You’ve veered onto Peeples Place at KHTS!
It’s the 19th post of the new local music blog I’m producing in collaboration with AM 1220 KHTS and the Santa Clarita Valley’s No. 1, award-winning website, www.hometownstation.com.
Peeples Place at KHTS is online every Friday morning with hot SCV music news, reviews, features and photos at www.peeplesplace.com, with an on-air preview on the AM 1220 KHTS morning show each Thursday at 8:10.
This week, we have an exclusive spotlight Q&A with Dave Sombrero of Johnny Bluegrass & The Coonhounds about their outrageous new holiday CD for adults, “Mexitucky Christmas.”
We also have news about voting for Summer Meltdown funding, how you can jam with a world-famous Mariachi band at the Performing Arts Center, a RUE-union at The Vu, big band jazz swingin’ at the PAC and at West Ranch High, people getting Scrooged at the Canyon Theatre Guild, Henry Diltz’s big slide show and book signing tomorrow in L.A., Flavia & The RedTempt rocking 90210, and lots more.
We’ll find out what’s hot at our local record store, who’s appearing on “House Blend” on SCVTV Saturday night, and who’s playing live this weekend around town and nearby.
But first, we’re going to lead off with our SCV music trivia question!
SCV MUSIC TRIVIA — WE HAVE A WINNER! Artist/musician Janine Ayers of Santa Clarita correctly named Valencia resident Mark Campbell as Jack Mack & The Heart Attack’s lead singer. A big shout-out to Janine, who scores a pair of Restaurant Row certificates and a couple of CDs from the Peeples Place at KHTS swag vault.
That means we have a new question! Name the young bluegraass-jazz fiddle player who guested on “House Blend” earlier in 2011. If you know the answer, send an email to me at firstname.lastname@example.org (KHTS employees past and present are not eligible, sorry!). We’ll toss all the correct entries into a hat and randomly choose one lucky winner, who will score a pair of meal certs and a couple CDs.
OK, now let’s rock some SCV entertainment news.
COC JAZZ BANDS, WARBLERS AT PAC — College of the Canyons’ Jazz Ensemble and Lab Combos make the season brighter with the Holiday Jazz Band Concert starting at 7:30 tonight at the Santa Clarita Performing Arts Center.
Tomorrow at 7:30, COC’s vocal and choral students will sing “Sounds of the Season” on the same stage. Tickets for each show are $5 and $10; buy them online at www.canyonspac.com.
GOLDEN OAK JAZZ SWINGS WITH ‘JAZZ IN THE AFTERNOON‘ — Saturday afternoon at West Ranch High, the Golden Oak Adult School’s big jazz band hosts its “Jazz in the Afternoon” concert under the direction of Bob Babko in the school’s theater on Valencia Boulevard, starting at 3 p.m. Tickets are $10, or $5 for students and seniors. To reserve yours, call (661) 259-0033, ext. 444.
YES, WE CAN VOTE FOR SUMMER MELTDOWN FUNDING GRANT — The ninth annual “Summer Meltdown Concert for Social Inclusion and Autism Awareness,” hosted by the students of Hart District’s Yes I Can program, is one of the top 40 contestants running for a money grant in the Pepsi Refresh Project.
If Summer Meltdown places in the top 10 by the end of December, the students win $50,000 to help plan, produce and promote the concert, set for May 2012.
Local music fans can support Yes I Can and help push Summer Meltdown into the top 10 tier by texting “110797” to 73774, and/or voting online at www.refresheverything.com/summermeltdown2012. You can vote twice a day — once online and once via text.
The Yes I Can nonprofit program is the William S. Hart Union High School District’s effort to combine youth with and without disabilities with peer mentors, to the benefit of all involved.
Summer Meltdown is Yes I Can’s major project of the year, and participants gain valuable social skills and practical, real-world experience along the way.
Previous performers at Summer Meltdown, held at Golden Valley High School’s outdoor amphitheater, include Far East Movement, Fishbone, Trapt, Shwayze, The Craze, Phunk Junkeez, Iration, Stephen Perkins, The Feaver and many more, usually a dozen or more acts each year.
