Sounding the 805

Sounding the 805

Last weekend local punk legends ruled Ventura and Oxnard in celebration of the 1st Annual Nardcore Toilet Bowl, the punk rock bowling tournament, so-named as a play on the 1983 Ill Repute seven-inch record Oxnard — Land of No Toilets. Before claiming all 32 lanes at Wagon Wheel Bowl in Oxnard last Sunday, two generations of local punk fans took over  Billy O’s Bar & Grill  in Ventura at the official pre-party Saturday night. The all-star show featured full sets by special “surprise” guests Oxnard Nardcore godfathers Ill Repute and fellow 1980s  Mystic Records  label mates from Woodland Hills,  The Grim. Original Ill Repute drummer  Carl Valdez  stepped in for two songs at the shoulder-packed event that also featured local bands  Shattered Badge,  Stop Breathing!  and  Stab Your Back  (who will open for the Dead Kennedys on Dec. 4 at the  Ventura Theater).

The Oxnard punk odyssey continued after midnight for those quick enough to make the move for  The Dirty  in Ventura, where another Nardcore legend,  Agression,  made an appearance, playing as if they had never stopped. With so many representatives of the old scene coming out to support the event, it was a good sign that the new annual community event will be here to stay.

After more than three years playing locally to enthusiastic fans and receiving critical praise, Camarillo’s pop-rock masters  The Grandmas are finally releasing a full-length CD this month, appropriately titled Real Fun. Although the timing is awkward, as the band’s bass player, Chris Niles, will be leaving in December for NorCal, the polished studio recordings give due justice to the band’s kinetic live set. It’s something to hold us over just in case we don’t see the band perform for a while after the release show on Nov. 27 at Billy O’s with Ojai’s Marquee.

Lead guitarist  Austin Knect says confidently, “We feel Real Fun finally represents what The Grandmas can do.” The record certainly captures the band’s signature sound: a danceable, sunny blend of classic rock and alternative with a comic twist, produced masterfully by respected local engineer Jon DeBaun. Despite an uncertain future for the band, no one is calling it quits. Knect promises simply, “November 27 at Billy O’s marks the end of all haters.” The album is available at shows and is downloadable in its entirety on the band’s Facebook page.

This Saturday, Nov. 26, at The Dirty, those eager for something a little different can catch the much anticipated debut show by local band Black Love, a three-piece featuring David Cotner (vocals and other instrumentation), Tony Cicero (drums and percussion) and Sergio Segovia (bass and electronics). Dealing exclusively in the dark but triumphant themes of annihilated love, the band uses a unique blend of non-traditional rock instrumentation in its keen focus on a prominent rhythm section. Imagine a heartbroken but vengeful Nick Cave in his The Birthday Party years after a six-month, soul-searching voyage through the Amazon. Or as Cotner describes it, “primitive, disorienting hard rock — something that’s between an Appalachian snake handling revival and a lighthouse crumbling and re-building itself in 4/4 time.” But don’t take his word for it; visit for a taste.

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.

Sounding the 805

Sounding the 805

In the late ’90s and early 2000s, when bands like Blink 182 ruled the airwaves, pop-punk was somehow everywhere you looked, from movies and TV to virtually every high school band. At that time, if you happened to flip through a So Cal teenager’s CD case (remember those?), found somewhere alphabetically between Bad Religion and Green Day was a California band called Craig’s Brother.

Made up at one time or another of members from Inspection 12, former Ventura band and mainstream success Yellowcard, and world-touring Camarillo band Hey Mike!, Craig’s Brother nailed the fast, skatepunk beat, gratuitous vocal harmonies and themes of teenage heartbreak that embodied that epoch in Southern California music. At some point, following the arrival of too many eyeliner-hog MTV puppets, that epoch seemed to freeze abruptly, leaving Craig’s Brother in relative hiding for the last decade, with no remaining label support or live presence.

But last Saturday, to the surprise of many local fans, the band played a show at Zoey’s Café in Ventura, and suddenly all the fuzzy memories came rushing back for the crowd of 30 year-olds coming to re-experience the energy and angst of their adolescence, in a small, all-ages venue, exactly the way they left it.

Zoey’s, traditionally a haven for singer-songwriters and other light fare, only recently began expanding its palette of musical styles — last month it hosted T.F.W.’s CD release show and tour kickoff , and now occasionally allows its halls and furniture, long polished by the gentle sounds of acoustic guitars, to soak up the sonic powerwash of punk rock.

“They came highly recommended,” says Zoey’s co-owner Polly Hoganson about Craig’s Brother, members of which are personal friends of one of Zoey’s staff. Munson, featuring members of late ’90s punk band Slick Shoes, at its first-ever show, and local punk band Gun of a Son opened. For fans, it was a rare experience, and Craig’s Brother lead singer Ted Bond remarked that the crowd response in Ventura was “way more awesome” than in their hometown in Santa Cruz.

Gypsy Death Star, celebrating the official commercial release of its already critically acclaimed debut, How to Skin a Ghost, performed a set at Billy O’s in Ventura on Saturday night. Having upgraded the live show to match the atmospheric feel of its music with fog, robotic lights and projector effects, Wyatt Hull and Cesar Augusto feel like a polished act, and while no tour plans exist, they are clearly ready for any major U.S. city. Catch them Nov. 12 at Bombay Bar & Grill.

It is always nice when our local bands get noticed by journalists outside the Southern California scene, as did Oxnard indie pop band Catwalk recently, when its new single, “(Please) Don’t Break Me,” was featured on, a leading independent music website with more than 2 million unique visitors per month, on the Thursday, Nov. 4, edition of “Forkcast.” I say it’s about time this homegrown band turns some heads with its unique modern take on breezy, California-style ’60s pop. Go find a tambourine and check out Catwalk ASAP.

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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