Sounding the 805

Swinging doors, social causes and a new band generates buzz

By Chris Mastrovito 09/24/2009

Ventura County’s music scene these days is somewhat like watching one of those old farcical screwball comedies, with doors opening and closing, and disoriented people running frantically after one another. With everything except the cross-dressing, the venues that host live music in the area are appearing much the same. Economic uncertainty surrounding small businesses has new places popping up while others shut down or move away. At the same time, the music community’s philanthropic nerve has been struck, with at least two benefit shows planned in the next week.

Mai’s Café, the Hawaiian and Vietnamese restaurant/bar and site of frequent all-ages shows for local and touring bands, will be leaving its home near Billy O’s in November, to move into a smaller space about a mile down the street. The move is prompted by the expiration of the lease with the nearby Community Memorial Hospital which owns the spacious property. The new location on Main Street and North Santa Cruz Street will offer a to-go menu but will not be large enough to accommodate live music. As for the old Mai’s, except for the management and the name, most everything will stay the same, including the bands, the bar and the layout, and, at least for now, it’s still business as usual, with copious events lined up, such as a luau dance with live music this Saturday and on Halloween, Nardcore Karaoke featuring back-up instrumentation by members of Ill Repute, Dr. Know, Burning Dog and A Global Warning.

Meanwhile, Hush Lounge, which lost its entertainment license in July due to a variety of legal issues, has recently reclaimed its license and will reopen its doors. And if all this wasn’t enough, a new rock and roll bar and art gallery called the Dirty Vinyl has recently opened in the space that Panagea Lounge & Nightclub once occupied.

In the world of music-fueled social causes, this Friday, Sept. 25, Rock City Studios in Camarillo will host a benefit show with proceeds going toward the MusiCares’ Musicians’ Assistance Program (MAP) fund, an addiction treatment program for professional musicians. Friday’s show (featuring We Govern We and Wake Up from Ventura, L.A.’s Fancy Pants and the Evildoers, and Camarillo’s The Situation), will directly benefit the 24th Annual Musicians Picnic (AMP), an annual sober music event held in Topanga Canyon. Also, Zoey’s Café in Ventura will host live acoustic music and an art show on Oct. 6, as part of the charity fundraiser for HOW (Helping Others Worldwide), a charitable foundation to benefit orphaned children in the West African country of Sierra Leone. Come and show your support for the local scene and these important causes.

And while the legions were flooding the Ventura Theater on Friday to see Social Distortion, a local hard rock band called The Generator was shaking the foundations of DJ’s Pub and Sports Bar in East Ventura with its own brand of heavy alternative and decibel-shattering rock and roll. Reformed from its previous project, the Fearless Vampire Killers, The Generator, whose members haul amplifiers so huge they might be advised to bring their own electrical power source, shows clearly that its name choice could not be more appropriate. The band’s hard-hitting, driving guitar riffs are something that early ’90s Soundgarden and early ’80s Motorhead would do battle over, and it is lead by singer Diego, whose vocal range rivals that of Chris Cornell himself. The Generator broke onto the Ventura scene earlier this summer and has blown audiences away in Hollywood’s Viper Room, all over Ventura’s bars and recently, when opening for The Adicts, at the Ventura Theater. A nine-track CD is in the final stages of recording at Albatros Studios and will release sometime before the April 2010 tour in the U.K. Don’t miss this band at the Ventura Theater on Friday Sept. 25, with TheAttriks, Pile and Dirty Words.        

Sounding the 805 is Ventura County’s only biweekly local music column. If you have a tip, a suggestion, a complaint, some dish or just a kind word, shoot Chris Mastrovito an e-mail. 


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