March 20, 2016

Catalina Island Blues Fest Anniversary

It was exactly 19 years ago that John Page (VP and founder of Fender’s Custom Shop) and my daughter Holly and me were met on the lovely Catalina Island by Packy Offield Enterprises (P.O.E.) president Billy Delbert, and my future wife-to-be, P.O.E. marketing director Bettina, to lay out a plan for an annual blues festival. It would feature Fender artists and would originate at the Casino Ballroom, then expand over the years to include other island venues. And for the next five years, the Fender Catalina Island Blues Festival did just that; from the inaugural event featuring Jimmie Vaughan, Jim Belushi and Alexander (with 14 year old guitar phenom Eric Friedman), the festival went on to great success starring such luminaries as Buddy Guy, HoneyBoy Edwards and Koko Taylor to Kenny Wayne Shepherd, Paul Rodgers and Jonny Lang, becoming one of the top destination festivals in the country. This morning we hooked up with Billy Delbert to reminisce about those wonderful days. It should be noted that Packy Offield, who sadly passed away last year, was the true “angel” of the festival, supporting it both financially and with his P.O.E. team, not for any gain to himself other than to do good things for the island community and its visitors. Sweet memories live on forever!

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