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Jefferson Starship's guitar god Craig Chaquico 'Beamz' onto Catalina with a new instrument for the masses

Kaye Runner

Craig Chaquico playing the Beamz on Catalina last weekend.

Hank Rosenfeld

Craig Chaquico, the ladies, and his Sharpie, at the 27th annual Catalina Island JazzTrax Festival


"I think with music particularly, it's somewhere between science and spirituality, between karma and coincidence, something between the angels and the algorithms, where you have to study and you have to be kinda dedicated and there is a science to it, there’s also a magic to it, too." -- Craig Chaquico

Most people go to Santa Catalina for the island life, maybe to see the wild boars or the buffalo. But I took the ferry to Catalina to see and hear the “Beamz,” a new musical instrument.

Craig Chaquico plays the Beamz

Chaquico Performance With Beamz

I’d heard about the Beamz back on the mainland, but by the time I got to the island, nobody was saying a thing. Most people I talked to on Catalina were here for Buccaneer Days where everyone dresses like pirates and drinks heavily.

No thanks, I said, I’m here to hear Craig Chaquico, guitar god with Jefferson Starship, who was opening Catalina’s 27th annual JazzTrax Festival and word was he was gonna play the Beamz, too.

So what exactly is the Beamz? Chaquico explains:

"Essentially it’s a musical library of recorded instruments that you can trigger by running your hands through the laser beams. So you can play along with a song, you can write your own songs, you can program it, or you can play along with the radio with this thing and pick an instrument – you wanna play guitar, acoustic guitar, electric guitar, saxophone, trumpet. The idea is without any musical training, you can reach into this device and start playing music instantly."

Craig Chaquico, does music therapy with Beamz and guitar for the Starlight Children’s Foundation near his home in Ashland Oregon. He opened the 27th annual Catalina JazzTrax Festival, which runs through this weekend.


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