This school year, Yes I Can students are setting their sights even higher.
“The students would like to be able to afford artists like Drake, RHCP, Incubus, 311 and Sublime to perform,” said Bret Lieberman, Yes I Can program director and Summer Meltdown’s executive producer since its inception. “They want to bring the biggest artists to perform for them, their peers and the entire SCV community.”
Voting is open through the end of December, and I join Lieberman in urging everyone — and friends and family — to vote every day until then.
“We can only do this with your help,” he said. “We have only this month to make it happen.”
To learn more about Summer Meltdown, visit www.summermeltdown2011.com (2012 website to launch soon) and get the latest updates on Facebook and Twitter. For sponsorship info, contact Lieberman at (661) 298-8140 ext. 1414 or email@example.com, or visit www.sponsorthemeltdown.com.
REMINDER I: GET SCROOGED AT CTG’S ‘CHRISTMAS CAROL’ — The Canyon Theatre Guild presents “A Christmas Carol: The Musical” through Dec. 18.
In the West Coast debut of this new musical adaptation of Charles Dickens’ classic holiday tale, Dickens guides Scrooge on a journey through his past, present and future to rediscover his long-lost holiday spirit.
Showtimes are set for 8 p.m on Fridays and Saturdays and 2 p.m. on Sundays, with two weeknight shows on Dec. 20 and 21 at 7 p.m.
Tickets are $15/$17; call the CTG’s box office at (661) 799-2702 to order. Find the CTG at 24242 Main St. in Old Town Newhall 91321. For more info, visit canyontheatre.org.
REMINDER NUMERO DOS: JAM WITH MARIACHI STARS AT THE PAC SUNDAY — Mariachi Los Camperos de Nati Cano, one of the most popular mariachi ensembles in the United States, spices up the Santa Clarita Performing Arts Center at College of the Canyons on Sunday, Dec. 11.
The Mexican-American group has one Grammy and nine albums to its credit, and has performed hundreds of shows over more than 50 years on-stage, on radio and TV, and at the White House.
And this concert is special — it’s part of the PAC’s “Connect” series, in which local musicians and fans can get a chance to meet and interact with the artists.
“With [Mariachi founder] Natividad ‘Nati’ Cano, we’ll have a jam session,” said Adam Philipson, managing director of the PAC. “Before the show, you can hear a lecture in the PAC about the history of Mariachi, and then if you bring your own instrument, you can actually jam with the Mariachi.”
The Connect session is free and starts at 6 p.m., one hour before the concert at 7. The jam is open to the public, but doesn’t include admission to the show.
SPOTLIGHT Q&A: JOHNNY & THE COONHOUNDS ROLL OUT ‘MEXITUCKY X-MAS’ — A dude decked out in a cowboy Santa hat claiming to be with a local band dropped off a Christmas CD at the AM 1220 KHTS studios this week, but somehow I don’t think it’ll make the airwaves. Besides, the News Dept. novelty nuts won’t give it up. Johnny Bluegrass & The Coonhounds’ “Mexitucky X-Mas” is definitely not cutesy stuff for kids or sloppy nostalgic schlock for geezers.
(Non-party animals and those without a sense of humor may now proceed to the next item. And no, we definitely don’t condone underage drinking or drug abuse.)
“Mexitucky X-Mas” first surfaced in 2008 on the local MRAfia Records label, and has made an annual appearance about now since then. Song titles: “Santa’s in Black,” “Frosty the Dopeman,” “I Got Drunk with Rudolph” and “Santa Can You Bring Me Jager,” along with the more innocuously named title track plus “It’s Christmas Time” and “Christmas Eve.”
In my valiant, Quixotic attempt to cover and support all facets of the rough diamond that is our SCV music scene, I felt compelled to track the Coonhounds down to get their story.
As if on cue, my photographer friend Paige Jeffers Burghardt texted me saying she’d taken the front and back cover photos for this Christmas CD, and asked if I wanted to connect with the band. She was kind enough to put me in touch with Dave Sombrero, Johnny Bluegrass’s partner and chief Coonhound.
