Posts tagged ‘ventura county music scene’

December 27, 2012

…………………..2012: A List………………

(Hope you don’t get seasick) p.s. it’s all local


Cassettes were all the rage this year. Massenger was my favorite band.

Recorded Music
The Pullmen
D on Darox and the Melody Joy Bakers



Live Music
Wussy at Zoey’s
Pangea at Indie West Fest
The Pullmen at Bombay
Kapeesh at Red Cove
Alexandra and the Starlight Band at Zoey’s
Miguel Garcia & the Vaquetones at Yolie’s
OFWGKTA at the Ventura Theater (for the sheer spectacle of it)


Outstanding film! Bob Forrest actually remembered me from the old days.

Bob and the Monster at Indie West Fest


Shenanigans at the Scavenger Hunt. (Appropriately, I stole this photo.)

The Local Rock Picnic
86 Scavenger Hunt (I was a secret weapon. Plus, I sacrificed my son’s innocence. See pic.)
Westside ArtWalk

comics comics

Comics and Comics at Hypno Comics

Comics and Comics at Hypno Comics


I purchased one of these pieces from Sean Tully. Can you guess which one?

Sean Tully at The WAV
Stacie Logue’s guerrilla bluebirds
Paul Lindhard’s gateway to Ventura
Evan Ames’ and Lauren Mosinka’s yard sale
Everything at Sylvia White Gallery
Michael Pearce at Carnegie Art Museum
Art of Autism at Westside ArtWalk
MB Hanrahan’s Scabenue Calendar


End Transmission: The Life and Death of the People’s Radio

March 16, 2011

The Guest List

Readers of VCReporter may or may not have noticed that we’ve launched a new column. In lieu of replacing Sounding the 805 music columnist Chris Mastrovito, we decided to invite local musicians to give us their two cents regarding Ventura County’s music scene.

This first person on the list was Dan Grimm, who wrote about the cultural richness of what many of us affectionately refer to as Ventucky. Nest up is Josh Hayes (Glass and Ashes, Lovebird) whose piece publishes on March 17.  Josh has much to say about the city of Ventura’s determination to brand itself on the backs of the arts as well as what’s really needed from everyone in order to foster a strong, cohesive, supportive and supported music scene here.

It seems the city (government, not general population) has realized that live music, not just visual art, is a big revenue source here (better late than never) and thus they’ve decided to create an event to draw attention to it. Ventura Music Week, slated for late April, will attempt to provide a boost to the local music scene and those whose livelihoods depend on it, by essentially letting people know that, uhhhh, there are lots of places to drink and hear great music in Ventura!!

Josh Hayes makes some salient points regarding this development as does Rain Perry who is next on the list: March 24.

If music is important to you or even if you’re just interested in it, please take some time to read this new column in VCReporter’s music section and take part in the ongoing conversation.



April 22, 2010

Heavy words from an angry metal fan (is there any other kind?)

Yesterday, I received a lengthy and bitter missive from a local headbanger about the absence of metal representation in our local music issue. While he was clearly uninformed and presumptuous  about most things relating to VCReporter’s music coverage, he was right about one thing: there was, indeed, no metal in the that issue.

In this letter, I will systematically highlight some of the “minor” points that your insular rag overlooked. Michael Cicero, Chris Jay, and Chris Mastrovita, I’m calling you out by name (*though I can’t spell your names) to pay close attention, because despite the fact that all three of you have been in music scene for years, perhaps age is getting the better of you and you require a wake up call.

In all fairness, were I some kid in a metal band, keyed up on energy drinks and guitar solos, thumbing through the weekly’s annual local music issue, I too would have been disappointed to find no trace of my beloved genre. Whoever you are, I feel your pain.

I mean, how could you know that from our very first discussions about the issue, I was all about the metal. I had every intention of doing a large piece on metal in VC. But, alas, the best laid plans of mice and men . . . in the end, due to resources, timing and other horrors inherent to publishing, it crumbled and at the last minute we replaced it with an ode to 805 hip-hop–a genre far less represented in our publication than metal.

I don’t have a problem with criticism, when it’s warranted and I’ll be glad to listen to anyone’s beefs about the section of the paper for which I’m responsible. What I do have a problem with is the assumptions people make about those of us who write for the paper and our editorial processes:

Despite the fact that the VC Reporter believes that the majority of it’s readers ane getting drunk at Bombay’s three nights a week, there still exists a thriving and growing all-ages scene.”

