Venice Spring Fling celebrates countercultures with free concerts on the beach

Rock Hall of Famer Greg Douglass Photo by Rich Saputo

Rock Hall of Famer Greg Douglass
Photo by Rich Saputo

It’s that time of year again — a time for peace, love, rock ’n’ roll and a really big street party where Windward Avenue meets the beach in Venice. It’s time for the Venice Spring Fling.

Headlining this year’s 6th annual free music, art and literature festival is Greg Douglass, a Rock and Roll Hall of Famer who was a guitarist for the Steve Miller Band (he co-wrote “Jungle Love”) and has toured with Big Brother and the Holding Company, Hot Tuna, and Van Morrison.

Douglass and his band go on at 6 p.m. after a 4:30 p.m. gig by reggae-flavored Venice locals Meet Me at the Pub. The Rawhide, The Signal, Mother Jones, RedEye Redemption, and Slim Zwerling and The Yums round out the musical lineup.

Multi-set performances by dance troupe Ya Harissa Bellydance Theater and an 11 a.m. performance by Brazilian dance and music ensembles Samba Da Mudança (Samba for Change) and Swing Brazil bring a variety of world cultures to the stage.

Venice Spring Fling is highlighting the work of seven visual artists as well as several authors, including local poet Mark Lipman (“Poetry for the Masses and Global Economic Amnesty”), Michael Klassen (“Hippie Inc.”) and Joel Harris (“Into the Amazon in Search of Truth”).

And if you want to get in touch with your inner Beatnik, Jami Cassady — daughter of Beat luminary Neal Cassady — is hosting a counter culture merchandise booth, featuring memorabilia, pictures and books from the Beat era.

The day ends with the Venice Electric Light Parade, as a group of LED-lighted bicycles pedal into the night to promote safe cycling in psychedelic style.

— Christina Campodonico

The Venice Spring Fling happens from 11 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. Saturday, May 21, at Windward Plaza Park, 1 Windward Avenue, Venice. Free.