Back to the Peeples Place at KHTS portal.
Stephen K. Peeples here, and you’ve veered onto Peeples Place at KHTS!
It’s the FOURTH edition of the new local music blog I’m producing in collaboration with AM 1220 KHTS and the Santa Clarita Valley’s number one website, www.hometownstation.com. We’ll be online every Friday morning with hot SCV music news and reviews right here at www.peeplesplace.com, with a preview on KHTS-AM 1220 each Thursday morning at 8:10.
In this post, we’ll take an in-depth look at Concerts in the Park headliner Jack Mack & The Heart Attack, featuring the legendary rock ‘n’ soul band’s longtime lead singer Mark Campbell of Valencia, and the two SCV teen bands — Open the Coda and Blackout — that will perform at “halftime” on Saturday night.
We’ll check out hot new local music and more live music coming up this weekend, including The McGrath Project at Mixers, Meridian at Vincenzo’s and Dick Dale in Ventura, plus Limitless at the Paseo Club and the Summer Concert Festival presented by Uturn at The Sanctuary Church on Friendly Valley Parkway, the latter two especially for teens.
We’ll tune in to local music on the tube, tell you who won our first SCV trivia contest, and throw out a new question!
Finally, we’ll hear from renowned singer/keyboardist Mike Finnigan, among the guest artists on Jack Mack & The Heart Attack’s new “Soul Meeting” album. We chatted with Mike via Facebook about his just-completed European tour playing Hammond B-3 as a member of the Joe Cocker Band.
Lots of great stuff this week, but first, Peeples Place at KHTS rocks the SCV music news.
SHOWBIZ SIBS PARTY AT PASEO POOL — Not many 14-year-olds would want to hang out with an 11-year-old sibling, but Emily Arshonsky and her younger brother Ryan don’t have that problem. They share a love of music, songwriting and singing, and have no problem with their age/gender difference.
Calling their duo “Limitless,” the Valencia youngsters will play by the pool at the Paseo Club on Friday, Aug. 26, starting at 7 p.m.
A student at West Ranch High, Emily is also a competitive dancer on the school’s dance team and with the Stars National Dance Team at the Dance Experience in Santa Clarita.
Ryan, an Oak Hills Elementary student who plays guitar, keyboards and drums, and his sister have recorded their first single as Limitless, “Slipped,” now available on iTunes. The pair are working on more original songs now they plan to record soon.
Ryan’s outside credits include singing on the track “Autumn Leaves” on Ted Jacobs’ “Back to the Garden” CD, set for Sept. 27 release via Jacobs’ website at www.houseatthecorner.com.
REMINDER: ROCKERS HELP GENTLE BARN CELEBRATE 12TH BIRTHDAY — SCV favorites PapaFish, Brian Bell and Kounterfeit Change (pictured) will provide the music for the Gentle Barn’s 12th birthday bash on Sunday, Aug. 28, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., with Southern Fried Vegan BBQ providing tasty, healthy grub for the event.
“We’re hoping that local live music will bring more people who will help raise money to help the Gentle Barn care for the animals — their feeding, shelter, veterinary visits,” said Dwayne Johnstone, one of the organizers. “We’ll be raffling off items, too.”
It’s a great cause and the suggested donation is only $5. And you don’t have to be vegan to attend and enjoy the event.
The Gentle Barn, founded by Ellie Laks in 1999 and run by Ellie and her husband Jay Weiner, right now is home to 130 animals rescued from severe abuse, neglect or slaughter. The non-profit group’s mission, according to its website, is to “rescue, rehabilitate and give sanctuary to abused animals. Through the interaction with our animals, people learn reverence for all life.”
Meanwhile, you have until midnight Aug. 31 to vote for the Barn as “Favorite Farmed Animal Sanctuary” in the 2011 Veggie Awards, the world’s largest survey of vegan people, places and products. Last year, 46,000 readers voted, and this year organizers expect to surpass 55,000.
A vote for the Barn will get you a chance to win prize packages including an all-expense-paid vegan cruise, a vegan dessert party, a Vitamix, a one-year supply of ice cream and more. Here’s a link to the survey: www.surveymonkey.com/vegnewsveggieawards2011. Winners will be announced in the November+December holiday edition of VegNews, the vegetarian lifestyle magazine.
Find the Barn at 15825 Sierra Highway, Santa Clarita 91390. Visit www.gentlebarn.org for more info.
‘ALWAYS…PATSY CLINE’ HELD OVER AT CTG — The Canyon Theatre Guild has extended the run of “Always…Patsy Cline” through Sunday, Sept. 4 due to popular demand. Presenting the story of country singer Patsy Cline, the production stars Marie Wise-Hawkins in the title role and Dawn Shelden as Patsy’s biggest fan. The final four performances will be Saturdays, Aug. 27 and Sept. 3 at 8 p.m. and Sundays, Aug. 28 and Sept. 4 at 2 p.m. Tickets are $17 for adults and $15 for seniors and kids. Call 661-799-2702 for more info or to save a seat.
ROY ROGERS CENTENNIAL THIS WEEKEND — One of the highlights of my years as co-director of Media Relations at Rhino during the ’90s was handling PR on the label’s “Songs of the West” boxed set of classic cowboy songs, out in October 1993. It featured many by Roy Rogers with his group The Sons of the Pioneers and with Rogers’ wife Dale Evans, who wrote “Happy Trails.”
