Interview – Camper Van Beethoven

Interview with David Lowery

Camper Van Beethoven (CVB) will be releasing their forthcoming studio album, La Costa Perdida on January 22, 2013.  This will mark the first studio album they’ve recorded together since 2004’s New Roman Times!

Camper Van Beethoven

Camper Van Beethoven – photo credit: Jason Thrasher

Ventura will be the first of three shows in preparation for PioneerTown Palace, the band’s 8th annual end of summer camp out near Joshua Tree.

Ventura Rocks:  We caught both Cracker and Camper Van Beethoven last summer for Indie West Fest at the Fairgrounds.  It was extremely cool being able to see both bands on the same bill.  And now Camper is returning for an intimate show at Zoey’s.

David Lowery:  Yea, We really enjoyed that.  There’s a long history between Camper and Cracker stopping there in Ventura playing the Ventura Theater and even before in some weird places in some small bar off of downtown in the 80’s with Camper.  So a lot of history with the area.

Ventura Rocks:  You have a new album coming out.  Can you let Camper fans know what to expect along with trying to explain the vibe that is Camper Van Beethoven to those who are not familiar with the band?

David Lowery:    Well Camper Van Beethoven originally came out of the punk rock alternative scene.  We have a lot of sort of exotic sort of folky / hillbilly, old gypsy music sort of element to what we’ve always done.  I don’t know how that all really came about.  We just kind of mixed those things together…the punk and early alternative sort of folky things.  And we’ve had an enduring following since the mid 80’s all over the world.

This album we have coming out, it’s pretty much laid right up the middle of what Camper does.   It’s a lot like our other records, but there is a sort of California scene to the whole record.  We’re not sure how that came out, it’s not a “California Girls” sort of record, but maybe a “Northern California Girls.”

Ventura Rocks:  What can we expect at Zoey’s?

David Lowery:  We’ll be playing a half a dozen songs off the new album a dozen or so off all the other albums.  It will be a good mixed bag.  We haven’t played in a few months.  We have our festival that happens that weekend out at Pioneertown out by Joshua Tree

Ventura Rocks:  Yea, it sounds amazing.  How many people do you get up there?

David Lowery:  It’s not a really big place.  It only really holds about 700 people in the immediate area, so we sell 700 tickets, sometimes more people show up.

We’ve been doing it for eight years now. It’s a lot of fun.   But we were thinking we needed to do some warm up shows before this.  Cracker has been playing all summer but Camper Van Beethoven hasn’t been playing.  And so we wanted to do some warm up shows and we’ve had a long history of playing in Ventura so we thought we’d would play there.  Plus I don’t know if people know this, but the crew that works for us are all actually from “The Nard” or Ventura.

Ventura Rocks:  (laughs) That’s right!  The Nard.  So how much social media does Camper use?

David Lowery:  We use all that stuff.  You know it’s not like Camper Van Beethoven is all over the Television or the Radio, so this is the way they find out about us.

Camper Van Beethoven will be playing at Zoey’s on Monday, September 10, 2012.  Visit Zoey’s official website for more information and to GET YOUR TICKETS NOW.


David’s now infamous blog on: TheTrichordist


Album Review – Chi McClean

A Thing or Three
by Stephanie Rose

Chi McClean - A Thing or ThreeArtist really are the heart and soul of a society. Without them, you have no vision.  Without them life is dull.  Of course art is totally subjective and so it is something special when you come across an artist who strikes a chord with you.

I happened upon Chi McClean during one of Zoey’s Songwriters in the Round sessions and I Friended him on Facebook soon after.  I read his posts with interest as he made his way across the country playing different venues.  As soon as he was booked at Zoey’s again, I cleared my calendar and made it a point to catch his show which was this past Monday night along with local artists Dan Grimm and Matt Zeltzer.

I have to say that one of the highlights of the evening was the commaraderie between the musicians and the interactions with the audience between songs, to which the audience was happy to chime in on the conversation as well.  The room connected.
Chi McClean, Matt Zeltzer at Zoeys

During their break I made my way over to Chi and introduced myself from  He thanked me for showing up and promptly provided me with a copy of his latest CD, “A Thing or Three.” I was honored. I promised to write a review to which he grimaced.  Too cute.

It was a good night listening to good music and I was looking forward to cracking open my new CD and giving “A Thing or Three” a spin.

