Ventura Rocks in the Ventura Breeze – 9/3 – 9/16

Ventura MusVentura Breeze logoic Scene
Ventura Summer One for the Books
by Pam Baumgardner

Pam Baumgardner & Danny CareyWho called it?  Yeah you got that right. I did when I speculated that the Doug Webb Group would be another one for the books because they absolutely killed it at Squashed Grapes Saturday, August 26 with special guest Danny Carey of Tool on drums.   Carey told me that he doesn’t frequent Ventura all too often, but he recollected playing the Ventura Theater with Tool, and of course visiting his bud Terry Bozzio (Missing Persons) who lives nearby.  He clearly was having a great time navigating through the jazz pieces Doug Webb had selected for the evening and even if I do say so myself, he nailed it. Carey goes out on tour with Primus next.  Webb of course is no stranger to the Grape, and it’s always a treat to have the guy who plays the saxophone of Lisa on The Simpsons in the house.  Plus having played with Freddie Hubbard, Stanley Clarke, Quincy Jones, and others to name but a few, is nothing to sneeze at. The house was comfortable sold out to capacity with a number of fans outside hoping to get a glimpse of Carey, and as the drummer is seated directly next to the front window, they weren’t disappointed.

And though school is back in session, Summer is far from over with several key events to look forward to including the Ventura Beach Party on September 6 and 7 down at the pier which has music both days and a Marathon which is a qualifying race for the Boston Marathon.  The following weekend, also down along the promenade is the Aloha Festival on the 13 and 14 with Dirty Rice performing on Saturday.   And then of course the ever popular California Beer Festival September 20 and 21 with Sunday featuring some killer blues acts such as Tab Benoit, Sister Sparrow & the Dirty Birds, and Michael John & the Bottom Line.

Look for the annual Key to the Highway Blues Benefit for Khepera House Rehab and Recovery program at Bombay’s on Sunday, September 7 with Tommy Marsh and Bad Dog, Brian Batchley & Friends, Guy Martin and 50 Sticks of Dynamite.  I’m also hearing there will be special guests showing up including Kelly Zires and Perry Robertson of Kelly’s Lot.  Kphepera House has been helping drug addicts and alcoholics and their family in Ventura County for over 30 years.

The White Buffalo was no stranger to Zoey’s and he even headlined Polly’s benefit last year; but now he’s stepping it up a notch (or five) with his appearance on the Jimmy Kimmel show August 27  and he’ll be headlining the Ventura Theater on September 20 in support of his most recent release, Shadows, Greys & Evil Ways.

And finally,on a very sad note, it is with a heavy heart we learned of the passing of Dan Wilson over the Labor Day weekend.  Ventura’s music community has lost a true gem.

This is a good time to give a gentle reminder to ALL musicians, fans, and media who support Ventura’s music scene:  we’re all in this together.   Enough said.

If you have any music related news or upcoming shows you want help publicizing?  Send all information short or long to

Ventura Rocks in the Ventura Breeze – 8/20 – 9/2

Ventura MusVentura Breeze logoic Scene
Ventura Music Just Keeps Rockin’
by Pam Baumgardner

Jake OwenWho else was a little sad to see the fair close this year?  High on my list of favorite shows at the fair were Deep Purple, Beach Boys, Seether and I absolutely loved the Barenaked Ladies; but I admit, I was quite smitten by Jake Owen who packed in the arena with his brand of new Country.  Very well done Fair!

We said goodbye to Jeff Hershey and the Heartbeats as they did their farewell show for Music Under the Stars at Olivas Adobe.  Hershey was on fire and the boys in the band -better known as The Heartbeats – kicked it up a notched entertaining the crowd and going out in style.  Thanks for the memories guys!

Sometimes you just never know how cool it is (and a privilege I might add) to see someone play until you ask, “Who are these guys?”  Well I’m glad I did as the second act warmed up Friday, August 8, as a part of the Ones to Watch series at Bombay Bar and Grill.  I asked Steve Hoganson (Zoey’s) who the guitar player was and he told me Doug Pettibone plays guitar for John Mayor.  Cool, right?  But then he went on to inform me that his bass player, Taras Prodaniuk plays with Dwight Yoakam and drummer Toss Panos with Robben Ford.  What an amazing set these guys did too.

Alrighty then, let’s take a look at what’s coming up that you won’t want to miss.  August 23 and 24 is the 5th annual Spencer Makenzie’s End of Summer Block Party.  Once again shutting down the city block outside Spencer Makenzie’s Fish Company, the event features two stages of music from the likes of Aaron Orbit, Derek Jennings, TresCoustics, Rey Fresco, Shaky Feelin’, Ventura Social Club, Resination and  The Ska Daddyz.  There will be tons of music both days along with their famous Throw Down (corn hole) tournament for some nice prize money.

