"Morvan captured the hearts
and ears of blues fans...humble but powerful talent..."
The blues was alright in Avalon last weekend.
In fact, some of this year's Catalina Island Blues Festival
had highlights that surpassed any moment from previous
Female blues artist Laurie Morvan helped
kick things off during the Blues Walk on Friday night
while playing as a special guest with Island resident
musician Roger Connelly and The Blues Merchants.
During a set, Morvan, a tall blond-haired young woman
who can play rockin' blues with the best of men and make
it look easy, jumped up on the bar during one of her gigs.
Morvan, who is unassuming and easygoing in person, captured
the hearts and ears of blues fans throughout the weekend.
She is an approachable, humble but powerful talent who
promoters said really helped round out this year's blues
The Santa Catalina Island Company's Joe Caliva also played
drums with Connelly's band as well as at Descanso Beach
Club on Sunday.
Headliners for the main event on Saturday night at the
Casino Bllroom were blues guitarists Jonny Lang and Buddy
Guy. About 800 people, a mix of Island residents and visitors
from over-town attended.
"That is very good attendance for a weekend in a
down economy when fewer people are thinking about spending
money on entertainment," Caliva said.
Lang played guitar like a yeoman prodigy blues musician
with the precise chops for which he ahs come to be known
for. His singing voice was mostly silent that night however,
due to a bout of laryngitis. One of his band mates handled
most of the vocals.
Caliva, vice president of Sightseeing Operations for the
Santa Catalina Island has worked with Billy Delbert, who
retired this year from the Island Company to create each
of the recent blues festivals on Catalina.
He said that Buddy Guy's performance in the Casino on
Saturday was the best part of the festival for him as
a spectator. "He put on one of the best shows I have
ever seen in the Casino," Caliva said. "His
showmanship was fantastic. I could really see how he has
had such a strong influence on people like Jimi Hendrix,
Keith Richards and Eric Clapton. There is no other way
to describe what he did other than to say he was excellent."
The Santa Catalina Island Blues Festival was revived about
three years ago. Last year, the event was moved from September
to October, according to Caliva, as a way to let people
know that Catalina had in fact survived the previous summer's
fires and that there was still plenty to do and experience
by visiting the Island.
"Last year, we had Otis Clay and Blues Caravan at
Descanso Beach as the main act," Caliva said. "We
hope to keep it going and have the blues in September
again next year." Caliva said events like the blues
festival and JazzTrax, which the Island Company also helps
to promote and drive the Island's tourist economy.
"They bring a lot of money to town and raise the
awareness of Catalina as an easy but popular destination
with people nearby on the mainland," Caliva said.
This year, the festival continued on Saturday afternoon
in the center of town at Crescent STreet and Metropole
Avenue with a free outdoor concert featuring Laurie
Morvan with the Len Rainy Band.
The festival ended on Sunday with a free concert at the
Descanso Beach Club with Blues on the Beach with Michael
John and the Bottomline.