During the campaign, Rhino A&R Director James Austin (pictured between Roy and me) and I took “Entertainment Tonight’s” Leonard Maltin, a well-known Rogers fan, to Roy and Dale’s museum in Victorville (now closed, unfortunately) in early November that year.
We celebrated the couple’s birthdays (Nov. 5, 1911 and Oct. 31, 1912, respectively), and they treated us to a personally guided tour of the museum before it opened to tourists for the day. We were personally introduced to Trigger and Buttermilk, the duo’s horses, famously stuffed and on display. As kids who grew up watching Roy and Dale’s TV show, Austin, Maltin and I were in cowboy heaven.
Rogers (real name: Leonard Franklin Slye), who rode off into the sunset on July 6, 1998, would have turned 100 years old this year (Evans, who passed away Feb. 7, 2001, would be 100 next year), and this weekend there’s a huge birthday celebration in Victorville, hosted by Anne and Eric Enriquez, now owners of the nearby Roy Rogers Ranch.
Festivities start at 4:30 this afternoon with “Friday Night Dinner with the Stars” at La Casita Mexican Restaurant at the Lake in Victorville. It’s open to the public. For more info, visit www.lacasitavictorville.co m.
Saturday is packed with celebrity appearances, book signings and songs of the West from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. at the Sterling Inn in Victorville.
Also open to the public is a free celebrity autograph show at the Sterling from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m., with Dan Haggerty, Dick Jones, Donna Martel, Julie Ann Ream, Jamie Nudie and the famous Roy Rogers Trailer, Andrew Prine, Bo Hopkins, Jon Locke, Peter Ford (son of Glenn), Ty Hardin, Darby Hinton, Beverly Washburn, Heather Lowe, Linda Ford and more.
Roy and Dale’s daughter Mimi Rogers-Swift will; be there, and Julie Ashley and Mindy Petersen will perform songs their grandparents made famous. Cowboy Jerry Sooter & The Pioneers and local SCV favorites John Bergstrom and Skeeter Mann & The Lost Canyon Rangers are also among the musical performers.
Book signings include Ben Costello (“Gunsmoke: An American Tradition”), Charlie Le Sueur (“Riding The Hollywood Trail” and “The Legends Live On”), Julie Ann Ream (“Weird Hollywood,” “Rex Allen: My Life From Sunrise to Sunset” and “Perfectly Amanda: From Dodge City & Beyond”), Peter Ford (“Glenn Ford: A Life”) and Jamie Nudie (“Nudie the Rodeo Tailor”).
There’s also an art show, a film festival, panel discussions, chuckwagon dinner shows, celebrity auctions, cowboy church on Sunday morning and more.
Click on the poster for a larger image. Get all the details at the centennial’s Facebook event page or contact Cowboy Jerry Sooter at 760-240-3510 (www.cowboyjerryandthepione ers.com) or Julie Ann Ream at 661-297-8923 (www.julieannream.com).
JACK MACK & THE HEART ATTACK, LOCAL BANDS ROCK CENTRAL PARK — Summer 2011’s almost history, and the city of Santa Clarita’s Concerts in the Park series at Central Park wraps up with a bang on Saturday night. In a variation on the usual CITP tribute-band format, two young, unsigned Santa Clarita Valley rock bands will play a song each at halftime in the headlining set by legendary rock ‘n’ soul band Jack Mack & The Heart Attack at Central Park Saturday night.
Fronted by Valencia resident Mark Campbell on lead vocals and billed as “hardest working band in soul business,” Jack Mack & The Heart Attack are celebrating their 30th anniversary with a new album, “Soul Meeting,” and call their CITP show a big album release party.
Adding to the festivities are the teen bands playing at halftime, Open the Coda and Blackout. Both are high-achievers in the “After School Rock” program for young musicians at Hubbadaddy’s Rehearsal Studio in Centre Pointe.
Hubbadaddy’s is owned by Kevin Cloud, who was drummer with Jack Mack & The Heart Attack from 1988-1991 when they were the house band on Fox’s “Late Show with…” and then went back on the road. Cloud now heads Hubbadaddy’s popular rock-school program. Cloud, guitarist Christy Calabro (Poison, Bret Michaels, Rikki Rockett) and bassist Jerry Best (Lion, Ronnie James Dio, Courtney Love) serve as mentors and coaches for the young players in the program.
Separately during Saturday’s concert, Cloud, along with Calabro, Best and Campbell on lead vocals, will perform a song to demonstrate the “Hubbadaddy’s Rocks” outreach presentations the four play at local elementary schools. These gigs are designed to introduce K-6 students to various instruments, styles of music, and the concept of playing in a band. Their most recent assembly was at Helmers Elementary.
“We’ve done it about seven or eight times in different primary grades,” Cloud said. “We go in and teach them a bit about the instruments, about music, and play for them. At Central Park, the Hubbadaddy’s Rocks song is probably going to be ‘Sweet Home Alabama’. Mark’s going to sing it, and he’s the closest thing to a Van Zandt we can get here in Santa Clarita.”
Following that presentation and the two songs by Open the Coda and Blackout, Campbell and Jack Mack & The Heart Attack will return to the stage to play the second half of their set.
Saturday’s show was put together by special arrangement between the headlining band, Cloud and Mike Fleming, a noted songwriter and musician who heads the city of Santa Clarita’s Arts & Entertainment crew and books the talent for the city’s popular summer concert series.
“It’s strictly a one-off, because I play with Jack Mack, and I worked it out to get them to do this,” Cloud said. “The city was excited about having them here, so it’s just a one-off thing because of my relationship with them.”