And then for three days over Labor Day Weekend, August 29 through August 31, it’s Bombay’s 30th annual Beach Party where they bring the beach to the bar creating one heck of a party, with over 25 bands and 6 DJs featuring all genres of music.  With three stages of music (inside and out), the party will feature appearances from 8Stops7, The Rubberneck Lions, Bloody Mary Morning, New Liberty, Mandex, Raging Arb and the Redheads, Rey Fresco and tons more.

And then finally, Rachel Flowers will be giving a free concert at Ojai’s Libbey Bowl on Sunday, August 24, as a part of the ongoing documentary being produced by local filmmakers.  Flowers is an amazing talent who has been blind since birth and playing music since the age of four. Take the family and be a part of this incredible event. Concert starts at 6:30 pm.

Do you have any music related news or upcoming shows you want help publicizing?  Send all information short or long to

A Photographer’s Rights

The photographerOkay, let’s talk about a photographer’s rights.

But before we do, and before we get anybody’s panties in a bunch, I want to put out there first and foremost, SHARE my photos. I have never turned down anyone’s request to use my photos for their own promotion of their band or for their venue or just for fun. NO ONE.

Also, I would like to note that most musicians and venue owners are incredibly sensitive to this issue and go above and beyond the call of duty when using a photo I’ve taken.

So here’s what inspired this post: today while perusing my Facebook News Feed, I spotted one of my photos I had taken over the weekend, but something did not look quite right. The colors were faded and it had been cropped.  Honestly, I can live with that. The faux pas? This individual cropped off my watermark, and they didn’t give a photo credit or a thanks for the photo. THEY CROPPED OFF THE WATERMARK.

I have no doubt that this person had no idea they had offended.  I’m certain that there was no malice in their action.  I’m sure they thought it completely harmless and probably didn’t even realize they had done anything wrong, and for that, I don’t take this personally; but I have had discussion with photographers on this very matter.  Also, I know there are a small handful of musicians who are not clear on who owns the photo of them. So I thought I would take a moment and talk about etiquette and a little bit about copyright laws when it comes to photography.

I’ve seen photographers give long-winded notice that their photos are copyrighted and how you may or may not use their photo and blah blah blah.  Honestly, if I were that worried about people using my photos incorrectly, I would never post them on the internet let alone Facebook!

At first I thought professional photographers shouldn’t even post their photos because there is no way you can police everyone on the internet.  But then I realized that they could use Facebook as a tool to show off what they are capable of creating in the hopes of getting hired someday.  I truly believe that professional photographers deserve to be paid for their art; just as musicians should be compensated for theirs.

I asked a professional photographer friend of mine if this happens to her and she pointed out it happens all the time when people use one of her photos for their profile shot.  I can now hear most people asking themselves, “Holy shit! Have I done that???”

You know I don’t expect to make my living off the photos I take.  I do what I do to help promote Ventura’s music scene. AND, on the very limited occasions I have posted a photo on that was not taken by myself, I first asked for permission, and then I give the photo credit.  The same with my article in The Ventura Breeze.  I basically watermark to further the promotion of Ventura’s music scene. I don’t use my personal name, Pam Baumgardner.

I post photos one of two ways, either directly from my crappy camera phone which I haven’t figured out how to watermark, or I post photos I’ve taken with SLR Canon which I’ve cleaned up and watermarked with “”.  So it came as a big surprise to me when I saw the photo cropped and no photo credit given.  Couldn’t they have just “shared” it?  That would have shown where they got the photo from.

The bottom line? I am the copyright owner of every picture I take, watermarked or not.

Kodak wrote an article on Copyright Guidelines. I’m going to copy and paste two particular sections:

Who Owns What?

The law says the “author” is the owner of the copyright. The author of a photo or image is usually the person who snapped the shutter or created the image. If you took the photo, you own the copyright. If a professional photographer took the photo for you, then he or she owns the copyright. If that photographer is an employee of a studio or other person in the business of making photos, then his or her employer is considered the author.

Prior to 1978, court cases said a customer who commissioned a photo was the employer of the photographer, so customers could get reprints made without any problem. In 1979, the U.S. Supreme Court said that was no longer true. To be an employee, the court said a person would have to be considered an employee under the traditional tests such as are used to impose payroll taxes, social security, and similar laws. That is not the usual customer-photographer relationship.

What Is Copyright?