A man and his acoustic guitar. It doesn’t get much more intimate than that.  A little southern, a little folk, some bluesiness, lite rock.  I guess it’s called Americana. I’m reminded a little of James Taylor, Kenny Loggins, a even a tinge of Van Morrison.
Chi McClean, Matt Zeltzer, Dan Grimm at Zoeys

It’s hard to believe Chi was born and raised in New York.  I distinctly get a bonfire at the beach vibe.  I can imagine listening to “A Thing or Three” driving down Highway 1 along the Pacific Ocean with the top down, just as easily as spending some quality time with that someone special on a hot summer night.  Uplifting lyrics, passion and extraordinary musicianship.  It’s a good mix, a good vibe, and worthy of your time. My favorites include  “Build me Up,” “I Save You” and “Life Got in the Way.”

Again, I’ll be following Chi and his posts on Facebook, as well as his blog on his official website.  Looking forward to catching him when he rolls through our town again.

Album Review – Winchester Rebels

3 Sheets to the Wind
by Stephanie Rose


Winchester Rebels CD, 3 Sheets to the WindHaving earned my stripes as Program Director at a local Alternative Rock radio station in the mid 90’s here in town called KXBS the Bus, and then launching a national publication, Buzzine Magazine as Vice-President and Editor-in-Chief, I’d like to think I know music.  And though I haven’t been working in the industry for a number of years – opting instead for stability and a steady pay check to cover the mortgage – my first love continues to be music and so in my spare time I do what I can to support our local music scene with

Recently I was approached about a band I hadn’t heard of before who would be playing some shows in Ventura and they were hoping to get some support on the website. My first introduction to the Winchester Rebels was via YouTube and a video of the band performing an acoustic version of their song, “Loaded Gun” on Santa Barbara’s radio station, KJEE.  I was immediately intrigued and made it a plan to check out the band which was playing at Billy O’s.  After one song, it was clear the band belonged on a much larger stage with a much larger crowd.  And though the house wasn’t packed, the guys played as if it were. I left wanting more and so I decided to spend some time with The Winchester Rebel’s debut release, 3 Sheets to the Wind.

Without a doubt, this is one of the best indie band endeavors I’ve heard in quite some time.  Nick Fitzgerald writes all the music as well as the guitar parts and Nick Hunt writes all the lyrics.   I’m impressed and I readily admit the CD hasn’t left my car, except to rip tunes for my workout playlist for my MP3 player (I added “Down” and “Flying”).

The guys know how to write solid rock tunes reminiscent of STP and Alice.  Catchy lyrics and hooks from the get-go where the guitars, rhythm and vocals drive the listener from song to song, never disappointing and leaving you wanting more.  The more times I listen to 3 Sheets to the Wind, the more the band leaves its mark. I find I’m singing lyrics and wondering where my own “Private Angel” is; or realizing, “I lost my head somewhere on my way to you” from one of their most infectious tunes, “Down.”

The Winchester Rebels

 All five members of Winchester Rebels are solid players and bring something special to the table.  Songs like “Private Angel” and “Silence” remind me yet again how much fun I’m missing having never learned to play drums. The band’s fat sounding bass never gets lost in the mix laying down the band’s groove, creating a fine balance between rhythm and harmony. The guitars work extremely well complementing each other driving the songs (love the solo in “Dining with the Devils”), and Nick Hunt’s vocal arrangements are incredibly captivating; he has a voice worthy of filling the Staples Center in Los Angeles.

Here’s the thing, reading about music without hearing it, is like someone trying to describe a full-length body massage without actually ever experiencing one.  Yea, you can explain how amazing it feels and how it will take you away to a special place, and… blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. You get the picture.  So until you actually sit down and give the Winchester Rebels a listen, you won’t know.  Go online to and give them a spin for yourself.  Then demand they come back to town and play it live.

Nick Hunt – Vocals
Nick Fitzgerald – Guitar
James Longoria – Guitar
John Livergood – Bass
Barry Carter – Drums


Ventura County Music Awards

The practice of pitting bands against one another is not a new idea.  For as long as I can remember there have been talent shows and award shows.  Giving honors to artistic merit (subjective on so many levels) or a popularity contest (where the most votes win), are both valid concepts. Professional artists can further their careers economically when they win a Grammy, and amateur and Indie artists have a chance at gaining momentum and mainstream popularity by showcasing their talent and hoping for the top prize.  Fans eat up American Idol and The Voice, and even The Warped Tour offers up a local battle of the bands whereby the band with the most votes gets to play when the tour comes to their town.