Here’s our Q&A:
Stephen K. Peeples: Welcome to Peeples Place, Mr. Sombrero. Please check in and let our readers know a bit about you and Johnny Bluegrass and the Coonhounds and “Mexitucky X-mas.”
Dave Sombrero: Well, thank you, Stephen. Yes, my name is Dave Sombrero and I am the acoustic guitar player and backup singer for Johnny Bluegrass and the Coonhounds. It started in late 2005 when me and the singer, Johnny Bluegrass from Kentucky, met here in California. I was from Seattle, and I just got fed up with the music scene there and decided to head south, and wound up meeting Johnny Bluegrass in a little town called Mexitucky. It’s just north Los Angeles…kind of like Santa Clarita.
Peeples: Hmmmm, I’d heard the term “Mexitucky” before, but I thought it was more like a state of mind, not actually a place in the SCV. But hey, it’s a big valley, I guess…
Sombrero: Yeah. Johnny and I met at our local market. He lived in this little trailer, and I went to his place and we just started writing tunes together, puffing a few bowls and having some beers, and before we knew it, we had a handful of songs. We ended up playing at the local pub in Mexitucky, and then we got a band together — Johnny Bluegrass and the Coonhounds.
Then a few years later, when the holiday season rolled around, Johnny and I challenged ourselves to write some Christmas songs that weren’t just your typical fun, easygoing, everything’s-all-right tunes. So that’s how we wound up creating these seven songs for this Christmas EP called “Mexitucky X-Mas.”
Peeples: Now, what makes them different from typical Christmas songs?
Sombrero: We kind of went off the deep end writing them. Granted, we might’ve had a few too many beers, but I think people will appreciate the different approach.
Like the first song, “Santa’s in Black,” is kind of a spoof of those old-school songs about ol’ Saint Nick and how everything’s all good and stuff. “Santa’s in Black” is more like, if you’re bad this year, Santa’s going to come hurt you or something. We don’t actually say that, but…
They all have a little twist to them. Like “Frosty the Dopeman.” What if Frosty isn’t just a friendly snowman? What if he’s a drug abuser? Should’ve been what he wanted to be. Stupid s**t like that.
And then Jagermeister…we’d always loved to drink, drinking wine here and there, and we were like, “How about, ‘Santa, Can You Bring Me Jager’ instead of a toy car or bike?”
So it’s the grownup approach to telling Santa what we want him to bring us, and how we want Christmas to be.
Peeples: Yeah, it’s definitely not for playing with kids around, but it’s pretty funny.
Sombrero: They’re all fun, sing-along songs. But it was a challenge. Everyone’s just singing the same old songs. It’s tough to find things to write about. So, the Christmas EP was nice ’cause it like, “Let’s try and write some Christmas songs that haven’t been done. Let’s not do a Christmas CD that covers all those old Christmas songs — let’s write some new ones.” There needs to be some new Christmas music out there.
Peeples: Now, are the Coonhounds going to be playing out anytime soon?
Sombrero: Not at the moment. Johnny actually moved back to Kentucky for a while to be with his folks, ’cause a family member was ill. So, in the meantime, we’re not doing any gigs, but we are just getting our music out there. Hearing us live is cool, but I think just having a CD or being able to go online and look us up and hear our songs, that’s also cool.
Peeples: How can fans find your tunes?
Sombrero: Well, we’re always up on www.mrafiarecords.com. That’s the record label we’re signed to. That’s Smile Empty Soul’s label — they got us on there. Or you can Google us and find us on Facebook, iTunes, Amazon. You can find a bunch of tunes and listen to lots of songs. At this this time of year, it’s a cheap thing. We’re on Twitter, but we don’t really tweet that much.
We have a previous record too, called “Mexitucky Blues,” and that’s also for sale at www.mrafiarecords.com. That was written in Johnny’s trailer in Mexitucky, too — that’s what kicked off our songwriting duo. Then we wrote the Christmas record, and we have another record coming up next year called “Solid Gold.” There are a few tracks from that posted now on the MRAfia site.
Peeples: Sounds good, Dave. Well, it’s been great talking with you. Our interview will be in Friday’s Peeples Place at KHTS. Thanks again for your time.