The U.S. Constitution and the Federal Copyright Act give “copyright” protection to “authors” for their “original works,” such as photographs. Among the protections that copyright owners have are the exclusive rights to:

Make copies of the work
Prepare other works based on the original
Distribute copies of the work to the public by sales, rental, lease, or lending
To publicly perform and display the work.
These rights are protected by laws which provide for damages and criminal penalties for violations. Both the customer and the lab are subject to the law.

The point of this editorial is not to berate offenders of this rule…make that law; the point of this article is to educate.  That is all.

I understand the confusion, after all it’s the person’s image for crying out loud.  I understand why a musician would think they have the right to use that photo, it’s them!!  But the law states the photographer owns the right to the picture, not the subject, so it’s not only common courtesy to ask for permission to use it for promotional purposes, but it’s actually the law.

Amazing photographer Amanda Peacock

Amazing photographer Amanda Peacock

So to all my photographer buds, I got your back.  And to all my musician friends, I got your back too.  This editorial is to help you better understand the laws on the photographs that are taken of you. I know that you want the promotion that photographers give you. There are quite a number of awesome photographers here in Ventura who help spread the word about your music. I would list them, but I know I would leave someone out by accident.

And as for the legalities of taking pictures?

“Anyone in a public place can take pictures of anything they want. Public places include parks, sidewalks, malls, etc. Malls? Yeah. Even though it’s technically private property, being open to the public makes it public space.” *

Of course I’m not naming names.  I’m not even going to contact the musician who was the catalyst of this piece. If you know who it was, please don’t embarrass them.

I am here to serve this incredible music community.  And again, helping musicians better understand a photographer’s rights, only helps serve them better in the end.


Polly Interviews Derek Jennings

banner_001Musician Derek Jennings of Ventura talks about songwriting, family, the Beatles, his former band The Return, and why his new record “Bummertown” is not a bummer.

Polly:  What’s your Ventura history?

Derek JenningsDerek: I was born in Camarillo actually, two cities away, about 5 minutes on a good day.  I was born at Pleasant Valley hospital and lived in Camarillo ‘til I was about 17/18, I went to high school in Oxnard and I frequented Ventura Theater all through those years, just going to see shows so I’m no stranger to the area.

Polly:  Was it a conscious decision to become a musician or was that something like the music chose you?

Derek:  It’s somewhere in the middle. I think it’s where both of those two things meet. My dad was a big influence on me in that he would always have music playing.  The biggest thing I remember was “Breakfast with the Beatles”.  I forget what radio station but every Sunday morning he would just turn on the radio and he’d let it play, you know, as my parents cleaned the house, chores, and me and my brother would fool around but I’ll always remember that as well as the radio just being on pretty much non-stop. There was a lot of classic rock so I grew up on all the same songs that my dad grew up with when he was a teenager.  Zeppelin, Stones, Beatles so that was mine and I’m sure like a lot of people the big introduction to music. Where it changed is my dad also had a couple guitars lying around the house.  He had a steel string acoustic and a classical nylon string, and I liked to play with the nylon strings because it wouldn’t hurt my fingers as much. When I was about 14 I decided to actually pick it up and try to figure out how it worked. So at that point once I was able to figure it out it wasn’t easy, but it wasn’t necessarily difficult either.  I was able to play it and was really excited and that’s kinda where those two things meet.  The music chose me…and then I chose the music.

Polly:  Who inspires you? I know you mentioned your dad and the Beatles, which I want to get back to you when we start talking about “Bummertown”.  Who inspired your songwriting?  

Derek:  I have always looked up to those old rock stars like the Beatles, Stones and then when I was learning to play guitar it was guitarists Eric Clapton, Jimi Hendrix, they really shaped and molded the way I wanted to play. It was after high school with artists like Pavement and Elliot Smith, some of the more indie rock bands that opened my eyes to the songwriting. Not that the Beatles, who were like the greatest songwriters, but being so young I wasn’t quite ready for that. So there’s kinda like two sides to the influence. It’s the playing and the wanting to be a rock star you know, not necessarily being famous but definitely well known. I want to be a master of my craft more than wanting to be famous. When I realized I could spend a little bit more time and actually write a song is when I started listening to Elliot Smith and actually going back and digging deeper in to those early influences and looking at how they wrote songs and how they came about, deconstructing those songs that I grew up with and finding a lot more meaning in them.

Polly:  What do you think about writing a song, does it come naturally? Is it music first and then lyrics?

Derek:  I think for me it’s always been music first. I always usually start with guitar in hand, that’s my main instrument, and then the lyrics. The riff tells me what kind of lyrics. Sometimes I’ll give it some more thought but it’s usually the song and the emotion, the tone of the song, that’s when I decide to put lyrics to it.

