The Catalina Island Museum Rocks Avalon with the British Invasion
By Gail Fornasiere

The Catalina Island Museum is dedicating the summer to the British Invasion, featuring three events, two of which occurred over the 4th of July. Catalina Island resident and rock icon Spencer Davis worked with the museum to organize the events. They included a symposium of the leading rock ‘n’ roll personalities of the 1960s, an exhibition dedicated to the Spencer Davis Group derived from Davis’ own archive and a 4th of July concert featuring Spencer Davis and the Catalina Island All-Stars.

The symposium provided a rare opportunity to witness a conversation about the British Invasion from a diverse panel of celebrities, hand-picked by Davis himself. The panel was composed of Micky Dolenz of The Monkees, Peter Asher, a Grammy-winning music producer and former member of Peter & Gordon, DJ Emperor Rosko of Radio Caroline, Spencer Davis and moderator Martin Lewis, a well-known Beatles scholar.

Nearly 600 people attended the British Invasion Rocks America Symposium on June 30 in the Avalon Theatre. When asked about it afterward, Spencer Davis said, “It was a dream come true for me to bring people like that to the island to not just enlighten the audience but also entertain them.”

Symposium moderator Martin Lewis stated, “I loved the island. Quite enchanting. The hospitality shown to me by the museum staff and everyone I encountered in my three days was incredible. The theater was a beautiful building to see and work in. The photo exhibition was masterfully assembled and presented to the very highest of museum standards. I urge people to visit the exhibit. It provides enjoyable insight into a fascinating era.”

“The museum team put on a really first class program,” said Catalina Conservancy Chairman, Cliff Hague after attending the events. “I thought the symposium panel was outstanding. The speakers were very engaging and everyone I spoke with afterwards just raved about it. To follow that up with the fantastic 4th of July concert on Casino Point – Wow!”.

For the first time ever, Casino Point was used as a concert venue complete with a professional stage, sound system and light show. “The Santa Catalina Island Company was a great partner for the event,” said Catalina Island Museum Executive Director, Dr. Michael De Marsche. “We really appreciate the hard work of their staff and details like the red, white and blue lights on the Casino building, which really enhanced the entire experience.”

The opening act of the concert was a tribute to the British Invasion, but the showstopper was Spencer Davis. Full of energy and accompanied by the Catalina Island All-Stars, Davis sang his most famous hits and many of his favorite blues songs in front of a crowd of more than 750. A number of musicians in the concert traveled to Catalina Island and the All-Stars are featured in a CD produced exclusively for the Catalina Island Museum and available at its Museum Store.

Roger Connelly, local musician and member of the Catalina Island All-Stars, said after the concert, “I want to thank the entire staff at the Catalina Island Museum for the vision and hard work that went into making this event so successful. I think it shows the caliber of event this island is capable of producing. I hope this will be the beginning of the new ‘good old days.’ After all… this is Catalina.”

“A fantastic concert at a wonderful venue and I can’t wait for the next event,” stated Avalon Mayor Bob Kennedy.

Many members of the Avalon business community showed their support by sponsoring the British Invasion events and the museum is extremely grateful. “Sponsoring dynamic events like the concert on Casino Point not only enhances your business’ visibility but also supports Avalon’s only museum. Casino Point is the perfect venue,” said presenting sponsor, Steve Bray of Steve’s Steakhouse. “We need more events like this.”

“The Museum management team created the perfect setting for a once a year, special concert. We really appreciate their support of our restaurants before and after the concert,” said Randy Herrel, CEO of the Santa Catalina Island Company.
According to its Marketing Director, Donna Harris, the Chamber of Commerce received many positive comments about the week of events. “Even though the 4th fell in the middle of the week this year, the island offered an array of celebration options appealing to all ages. The parade and the BBQ dinner with the USC band in the Casino Ballroom are long running traditions that proved successful once again,” stated Harris. “The addition of the museum’s Spencer Davis concert on Casino Point was an absolute hit, with everyone excited about this new concert venue. All of these events contribute to a high quality island experience and make visitors return for more.”

“The museum is already working on plans for next year’s concert,” De Marsche said. “The plans include two major acts that will make the event even more entertaining and exciting for our patrons and sponsors.”

The British Invasion continues through August 22, 2012 with “Gimme Some Lovin’: The Spencer Davis Group,” an exhibition of photographs, which is accompanied by a film produced by the museum about the early history of the Spencer Davis Group. For more information, the museum may be reached by phone at 310-510-2414 or at its website: CatalinaMuseum.org.

The Catalina Island Museum is Avalon’s sole institution devoted to art, culture and history. The museum, its digital theater and store are located on the ground floor of Avalon’s historic Casino and are open 7 days a week, from 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.

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