The singer-songwriter world can be awfully cutthroat. For all the deep understanding of the universe that many of the artist’s songs boldly proclaim, the reality is, it’s a solo artist, ego-driven world that doesn’t lend itself to much unity. It’s not uncommon that an artist plays a listening room venue and the entire crowd empties out. Then when the next artist goes on stage, in walks a completely different crowd.
If there’s anything worse in the music world when it comes to selfishness and division, it’s what exists between competing venues. It is a downright rarity that venues work together on anything. Locally, there are rumors of sabotage, with venues allegedly calling the police to report neighboring venues for over-capacity events, entertainment permit issues. And there’s the most sinister of all (at least to an artist): the tearing down of fliers and posters for rival events in neutral locations.
It’s this behind-the-scenes animosity or general lack of concern about other venues, despite sharing the same market, that leads to things like Ventura Music Week leaving a lot to be desired because only one or two venue staff even bother to show up at meetings.
That’s why there’s a residency coming to Zoey’s this month that, in more ways than one, is a shining example of artists and venues bonding together.
It starts with Calico, the band, a three-piece, harmony-driven, all-girl group from Los Angeles. Featuring Manda Mosher, Jaime Wyatt and Kirsten Proffit, the three members are all long-time fixtures on the Southern California singer-songwriter scene and beyond as solo artists.
When Proffit had the idea to collaborate on a song for a soundtrack, she enlisted Mosher and Wyatt to co-write and sing the track together, and as Mosher explains, “We instantly knew we had something very special and it was time to join forces.”
The three decided to jump head-first into a new group and put their solo careers on hold for a while. This past November, for their second-ever show, they decided to venture out of their home base of L.A. and head north to test out the smaller market of Ventura, playing at Green Art People’s popular Short Attention Span Theater night, a somewhat underground weekly art and music event that has a devoted following.
Wyatt, who has family that live in the county, was a regular at GAP and Zoey’s, and suggested Ventura and GAP as a good city and venue to try out the group’s new material, which they call California country.
The response was so overwhelming that harmony-driven Calico became the most requested group ever to appear at the venue, according to GAP founder Lisbet Frey, and Calico instantly fell in love with the city.
“It’s very California. Very artsy but still has that beach community feel. It’s just a natural fit for our sound,” explains Mosher. “It feels like a home away from home for us. We felt like Ventura could be a really good place to develop the group and even break out nationally from.”
That’s where the venue collaboration comes into play. GAP’s popular Wednesday showcase that embraced Calico so fervently has a very strict curfew while Zoey’s, a more traditional venue, does not. In an inspiring show of unity, the two venues have joined forces, and Zoey’s will be holding a post-Short Attention Span Theater after-party featuring Calico the band every Wednesday in February. The residency is free to attend, and Zoey’s will be donating 10 percent of food and drink profits to Green Art People.
“It’s a total collaboration from every aspect,” explains Zoey’s co-owner Polly Hoganson. “We are always into working with other venues, and we totally support the great scene over at Green Art People. The concept is to make two different shows at two different venues as one event overall. Calico is a great example of three solo artists collaborating and benefiting, so they’re a perfect fit for this dual-venue venture.”
Green Art People presents Calico every Wednesday at 7 p.m. and at Zoey’s, at 10 p.m. Admission is free. For more information, visit www.zoeyscafe.com and www.facebook.com/calicothebandofficial.