Find everything from rock to dub to samba to belly dance at Venice Spring Fling 4

By Michael Aushenker

Dancers do their thing at last year’s Venice Spring Fling Photo by Rich Saputo Photography

Dancers do their thing at last year’s Venice Spring Fling Photo by Rich Saputo Photography

A homegrown festival that aims to be as eclectic as Venice itself, Saturday’s free Venice Spring Fling 4 features a variety of local music acts, an art show, food trucks, kids activities and plenty of opportunities to dance the day away out on Ocean Front Walk.

Musical headliners this year include an all-star band featuring Barry “The Fish” Melton of 1960s psychedelic folk rockers Country Joe and the Fish and Greg Douglass of the Steve Miller Band and Van Morrison, the Venice-spawned ska-surf-punk outfit Meet Me at the Pub, and the improvisational Venice Philharmonic Orchestra, a seven-man funk-rock-soul outfit.

There’s also the family-friendly Jelly of the Month Club (featuring Todd Forman, a saxophonist associated with Sublime), the multi-genre but dub-heavy Roots Collective, high-school female rockers the Allie Kay Band, Amy Winehouse tribute Missus Jones, and Rated X — a tribute to the famed Los Angeles punk band X.

Lest anyone forget to move with the music, musical acts are interspersed between dance performances by the likes of Samba Da Mudança, the Venice-based Ya Harissa Bellydance Theater, and American Tribal Style Bellydance and Drums.

As is tradition, Danny’s Venice on Windward Avenue plays host to an after party that keeps the party going, this year with sets by the Venice group Street Smarts and an encore performance by the Venice Philharmonic Orchestra, featuring Tovi Khali on vocals with guitar virtuoso Michael Jost and sitar/guitar player Milo Gonzalez of Insects Vs. Robots.

“It’s a good excuse to get the best possible musicians together,” Jost, a 20-year Venice resident, said of the band. “I wouldn’t call it experimental. We always have first-class musicians. It’s more like a jazz approach — we improvise.”

Venice Spring Fling 4 runs from 11 a.m. to 7:30 p.m., and the after party at Danny’s Venice runs from 7 p.m. to 1:30 a.m. –making for 14 ½ hours of fun.

L.A. City Councilman Mike Bonin provides the tables and chairs, which Spring Fling in turn offers to local nonprofits (such as Venice Art Crawl), as well as seats for the 40 members of Palm Springs Senior Travel Club bussed in for this event.

The lengthy roster of sponsors also includes Whole Foods Market Venice, Sidewalk Café, Venice Beach Suites & Hotel and Bartels’ Harley-Davidson.

Dr. Bronner’s Magic Soap is also hosting a foam party station at the festival, so bring bathing suits and towels.

Venice Spring Fling 4 is an offshoot of the annual end-of-summer Venice Beach Music Festival (going on its ninth year). Both events are the brainchildren of Marina del Rey resident Milton Rosenberg, who each year devotes himself to finding local and national sponsors when he’s not overseeing the research department at USC’s Centers for Creative Technologies.

Rosenberg’s mission has been “showcasing the best of Venice musicians, artists and dancers, as well as preserving Abbot Kinney’s vision for Venice of America as a place to enjoy world class arts and entertainment at the beach,” he said.

His passion for rock, reggae and ska has driven him to single-handedly raise the sponsorship and manpower — much of it volunteer — to mount these rock shows.

Last year’s Spring Fling 3 lineup included high-energy sets by The Untouchables and the Chuck Dukowski Sextet, fronted by the Black Flag bassist himself. Earlier events hosted performances by Fishbone and L.A. Guns.

Even bigger bands have taken an interest in the event. There was talk of the Red Hot Chili Peppers performing at Spring Fling after the band filmed its 2011 video for “The Adventures of Rain Dance Maggie” on an Ocean Front Walk rooftop, but the logistical needs were too great.

“We’re somewhat limited in the scale of the bands that we can take. If they’re too big, it requires security infrastructure that we couldn’t afford,” Rosenberg said.

Nonetheless, Venice Spring Fling has grown in scope over the past three years to resemble Rosenberg’s more established Venice Beach Music Festival.

“I call them bookends for the summer. I think they are now of equal footing,” he said.

Venice Spring Fling 4 runs from 11 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. Saturday near the intersection of the Venice Board Walk and Windward Avenue. Visit venicespringfling.com.

michael(at)argonautnews.com

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