Sombrero: Thanks, Stephen, you rock.
SCV LOCAL MUSIC SPOTLIGHT — For the latest on what’s new and hot in local music, we checked in with our friends at Rock Candy Music & More, the Santa Clarita Valley’s only retail record store, at Bouquet and Plum Canyon in Saugus. Staffer Ryan Corbett gave us the update.
“There’s quite a few new CDs that we’ve got in, like The Lost Patrol Band, which is really, really good. This band is from the singer that’s the front man of Refused, so this is his solo project,” Corbett said. “He did all kinds of stuff before this, like The International Noise Conspiracy, which is a really good band too.”
“We got some new Korn CDs in — ‘The Path of Totality,’ and ‘The Path of Totality’ as some sort of special edition sort of thing,” he said. “We got Amy Winehouse’s ‘Tin Treasures’ and Chevelle’s ‘Hats Off to the Bull.’ F**ked Up has an album called ‘David Comes To Life’ and it’s really, really good. And it’s not new-new, but we have Hot Chip’s ‘One Life Stand.'”
How about new vinyl?
“We have ‘Crackle — The Best of Bauhaus,’ which has a lot of great hits from Bauhaus. That’s a pretty good vinyl,” Corbett said. “We got The Black Crowes’ ‘Warpaint’ on vinyl, Black Sabbath’s ‘Mob Rules,’ and Hot Water Music’s ‘The New What Next,’ which is an LP. And there’s Kyuss’ ‘Blues for the Red Sun.’
“Oh, and Primus’ ‘Sailing the Seas of Cheese.’ We have that on 180 gram,” he added. “And one more thing — we have the new Primus CD, their first album in 11 years, called ‘Green Naugahyde.'”
Rock Candy Music & More usually presents live shows by local artists on most weekend nights; this weekend is music-free, however.
By the way, the store has new hours — it’s open on Thursdays and Fridays from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m., Saturdays from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. and Sundays from 11 a.m. to 5. The doors are closed on Mondays through Wednesdays.
SCV MUSIC ON TV: SARA NIEMEITZ, KAI CLARK BAND ENCORE ON ‘HOUSE BLEND’ — “House Blend” hosted by yours truly on SCVTV Saturday night at 10 presents an encore broadcast of an outstanding show featuring singer, songwriter, actress and musician Sara Anne Niemietz and folk-Americana-rock singer-songwriter and guitarist Kai Clark.
Clark and his band performed the original “Sunlight” from his eponymous EP and “So You Say You Lost Your Baby,” written by his legendary dad, the late Gene Clark, of Dillards and Byrds and solo fame. Gene was an Americana godfather before the genre was tagged. Fan appreciation for the subtleties and depth of his music grows with time. Kai is carrying his dad’s legacy into the future, while finding his own voice en route.
Backing him were Don Segien Jr. (guitar, mando, vocals), Nick Bearden (lead guitar, vocals), Ben Maddux (bass) and Jim Moreland (drums). Kai and I also chatted for a few minutes between songs.
The same show features singer, songwriter, actress and musician Sara Anne Niemietz, accompanied by renowned guitarist W.G. “Snuffy” Walden (left). Niemietz, a recent Saugus High grad and “Glee” on-screen bandmember, sang two originals, “Dangerous Outside” and “Find a Dream.” In between she talked with me about getting her start on Broadway at age 10, and what she’s up to now.
Both Clark and Niemietz earned high praise from my “House Blend” co-producer Megan Mann-Perez, sound guru Mike Mazzetti, co-producer Mike Dowler and the entire crew, and the artists thought the same of them, as do I.
“House Blend” airs Saturdays and Thursdays at 10 p.m. Pacific Time on SCVTV (Time Warner Cable Channel 20 in the Santa Clarita Valley, and AT&T U-Verse Channel 99 in Los Angeles and Orange counties), and streams live everywhere else in the known universe via the Web at www.scvtv.com. The show’s archives are also available 24/7 on demand at www.scvtv.com/html/houseblend-current.html and www.scvhouseblend.com.
Check out the SCVTV website for more local music listings.
