Sounding the 805

Sounding the 805

All things must come to an end, but premature endings, like that of Megasound Studios in Ventura, are sad affairs not made less so by that comfortless saying. The mom-and-pop recording studio/live music venue that only four months ago celebrated its one-year anniversary will be closing its doors for good by the end of this month, and just like that, another all-ages venue in Ventura County with the potential to vitalize the local music scene is sucked into the black hole that previously claimed The Lab and Alpine and the Underground.

Owner Sam Maxson’s phone and e-mail was inundated with concerned messages last week after he posted several bulletins on Megasound’s MySpace page advertising the sale of the business. He says he had no choice but to move on. “You work seven days a week for two years and you don’t get too far ahead,” he said. Citing personal and financial reasons, including the high rent for the Main Street location, and difficulty recouping startup costs, he admits, “It’s just time for me to go.”

Carnal Deity’s Logan Klain expressed his band’s disappointment with the impending closure, “We’re all extremely bummed.” Not a good thing for the music community. “A lot of us musicians have nowhere else to go to jam,” he said.

With less than two weeks until demolition commences on Nov. 1, there will not even be an opportunity for a ceremonial last show, as the Friday night gigs that have been booked for the end of October have been officially cancelled, making for an anticlimactic exit for the still relatively embryonic local music haven. It is still unclear what will become of the space, and what will be the next step for Maxson, who uneasily and somewhat cryptically said, “We have some ideas.” Megasound Studios is the second all-ages venue that will be shutting down in November, with Mai’s Café announcing recently that the business is moving to a smaller space, which will no longer feature live music.

Jodi Farrell & the Front Street Prophets celebrated its one-year anniversary with a three-hour jam session at Bombay Bar and Grill Sunday night featuring local blues guitar prodigy Alastair Greene. The Prophets, which previously backed the highly acclaimed blues singer Ashford Gordon, shuffled through dozens of original arrangements of classic blues numbers with effortless skill, fronted by Farrell’s sultry vocal stylings and incredible guitar leads by Greene, who just returned from a tour with music legend and Santa Barbara resident Alan Parsons. Greene showcased his furious lead guitar dexterity, and in a humorous moment, even a little vocal improvisation when someone accidentally turned on the house music during a song, prompting Greene to burst into a musical refrain/plea to the bartender, “Do you hear that house music? ‘Cause I’m up here tryin’ to play the blues!” Also joining the party was the last-minute addition of Evan Grosswirth of Flight 442, on bass guitar, turning the band into a motley crew of local talent.

The show celebrated one year to the day when Jodi Farrell & the Front Street Prophets performed for the first time at Bombay. Whether or not the anniversary of a first show should warrant its own special event, or whether anyone has ever heard of such a thing, apparently wasn’t in question. Perhaps, it just sounded like a good excuse to get out and play some blues, and that was good enough for us.                              

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.

cmastrov@yahoo.com 

Sounding the 805

Sounding the 805

The winners of Billy O’s Ventura Idol competition were chosen on Oct. 2, after five weeks of competing rounds in the local dive bar version of the popular vocal talent game show American Idol. At the finals, which packed the popular pub tighter than Simon Cowell’s T-shirts, first place and a $500 cash prize went to a guy named Trevor. Second place was claimed by Lara Britt of Camarillo, and Wyatt Hull of Cheetahsaurus took home third. After all was said and sung, the friendly competition was a welcome opportunity for some enthusiastic local singers to put years of karaoke practice into bold action toward the goal of winning some extra cash, bragging rights and surviving the “karaoke wheel of death.” While the requisite qualifications for voting (item receipts from the bar) admittedly made it more likely that popularity tipped the scales, it was clear that those who came out of the final round deserved the high honor for their dedication and talent (and ruthless campaigning).

The close-knit community of Ventura County DJs, with help from the local community, sprang to the task of raising money last week for the families of the two local DJs killed by a suspected drunk driver in the early hours of Sept. 27 on Highway 118. Among the many fundraising endeavors for the families of David Joseph Garcia (DJ Gorilla) and Alex Estrada (DJ Alex), was a nightclub event at Bombay Bar and Grill, where several fellow DJs, family and friends from the community came together and paid their respects with a night of music. Other events were held at Ruby’s Café, the Dirty Vinyl and a handful of other venues.

Lion I’s, the Ventura-based ska/reggae/funk group, that was once a regular in the early ’90s scene before reuniting for the 2008 “Rock the Cure” benefit at the Ventura Theater, will provide the jams once again, with special guests for this year’s incarnation at Bombay Bar and Grill on Saturday, Oct. 10. The all-ages show to benefit the Kristin Perry Cancer Foundation will kick off at 6 p.m. Tickets are $25 with kids younger than 12 free. The show is one of several music events tied to National Breast Cancer Awareness Month, including a Relay for Life at Camarillo High School last Saturday that featured the Situation and country/pop sister and brother duo Amanda and Travis Marsh.

Ojai’s Hindu Kush is back on the scene after a recording and writing break with a new stash of songs from its upcoming full-length debut, currently in the final mixing stages. Hindu Kush’s progressive brand of psychedelic rock has given them a reputation for cultivating some mind-expanding sounds. Catch the band performing its newest tunes at Movino’s in Ojai on Wednesday, Oct. 21. Watch for tour dates coming up soon in support of the debut CD.

Also releasing its debut album is Lovebird, the soulful alternative rock/indie five-piece from Ventura that formed in April but has already managed to put together a nine-song album on CD and 12-inch vinyl. Although its self-titled debut officially releases on Blackbird Records on Nov. 24, you can get a digital download of the entire release now from the band’s MySpace page. Lovebird will be playing again on Oct. 14 with Cheetahsaurus and We Govern We as part of Nicholby’s College Rock Night.

A musician’s worst nightmare came true last weekend for singer/songwriter Delaney Gibson when all of her equipment was stolen overnight from her parked car in downtown Ventura’s parking garage. The culprits broke the 25-year-old musician’s car window and made off with thousands of dollars worth of gear, including her keyboard, PA system, microphones, tuners, an amp and sadly, her store of her CDs and merchandise for sale. Gibson’s parking situation at her residence forces her to park her car at the nearby garage, and uneasy about unloading at night, her gear was a prime target for prowling thieves. Pre-orders for Gibson’s second album, Hurricanes and Forget Me Nots, are available through her official Web site and may be the devastated artist’s best chance to get back in the game.                  

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.

cmastrov@yahoo.com 

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