Polly:  You’re basically a self taught musician, have you ever gone to music school?

Derek:  No, like I mentioned before when I was 14 I picked up the guitar and I think the first song I tried to learn was a Green Day song they were the big acts, you know, Nirvana, Smashing Pumpkins. I’m a 90s kid at heart. In fact I watched a biography on Kurt Cobain last night got nostalgic. I think it was a Green Day “hidden” song on one of their records, it was like 3 notes, and I said, “I liked to play this”. I learned to play it, the rest came from there.  Then when I was 15 someone my father worked with  was a blues guitarist. A weekend warrior you know, he’d play on the weekends. So I took maybe 3 guitar lessons from him all of which I asked him to tab out Nirvana songs, a complete waste of his time, haha he did it you know of course and we paid for his time.  But that was the also first time I played his beautiful vintage Gibson Les Paul which I damn near dropped because they’re so heavy and so amazing. So yeah, I am self taught and I totally wasted his time.  But he did show me those songs and a few other things and it opened my eyes even more so I can’t I say I didn’t take anything away from that. It was definitely a good experience.

Polly:  Let’s talk about the record.

Derek:  Absolutely.

Polly:  There are four songs on the record.  Did you originally go in thinking okay I’m going to lay down four songs and how did that evolve?

Derek Jennings at ZoeysDerek:  I as you know I had won the Zoey’s Ones to Watch and I contacted Shane (Alexander) who agreed to help me produce the record. When I think about EP I think 4 or 5 songs and we both agreed 4 songs would be good with the time it would take, that was the best way to go.  I had a short list of songs that I had played for years, even when Zoey’s was on Main.

Polly:  I have heard a fast version of Quicksand (song 1 on the EP) was that one of the early songs?

Derek:  Quicksand is, of all the songs, actually is the only one that hadn’t been written recently. Its a couple years old. I recorded it as an instrumental while I was living in LA and it’s still one of my favorite songs. It’s kind of an Americana style instrumental and that’s something I’ve always loved growing up.  Like old Fleetwood Mac. I love instrumentals as much as I love to sing. If I could I’d write instrumentals all the time.

Polly:  You’ve got a great guitar style I really enjoy watching and listening to you play the guitar but I also love your songs.

Derek:  Oh thank you. I don’t know where that came from…

Polly:  Haha

Derek:  I thought about that the other day and I tend to bring in…umm, the way I hit the strings it’s like my own built in rhythm like percussion. I noticed that recording the record and at the very beginning of Quicksand it basically starts out with the guitar strumming and it almost sounds like a drum roll intro. Yeah, I love it, I don’t know where it came from but I’ll take it. It’s something that developed.

Polly:  Your record is very reminiscent of 70’s British pop, Beatlesque, Paul McCartney. Does that sound speak to you? Do you hear that? Do you feel that?

Derek:  Yes absolutely, I’ve always been the biggest fan of John Lennon’s lyrics but Paul McCartney’s music, especially his The Ram record… which I’m sure a lot of people site as a big influence. I recently read that when it came out it was kind of a flop.  People didn’t like it, they didn’t get it. For me I grew up hearing like “Uncle Albert”, he mixes 3 songs into one long song and that blew my mind! That’s the most amazing thing to me. I’ll also to do that. I’ll take 2 old songs and kind of meld them together.  That’s how Quicksand came about. It was an instrumental at first with a lead guitar playing over it and I kind of mimicked what the lead guitar was playing and started singing over it… and unfortunately in 2011 my dad passed away.

Polly:  I was going to ask you about you dad because of the lyrics in that song.

Derek:  It was unexpected he’d been sick for a while he had heart complications from his time in Vietnam and he also battled with alcoholism and I wouldn’t say drug addiction but he liked to smoke pot.  And he couldn’t have one without the other. Definitely a sad addiction and he got sick.  So I don’t think… he never really quit or slowed down. It got to a point where he needed to exercise and he wouldn’t even get up and take a walk. He lived up in Northern Calif. He moved up there to help my brother. My brother has a couple little girls and was going through a rough patch with his ex-wife so my dad moved up there to help him out. My dad just kind of settled.  They have a really good VA hospital up there. They really took care of him but he couldn’t take care of himself.  So when he passed away it wasn’t a surprise but it was sudden.  I shot up there and all he really had left was this old guitar. A beautiful Epiphone late 70’s I believe. I took that and re-wrote Quicksand with his life in mind.