Gosh, we’re transparent. While there have been some great shows, metal and otherwise, for all-ages, most would say it’s a stretch to call that scene thriving.

“Perhaps you weren’t aware that the majority of Warbringer’s members are from Ventura , signed to Century Media, and recently opened up for bands like SLIPKNOT, and MEGADETH just to name a few.”

I confess, I did not know this.Would have been cool if someone clued me, like maybe even the band. It’s called public relations.

“The Oxnard Hardcore/Deathcore Scene:  it’s an atrocity that the VC Reporter neglected to at least pay some sort of mind to hundreds of kids continuing a tradition of hardcore music that has evolved into local bands with huge draws like GRAVESLUT.  Last time I check, Oxnard is Ventura County too.”

This only shows me that the writer doesn’t actually read our publication more than every so often. Criticism works better when it’s informed.

“As epic as the metal scene in Ventura County is and always will be, the only thing epic about your local music issue, is how it failed.”

Yes, we both saved the best for last. The letter writer and I had a mostly civil phone conversation, though he still plans to dedicate an entire 2-hour radio show to discuss the  Local Music Issue, “or the lack of local music rather. ( on Monday, April 26 at 6 p.m.,  on The Dungeon Awaits Podcast.

I think my wish for the music scene is that people involved with music would learn the basics of promotion, and would approach the press with a friendly, cooperative, rather than combative, attitude.

If you feel we’re missing something, egads, let us know. We’re only human and need to be loved too. 😉

April 15, 2010

Sound and vision, love and miracles

Chris Velasco by James Scolari

It’s shaping up to be another busy weekend in Ventura with the Spring Artwalk promising lots of  sweets for the senses. The turnout for VCReporter’s first local music issue party last weekend was tremendous.  It was smiles all around when six up and coming Ventura County bands performed for a capacity house of enthusiastic music fans–can’t wait to do it again next year. One of the bands from the party, Shades of Day, will be performing at ArtWalk at 1 p.m. Saturday on the promenade where C-Street meets the ocean. Last night, another performer, Dan Grimm, proposed to his girlfriend while performing at Green Art People.  Gratz!

A band that’s on our radar for next year’s bands to watch,  Shoddy Cons, whose hybrid of hip-hop, punk rock and funk is generating some buzz in these parts,  just announced they will perform at WAV‘s grand opening on Saturday at 10 p.m. Pick up this week’s VCR for a thought-provoking q & a with WAV’s visionary developer Chris Velasco (pictured).

In early Feb. during a First Friday ArtRide (cyclists dress up and gallery hop on wheels), Gwendolyn Alley‘s husband Marshall  broke his C2 vertebrae in a freak fall. Alley is a longtime fervent supporter of the arts in Ventura County. “Known as a “hangman’s break”,” she said, “It’s the kind of break where 95 percent of the people die instantly; for those who live, almost all have limited mobility.” Marshall, whose recovery thus far is amazing to say the least, will be at Bell Arts Factory during ArtWalk at about 4 p.m. to meet up with Alley and her cycling compadres for some well-deserved revelry.

Goodness knows we pay a lot to live in this fair city, but given the riches that surround us, I’d say, most days it’s worth it.  See ya at ArtWalk!

February 11, 2010

A little something by guest blogger B.Willing

Guest blogger Ojai singer-songwriter B.Willing, who also fronts Shades of Day, puts on his philosopher hat in this day-in-the-life essay about driving, football and following his bliss:

Peyton and me

I had one of those “what does it all mean?” moments while driving home this evening. I have these from time to time. There was something different about this one though. Weaving through the east L.A. traffic at a breakneck and most likely dangerous pace, I focused intently on the quarter mile of road and automobiles ahead, gauging, calculating, reacting, occasionally cursing. Not at the other drivers so much, but at myself for making the wrong decision. There it was… the fork in the road that marked the split from the 5 to the 134. Semi truck to the right coming up hard…slowing white van in front of me…brake lights…an opening to the left, but that meant I had to pass the van, then get over two lanes and make the split. The exit was on top of me. Busted a left, downshifted into 3rd, floored the pedal and my tacoma’s four cylinders screamed with delight… action! My calculations were correct. The van continued to slow, the taco had just the right amount of juice to clear the two lanes and hit the fork perfectly. YEAH! At that moment I couldn’t help but think of Peyton Manning. Why? I’m a football nut. Really though, it’s because I believe that I see the field the way that he does. Chaos surrounds us on a daily basis, akin to post snap on a football field. Often times we have tiny windows of opportunity and merely seconds to make the decision to go for it, throw it away, or take the sack. Like Peyton, I hate taking the sack. It’s just not an option.

