It was a musical British invasion of Westward Beach last Friday as British Malibu residents and others rocked out at a networking event at the Sunset Restaurant.
By Michael Aushenker / Special to The Malibu Times
The fog that rolled onto Westward Beach last Friday was perhaps appropriate, as 200-plus British ex-patriots packed The Sunset restaurant for a night of networking. The event was put on by the British-American Business Council Los Angeles (BABCLA), in conjunction with European Chambers of Commerce, and paid tribute to the British Isles’ rich musical heritage with live performances from some of music’s great journeymen musicians.
BABC’s L.A. chapter holds about two networking events per month throughout the city. This was BABC’s first Malibu party.
“This is a natural for us to include the entertainment industry,” said longtime Escondido Beach resident Paul J. Wright, an attorney with an office along PCH who is originally from the North Yorkshire region. Elected as BABCLA’s president in January, Wright helped organize the musical happening with the assistance and connections of producer/songwriter Gary Miller, a British songwriter and producer who has collaborated with Elton John, George Michael and David Bowie.
About 500,000 Brits live in Southern California, according to BABCLA, including more than a few in Malibu.
BABC is the largest transatlantic English organization of its kind, with 4,000 members and 28 chapters across North America and the United Kingdom. According to its website, U.K. companies employ approximately one million Americans while American companies employ an equal number of British citizens. Meanwhile, the two countries enjoy about $400 billion dollars in trade each year.
At Friday’s event, opening act Oksana Grigorieva performed three original piano compositions. The Russian composer and singer/songwriter, a Valley resident who is perhaps best known for the fallout from her relationship with Malibuite Mel Gibson, told The Malibu Times she had studied for eight years at the London Academy of Music. Grigorieva loves Malibu, finding “the beach, the ocean very inspirational. It’s fantastic!”
Marushka Mujic, whose British parents reside near Point Dume, followed with a set that included Bill Whithers’ “Ain’t No Sunshine” and Marvin Gaye’s “Mercy Mercy Me.”
“Malibu has the best of L.A.: clean beaches, artistic, interesting people, and a genuine sense of community,” Mujic said.
Miller capped the evening’s entertainment by jamming on electric guitar in an R&B supergroup that featured John Dixson (who played with Lionel Richie), Deon Estus (Marvin Gaye), Tommy Funderburk (Boston), Richard Martin-Ross (Journey), Joe Pusateri (John Entwhistle) and Tony Patler (Chaka Khan).
As the band played, songwriter Jason Bradshaw hung out with fellow Brits Andy and Bethany Taylor, 20-something siblings whose father Andy Taylor is a founding member of iconic ‘80s pop band Duran Duran. Andy Taylor, Jr. spent part of his childhood in Malibu, attended Malibu High and has “fond memories of skateboarding and buying my first records, Green Day’s ‘Dookie’ and the Offspring’s ‘Smash,’” at a corner record store in Malibu. Now he has a band of his own, and was in town from London for the week.
Gary Miller, who has written and produced for a host of major stars including Cher, Rod Stewart and Celine Dion, has lived on Point Dume for six years. The Northern England native said that while he has not found a cohesive British scene in Malibu, many recording artists living in the area are from the U.K.
“In Trancas, where the Starbucks is [today], for years and years, there used to be a bar there,” he said. “You could walk inside and Eric Clapton would play, Keith Moon, Mick Fleetwood…There’s a lot of history here.”
Miller said he hopes to eventually create such a spot in town like this himself.
“I think if people would hear about it, they would [flock to it],” said Miller.
It was music that brought the producer to Los Angeles, and he eventually discovered Malibu.
“I first came here by mistake,” Miller said. “I came to work at the Shangri-La Studios and I thought [Malibu] was too far out of the way.”
Yet the coastal enclave quickly grew on Miller, who had been seeking a home base with sunshine ever since escaping England to produce Enrique Iglesias and Paulina Rubio in Miami.
“I’ve traveled all over the world,” he said. “I could never, ever settle in London or anywhere else really. When I came to Malibu, I never felt so settled. I’ve got more friends here than in England. It was quite a nice surprise.”
For more information on the British Council, visit Babcla.org