Archive for July, 2009

July 30, 2009

Festivals and rumors of festivals

In the wake of the epic failure that was the California Music Fest, it seems that yet another would-be promoter is cooking up something big in Ventura. And when I say big, I mean BIG. Why Ventura? Who knows. Yes, it’s a beautiful place, yes it’s got that certain je ne sais quois, but music events here are historically under attended unless they involve punk rock.

The newest player in the festival game (more to come, including his name) has designs on the fairgrounds and rumor has it, that a Yardbirds reunion in little ‘ol Ventura is not entirely outside the realm of possibility. Let the buzz begin. Jimmy Page at Seaside Park? Someone call Jim Salzer.

July 24, 2009

Longer vs. shorter (double entendre unintended)

I’m in the process of revamping VCReporter’s art & culture section. This is the 1-1.5 pages that serve as entry into the a & e section of the paper and usually include a large lead feature and a smaller secondary article relating to fine arts, popular culture etc. (Music and media/film are different sections).

It has been my belief for a while now that readers would enjoy more but shorter articles. This has been a trend in weeklies and I prefer it for the weekly format. So instead of one fairly long article on a whole page, their might be three short pieces, with a couple of adequate size photos and maybe a third small photo.

What I’m wondering is whether my instincts are correct. Will people miss the longer stories or will they appreciate more comprehensive, easily digestible coverage?

Chime in please.

July 23, 2009

New Art City vs. New Bar City

In the midst of decreased funding for the arts in Ventura (the “New Art City”) and the subsequent slow death of ArtWalk, the local music scene is, as I’ve reported previously, exploding. At the same time, the bar scene–if you can call it a scene–has recently been plagued by violence which has led to what appears to be a crackdown by Ventura police on nightclubs.

This of course casts a shadow on downtown nightlife , nightlife which like it or not, the city is quite dependent on for revenue, especially considering the decrease in TOT revenue this year.

Yesterday, Joe Cardella, publisher of the now-defunct (but not irrelevant) Art Life magazine, left a very kind message on VCReporter’s Facebook fan page, but also mentioned his distaste for what he called the “New Bar City.”

I’m not exactly sure what I’m trying to say here, but I suppose the overarching theme idea is that there should be a way for all sectors of the arts and nightlife to work together for our common purpose.

As one local band’s name says, “Adversity Breeds Creation.” I tend to agree with this although I’d prefer “Creativity.”

July 18, 2009

To the idiot in the Hawaiian shirt and his equally vacant girlfriend who nearly ruined my moment with Gregg: a quick etiquette lesson.


Dear Concertgoer:

Last night at the Gregg Allman concert I stood to the right of, and slightly behind, you and your date during “Dreams.” If you’d read my letter to Mr. Allman in the most recent VCReporter, you would know that there is a little nook in my heart where he resides, and being 10 feet away from him while he sang my favorite Allman Brothers song would rank as one of my top 20 perfect moments in this life.

I had waited in the VIP section, trying to groove along to one blues number after another, hoping and praying for that one song, my song, for what seemed like an hour, when alas that first note finally rang out.

Of course I immediately beelined for the stage so I could see my man up close, singing the song that made me fall so hard for him and his voice. I’m used to battling some hardass crowds to get the view that I want at a concert, but wading through a sea of 40-60 somethings in Hawaiian shirts proved much more challenging.

When I finally got sort of positioned well enough to see my man up close, my moment with him was abruptly usurped by your clumsy schoolboy public groping of the half-drunk woman accompanying you. Gregg’s timeworn, angelic face was blocked repeatedly by the back of her head as she squirmed beneath your hairy paws. And it only got worse. Not only did you steal my moment, but your immature antics nearly eclipsed the song. Come to think of it, aren’t you one of the jocks that used to ruin punk rock shows in Hollywood and OC in the early 80s? You look awfully familiar.

As I stood there, unable to see my man, suppressing the urge to shove the two of you out of my way, I remembered many years ago when Tony and I put on quite a show of our own at a Black Crowes concert. I’m pretty sure the people behind us were none too amused and it occured to me now that this might be payback. Karma, if you will. So I chilled.