Polly:  Wow

Derek:  Yeah, his biggest regret was that his father never got to see me. I’m the first born. His dad passed away not even a month before I was born.  I’m glad he got to see pictures and to talk to my daughter. He kind of fulfilled his wish to live long enough.  At the same time my grandfather also died due to alcoholism and he was 50 years old, really young.  My dad had a self fulfilling prophecy so when he turned 50 he did really well, but he died at 63. He had a good decade on his pops but a lot of that was downhill.  That’s how that story came about, him to being able to at least know his grandchild.  He was a really good grandpa.

Polly:  It is a great tribute to your dad, lovely lyrics, the melody is amazing and you play it so well.

Derek:  It gave me a lot of closure and helped me mentally.

Polly:  The song “Don’t Forget About Me” was collaboration with you and musician Shane (Alexander). How was that?

Derek:  That was great. The beauty of collaboration and songwriting…  that’s the one thing I haven’t done since the split up of my band, to really sit down with other people and play music. And sitting down with him was brilliant because Shane is absolutely brilliant, his knee jerk reactions are just perfect. I had a short list of songs I wanted to do and most were 2, 3, 4 years old and I had this idea of a chorus that just popped out …”road your bike back home…” but I had it in double time with all the chord changes and I wanted it to be this big production and I showed it to him, showed him the intro, and I didn’t have much, I had a verse and a chorus. He just said “Yes!” and he kind of was giving me some pointers and we were working on it and I told him I really liked this song and we shook hands, I said let’s co-write this. He was really into it and I didn’t want to take the time to write the song myself otherwise it would never have made the record. Nor would it have sounded as great without his help. So we sat in his kitchen and wrote the song right then and there.  We wrote the melodies and the lyrics, barring a little bit of editing here and there that song was written in about 30 mins. That was a lot of fun. That came out of spontaneity.  The only idea I really had was kind of a mixture of two time periods the innocence of when you’re a kid… I used to ride my bike a lot and when I met my wife, I met her through bike riding.  On our first date we went on a bike ride. So I meshed those two ideas together and Shane helped me develop that.

Polly:  So it’s a song about and for your wife Kat.

Derek:  Yes, it’s for my wife with that melancholy, that childhood thing, because I think that draws a lot more people in. I think everyone can on some aspect relate to that rather than me coming out and being all you know lovey dovey to my wife haha, but I really am, I really am.

Polly:  Let’s talk about your family.

Derek:  Aha

Polly:  If you want to.

Derek:  No, absolutely.

Polly:  Knowing you I feel that your family is your center, your central purpose of why you do what you do.

Jennings FamilyDerek:  Growing up I always thought I’d play music.  Even when I got stuck in a rut with my day job I’d always play music as a habit. But when my kids were born I was proven so wrong because they absolutely have become my reason for living… the meaning of my life are the kids.  And it’s so crazy and so corny but it’s absolutely true. They are so brilliant and they are so little versions of me and my wife and I see my dad, my mom, my mother in law. I see everything in them. It’s so crazy watching them grow up. And being able to show them stuff, things, music, instruments, art it’s so much fun. Everything I do is for them and I don’t wake up in the morning without wondering how I’m going to better their lives as best I can.

Polly:  So moving forward how do you balance that being a musician and trying to get your career going having a family?

Derek:  It’s going to be the hardest thing I’ve ever done because I am a musician.  I’m a hard dedicated worker at what I do and if given a task I will do it. But in my heart I want to be a musician and that’s really the end of my abilities.  Like I said it is going to be the hardest thing I’ll ever do. Looking at someone like Shane he’s been a big mentor and my guide as to what I’d like to do with my music. I see how hard he’s worked. That guy is a hard worker. That’s always been really difficult for me. I’m the you know the guy, give me a guitar, I’ll write the songs, but hire me someone to book me a tour or get me something to drink because if I start recording in my apartment, on the rare days I get to go home I fiddle around, I won’t eat or drink anything because I don’t know how to take care of myself. So it’s going to be a long road.  But life has opened my eyes to what I can do and I’m going to take that and run with it. I’m gonna work as hard as I can and I’d love to phase out the day job aspect of it  because it’s really draining. And I don’t think anyone in life should have to settle for anything less in what they really want to do. I don’t think that’s too much to ask.

Polly:  And you’ve got the support of your wife…

Derek:  Yes absolutely, she’s really supportive. She’s always trying to help me out whether it’s shopping for a new guitar, or trying to get an idea on a word that rhymes. She’s super supportive, my family has always been, and my kids…they love music.

Polly:  They are adorable.

Derek:  Yeah, that’s an understatement, they are really something else.

Polly:  Your goals, ambitions – you’re looking at playing out more, doing tours?