I wouldn’t even call it a necessary evil.  It is what it is.

This year, VC Buzz Magazine is trying its hand at introducing The Ventura County Music Awards and from what I understand, it’s by popular vote.

As stated on their official website

The Ventura County Music Awards are a premier annual music event, honoring the best and brightest in local talent. Our goal is to provide a platform for local artists to gain recognition and exposure in one of the nation’s most talented music scenes. This must-see music event features live performances by national and local artists as well as celebrity presenters.

The selection process is described as the following:

Prior to the awards, local artists have 6 months to be nominated in one of the 23 music award categories. Our Showcase series starts in June with live shows at local venues where the top artists in each category get to perform with live voting after the show. Winners will be chosen through online popular vote and will be awarded at the VC Music Awards ceremony on November 9th.

So then, this is a popularity contest whereby the bands and artists have to rally their friends, family, acquaintances to go online and vote and show up at a showcase, which some cost to get in.

I like VC Buzz, Buzz Radio and all their ventures.  I don’t see as a competitor at all.  All our efforts have been solely voluntary to date, and we have yet to make a dime. We are hoping to change that before long, but we don’t begrudge VC Buzz from making a living. We applaud their efforts to promote the music scene throughout Ventura County, just like we support Kat’s efforts with Totally Local VC.

I’m a bit ambivalent when it comes to the Ventura County Music Awards though.  On one hand, the artists get a chance to showcase their talents…always a good thing.  But on the other hand, they have to rally up the troops to get out and vote…and we just can not take sides.  I get a bit sad that we’re pitting our local artists against each other.  I guess it’s just the softy in me, my motherly instincts coming to the surface to protect my offspring.  I know, I know, “Man Up.”

We will continue help to promote the showcases & final Music Awards Show by listing them on our official website.  But, VenturaRocks will not be showing favoritism, and it’s with a heavy heart that we have to ignore requests for us to vote for our Artist and Band friends.

But know this.  We are here to support you guys…whether you win or not. Whether we think you suck or not! As long as we continue to create, you will always have a free place to promote your gigs here in the City of Ventura, because without you, Ventura would not Rock!!! Mission Statement

We post
ed the following NOTE on our Facebook page (  for our Third Anniversary so we could let everyone know what our vision is behind
We would like to repost it here for future reference!

Dearest Friends of

On the eve of our anniversary, we’d like to thank all of our Facebook Friends for being so awesome! Almost a year ago we posted a note on what our Mission is all about and now it’s as good of time as any to revisit this, especially for those our newer Facebook Friends who don’t know.  So here we go…

Our Mission is to help stimulate the economy in our favorite city in the whole wide world by promoting venues who offer music and to the artists who live in and around Ventura as well as those who travel here to play.

We want people to get out and support our music scene.

We promise never to charge the venues or the artist to be listed on

Very few people know that there are only two of us running our official website as well as our Facebook page. We have our families and we have full time jobs. This is a labor of love, something we truly believe in doing to help the city we love…which is almost as much as we love music.

There are two points to this note:

1.  We apologize, but we are only providing information for the city of Ventura itself. We don’t have the time and/or resources to do more than that at this time.

Believe it or not, we have been “unfriended” because we would not promote this person’s venue outside of Ventura.  He ranted on his Facebook page about half-ass promotions and attempted to belittle our efforts to help.

To this we say, “Oh well.”

So if you find that we delete your posts from time to time. This is probably the reason.  Your gig is outside of the city of Ventura.

2.  Our official website, has not made a dime since going live over three years ago.  We continue to pay for all costs out of pocket including our personal time to do updates daily.

We would like to change this eventually however.  And while we will never charge our artists or venues, perhaps other businesses might want to advertise on our site, or maybe we could sell items like t-shirts.

These are ideas we’re throwing around at this time.

So dear VenturaRocks friends, thank you for reading up to this point and thank you for your continued support.  We love this town, we love music, and we love the people who align with our purpose of making this community a better place for all.

As we embark on our fourth year online, we say to you, “Rock on!  And get out and support our music scene!!!”

Pam and Eve