Malibu Music Awards fest rocks the Country Mart

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The 2011 Malibu Awards and Music Festival drew hundreds to the local shopping center, where family and friends rocked out to music.

By Michael Aushenker / Special to The Malibu Times

A few hundred people, many of them musical performers with their friends and relatives, circulated throughout the Malibu Country Mart Saturday evening for the 2011 Annual Malibu Music Awards and Festival. If they weren’t filling the seats before the makeshift stage, they were socializing on the fringes and on the staircases.

“It’s been fantastic, beyond our expectations,” Music Awards and Festival founder Terence Davis said. “It’s been growing every year. We have 30 awards we’re giving out this year.”

The festival this year was a week-long event with free performances at participating local eateries, culminating in the awards night.

“It’s a wonderful community event,” local Mary Faherty said. “We don’t have enough musical events in our lovely town.”

Not far from Faherty sat Alex Albrecht and fiancee Heather Stewart, who performed the Americana song, “If I Can’t Take You with Me.”

“We’re having a blast!” Albrecht said.

Actress/songstress Lainie Kazan received the Lifetime Achievement Award presented by Joe Bologna and Renee Taylor, and, as award recipient Frank Stallone noted, many honorees performed their music live.

“I guess if you hang out long enough, you get something!” American Songbook Award recipient Stallone said.

Before performing a stirring cover of “This Land is Your Land,” Stallone reflected on the Italian immigrant heritage he shares with brother and actor Sylvester Stallone.

Malibu’s homegrown rap artists Shwayze and Cisco Adler hit the stage to show the people why they won the Urban Music Award.

In other categories, Mike Pinera garnered the Legendary Rocker Award. Album of the Year Award went to Buster Akrey, who also provided the pre-show entertainment.

Outstanding Music Students of the Year went to Andy Stern, Chris Armstrong, Milo Sposato, Julian Sposato, Harry Culhane, Becky Harrer, Claire Annett, Tristant Beltrami, Tanner Porter, Cooper Bell, Wynn Galan Jacobson and Rory Gesner.

Julia Holland, who in October will star in “Victor/Victoria” at Malibu Stage Company, received the Music Educator of the Year Award.

“I’m so grateful for this award and I’m lucky to do what I do,” Holland said upon her acceptance.

The group Echo Hero Kids, whom she teaches, performed after her acceptance.

Larisa Stow and Shakti Tribe, Best World Music Award winners, went from accordion-quirky to heavy Zeppelin riffs in their performance Saturday. When the five sisters of Cimorelli received the Jackson 5 Family Music Award, they appropriately sang the Jackson 5 hit, “ABC.”

“It’s wonderful to see such high-quality talent coming together to represent Malibu,” said Worship Music Award recipient Peter Torsiello with guitar in hand.

The “Song for Job” singer for years has commuted to California from his Arizona home to perform as musical director of Our Lady of Malibu.

Singer/actress Jacqui Hylton, who will cover Billie Holliday songs at Savory restaurant on Oct. 6, cheered on friend Athene Noelle.

Looking hard rock in her black outfit and heels, Vikki Lizzie accepted a tribute to actor Jeff Conaway, who died on May 27.

“A lot of people don’t know that Jeff had a music career,” said Lizzie, who for seven years was engaged to the late “Taxi” star (Conaway played vain Bobby Wheeler on the classic sitcom) and who collaborated with him on the 2007 CD “Saints and Sinners.”

Wearing a leather bomber jacket that Indiana Jones would covet, Malibu Councilmember Jefferson “Zuma Jay” Wagner was all smiles Saturday.

“I loved hearing ‘In A Gadda Da Vida’ for 11 minutes,” he said.