Album Review – Spencer the Gardener

Breaking My Own Heart
By Pam Baumgardner

Breaking My Own Heart

Breaking My Own Heart

I’ve been familiar with Spencer the Gardener for years. You want a lively good time? You go see Spencer in concert because bar none, out of all the bands in Southern California, this band will deliver the goods each and every single time. And it’s a rare person who can refrain from at the very least tapping their toes, because I see more people dancing at their shows than any other band. They’re just flat out fun!

The problem at hand is how to describe Spencer the Gardener. The first word that comes to mind is “quirky” and then “professional” but the two words don’t really feel right going in the same sentence. So I’m going to go with a better word, “proficient” because every single member of this band is spot on. From Spencer’s unique vocals to Lilly’s trumpet to Lackner on the percussions, the band takes having a good time to a serious level of fun.

But I still haven’t solved the problem of describing the sound or the genre of the band. Surf? Sort of. Mariachi? Yeah, but… Latin? Well…yeah. But then I realize that they are a little of a lot of things. I also think of the Herman’s Hermits. Confused yet?

So I go to the official Spencer the Gardener website and get it straight from the horse’s mouth: “Guitars, Bongos, Congas, Trumpets, Saxophone, Bass, Drums and even an Accordion make up a California sun kissed, Latin tinged, genre bending, big band Surf Mariachi indie pop affair.”

YES! That’s it. I guarantee even Spencer took his time to come up with this description!

In any case, this band has been entertaining for 23 years and they’ve just come out with their seventh CD called, “Breaking My Own Heart” which includes 12 tunes and as always, Spencer delivers the goods.

You’ll want this CD for when you traveling down the 101 with the ocean to your side, windows down, with Spencer blaring – it just makes me smile thinking about it. Or running around the house doing bills or housecleaning, it will be a helpful hand. Or entertaining friends, a definite must have!

Spencer the Gardener continues to play shows around the country and especially in Santa Barbara as that is the band’s home base. But they do come to Ventura from time to time and when they do, you should always make it a point to come out and support a good time, because we never ever want to see them go away.

Love us some Spencer the Gardener!!!

Breaking My Own Heart

Track List:

1.Breaking My Own Heart
2.Someday She Said
3.Summer in the City
4.Lonely Soul
5.There She Goes
6.Bye Baby
7.Lluvia Paz
8.Away We Go
9.Chelsea Radio
10.Rock Steady
11.Movin’ On
12.Breaking My own Heart Outro

Click to buy CD: Breaking My Own Heart

Click for the Spencer the Gardener official website

Playing Amigos April 15, 2013

Playing Amigos April 15, 2013

Eve and Pam of with the Man, Spencer!

Eve and Pam of with the Man, Spencer!

Ventura Social Club at W20 – 5/16/13

This week’s Ventura Social Club at the Watermark’s W20 saw Xoco Moraza on Harp, Joe Baugh on Guitar, Andrew Flores on stand up Bass and featured Ozomatli Drummer, Mario Calire.

No lie, it was truly phenomenal!

Each week features a different line up and the crew never disappoints!!

The Barrelhouse Wailers at Amigos 5/16/13

Could not believe how incredibly fun these cats were!!! They’re called the Barrelhouse Wailers and you’re not going to want to miss them the next time they play here in Ventura! Loved the Hot Jazz they were serving up!

The band features David Leoncavallo on Bass; Wayne Philipp on guitar/banjo; Jim Wade on Tuba; Diamono Andreo on drums; Curt Ingram on Cornet; David White on Mandolin/Harmonica; and the amazing vocal stylings of Karen Parkhouse (missing, Alethea Lamb on clarinet)

Artists Photos

I’ve been humbled yet again by the people in this town.

We work hard, but we’re seeing results and Ventura really does Rock more and more every day.

A lot of effort is put into Ventura Rocks. We have a website we update every day. We generate a lot of two-way communication via Facebook hoping to get people out to support the shows. We also work on projects like Ventura Music Week attending meetings several times a week and meeting with the venues and artists to make sure they are included. There are the emails and messages coming in to “tweek” or fix a listing on our site, or to add an Artist, or to ask my thoughts about a certain artist and whether they’re a fit for a certain show. I love it.

I also work three paying jobs, I’ve been going to school four nights a week working on a degree, plus there are the basketball playoffs on top of having a teenage daughter I actually enjoy spending time with.

But more than that, I enjoy the fruits of our labor and I go out and support our music scene. I attempt to do this at least two-three times a week. And when I do, I make it a point to “check in” on Facebook with a photo of the band in hopes of getting others out to do the same.

The point is, I’m really freakin’ busy!!! So I was sidelined recently when a local musician, someone I admired, sent me an email requesting we get permission from Artists before posting their photos anywhere on the internet.

I’m positive this was a direct hit at me personally because I can not imagine how a local artist in a town the size of Ventura would be opposed to receiving free publicity.

I’ll be honest. It hurt. And perhaps I should have suppressed my feelings but I did two things.

1. I responded with a nice lengthy explanation and then I promised I would never take their photo again without their permission.