“It was great that the guys in Jack Mack & The Heart Attack were willing to try Concerts in the Park, and that Kevin could feature some of the artists who work with him at Hubbadaddy’s Studios as well,” Fleming said. “You can work on the music just like you would on sports or anything else, and set the bar high for yourself. You set those goals and work toward them, and you’re bound to be rewarded sooner or later for the hard work.”
He also said having local artists guest at Concerts in the Park is not unprecedented. “The SCV Allstars last year brought a lot of people who came up and played duiring the course of the show. We’ve had guest artists who come up and join the bands on stage. So it’s been done before.”
We’ll find out more about Open the Coda and Blackout from Cloud and from members of the bands in my interviews a bit farther south in this post.
First, let’s catch up on Jack Mack from Campbell, who’s been the band’s lead singer for more than 20 years.
Peeples Place Concert in the Park spotlight: Jack Mack & The Heart Attack
The band lines up for the photo below, summer 2011 (from left): Bruce Atkinson, Terry Landry, Robin Swenson, Les Falconer, Billy Bergman, Mark Campbell, Roy Wiegand and Andrew Kastner. Not pictured: Les Lovitt.
Stephen K. Peeples: Mark, please give us a couple of notes about where you came from and how you connected with Jack Mack & The Heart Attack almost 30 years ago.
Mark Campbell: I was originally from New Orleans, and came out here in August ’81. The band had gotten together the October before, in 1980. The original lead singer’s name was Max Carl (real name: Max Gronenthal).
I got to know the guys and the horn section after Doc Kupka from Tower of Power and a few other guys put together a group called Master Blast and brought me in as the singer. During those first two or three years I was in town, I started meeting more members of Jack Mack. And then all of a sudden, one day in ’84, they called and said Max was no longer with the group, and asked if I’d like to audition.
I wound up getting the spot, and stayed with them through ’95. Then I left just for a sabbatical, to stay in Los Angeles to do session work instead of touring. That lasted about three or four years. One guy took my place in the band and then another guy took his place.
Around the holidays of ’98, going into ’99, they called me up and had this great idea to bring me and Ali-Ollie Woodson from The Temptations in to split the job as lead vocalists. And I thought that was fantastic — I was a huge fan of his. We just loved him. One of the greatest singers of all time. Unfortunately, he passed away last year. So I’ve been with Jack Mack again since ’98, and put it all together, I’m going to say it’s been somewhere around 23 or 24 years.
Peeples: What was the first album you were on?
Campbell: Well, I’m on “Jack it Up,” the second album following “Cardiac Party.” Then there’s been some re-releases of some things like “Best of…” and the album “Greatest Hits from the Movies,” all the theme songs and things we did as Jack Mack for movies and shows. There was also the Scott Hamilton CD release from that NBC-TV show they did with Scotty skating with all of his friends. We filmed that live in Philadelphia and that was a trip. (laughs) Playing at the foot of the ice rink and making our arrangements get to the skaters’ time specifications was pretty unique and a lot of fun. But Scott is a dear friend and we’ll do anything for him.
Peeples: Jack Mack was the house band on Fox’s late show in the late ’80s…
Campbell: Joan Rivers originally had the airtime under “The Late Show with Joan Rivers.” We were guests on her show three different times, and then for whatever reason she left. Arsenio Hall had nailed down that spot, because he had been acting guest host and had done such a great job. What we thought was going happen was that we would come in, and Arsenio would be the main host.
Well, they went off-air for 13 weeks and I think Fox put “The Murdock Report” on. It flopped. (laughs) So they said, “Let’s come back with ‘The Late Show’ again.”
Meanwhile, Arsenio had gotten the contract with Eddie Murphy to do three movies with him, plus his own show from Paramount, and that became “The Arsenio Hall Show.” So, Fox was left with its show, and Jack Mack & The Heart Attack as the band, but no host. They went through a few hosts — John Mulrooney, Jeff Joseph, excellent guys, fantastic comedians — and settled with a wonderful guy out of Seattle named Ross Shafer.
We worked together for seven months on that show in 1988 as the house band. It started out as “The Late Show.” By, say, three months into it, they added “with Ross Shafer” because they’d finally found their host. It was a learning experience like you would not believe, and a blast because we got to pick the musical guests, who we got to play with. The Rascals, Bobby Wallneck, Ginger Baker, you name ‘em — back in the ’80s, they were on our show. We had a heavy metal night on Fridays — we had Guns ‘n’ Roses, Poison…it was just a blast.
Peeples: Now, Kevin Cloud first came into the picture as the band’s drummer about then, too, right?
Campbell: That’s a good segue, because Kevin came in right before we went on that show. The band had been having discussions about changing the drummer. I’d played a couple of local gigs with Kevin, and when this offer came in (from Fox), I said, “I’ll do this if Kevin will stay on board.” I knew we needed his kind of power on a TV show like that. And he said, “Oh, yeah, I’m all in!”
And that was the beginning of Jack Mack & The Heart Attack’s relationship with Kevin. He really came in maybe three shows, tops, before we got the house gig. So we really developed our friendship and rapport on “The Late Show.” In seven months working on a show like that, you’re going to get to know each other real well, real fast. We were around each other so much in rehearsals and working out segues…I had to be out front with the headset and just make eye contact with everybody, and Kevin knew how to break it all down and keep it all together for those shows, ’cause sometimes they just pulled the rug out from under you. TV is really something.
Peeples: Fox pulled the plug on the show in October.