I use Peyton as an example for numerous reasons, but he’s fresh in the mind because of his involvement on the big stage last night in the Super Bowl. I have been a voracious football fan this year. Couldn’t get enough., ESPN, Sunday football, Monday Night football. There wasn’t a story I didn’t know about. I found myself constantly checking scores on my iphone at work. I played fantasy football, lost, and was bitter at some of my players for being injured. For the first time in my life, I truly understand the game…and I LOVE it.

But I’m a musician. I’m barely 6 feet, just clear 160 pounds, and can’t touch my toes. I can’t imagine being crushed daily by a 275 pound man that makes a living (a damn good one!) crushing other men. Sounds too painful for me. I would rather inflict a different kind of pain on myself. The pain of the artist.. Oh goodness.

The freeway jams up. The game, for now, is over. I see a tow truck up ahead backing towards a stopped cargo van in the right lane. Fair enough. At least I had that fresh victory back there at the fork to reminisce about, when all things freeway were flying along. I glanced down at the 9 empty bottles of vitamin water in the passenger foot well. I’m most certainly addicted to the yellow….and thought: I should probably recycle those at some point. The passenger seat is piled high with a sweatshirt, mostly eaten week old bag of mixed nuts, my sandwich wrapper from lunch, a banana peel, my white iphone headset, joey ryan cd, another stack of scratched cd’s that I wish I could listen to, my girlfriends hat, unopened mail from who knows when, and two chocolate chip cookies from 7-11. Don’t eat those. DON’T. I didn’t.

I had a funny day. Not so much the haha kind, though I do remember laughing a bit here and there with some co-workers. Laughter is the key to life. No joke. Nope. My phone was dead by 4:30, from a full charge at 9 am. I must have spent more hours today emailing, texting, listening to voicemails, reading blogs, Lefsetz, Peter King, football afterthoughts than actually working… sadness…football season is over. Basketball? Sure. Lakers are fun when the playoffs come around. Baseball? Yawn. Couldn’t care less. I think there are some other sports, but you’d have to convince me. When it comes to fanatics, I’m a football guy. Period.

My phone was dead at 4:30 because I am attempting to create a tour with 7 other musicians. No one in particular is in charge, though we all want the same thing. To travel together in one vehicle (obstacle #1), to have gigs that pay decent money to pay for #1 (#2), and to get to Austin and have the time of our lives. The decision has to be made yesterday on if we can get it together or not.

I am my own manager, publicist, writer, agent, and roadie. Yes, I actually like it that way. Most of the time, if not all, I am completely overwhelmed. I bend, but don’t break. Bring it on.

Peyton Manning. Here comes the blitz, again. Fires, completes, first down. OK! , Let’s see if we can score this thing. They say that when you stop thinking and start reacting, you are destined to lose. You play back on your heels. I like to see things before they happen, to predict them…and I like to be right. Like Peyton.

Yesterday, and all season I rooted for the Saints. I love the city of New Orleans. I have friends there. I have friends here, from there. I love their football story. I don’t know of a more deserving city for that super bowl win. They needed it, and the team delivered. But when Peyton threw that interception in the fourth quarter, I felt for him. Sure I stood and screamed with the rest of the Saints fans around me. Inside though, I felt this twinge. Everyone knew it was over, maybe even Peyton. Though to his credit, he sure didn’t give up.

In my life so far, I’ve thrown a ton of those interceptions. It’s late in the game, and I have to make a decision. People are counting on me to deliver. Many times, I don’t. I choke. I fumble. I don’t see it coming, even though I’m looking right where I need to be looking, predicting, calculating….

This was my lesson today, as it is everyday. Years ago, I chose music as my path. I dropped out of college to work a part time job and write and perform my own music. I have turned down management positions, I have resisted the urge to quit the game for many years. I’ve been told I don’t have what it takes. I’ve been told I’m destined to make it. I’ve told myself both of those things, countless times.

