took on a life of its own.

Barrette had performed professionally in his younger days, club gigs and the like, so it was a comfortable fit for him. And he soon found willing cohorts. Past Commander Warren Cross joined him on bass for rock & roll songs and also played banjo on some ‘60s folk songs. When they’d add another piece or two, the shows would ramp up and the crowds began to swell.

“That’s when it really began to grow,” Barrette said.

Barrette estimates that some of the bigger crowds had upwards of 100 boats. People would come from coves all over the island in both dinghies and full-size boats. One year, Barrette hired some professional musicians to form a full band, but the workload of getting all of them set up and housed for the night, proved too much for to continue in subsequent years.

But the show endured and continues to draw. Barrette said that he’s been told by some regular attendees that its the event they most look forward to each summer. It’s been one of his fondest memories as well. “We’ve had some crazy experiences with this thing,” Barrette said.

But for Barrette this year will be his final performance as the producer of the Cockpit Concert. For the past couple of years, another musician/boater has joined Barrette. Scott Grillo, whom calls a very talented singer and musician, has played alongside Barrette and Grillo has agreed to take over the planning and producing of the show.

Barrette said that Grillo is still performing professionally and more able to deal with all the logistical details that go into producing the event. And while he would not say for sure, Barrette did admit that he is likely to make a rare appearance at the show in coming years. As a farewell for now, Barrette has written a song called “Catalina Moonlit Night,” that he plans to share at the show. It’s also posted on YouTube.

Barrette’s final Cockpit Concert will be Sunday, Sept. 4, from 5 to 6:30 p.m. at Cherry Cove.