Campbell: They went toward an “inquiring minds that want to know” kind of tabloid show. Instead of having really good celebrity guests and professional athletes and great musical numbers, they would have guys who killed their kids, or somebody who claimed he could channel Mahatma Ghandi. (laughs) We all started saying, “Boy, I don’t know if we want to be associated with this anymore…” And as we were having those discussions, they pulled the plug.
Peeples: So what’s Jack Mack & The Heart Attack been doing since then, in the last 24 years?
Campbell: Hahaha! Well, I had left and they had done a third original album called “Arrhythmia.” Fantastic album. When I came back I learned all of the new ones off “Arrhythmia,” and we toured. But it went toward playing for corporate parties. Sign of the times. A sizable corporation like Apple would hire the band to come in and play. As the ’90s went forward, fewer and fewer people at these corporate shows knew of the brand name “Jack Mack & The Heart Attack,” and just thought of us as a soul band, and so the people doing the hiring started thinking, well, they’re kind of like Motown. So then we just started getting asked to play more songs that they recognized, not our music.
After a while, we all stepped back and said, “Guys, are we really happy doing this?” (laughs) And it would be nice to go back and write our own songs again, and be the Jack Mack we all once were, to get back to why we put this whole thing together in the first place. That started last year, last April, when we started working on this new album, “Soul Meeting.” And that’s where we are now. We’re officially releasing it Friday (tonight) at the band’s 30-year anniversary CD release party at Harvelle’s down in Santa Monica.
And we’re going to celebrate it Saturday night at Central Park with all my homies in Santa Clarita. I live in Valencia now. 661 in da house!
Peeples: Checking out the website at www.jackmack.com, along with you and the current lineup, I see a lot of Jack Mack & The Heart Attack alumni like Max Carl and friends like Mike Finnigan and Bill Champlin were on the “Soul Meeting” sessions.
Campbell: “Once a Macker, always a Macker,” we say. So if you’ve ever played in this band, we tried to get you on it. So we brought back a whole lot of guys — including Max, the original lead singer. He wrote and performed a song on here. But there are people right on the fringes of being in our band, but really weren’t, but they always contributed to our albums and they’re part of our family. Mike Finnigan is one, whether it’s voice or his playing, and then Bill Champlin, [who] spent the last 25 or 26 years singing with the band Chicago.
Peeples: And fronted Sons of Champlin before that.
Campbell: Exactly right. So, you know about Bill. We’ve all known each other for a long, long, long time. And so on the new album, there’s a little song called “Soul Meeting” by a group called Soul Clan, and that band was actually five lead singers — Joe Tex, Solomon Burke, Arthur Conley, Ben E. King and Don Covay. So, what we did was we got five lead singers from our Jack Mack family — Bill, Max, Mike, Tim Scott, our old bass player who’s an incredible singer, and then me. So we do all of those five verses that those guys did. We split them up and did ‘em. It really came out great — so great that “Soul Meeting” is the title of our new CD.
We think our fans and people who don’t know us yet are definitely going to enjoy it.
Peeples: What’s the band’s lineup for Saturday night?
Campbell: It’s Andrew Kastner on guitar, another fellow Santa Clarita Valley boy Bruce Atkinson on bass and vocals, Les Falconer on drums and vocals, Robin Swenson on keyboards and vocals, Bill Bergman on tenor sax, Les Lovitt and Roy Weigan both on trumpets, Terry Landry on bari sax, and me. Robin’s out on tour, so this weekend, we’ll have a wonderfully talented guy named Carlos Morguis playing the Hammond B3 and singing. So, we’re looking forward to seeing some old faces and some new faces this coming weekend.
Peeples: Now, halfway through Jack Mack’s set, Kevin and a couple of the Hubbadaddy’s coaches will come out to play, and then a couple of bands in the After School Rocks program, Open the Coda and Blackout, will play a song each.
Campbell: Exactly right. It’s really going to showcase the program, the kids and how incredibly great they are, and in the same breath, how wonderful these instructors are and how much can be learned under their tutelage. The Santa Clarita Valley has to know it’s a special thing to have a fully professional rehearsal studio right here.
Peeples: You’ve used Hubbadaddy’s to help keep your pipes in shape between gigs and tours, I understand…
Campbell: Yeah, as my own rehearsal hall. That is a blast. Years ago, when I was singing all the time, it was like rehearsing all the time. But as you get older, you have to maintain your craft. I run in the hills up here to stay in shape, and then to work the vocal cords out just like another muscle, I’d go to (Hubbadaddy’s). Just having this (CD) right here in my back pocket, I could run over there, sing for 45 minutes, sing for an hour and a half, whatever I felt like doing, every day. I just can’t say how much it means to me to have a place like Hubbadaddy’s here in the valley.
Peeples: You’ve lived in Valencia how long?
Campbell: Five years. I’ve lived all over Los Angeles, but I moved out to Temecula for a little while and then decided it was time to move back closer to L.A. But [in Temecula] I’d gotten so accustomed to being away from Los Angeles, and close to all these hiking trails and this beauty that surrounds Southern California. So I wanted to find a place similar to what I liked about Temecula, and when I asked some friends in Santa Clarita, they said, “You just have to look up here!”
Well, I did, and it was just like, same thing — hiking trails 20 blocks from my house, really nice little downtown, great people.
That’s why I can’t wait to play Saturday night. All my neighbors, all my business associates I see everyday, the banker, the grocer, the mechanic — they’re always saying, “When’re you playing up here? When’re you playing up here?” Now, on our 30th anniversary, and with a new album out, I’m like, “We’re finally playing up here!” It’s going to be a treat. I’ve already heard so many great things about the concerts this summer, and I just know it’s going to be a blast.