I was never able to regain eye contact with Gregg, but I refused to let it further taint the experience of his voice, this song—live. So I settled into the cirumstances, closed my eyes and felt what I couldn’t see.

That doesn’t let you off the hook though. For future reference, there is an unspoken etiquitte adhered to at concerts by those who are used to seeing live music, those who hold it in high regard. Those who will squash you next time you act like a fool. So don’t.


July 16, 2009


It seems that every week I receive one or two new requests from restaurants to be added into our After Dark section because they have live entertainment. This presents a conundrum similar to what I’ve experienced with gallery listings: restaurants with live music are like retail stores with art. The restaurant is not a nightclub, the retailer is not an art gallery.

Where does one draw the line?

At this point, if I added all the restaurants countywide that feature live music of some sort, I’d have to nearly double the section. Not only do I not have the room or resources, I have issues with restaurants jumping on the live music bandwagon—especially when I know most of them barely pay the bands.

Musicians have been earning the same crappy pay for ages,  yet they must be valuable since practically every restaurant, with or without adequate room, has someone performing.

Why can’t there be restaurants and nightclubs? Why does everyone have to try to be everything? The restaurants hurt the real venues by doing this plus they drive down the market for live music. It’s a lose lose. Besides, who really wants to hear a band while they’re trying to enjoy a meal and maybe talk to friends?

Maybe someone can enlighten me. In the meantime, I need to figure out a way to list every sing live music event or eliminate all restaurant listings entirely.

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July 9, 2009

The future of ArtWalk hangs in the balance


It’s been just over two months since I reported on the tenuous state of ArtWalk due to budget cuts. The final ArtWalk of its kind–100 percent city supported–was one of the best ever and left me feeling optimistic about the event’s future.

As the city has given over at least 1/2 the responsibility of coordinating, promoting and facilitating ArtWalk to the community via the Downtown Ventura Organization, it seems interest in keeping it going is already waning–especially among artists.

Come on people; get involved, make it happen. Here’s an easy way:

Art Party ArtWalk Fundraiser
Red Brick Gallery
, 315 E. Main St., Ventura. 643-6400.
July 18, 7-10 p.m.

Art, live music, eats by Watermark, 71 Palm, Savory Cafe, Cafe Fiore and more.

July 9, 2009

Cal Music Mess: the final word

The road to hell is paved with good intentions.

Well . . . it’s come and gone, and unfortunately my instincts were spot on.  Before I get  into the  gory details, I want to let it be known that even though many have called it a failure, i don’t think it was entirely. I had a good time as I know others did. I saw a handful of great bands, chatted with lots of people from the music scene, hung out with Chris Mastrovito our music columnist and appreciated the overall vibe.

So far I’ve received three letters expressing dissatisfaction (I’m understating) with the event. Two were from bands–one out of town, one local–and one was from a vendor. Words like “disaster,” and “debacle” were used.  The chief complaints were about lack of organization, closed communication channels and confusion among event staff.

Apparently Nicholby’s is only permitted to have live entertainment after 8 p.m., so all the bands who were scheduled to play there earlier than 8 (and there were many) were moved to other venues in the 11th hour.  One band arrived early to its venue to find their venue had changed (after distributing a shit ton of fliers  and sending email blasts with the original venue’s name) and there was no sound system. They had to scramble to their rehearsal space and grab a PA literally minutes before their downbeat. One local promoter decided to step in just two days before the fest and assist Rasmussen who had failed to handle basic details like ordering wristbands. There was also much confusion and inconsistency regarding wristband prices and colors etc.  I could go on but I won’t.

Mark Rasmussen will hopefully learn from his mistakes,  and he probably did other would-be event promoters a favor by making them.  Most  people I  talked to agreed that he bit off more than he could chew, but bless him for trying.  Sure the scale he attempted is something one grows into, not a starting point. Yes he used some deceptive tactics to attract sponsors, vendors and bands. But he meant well. You have to give him credit for putting it all on the line.  You have to take risks in life, it just sucks when other people suffer in the process.

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