The Malibooz in concert at Our Lady of Malibu

For a Bronx kid who loved rock music and surfing, St. Monica Catholic might not have seemed like a fitting destination.

But after moving from New York to Southern California, John Zambetti found himself regularly playing guitar in the music ensemble at the local church on Sundays and holidays.

“They really have fantastic music over there,” the former Santa Monica resident said. “They had top musicians there, top studio players. It was quite amazing. Music was being written for those liturgies.”

Zambetti will put his musical talents to use in a different setting this weekend at the Malibu Guitar Festival, where he and The Malibooz will be among the bands boasting local ties.

Running April 28 to May 1, the event will feature Kenny Wayne Shepherd, Robert Randolph and The Empty Hearts, among others. Malibu resident Steve Ferrone, the drummer for Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, is serving as musical director.

The festival, the bulk of which is scheduled for April 30 at Malibu Village at Cross Creek Road, has a charitable aim. Proceeds from the second-annual event will be donated to Mending Kids, Boys & Girls Club of Malibu and Therasurf, according to a press release. Last year’s inaugural edition raised more than $30,000 for three area nonprofit groups.

“The iconography of the guitar and the backdrop of Malibu are a perfect combination for this beautiful event inspired by a passion for music and a love of community,” festival co-founder and Malibu resident Doug DeLuca said in the release. “The artists and supporters that have come together will ensure the event’s success and growth well into the future.”

The festival brings to fruition a dream that Zambetti laid out in “Goin’ to Malibu,” a song he wrote as a teenager. It’s long been a hit for The Malibooz, who began using the current spelling for their band after being referred to by DJs as “Mali-Bus” and even “Mailbus.”

Zambetti moved to Southern California in 1976 and lived in Topanga Canyon until his wife became pregnant, at which point they moved to a residence near 10th Street and Georgina Avenue in Santa Monica.

“It was a fantastic neighborhood to bring our kids up in,” he said.

In the early 1980s, Rhino Records brought The Malibooz together for a fresh recording of “Goin’ to Malibu.” Then, after being included on a compilation surf album in the mid-1990s, the song was chosen as a theme for “MTV Beach House” programming.

The group’s latest album, “Queens’ English,” was created in the British Invasion style. The Malibooz are slated to perform April 30 at 2:30 p.m.

“It’s really a great event,” Zambetti said. “It not only showcases great guitar players like Kenny Wayne Shepherd and Robert Randolph, but it brings in other younger musicians.”

These days, Zambetti hosts a cable television show and YouTube series called “Malibu Music Room,” in which he highlights the work of artists like Shwayze, Cisco Adler and Duane Betts.

His location serves him perfectly, he said.

“It really is the California dream,” he said. “Santa Monica is a very special place where people still live a different lifestyle than the rest of Los Angeles. … In Malibu, it’s kind of like, ‘Create your fantasy and live it.’”

For more information about the festival, visit