Concert in the Park spotlight: Open the Coda
Rock/blues/soul band Open the Coda (below) features long-time After School Rock students who formed as a quartet just a few months ago. Singer Melanie Parson, guitarist Josh Larson, bassist Zach Relles and drummer Trevor Thomas range in age from 14-17 years old, and are writing original material as well as performing choice covers. At Central Park, they plan to rock No Doubt’s “Just a Girl.”
“Open the Coda started in After School Rock with Josh Larson about two and a half years ago,” said After School Rock founder and chief coach Kevin Cloud. “He’s been really diligent and keeps growing and kept trying to put together a band. There have been a few different versions of Open the Coda, but when he linked up with Trevor Thomas, the drummer, it seemed to come together, a little bit of a nucleus, there. When Melanie Parson came, it really, really locked in.”
Parson, at 17, is the oldest member of the group. “She’s great — the girl is so pro for her age, and she’s got a lot of stuff going on,” Cloud said. “She’s been mentored by Gavin Christopher, who sang in Jack Mack years ago. He worked with Herbie Hancock and Miles Davis and is an amazing talent. He’s worked with Melanie as a mentor, so has Bobby Watson, who also lives out here. Melanie came in and just has really taken Open the Coda to the next level.”
Bassist Zach Relles joined just a few months ago to complete the lineup. “He’s a really talented kid, and really rounded it out for them, and they’ve been doing songs ever since,” Cloud said. “And they’ve got these other gigs going on. They’re going to play another gig at the Hyatt. They just played at Concerts in the Park in Acton. A lot of good stuff is happening for them.”
“The name ‘Open the Coda’ stems from the musical symbol that, in sheet music, signals the musician to repeat a previous section; so, basically, it’s an interpretation of ‘encore’ or to continue to play,” said Parson, a senior at West Ranch High School, and band spokesperson.
“I’ve been involved with After School Rock since about March, and our band formed in May,” she said, “We’ve been using that space both for rehearsing and working with our mentors, Christy Calabro and Kevin Cloud, for a few months now, and it’s been really great. Christy is our coach and he’s been really intregal in helping us take our performance and our sound to the next level. We’re starting to work on original music now.”
As a solo artist up until this spring, Parson found the band experience “different” at first. “You have all these working parts coming together to make something bigger than just yourself,” she said. “We’ve been learning from Christy and Kevin and all the other mentors there, learning from the experience they’re just handing down to us, and putting it in our own hands. It’s been a challenge sometimes. Being in a group is a give and take situation. But for the most part, it’s been very, very rewarding for us all as a group. We’ve learned from each other. And it’s something I definitely want to continue doing.”
Parsons gave us a few notes about her bandmates. “Trevor, our drummer, is a freshman at Hart High School this year,” she said. “Outside of music, his interests are getting on the football team, so he’s playing freshman football, and he enjoys other sports like track and field. But his real passion is music, and that’s what he wants to pursue outside of school.”
Guitarist Larson is 16 and attends Opportunities for Learning, Parson said. “I believe he said he’s been playing a year and a half, two years now, so he’s picked it up really quickly. What’s really cool about Josh is, he’s very creative, constantly fiddling with new ideas, coming up with new original guitar riffs and stuff. So he’s always thinking of new things to do.”
Bassist Relles, a former SCV resident, is 16 and goes to high school in Ventura now. “Zach is a funny kid (laughs),” Parson said. “He always makes us laugh. He actually started out playing the drums, then moved to guitar, and found his real interest was actually playing bass. So he’s been really touching on other (guitar) things outside of the instrument he plays now. But now that he plays bass, he’s really getting into it and likes it the most of all the other instruments he’s played. Over the summer, he took some jazz courses at Santa Barbara City College to kind of help him get out of his comfort zone and expand his horizons.”
What’s it like for Parson as the only female in the band, and with younger guys, at that?
“Being the only girl in the band is really cool,” she said, then laughed. “Sometimes it’s weird, though, ’cause I have my girl interests, and they don’t always like to hear me talk about them (laughs). But I like being around the boys. They’re really fun to hang out with. What I like the most about being in a band with all boys is that it’s really down-to-earth and I don’t feel the need to put up a front. We’re all free to be ourselves, more together and working and throwing out ideas. And we’re not afraid to make mistakes with one another.”
About playing Central Park Saturday night? “Well, we haven’t played a venue as a group of this scale yet, so I think it’ll be a real test of our professionalism and how our sound (works with) a much larger audience,” she said. “We’ve been playing a few smaller-scale venues for a couple months now (like the Acton Concert in the Park a few weeks ago), but we’re all really excited about Saturday’s show. We hope to see our friends and family come out and strangers, too — we just want to spread our name and get the word out that we’re a new sound. We hope people like it.”
Cloud wasn’t kidding about Parson’s professionalism; it extends to media, too, as I discovered. She handled the above interview better than a lot of people you’d think would be more media-savvy than they are (trust me, I’ve done hundreds of interviews). In closing, she said this, completely unprompted: “Speaking on behalf of the boys, we really appreciate your taking the time out of your busy schedule to talk to me on behalf of our band, and get the word out about us.”