2. I went on Facebook and posted the following message along with a photo of my dog Sammy expressing how I was feeling:

“It’s been requested from a local musician that we get permission from Artists before posting their photos anywhere on the internet.
It hadn’t occurred to us that some musicians/artists would prefer not to have free publicity and help promoting them.
If we have posted your image in the past and you were not OKAY with it, please let us know and we will immediately take it down.
Seriously, we’re just trying to help”

The response was overwhelming. I will never doubt again that we’re making a difference in this town. And the support and thanks for what we do was just inspiring. I honestly cried more over these comments than how disappointing that email was. And no, not one Artist has sent me a Private Message to request we not post their photos. I did get one Private Message, but no, I’m not going to divulge who it was who made the request!

But I do want to be clear that we will endeavor to ensure Artists are fine with us posting their photos. I just don’t want them to feel beholden to us, or think we’re just looking for “thanks.”

And just so you know, I try to be careful with the photos I post ensuring the Artist(s) look good, avoiding glowing eyes, or unflattering expressions. If when I scroll the photos and I don’t see a good one, I’ll go back up and take some more until I do. If the lighting sucks so much that I can’t get the shot, I’ll just not post anything.

So if for any reason (you don’t have to give me an explanation if you don’t want to), you prefer not to have your photo on our website or Facebook page, just let me know, send me a private message. Of if there is a particular photo you don’t feel comfortable with, I’ll be happy to take that down for you. Again, we’re here to help.

All that being said, we’ve been doing this for four years now, and we’ve been talking for two years about how has not made a dime since going live. We continue to pay for all costs out of pocket including our personal time to do updates daily and how we would like to change this eventually.

That’s going to happen soon. And it feels really f***ing weird that our purely goodwill effort is now going to be a commercial venture. But know this, we will never ever charge the venues, or the Artists be listed just like we’ve always done. But we are going to start offering banner ads (taxi services, out-of-town venues, hair salons, etc…), and we’re working on creating an online store for t-shirts and other items.

Ventura is such a great place to live, we have these incredible musicians and Artists who deserve support. We have a community and network of resources that encourage the music scene and we’re privileged to be a part of it all because like I always say, Ventura really does Rock!


A Call to all Artists: What is Your Worth?

Shawn Jones and Sam Bolle

Shawn Jones and Sam Bolle has made it our mission to help Ventura’s music scene come to life. A local musician who has been gigging on Main Street for over 40 years recently commented that this is the best of times. I agree. But I think it can be even better.

I’m not going to lie, I’m still learning a lot about the music scene. I don’t pretend to know it all, but there are a few things I know for certain and one of them is that individuals who create art are among the most worthy in our society. They make life bearable. They create beauty, and soulfulness. Without art, life would be dull. Just look at your surroundings, Ventura is beautiful. Yes, the hillsides, two trees, the ocean and our rivers are amazing, but aesthetically speaking, we have a lot of beauty within our town too. Well kept homes, well-designed buildings, historical landmarks are preserved, we have art on display, we have music in our venues, we have people volunteering their time to improve conditions…it’s really quite amazing what we have in our town. If you take the time to look, I think you too will find that it’s truly beautiful.

I know I tend to look at the glass half full and sometimes you have to dig in deep and confront issues you’d rather not. I’m no Pollyanna and I know our society has a long ways to go: We have homeless panhandling and not accepting a hand up. Crime rate and drug abuse (usually going hand in hand) continues to plague us. The economy is slowly recovering but jobless rate is still a problem and City services to continue to take a hit.

But I knew something could be done to make a difference in this town, and helping the economy and supporting our musicians, by helping to promote your gigs just felt like the right thing to do. I still believe that 100%.

Creating harmony, affinity and beauty and making someone feel better should never be overrated. People coming together and listening to music that moves them and inspires them, that’s something magical.

Don’t get me wrong, I love a punk show to work out the aggressions as much as the next person, but I also love our jazz, I love our rockers, I love our folk heroes who bear their souls each and every performance. You guys are so incredible!

You get it right? Artists are important to our society.

So that being said, I want you to know where I’m coming from as I carefully broach the subject of exploitation. And while yes, at least 90% of our promoters are FABULOUS, there is a bad element out there that has landed on our radar and we’re at a crossroads on how to deal with them. These are the promoters who have no intention of paying the bands who play at their events, yet they’re making money off of them. That my friend is called exploitation. Worse yet, there are the promoters who ask the bands to pay them to be a part of their event.

Of course there will always be the argument that the band will get exposure they normally wouldn’t get. I can absolutely get that, IF you’re opening up for Green Day at the Ventura Theater; or you’re about to play in front of thousands of people at one of the bigger shows. Or being a part of an event like Local Rock Picnic where everyone is doing their part to pull off an event for the “greater good”. And of course there’s the newer artist coming on the scene who needs to prove their own worth and I wouldn’t begrudge them playing for exposure to get the ball rolling.

I’m not walking in your shoes, so I try not to judge. But know this, I have your back and I’m watching out for you.

Also, we might as well confront the fact that a number of venues do not pay their musical talent. That’s a hard one. We know the economy is getting better, so we hope their purse strings are loosening up. If the artists help increase business, then they should be compensated!

And while we’re at it, the venues who do provide music and no cover? Patrons need to put in exchange with them as well! Buy dinner. Buy a beverage or two. Because if everyone were to show up and then not pay for anything, I promise you this, these guys WILL GO OUT OF BUSINESS.

So in conclusion…Artists are what make this society a joy to be a part of.

If you are an artist, do not underestimate your worth. We don’t. You are worthy and we are here to help you.

Pam Baumgardner