There are so many choices in life. We all know that it’s impossible to make the right call all the time. Even for Manning the consummate professional, the man at the top of the game, the man destined to break all the records and be immortalized as the best ever, the script is not written. Predict, gauge, calculate, execute! There is no way to predict life. You must learn each lesson as it comes, and grow. Stay hungry.

That very hunger for knowledge and experience drives me to get up each day and do a great many things I do not want to do. I’ve picked up trash, I’ve cleaned bathrooms, I’ve packed groceries, I’ve developed photos, I’ve delivered doors, I’ve dug holes, I’ve babysat, I’ve mowed lawns (ok that was a long time ago..) These are all generally mindless tasks. Things with little to no responsibility, and no lingering after effects once clocked out. Where could I be right now if I had finished school and left the guitar in the case? Don’t know. Don’t care. I love my life.

I truly and firmly believe I have chosen the right path. Maybe it was chosen for me. Dunno. That’s a whole other story. I see this life, my life, as a road. I feel at home on the road. We talk, we debate, converse… never fight. We sing together, the tires and I. I learned how to sing in the car, on the road. Years and years of driving, stereo blasting. Cornell, Glen Phillips, Steve Perry, Cat Stevens, Robert Plant, Jim Croce… the list is ridiculous long. Point being, I wasn’t born a singer. Dad was, I wasn’t. I willed myself to be one. I knew how I wanted to experience my life. I listened, learned, practiced, rehearsed, failed, got up, practiced, rehearsed, listened, cried, screamed because I couldn’t do it, screamed when I finally could… DAMMIT I WAS GOING TO BE THE BEST SINGER THERE EVER WAS. Am I now? Nope. But I’ve come a long way, and I’m still learning.

Peyton Manning is bumming today. He knows he had the chance to win it all, again. He also knows he as another chance to win it all, and then win it all again and again. He’s got years of good football ahead of him. And after that probably years of sportscasting, coaching, managing, owning, etc… He’s a football guy, from a football family, in a football town in a football stadium that he built. He trudges on, being great, getting even better. Seeing the field. 100 yards of glory, a man who will be immortalized in the digital files of the future. (enter music business parallel here)

We’re about the same age. He has millions of dollars, fans, the respect of everyone in the game. I can’t match his numbers on any level at this point. Maybe I never will. That won’t stop me. Doesn’t matter. I’m not in his game. I’m in my own.

Ultimately, at the core of this musician is that quest for knowledge. A desire to be better than I was yesterday. To know something I don’t. Yes, I do want to “make it” in the music business. Yes, I do want to have a “hit record”. I won’t lie and say that I don’t. But I see those as just a few bright spots along my road. I see those as one Super Bowl. The big stage where one can achieve immortality. Yeah, sounds great. I’m down. Sign me up.

It’s the little things though, the intangibles, the things that others don’t see. I shouldn’t have made that fork in the highway today, but I did, and was grinning like an idiot because of it. I predicted it would work, made the decision, executed it perfectly. Dangerous? Yup. Stupid? Nah. I knew it would work. These are the things that make me the happiest. The little victories. When something works exactly as you planned it. I may have been stuck on the 5 for another exit. I would have made it home just the same. Sure, I would have been upset I didn’t time it correctly, but then there’s always another move to be made. There’s another Super Bowl next year for Peyton to win. Another football season….

For me? A whole lot of things I haven’t done yet. Can’t wait.

February 4, 2010

The Grammy’s, local music and the trouble with awards

The Grammy’s have come and gone, leaving much of the year’s best music without mention–let alone accolades–while the usual pablum from the top-40 arena gets all the love. In terms of live performances, the Lil Wayne/Eminem number was embarrassing considering how much real talent was on that stage. Pink’s acrobatic number was stunning but somewhat distracting too. Is her voice not enough?  Talk about gilding the lily. Pink’s underrated vocal ability rivals that of every female singer who was  in the room that night, including Beyonce and Taylor Swift (ugh). She could have performed that song from inside a cardboard box and it would have been spectacular.

That all said, the Reporter’s main music writers, myself included, have finalized our choices for bands/artists to keep an eye on in 2010 in anticipation of our annual local music issue in late March. This year we are planning our first ever live event to showcase some of the musical artists we’ve chosen, and we’re pretty excited about it.

