Malibu Guitar Festival on Hiatus, but Legacy Lives On

The founders of the successful Malibu Guitar Festival are taking a break from staging the weekend long music gala this fall, but want the community to know the popular new Malibu happening will be back in 2019 and better than ever.

The Malibu Times spoke with Doug and Alejandra DeLuca who, along with fellow Malibu resident and friend John Watkin, founded the MGF in 2015. In just three years, the once-sleepy little festival for music lovers grew into a musical extravaganza showcasing local and international talent while also raising money for charities.

“This year for many good reasons was a very busy year for us,” Doug explained. Alejandra, a healer, meditation guide, international speaker and fundraiser, is busy launching a wellness center in Malibu. Emmy award winning TV and film producer John Watkin has been working on a big project and multiple Emmy nominated television producer Doug DeLuca is busy with his shows, including his demanding job as co-executive producer of “Jimmy Kimmel Live.” The DeLucas have also been helping Alejandra’s family from Venezuela. Speaking of the tumultuous economic and political situation in the South American country, Doug said, “It’s a challenging situation there.” 

“There were many distractions,” he added, speaking of their time constraints. “We decided we’d pause it, skip a year and come out strong next October 2019.”

With a venue move planned from the Malibu Village to the Chili Cook-Off site, the founders also wanted to make sure each detail of the MGF would be well executed. 

“We were to come out in grand fashion and up the game as music festivals go, but the bandwidth just ran short and we wanted to make sure we did it right,” Doug explained.

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With no MGF in 2018, the organizers decided to help the community in another way by providing its talents to the Boys and Girls Club of Malibu. MGF donated the stage for this year’s Chili Cook-Off entertainment. 

“Helping the Chili Cook-off was our bridge to 2019 for the MGF,” Doug said. 

Explaining the overwhelming success of the MGF in 2017, Alejandra explained, “The way I see it is, sometimes you need to retreat and step back and regenerate.” 

“The festival grew so big last year,” Alejandra added. “Doug loves music and we love Malibu. We want to bring something for the community that is enjoyable and cool. We know the energy is there. We really give it all our heart, but with that we also set ourselves up personally as financial sponsors of the event. In three years, instead of having a baby, we’re going to have a more grownup festival with improvements in production.” 

In its first year, the MGF was just a one-day event. In 2016, 1,200 tickets were sold. Last year, during an eight-day festival, 2,000 music lovers attended the Saturday night main concert near Malibu Burger Co. In addition, there was an opening night charity fundraiser at Casa Escobar, plus a Friday night and Sunday brunch event there. 

“It was packed—sold out,” Alejandra described. The 2017 fest also included a night performance featuring women guitarists, events at Soho House, a master class, a jam, visits to local schools, an art event and even a fashion show. 

“We took a hiatus to regroup and focus on moving to a bigger venue–to come back bigger and better. The dates we’re looking at are October 5-7, 2019. The first weekend in October,” according to the DeLucas. 

“Our main intention for the festival is our love for the community and for Malibu and trying to give back to Malibu,” Alejandra commented. “In giving back through music—music being such an amazing platform for unity and for communication and conversation—we wanted to be able to give to the community in that way.”

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