The serendipity of celebrating the Fourth of July in 1776 and the pop music phenomenon known as "The British Invasion" of the 1960s was not lost on Avalon resident and rock `n` roll legend Spencer Davis this week.
"It is kind of ironic, but it is also a celebration of how the music has brought us all together," he said. "And anyway, we`ve (Great Britain and the United States) really been joined at the hip for such a long time."
Davis, his music and its part in the British Invasion are at the center of two Catalina events he has helped commence. In fact, he was booked this week by mainland radio stations and appeared on "Good Day LA" to promote them.
The first event is a Catalina Island Museum symposium, titled "Tribute to Americana: The British Invasion." Featuring fellow musicians from the era including Peter Asher (Peter and Gordon), Micky Dolenz (The Monkees), and rock personalities such as the disc jockey Mike Pasternak who is known as Emperor Rosko (the inspiration for the film "Pirate Radio"), it will be held on Saturday at the Avalon Casino Theater.
The event will kick of the museum`s exhibit "Gimme Some Lovin`: The Spencer Davis Group," which will run June 30 through Aug. 22.
On July 4, Davis and fellow Avalon musicians known as Spencer Davis and the Catalina Island All-Stars, will perform a pre-fireworks concert from 8 to 10:30 p.m. (following Tribute to the British Invasion from 6 to 8 p.m.) at The Point at Avalon Casino.
"It actually came about quite a while ago when I had an idea," Davis said. "Basically, it was to hold a tribute to American music culture and its heritage. Without the blues we would not have bands like the Rolling Stones and The Animals and so many more."
The era in rock music known as "The British Invasion," as signaled, more or less, by The Beatles performances on "The Ed Sullivan Show." They were followed by a string of other rock `n` roll musical acts and singing groups from Great Britain.
American musicians and youthful rock bands began to emulate what the British were doing and with the blues, giving it a distinctive flavor and feel that poured out over millions of transistor radios and phonograph speakers all over the United States and around the world. "We`ve actually pole-vaulted over each other`s music styles and set trends along the way," Davis said.
The symposium on Saturday is intended to give more insight to the symbiotic relationship between the British and American music artists that created an historic body of work. It was defined but the optimistic times in which it was created and the flowering creativity of a post World War II generation coming of age. Rock `n` roll was the boom that kept the beat of the Baby Boom Generation.
Davis, who fit right into that generation and avoided getting lost in it, has made Avalon his home base for most of the past 11 years when not on the road touring. He says he was attracted to the tiny Island town due to its similarity to his boyhood hoe of Swansea, Wales.
"I brought my mom here for a visit once, and as the ferry was pulling into Avalon she said, `Oh Spencer, I can see why you live here. It is just like Swansea,`" Davis said.
Davis has played music with many of Avalon`s professional and semi-professional musicians over the past decade. He first got involved with the local music scene by helping out with the Catalina Island Blues Festival.
"It`s amazing just how many musicians we have here in Avalon," Davis said. "There really is a great pool of local talent on Catalina and I`m happy to be involved in any way to showcase that."
Many of the local musicians with whom Davis has jammed in Avalon venues were initially inspired by his music to play their instruments. "I`ve been reading all my life about rock `n` roll history and The Spencer Davis Group was a part of that," said Catalina All-Stars member Vern Altieri. "Myself and J.R. Lawing (another All-Stars member) played Spencer Davis tunes in 1972 in Naples, Italy and that`s a true story. Now, in this moment in time I get to play with the man himself in the Fourth of July concert."
Roger Connelly, of the Avalon-based Roger Connelly and the Blues Merchants is also a loyal member of the All-Stars. "He was one of the people I looked up to," Connelly said. "I remember when I was about 13 and we had a band and the first time I heard "Gimme Some Lovin`" I said we`ve got to learn that one. It`s going to be great for Catalina Island to see and hear him again."
"Spencer Davis. He`s the man. And the rat of these guys int he Catalina All-Stars are great musicians and it`s an honor to play with them," said All-Stars drummer Victor "Butch" Azevedo. "It`s going to be fun, fun and I hope we get to play together for a long time to come."
Davis said you`d think he would be a bit jaded by all the attention at this time in his career, but he says it still brings a smile to his face and a tug on his heart.
"I`m humbled and honored that everybody has gone to such great lengths to make these events a big success," he said. "I`m not really nervous about the show. I just want us to do our best and put on a great concert so that everyone who attends has a good time."
Davis, a highly educated man who was a studious youth could have strayed into many, although albeit not necessarily as glamorous lifestyles, says he remains some what bemused by it all. He still remembers begging off purchasing a few schoolbooks that the precocious student thought he could get through his classes without, and buying a 12-string guitar - just for the giggles.
"It`s amazing to me how this hobby of mine has turned out and gone on for all these years," Davis said.