Someone in the Reporter camp raised the idea of music awards and it made me wince.  While I’m absolutely in favor of celebrating local talent, committed to it on every level, I find art too variable and personal to judge objectively. Competition, whether it be through an awards system or a simple battle of the bands, to some extent devalues the artist and creates division where there should be unity.

At the end of 2008, Ventura County experienced  its own micro-Grammy’s by way of the MAVRIC music awards. The end of ’09,  saw no repeat of the awards. I’m not entirely surprised given what a massive undertaking it was and the problems that are built-in to such a project like accurately categorizing genres and creating meaningful, valid criteria for judging.

In the end, I’d rather leave awards out of the equation and continue to find creative ways to give local music the attention and support it deserves.

Stay tuned for more info about the VCReporter local music issue and showcase.

June 5, 2009


Since I re-entered the VCReporter fold 8 (wow) months ago, I’ve been feeling the pinch of too little space to adequately cover the vast number of events and interesting people in the county.

So.. I’ve been mulling different ways to do more with less, make the most of my limited real estate, looking at how other weeklies and magazines do it. Hopefully I’ll be able to begin playing with some ideas and make them tangible, within the next few weeks. I would love to know what people feel they are not seeing enough of, or seeing too much of,  in the arts and entertainment section.

One thing we’re launching next week is our new music column by Camarillo resident Chris Mastrovito. I’m really excited to welcome Chris has he as exactly the kind of enthusiasm for local music that I was looking for. Plus–he can write!

Chris will be giving us a scene report every other week, give or take, with highlights from the weekend and juicy bits from the nether regions of practice pads throughout the county.  Please give us your feedback regarding a&e content. We are paying attention.

May 28, 2009

Cal music fest continued…

Predictably, I received a less than cheerful note from Mark Rasmussen, the music festival’s organizer, in response to my previous post. And coincidentally, immediately following said post, the Cal Music Festival was updated to include much of the info that was previously missing.

I’m awaiting word from the City’s street fair coordinator Michele Godoy as to whether or not the permits have been approved and paid for which would allow the festival to use Mission Park for the event.

The lineup as of 30 days before the festival features Unwritten Law and B-Side Players as the headliners. After that it’s mostly B-level artists or start-up projects featuring (insert ex-member of 80s or 90s band here), and a slew of potentially interesting, largely unknown So Cal bands peppered with some Ventura County bands including one of our faves: Dirty Words and the Situation.

The list of participating venues is still nowhere near Rasmussen’s original claims to me on the phone, and they’re mostly very small spaces except for Rookees. Problem is, they’re all 21+ except for Zoey’s, which is now, thanks to  a Ventura PD effort, unable to accommodate audiences younger than 21 after 10 p.m.

So, if you’re younger than 21, you might not be able to see all the bands you were hoping to for your $40 ticket.

I honestly hope the festival comes off without a hitch and meets everyone’s expectations. I’m not trying to bash the event in any way. Just trying to shed some light: that’s what journalists do.

May 7, 2009

Rey Fresco sells out

This band is getting the big push and I’ve been reluctant to believe the hype, but with a little help from their friends, they managed to sell out the Ventura Theater last weekend. This clip really captures their energy and their signature coastal Cali sound.

April 9, 2009

… Seattle, Austin, Portland . . . Ventura?


VCReporter’s Local Music Issue is on the stands so pick it up and drink deep.  This last six months working as arts editor for the paper has given me tangible evidence for what I already knew intuitively: there is a music scene.

Beyond that, the level of talent here is getting ridiculously high.  A while back, I was challenged by someone here to find something like 20 good local music recordings.  At this point I’m challenged to make room for everything that’s worthy of coverage.

I’m not alone in thinking that Ventura County’s music scene is positioned for national attention. Seattle, Austin, Portland . . . Ventura? It’s not outside the realm of possibility. That said, it occurs to me how much money is funneled into highbrow ventures like the Ventura Music Festival (rightfully so) but homegrown local rock-oriented music is sort of dismissed despite its ability to generate significant revenue for the city.  Not to mention what we could do event-wise with all the venues downtown.

It’s my hope that next year we can pull out all the stops and create a live music event to happen in tandem with our annual music issue (which, in my scheme of things, would be a pull-out resource). A girl can dream, right?

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