Concert in the Park spotlight: Blackout
Four of the five members of rock/metal band Blackout (right) met and formed in Hubbadaddy’s After School Rock program two years ago: Kaden Borja (vocals, in the back), his brother Tanner Borja (drums, in front), Jordan Dell (lead guitar, left) and Andre Lopez (lead guitar, backing vocals, right). The lineup became a quintet in spring 2011 when bassist Zach Relles (not pictured at right) joined up. They range in age from 11-16 years old. At Central Park, Blackout is set to perform Nickelback’s arrangement of Elton John’s “Saturday Night’s Alright for Fighting.”
“Tanner Borja, Kaden Borja and Jordan Dell have been the nucleus of the Blackout for two or three years, and they’re extremely talented,” Kevin Cloud said. “The Borja boys’ dad is really talented, a really great guitarist. And so his kids are like little pros because they got a lot from him. When they come in, they come in prepared. It’s just natural. I don’t really want to say any more about one than any other — they’re all talented in the things we have here — but Tanner is a standout. I just can’t help it. It’s me as a drummer. This little kid is solid, man, just born to play.”
“I have to learn three new songs every month, which makes me try stuff I normally wouldn’t do,” Blackout’s Jordan Dell said of his After School Rock experience. “We all pick the songs together and sometimes I play stuff I’ve never heard before and learn to like new bands. It makes me a better bandmember because we rely on each other to practice the songs and show up ready to rock. I have made good friends with my band through this program. My teacher, Christy Colabro, is awesome, and I wouldn’t want anyone else.”
What’s he think about being chosen to perform Saturday night? “Playing at the park in front of thousands of people is going to be the coolest thing I’ve done in my life so far,” Dell said. “I can’t wait!”
Kaden Borja has been in the ASR program for four years, and studies with Calabro as well. “I’m able to manage my nervousness singing in front of many people,” Kaden said, describing what he gets out of the ASR program. “Also, I’ve been able to sing many different and cool songs.” About playing Central Park: “It’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. It will be a great experience and I’m excited to perform.”
His brother Tanner has also been in ASR four years, and Calabro is his coach, too.
“I’ve become more responsible in learning the songs right and on time,” Tanner said. “Also, I’m practicing more often.” On the Central Park show: “It’s a great opportunity and I’m excited and looking forward to playing in front of thousands of people.”
Lopez has been an ASR student about two years, he said. “My teachers have been Christy and Jerry. The program has taught me different ways to think musically and how to work as a band. And playing at the CITP on Saturday means the world to me because there will be a lot of people in the crowd I know, and it’s a great experience to play to such a large audience.”
Relles, playing with both bands, has been in the ASR program about three years total. As Melanie Parson of Open the Coda noted, the former SCV resident now lives in Ventura, and his parents drive him back to Santa Clarita each weekend for his rehearsals.
“Zach was part of our ASR program when we first started, our very first session,” Cloud said. “Then he moved to Ventura County, but couldn’t find any programs like this there. His parents are very supportive. They called me and asked what I could do. I said, ‘Well, there’s a couple bands right here who need bass players, so let’s get him back down here.’ So now they drive down every weekend from Ventura for his sessions.”
Relles may be new to the Blackout lineup, but he liked them as soon as Cloud put them in the same room together. “They showed they’re good players and a bunch of cool guys, so I just decided to play with them,” said Relles, whose father is also a guitar player. “He helps me a lot with [speaker] cabinets and all the equipment I really need.”
“This kid rocks, and it’s awesome he’s playing in both bands at Central Park,” Cloud said. “It’s just a credit to his talent and potential. And he’s a rare commodity right now because at his level, bass players are hard to find. And not just young kids — I get it from the older bands, too. It’s the toughest position to fill. But Zach’s got some mad potential.”
SPEAKING OF JACK MACK & MIKE FINNIGAN — As Mark Campbell noted earlier, five singers are featured on the title track of Jack Mack & The Heart Attack’s new “Soul Meeting” album, including Mike Finnigan. We met last year when Mike sat in with his longtime friend Dave Mason (of Traffic and solo fame, and who played on Jimi Hendrix’s version of Bob Dylan’s “All Along the Watchtower” in 1968) at Warner Center in Woodland Hills.
Finnigan is a musician’s musician and and artist in his own right. He played on Hendrix’ “Rainy Day, Dream Away” jam, also for Hendrix’ “Electric Ladyland” in 1968. Years later, in the late ’70s, Mike co-fronted the Dudek-Finnigan-Krueger Band (aka the DFK Band) with guitarists Les Dudek and Jim Krueger. DFK released an eponymous album in 1980 (reissued in 2006) that includes a song Finnigan wrote with DFK bandmember Max Gronenthal, soon to be the original Jack Mack lead singer Max Carl.
Need more? Google Finnigan; his other credits are just as stellar.
When we chatted via Facebook this week, he’d just returned home to L.A. from an extensive European tour playing Hammond B-3 and singing as a member of the Joe Cocker Band.
First, I asked Finnigan about singing on Jack Mack’s new album. He said he’s known Jack Mack since the band’s inception, via Carl and DFK.
“I also recorded several of Max’s compositions on one of my solo albums back then,” he said. “Known several other of the cats for many years and was pleased to be included in the ‘Soul Meeting’ project. Smokin’ band! Of course, Bill Champlin and I have been friends for more than 40 years, too. Timmy Scott and I have worked together often over the years. It was very natural and comfy doing the project.”
The Joe Cocker Band, touring to support the British singer’s latest album, “Hard Knocks,” also included Gene Black (guitar), Nick Milo (piano and synthesizer), Oneida James Rebbeceau (bass), Norbert Fimpel (sax and percussion), Jack Bruno (drums), and Niki Tillman and Kara Britz (vocals).