UPDATED: HENRY DILTZ BOOK SIGNING IN L.A. SATURDAY — There’s a handful of rock photographers who’ve become icons in pop culture, and Henry Diltz is one of them. He has more than 300 album covers to his credit, the first Crosby, Stills & Nash album, The Doors’ “Morrison Hotel,” James Taylor’s “Sweet Baby James” and Eagles’ “Desperado” among the most famous.
Fresh from his 50th anniversary tour picking banjo with the Modern Folk Quartet, Diltz will be guest of honor at a book-signing event at Barnes & Nobles’ location at The Grove at Farmer’s Market, near Fairfax and 3rd in L.A. 90036, tomorrow, Dec. 10, starting at 2 p.m.
Diltz will present a slide show — where it all began for him in the mid-1960s — and tell the fascinating stories behind each image, and sign copies of his new book, “Unpainted Faces,” a collection of some of his most iconic black & white images. (Click on flyer for larger image.)
Because Diltz’s work is so well-known, and he has so many friends and fans in L.A., B&N expects a big turnout and has deemed this a wristband-only affair — B&N people will start giving them out at 9 a.m. to fans who purchase a copy of “Unpainted Faces.”
For more info on the L.A. signing, call (323) 525-0270 or visit the B&N “Unpainted Faces” event page.
As we heard when he was my special guest last year on “House Blend” on SCVTV, Diltz was a musician (the MFQ) long before he picked up a camera as a hobby in 1966 and started taking pictures of his friends and then presenting slide shows — like the one he’ll present at Barnes & Noble tomorrow — just for grins.
His pals just happened to be other musicians, famous and soon-to-be-famous, among them members of Buffalo Springfield, The Lovin’ Spoonful, Crosby, Stills & Nash, Neil Young, CSNY, Joni Mitchell, Cass Elliot, America, Linda Ronstadt, Jackson Browne, James Taylor, The Doors, Eagles and scores more.
Even the most reclusive artists felt comfortable with Diltz because he was one of their own, not a press photographer. So what started out as a hobby soon turned into a life’s work as a professional.
Revised, updated and expanded from the original book released only in Japan in 1990, “Unpainted Faces” gathers more than 150 of Diltz’s classic black & white images, capturing the aforementioned and many other musical icons, including Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, Paul McCartney, Keith Richards, Ron Wood, Richard Pryor, Michael Jackson, Elton John, Bruce Springsteen, in very intimate, human moments.
“Unpainted Faces” includes Crosby, Stills & Nash; Michael Jackson; Neil Young; and Keith Richards and Ron Wood. Click the thumbnails to view larger images.
All photos: (c) Henry Diltz/Morrison Hotel Publishing.
Individually remarkable, the “Unpainted Faces” images collectively document the rise and further rise of the California rock sound and the singer-songwriter phenomenon of the late 1960s-1970s, among other scenes. From Laurel Canyon to Monterey Pop, from Woodstock and Miami back to Malibu, as Robby Krieger of The Doors notes in the text, “Henry Diltz always seemed to be in the right place at the right time.” Or, as Eagles’ Glenn Frey puts it, “This is not history, this is evidence!”
“Unpainted Faces” was produced by my Rare Cool Stuff Unltd. partners Geoff Gans, Gary Gonzales, Scott Bowman and me for the Morrison Hotel Gallery in New York, in which Diltz is a partner, and which is celebrating its 10th anniversary right now.
As a longtime fan and friend of Henry’s, it was my honor to write the introduction and author biography for the book, which was 100 percent MADE IN THE U.S.A. by Rare Cool Stuff with eco-friendly domestic paper and printing and binding by American artisans and craftspeople.
If you can’t make Saturday’s slide show and signing, you can order “Unpainted Faces” right now by sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. (Click on the ad image for a larger image; forgive me if the promo copy rings familiar.)
MORE SCV MUSIC LIVE — Who else is playing in the Santa Clarita Valley this weekend and soon, or spreading the local musical love outside the valley?
Musician and singer/songwriter Melissa Kaye plays free sets every Friday at La Toscana Trattoria Grill in Valencia. Catch her tonight from 7 to 9.