Derek:  Yeah, I forget that I’m a lead man at heart. I would love to be able to write music for film, TV, other people. I foresee myself doing that in the future but I’m probably pretty naïve about it. I don’t know how that world works. I’ve been told that’s a whole different machine. I would like to share, I write a lot, and I’d like to collaborate but at the end of the day I’d love to be on the road, playing shows, playing live music, that’s really what I like to do.  I’d go out and play on the street if I wasn’t so terrified of doing so.  Again that takes me back to the day job thing. It’s so draining when you have a song idea stuck in your head and there’s absolutely nothing you can do about that. I think we should all be able to step away when we need to. Again that’s going to be difficult. But I would like to play more live music, all the time, every time…haha

Polly:  Your newest record is called Bummertown so let’s just get that out of the way. Why Bummertown?

BummertownDerek:  Bummertown (song 3) came after Quicksand. It’s just something I would say. It’s just a saying you know like oh, we’re out of food, bummertown.  Haha, and I love it. My dad comes from the the early 70’s you know, “bummer”. He used to always say “bummer, I love it, so cool”. And the way I use it myself is tongue in cheek you know I mean things are always going to be bummertown but there is always some kind of a silver lining.  Somebody asked me “is your record going to depress me?”  I said absolutely not. It all kind of turns around on itself, things may be bad but there is always a silver lining. Just depends on how you look at it.

Polly:  It does have that you know, oh man this is gonna to be a bummer, haha.

Derek:  Haha that’s just how I am, black comedy. I do try to focus on the more positive aspects, the lighter side of a dark story. That song just kinda came about. I don’t know what it was…when my band split up, I started playing solo more, I’d play Zoey’s a lot. You kept having me back, which was great, I don’t know why but you kept having me back, so that was a lot of fun. And then I met my wife. We made a decision to move to LA. I felt like the music scene in Ventura, I wasn’t connecting with anyone like before when I was in a band. I felt almost alienated but I probably did it to myself. I probably dug in. I played less and less, but I’ve always written. Moved to LA, still wrote, I didn’t really connect with anyone there.

Polly:  Did you play shows in LA?

Derek:  Here and there. I’d hook up with people from Ventura, old friends, from older bands.  And again I didn’t try anything new.  This is another thing about me.  My wife and I got pregnant and coincidentally my old job needed me and I needed a job so we moved back to Ventura. I just kind of laid low. I was day job dad. And I was happy with that. But I was always writing. And then of course you called me and kinda got me out of my shell. Then at that point there wasn’t a lot of places for me to play so it was great to have a place.  Bummertown came about when I lived in LA and it was about not connecting and the revelation that it’s nobody else’s fault but my own.

Polly:  Song 4 “A light That Still Remains” was that a last minute?

Derek:  Yes, originally we were going to go with “Waiting for A Train” which everyone knows is “my song” and I will probably re-visit that when I do an album. I kind of had an idea and I showed Shane and again, his reaction you can’t beat it. When you see that look on his face and he’s into it there’s no going back. He’s going to make me work now. He’s gonna make me finish this fucking song…

Polly:  Right, you’ve released the Kraken.

Derek:  Yeah, haha, I had no other ideas for that song. We had a start date and I knew I would have to have the song completed. You know there wasn’t really any pressure other than from myself so that song came about sitting in my living room. I was fortunate enough to have an apartment which has kind of a limited view of the ocean. So it’s really nice, as luck would have it there was a storm and it knocked down the neighbor’s tree giving us a beautiful view of the ocean.

Polly:  Haha.

Derek:  Haha, so the sun was setting and I was fiddling around, I had my guitar and like I said before, the music comes first. I had a little guitar riff that I really, really liked and I just went basic – sun, setting, boom I’ll start there. The song came about with no real story behind it so I created a story. It’s basically, and I’ve never really felt this way. I’m really connected to my family but the song was about having one foot out the door. You’ve got your responsibilities but there’s a whole other world out there.  It’s kinda playing on the…

Polly:  Yearning.

Derek:  Yes, there’s always more. You have your responsibilities but you have your yearnings. It kind of plays off that and I think everyone in the back of their minds has had those feelings at one time or another. It’s not about being… untrue. It’s just about those feelings and to deny that, is to be untrue, you know? We are all human. It took me a while to get there but yes, we are only human and that’s what that song is about.

Polly:  Well, it’s so pretty.

Derek:  Working with Shane has been amazing because when he heard me play he said wow this is music that I like. Working with him and seeing his enthusiasm it made it all that much easier I was able to be myself and I was able to write what I wanted to write, no pressure at all, he’s a pretty mellow guy.

Polly:  But he’s a task master.