Finnigan, Cocker and Bruno are pictured at right onstage in Italy, and with the band and crew below boarding a plane after the last Italian date (thanks to Norbert and Mike for the photos).
“We did 56 shows in 21 countries in 10 weeks — Slovakia, Morocco, Croatia, Italy, Serbia, Macedonia, Bulgaria, France, Germany, Denmark, Norway, Portugal, and on and on!” Finnigan said. “The crowds were good and enthusiastic. Joe is Joe. He delivers every night. There are YouTube vids all over the place.”
Finnigan’s not kicking back too long. “The Phantom Blues Band, of which I’m a member, is finishing up a new CD (our third) and I’ll be working on that,” he said. “I worked with Bonnie Raitt on her new album during the 20 days I was off the road this past summer, and that will be released sometime this fall or winter. I’m supposed tour with her after it is. I was on the road for 20 weeks since last September, so I’ll be home for a bit, doing whatever studio work comes up.”
SCV MUSIC ROUNDUP — For the latest on what’s new and hot in local music, we called our friends at Rock Candy Music & More, the SCV’s only retail record store, at Bouquet and Plum in Saugus.
“The Tidemouth 7-inch is coming out — should be in the store by the end of the week at the latest,” said staffer Ryan Corbett. “It’s titled ‘What I Meant to Say’ and available in clear and white vinyl. That’ll be in the local section.”
Other hot titles at Rock Candy right now include the new “Skying” album by the U.K.-based experimental-new wave band The Horrors. “They’re coming to play Hollywood soon, so everyone’s kind of coming out to get their vinyl and stuff,” Corbett said.
“There’s this other band that’s been selling a lot called Foster the People, and they have an album called ‘Torches,’ and people have been buying it on CD and LP back and forth for the past couple of weeks since it came out, so that’s been a real hit,” he said.
“We’ve also ordered some stuff we haven’t received yet, like the new Flatliners 7″ single, ‘Count Your Bruises,’ from their new album,” he added.
Last Friday, Rock Candy celebrated its first anniversary with a massive 50 percent off sale. “We kinda got wiped out,” Corbett said. “It was really successful. And we had a bunch of local bands playing at night, including The New Revive (pictured) and Moonraker” (Rock Candy staffer David Green is a member of the latter band).
I asked Rock Candy owners Billy and Melissa Yergensen what sold the best at the store, which stocks music and all kinds of pop-culture merchandise.
“Vinyl,” Billy said without hesitation.
And people want old-school vinyl as well as new releases, Melissa added. “You have people looking for new vinyl because (labels) are still putting everything out on vinyl, but you also have people who just like to buy an old Journey or Wham! album or a soundtrack on vinyl, because it’s something that reminds them of their past.”
Any plans to open another store, or have short-term “pop-up” stores like Rhino in West L.A.?
“We have lots of ideas,” Billy grinned. “We’re keeping them to ourselves right now, but we do have a lot of big hopes, dreams and plans that we’d like to accomplish in the next couple of years.”
Rock Candy Music & More regularly presents live music by local artists on weekend nights; tonight, an acoustic set by Apollo is slated to start at 8 p.m.
For more info, call the store at 661-263-9800 or visit www.rockcandymusicstore.com.
MAKE A UTURN AT FRIENDLY VALLEY — While Jack Mack & The Heart Attack go for the soul Saturday night, another concert takes a more spiritual approach, and is especially for younger music fans.
Uturn, the youth wing of The Sanctuary Church on Friendly Valley Parkway, will stage a free Summer Concert Festival for teens from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m.
Among the headliners are local pop-rock favorite John Stratton (aka Johnny Strat) and Set Match Run, a ska band formed four years ago by members of the Canyon High School marching band.
Also on the Summer Concert Festival bill: Protect the Mona Lisa, an indie band from North Hollywood, and three more artists, all from Canyon Country: Celtic-Christian trio The Borrowers; folksinger Nathaniel Dobies; and James Marcus, who plays his last local gig before before heading east to attend college in Boston.
The Brothers Belardinelli, a comedy duo, will provide comic relief at the event, which also includes free food for the first 150 teens to show up, and a competition for the coolest bike.
Find Uturn at the Sanctuary at 26444 Friendly Valley Parkway. Visit www.uturning.com for more info.
If you want your musical gig listed, email event, artist or band name, venue, date and price of admission, web address and any other pertinent (or impertinent, even) details to me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
MORE SCV (AND ADJACENT) MUSIC LIVE — Who else is playing in the SCV this weekend, or spreading the musical love outside the valley?
Tonight, The Victor Ship, Vin Scully and Left at the Sun play an all-ages show at Keyboard Galleria Music Center on Soledad Canyon Road from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. Cover is $5 and seating is limited, so get there early.
Howl at the Stars play a dueling pianos by-request show at Blessed Kateri Church from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. Tickets cost $40.
Michael John & the Bottom Line take the stage at McBean and Town Center Drive at 7 p.m. for the final Lexus of Valencia Jazz & Blues concert of the summer, while Salt Creek Grille across the street features The Kraze on the patio from 9 p.m. to midnight.
A few doors away on Town Center Drive at Valencia Wine Co., the Helen Wheels Band starts rocking at 9 in its second “Hot August Nights” appearance, following last Friday’s.
A Basement Rendezvous, The Endless Coast, Birthdays and Danny Get Down play an all-ages show (full bar available for 21+) at The Big Oaks Lodge up Bouquet Canyon Road in Saugus. Cover is $5; doors open at 9 p.m. and the music starts at 9:30.