College of the Canyons’ Jazz Ensemble and Lab Combos welcome the season with the Holiday Jazz Band Concert 7:30 p.m. at the Santa Clarita Performing Arts Center at COC in Valencia. Tickets cost $5-$10. Buy tickets online at www.canyonspac.com.
The Victor Ship plays its last show of 2011 (for real this time) at 8 p.m. tonight at Undergrounds Coffeehouse, located in the lower level of Real Life Church in Valencia. The band is supporting Invisible Children, a nonprofit organization that raises awareness about child soldiers in Uganda.
Galo Pacheco plays at Salt Creek Grille tonight, starting at 9 p.m.
COC follows up the jazz concert with its vocal/choral music department in “Sounds of the Season” at 7:30 p.m. on Saturday. Tickets cost $5-$10; buy them online at www.canyonspac.com.
The Skinny Little Twits play classic rock covers and originals from 8 p.m. to 10 p.m. at It’s A Grind on The Old Road in Castaic.
Local rock band RUE reunites for a concert with Red Addiction and Odaal at The Vu in Newhall. Cover is $5 for ages 21 and up, and the night of hard rock starts at 8:30 p.m. For more on RUE, check out their MySpace page.
CalArts faves Flavia and The RedTempt play their last three sets of 2011 from 9:30 p.m. to 1 a.m. at Nic’s Martini Lounge on Cañon Drive in Beverly Hills. Cover is $10 for ages 21 and older.
Santa Clarita United Methodist Church on Bouquet Canyon in Saugus rings in the holiday season with a Christmas concert featuring all music groups and performers from the church — Adult Cancel Voices and The Messengers choir, children’s choirs Good News Gang and Littlest Disciples, Living Reign Youth Praise Band, hand bell choirs Silver Jubilee Ringers, Rainbow Ringers, Ring-a-lings and SCUM Belles, and pianist Cassandra Nickols. The free concert begins at 6:30 p.m.
The Babylon Social Club — featuring Sarah Niemietz plus “Snuffy” Walden, Herman Matthews, Bennett Salvay, Leslie Smith, and Terry Wilson — rocks Cafe Cordiale in Sherman Oaks on Dec. 11, 18, 22 and 28. The musical conversation starts at 8:30 p.m. and it’s free.
Monday, Dec. 12
Deacon Jones — John Lee Hooker and Freddy King’s legendary keyboard player — hosts his 68th birthday bash with guest singers at the Maui Sugar Mill Saloon (18389 Ventura Blvd. in Tarzana) from 8 p.m. till 9:30 p.m. Then a huge blues jam rages until 1 a.m. with L.A.’s finest blues musicians. Admission is a $12-15 donation.
Friday, Dec. 16
Canyon High School Band, its alumni and employees from Canyon High School host their annual winter concert at 7 p.m. on Nadal Street in Canyon Country. The fun starts at 7:30 p.m. and it’s free for all ages.
Hart High School will also host a winter concert 7 p.m. on Newhall Avenue in Newhall, featuring the Hart Show Choir. Tickets are $10 for adults, $7 for children and students, and all proceeds will benefit a local children’s charity.
THE WRAP — Hope you enjoyed the 19th journey through Peeples Place at KHTS! You can always visit us right here at www.peeplesplace.com, and at our under-construction Peeples Place Facebook page. Please share the posts and “like” 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 post, shoot an email to me at email@example.com.
Special thanks this week to all the artists, managers, media relations reps, families, friends and fans. Extra special thanks to Rose Agrabati 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 SCVTV Wednesday evening at 6:04-ish with the weekly SCV Entertainment Minute, and on AM 1220 KHTS 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 (The Signal website, 2007-2011) and former music and entertainment columnist (The Signal, 2004-2011). He is host, writer and co-producer of the weekly “House Blend” music and interview show on SCVTV (www.scvhouseblend.com), a writer/reporter for KHTS News (www.hometownstation.com) and SCVNews.com, and drummer with on-hiatus SCV jazz group RainTree (www.raintreejazz.com). For more information, visit www.stephenkpeeples.com or email firstname.lastname@example.org.