Second Annual Guitar Festival Rocks Malibu

Cody Simpson and Coast House perform original songs as well as music by Ben Harper and Bob Marley.

Bigger, better, stronger and louder were some of the underlying themes for the second annual Malibu Guitar Festival, presented by D’Angelico Guitars. The four-day festival took place Thursday, April 28, through Sunday, May 1, at various venues throughout Malibu, with performances at schools and a gallery opening before the official festival kicked off.

“The whole weekend was fantastic,” Malibu Guitar Festival founder and resident John Watkin said. “We wanted to step it up this year and we did. It’s really beginning to feel like what we imagined this to be — a festival where the whole town comes alive and celebrates the guitar.”

Music filled the air throughout the week of events surrounding the festival, where world-renowned musicians as well as local and long distance music lovers joined to celebrate their favorite instrument.

“We had four school performances,” Watkin said. “We had an amazing rock ‘n’ roll gallery in the Malibu Village. We had a jam night in the gallery on Wednesday night called the Lick Exchange. We had an incredible, star-studded charity event that kicked off three consecutive nights of music at Casa Escobar. We had a full 10 hours of music in the main festival on two stages — almost nonstop music throughout the whole day. We rounded it off that night with a jam session at Casa Escobar that went until 2 a.m. And then, on Sunday morning, we had the Beatles Brunch, which was a huge success and a fantastic way to wind down at the end of an unbelievable week.”

A celebrity-filled charity event at Casa Escobar kicked off the festival on Thursday, with proceeds benefiting local charities, including TheraSurf, Mending Kids and Boys & Girls Club of Malibu.

Between the red carpet and silent auctions, eclectic performances by Kenny Wayne Shepherd, Robert Randolph, Albert Lee, Marcus Eaton, The Empty Hearts, Steve Ferrone and the Kenneth Brian Band had revelers singing and dancing throughout the night.

“We haven’t added up all the numbers yet, but we raised a lot of money for charity,” Watkin said. “That’s a huge deal for us as well. These are three great local charities who do fantastic work for kids in all kinds of ways. For us to be able to use our love of music and our love of bringing people together … to do that and raise money for these causes is really gratifying.”

A new component of the festival was a live stream broadcast of the festival to television screens, computers and cellphones around the world. 

“The live stream was being watched in South America, in Peru … In fact, (Sponsors, Benefit Night and Charity Director) Allie DeLuca — her family in Venezuela were on the phone talking to her and they were saying, ‘We can see you! We can see what you are wearing!’ They were watching it in Moscow, they were watching it in Hawaii. We streamed the whole thing from 9 in the morning before the festival even started until about 10 at night.”

With its second year wrapped, Watkin is already looking forward to planning the next annual Malibu Guitar Festival.

“I think we learned a lot from our first year and we have learned again from doing it this year,” Watkin said. “This year really had a lot of what Doug DeLuca and I wanted this to be — the outreach into the schools, celebrating rock ‘n’ roll photography, having jam sessions and people playing the guitar spontaneously, having great musicians come and celebrate with us — it was all fantastic … the music never stops.”