The free Santa Clarita Street Fair rocks Parking Lot #8 at College of the Canyons on Saturday from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., with a youth Battle of the Bands featuring local groups Sane Jazz Ensemble, Lockdown, Crows on the Watchtower and The V.U. On Sunday, same place and time, the festival continues with free sets by August Rising and Jazz Earth.
Saturday night, after the Central Park blowout, you can catch The McGrath Project at Mixers (formerly the Roast House) across from Best Buy from 9 p.m. to 1 a.m., while The Kraze plays again at Salt Creek from 9 to midnight and on Sunday night, also from 9 to midnight.
Also on Sunday, see Meridian play a free show at Vincenzo’s Pizza in Newhall from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m.
Or you can head to Ventura and cool off at Spencer Makenzie’s end-of-summer Block Party with live bands starting at 11 a.m., and see surf guitar king Dick Dale with his son Jimmy on drums close the festival at 6 p.m.
Now, you may not believe this, but Dale and his son played the summer-ending beach party in Ventura exactly 15 years ago, when Jimmy was four. I was there, took digital photos (Kodak DC-1) and wrote about it for the Rhino website because I was doing press for his “Better Shred Than Dead” anthology at the time. Check the Wayback Machine for the archived page (and click the Hollywood Rock Walk link links in the story — they’re still hot, too).
Another guitar legend, Albert Lee (Heads, Hands & Feet; Emmylou Harris’ Hot Band) & Hot Roux will play Monday night from 8 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. at The Maui Sugar Mill Saloon in Tarzana. Suggested donation is $15-20 per person. This is one show to chase the Monday blues and get the week off to a ripping start.
And on Thursday night, The McGrath Project will officially debut their new single and other songs from their not-yet-released “Boom” album at The Roxy on Sunset in West Hollywood from 8 p.m. to 10:30 p.m.
SCV MUSIC ON THE TUBE & ONLINE — “House Blend with Stephen K. Peeples” on SCVTV Saturday night at 10 features local metal/punk band Moonraker and funky, bluesy Mr. Squeeze & The Medicine Men.
With former members of Fentruck, Moonraker features Matt Battaglia (vocals, guitar), Matt Romero (guitar), Nick Schambra (bass) and David Green (drums). The band is based in Saugus (except Nick, a ringer imported from Oxnard). This “House Blend” set was taped in April, one day after they played their first gig as Moonraker. The songs, “Big Trouble in Little Saugus” and “The Very Top,” are both from the band’s eponymous debut EP.
Singer/writer and multi-instrumentalist Phil “Mr. Squeeze” Parlapiano, who’s toured and recorded with an eclectic bunch of artists including Joan Baez, John Prine, Social Distortion, The New Radicals and Bon Jovi. Backed by Medicine Men Lynn Coulter (percussion/vocals) and Tad Wadhams (bass/vocals), Parlapiano performs and pair from his latest solo album, “Pianoforte.”
Co-produced by yours truly and SCVTV’s Megan Mann, with Mike Mazzetti producing the sound, “House Blend with Stephen K. Peeples” airs Saturday night at 10 on SCVTV Channel 20 on Time Warner in the SCV. You can also see it throughout Los Angeles and Orange counties on AT&T U-Verse 99, and everywhere else in the known universe streaming live at www.SCVTV.com and/or on-demand at www.scvhouseblend.com. Visit the channel’s website for a complete schedule of local music on SCVTV.
SCV MUSIC TRVIA: MYSTERY OZZY AXEMAN — WE HAVE A WINNER!! Bart Joseph of Santa Clarita correctly answered this question: What local guitarist used to play with Ozzy Osbourne? It’s Zakk Wylde of Castaic, of course. Joseph wins a Restaurant Row certificate and a copy of The Surf City Allstars’ new “Acoustic Vibrations” CD.
Now, for our next question: What local guitarist toured with Kelly Osborne early in his career?
If you know the answer, email email@example.com. We’ll toss all the correct entries into a hat and randomly choose a winner who’ll receive a free Restaurant Row certificate to a great local eatery. This week’s answer and winner will be announced next week.
THE WRAP — Hope you liked my fourth blog. You can always visit us right here at www.peeplesplace.com, and our under-construction Peeples Place Facebook page. Please share the blog and the page and help us build our online community of SCV music-makers and music-lovers. We also invite you to sign up for the weekly newsletter.
If you have a new album to review or music news you’d like us to include in an upcoming edition, shoot an email to me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Special thanks this week to all the artists and their families, managers and friends (you know who you are — far too many to mention). Extra special thanks to Carmina Kimball for her invaluable production assistance, and to Nadine A. Peeples for her invaluable encouragement and support.
With a face perfect for radio, I’ll see you on AM 1220 in the Santa Clarita Valley Thursday morning at 8:10 when I preview the NEXT edition of…Peeples Place at KHTS.
Stephen K. Peeples is a Grammy-nominated record producer (“Monterey International Pop Festival,” MIPF/Rhino, 1992), an award-winning radio producer (“The Lost Lennon Tapes,” Westwood One, 1988-1990), an award-winning online editor of The Signal website (2007-2011) and former music and entertainment columnist for The Signal (2004-2011). He is host and co-producer of the “House Blend with Stephen K. Peeples” music and interview show on SCVTV (www.scvhouseblend.com), and is drummer with SCV jazz group RainTree (www.raintreejazz.com). For more information, visit www.stephenkpeeples.com.