Derek:  Absolutely, and like I said I don’ t know if I’ll ever be able to have that discipline but he is someone who knows what he wants. I’ve always been jealous of people who have that ability to   know what they want. To wake up in the morning and say I’m going to do this, I’m going to do this and I’m going to check off all my boxes you know. I get up in the morning and say oh what do you want to do today, oh I don’t know what do you want to do today? Haha.

Polly:  Haha.

Derek:  I’m really fortunate to have support and a lot of good friends, I think that will help me find my way. It’s nice to be able to be doing this again and I’m not naïve at all when it comes to dues. I absolutely have to pay my dues all over again.  As I said I was in a band for 10 years.

Polly:  Yes, let’s talk about that.

Derek:  I was in a band called The Return and we were kind of in the vein of the Police and The Clash but we had a little bit more post rock influences, like the band Fugazi and influences from some of our peers who are still around today. We started out as a SKA band in high school and it whittled down to the 3 core members. Myself, Justin Dempsey, who currently plays with Stop Breathing who was just on tour with the Pullmen sitting in on drums. He’s really continued playing music on his own and Justin is absolutely a juggernaut on the drums and Andrew Gavigan played bass.  Andrew actually doesn’t play music anymore but is a very successful fitness equipment entrepreneur and has done very well for himself. The 3 of us initially decided to go it on our own.  We set up all our own tours, toured around the country for 6 years, we were invited on tour over to the UK in 2006 with RX  Bandits they wanted us to come. We got on Myspace, sent out a plea saying we need a driver for us in the UK and someone came back and said he’d do it. So in true punk fashion we drove around the UK and toured in a hatchback. They drive the smallest cars over there. It went really well and we recorded 4 full length records, that we are all super proud of them. After a while we couldn’t quite get to the next level even though we had the talent, we had the songs but I think is was hard to come back after every tour and start over.  How do you pay rent?  The bane of all touring musicians is – what do you do when you come back from tour? You just want to go right back out on tour because that’s all you know, that’s how you sustain. It finally came to a head. No bad feelings but we all kind of looked at each other one day and Andrew, not that he was the catalyst or anything because it was all in our heads, said “I don’t know if I want to do this anymore”. He said, “I want to move to New York, I want to do something different”. And there was no push back.
Justin and I just looked at each other and we kind of agreed. There was not “What!?” “What are you thinking?” There was no animosity. It was just, wow, we’re so glad you said that.

Polly:  Hahaha.

Derek:  And you know the months after we were really regretful and remorseful because that’s all we wanted to do but we didn’t do anything to continue. So that whole thing when I say I paid my dues I literally feel like I have.  We worked really hard, did everything on our own, printed our own T-shirts, we did have a record label, who was just one person Matt Martin, he was like the 5th Beatle or the 4th Return but we wouldn’t have been able to do anything without him. Between the 4 of us we did everything ourselves. And it was really great and it was really rewarding but it was really hard. I’m not going to play dumb when I say this time around I’m going to know that I’m going to have to pay my dues, again. I’m not expecting anything from this F’d up world. I know that I’ve been playing for awhile and I could be like hey, where’s my record contract and where’s my money but I would like to think that I’m too humble to do that. Because I know there are a lot of hard working people out there that have been doing it for a long time. They totally deserve it and for some they’re never going to get it and that’s too bad. I don’t want to be one of those people. I’m really going to work for it and hopefully get my break somewhere along the way. In the meantime I’ll still work and I’ll still be dad and I’ll always write. That’s my goal to somehow play music. Then again I should probably compartmentalize that goal cause of ”what do you want to do? I don’t know what do you want to do?” It’s going to be much more difficult. I should probably set some goals and I have. I’d like to set up a tour I’d love to release a full length record and just get out on the road.

Polly:  And eventually do this as a full time job.

Derek:  Absolutely, I’m living vicariously through Lee Koch. He’s just been with his family on the road in a trailer and that’s just beautiful to me I’d love to do that. And his shows are not at huge venues but he’s on the road and he’s been playing and he has no hang ups and at any moment he can stop and turn the car around somewhere else and he’s got his family with him, his guitar and so I’ve been closely monitoring that.

Polly:  You know it’s possible.

Derek:  That’s what I learned when you go on tour, you set it up and stay in peoples homes and you meet and become friends and play shows and that’s where the magic happens. And my wife, she’d be there in a heartbeat. If I came out and said out of the blue, you know it’d be really cool if we could just get the F out of here and before I’m even done talking, she’s like already on Craigslist looking for a trailer. She’s very into it.  But I’d love that, to go around the country and play music and meet people. That’s probably not great for being a lucrative rock star because all I’d want to do is play free shows but I’m sure there’s a way to meet in the middle. To at least do the day to day and be happy.

Ventura Music Photos: August 2014

Squashed Grapes – August 30, 2014
The Paul McCallum Group w/ special guest appearances by Bob Bain and Ted Nash

Ted Nash member of the Lincoln Center Orchestra directed by Wynton Marsalis
Legendary Bob Bain responsible for the guitar licks on Peter Gunn, theme song to Bonanza, Nat King Cole’s Unforgettable, Sinatra’s I’ve Got You Under My Skin, Moon River… He worked with Andre Previn’s trio, Harry James and his big band, he played the guitar on the themes for M.A.S.H., Mission Impossible series, the Munsters. For 22 years he was with the Tonight Show band.

Photos by Marie Gregorio-Oviedo
photo by Marie Gregorio-Oviedo

Discovery – August 24, 2014
Led Zepplica
Led Zepplica

Spencer Makenzies End of Summer Block Party – August 24, 2014
Bloody Mary Morning

Squashed Grapes – August 23, 2014
The Doug Webb Group: Doug Webb (sax) Jimmy Earl (bass), Mitch Forman (keys) and Danny Carey of TOOL on drums
The Doug Webb Group

Spencer Makenzies End of Summer Block Party – August 23, 2014
Ventura Social Club: Joe Baugh, Xoco Moraza, Mario Calire, Lenny Castro
Ventura Social ClubDas Danny Trio
Das Danny Trio
Aaron Orbit
Aaron Orbit

Amigos – August 10, 2014
Cougar Estrada Bigfoot InvasionCougar Estrada, drums; Jimmy Calire, keys; Tom Echart on bass, Little Al Vafa on guitar.
Bigfoot Invasion

Plan B Wine Cellars – August 10, 2014
The Blondies
The Blondies

Olivas Adobe – Music Under the Stars – August 9, 2014

Jeff Hershey and the Heartbeats – final performance

Jeff Hershey and the Heartbeats
Jeff Hershey and the Heartbeats

Bombay Bar and Grill – August 8, 2014
Doug Pettibone (recently out with John Mayer), Taras Prodaniuk (Dwight Yoakam) and Toss Panos (Robben Ford)
Pettibone, Prodaniuk and Panos

Bombay Bar and Grill – August 8, 2014
Derek Jennings
Derek Jennings

Discovery – August 8, 2014
Easy Bear
Easy Bear

Discovery – August 8, 2014
The Winchester Rebels
The Winchester Rebels

Ventura County Fair – August 7, 2014
Jake Owen
Jake Owen

Ventura County Fair – August 5, 2014
Deep Purple:  Ian Gillan, Roger Glover, Ian Paice, Steve Morse and Don Airey
Deep Purple

Ventura County Fair – August 4, 2014
Barenaked Ladies
Barenaked Ladies

Squashed Grapes – August 2, 2014
Franklin MurphyRj RootJacob Scesney
Rj Root & Franklin Murphy
Jacob Scesney

Grapes and Hops – August 1, 2014
 Ed Berghoff & Shawn Jones
Ed Berghoff & Shawn Jones

Majestic Ventura Theater – August 1, 2014

Downtown Ventura – August 1, 2014
Hour Lioness
Hour Lioness

Pancho’s – August 1, 2014
Fausto Cuevas just back from touring with Stevie Wonder & J-Lo
Fausto Cuevas
Fausto Cuevas

Ventura County Fair – August 1, 2014
Galvanized Souls
Galvanized Souls

Ventura Rocks in the Ventura Breeze – 8/6 – 8/19

Ventura MusVentura Breeze logoic Scene
Ventura is Just That Cool!
by Pam Baumgardner

Photo by Seth Brandes

Photo by Seth Brandes

I’ll be honest, I was not familiar with Casey Abrams until Adam and Josh, the owners of Squashed Grapes, informed me that they had booked Abrams for a show, which was to be on the “downlow.” They said to YouTube “Casey Abrams and the Gingerbread Band,” so I did and within the first few notes I could see what the fuss was all about. Abrams played to a sold out show Saturday, July 26, which was solely done by word-of-mouth. Viewers of American Idol will remember Abrams from season ten, and although he didn’t win, the audience fell in love with him.

Self taught on eleven musical instruments, and by ear, the man clearly has talents, including what could possibly be the world’s biggest flirt (see photo).  Abrams told me they did the Squash Grapes gig without any rehearsal.  He explained, “It’s a giant experiment. We were actually supposed to have a trombone player/keyboard player with us tonight, but he couldn’t make it. So we decided to not replace him and to just be The Gingerbread Band.  We said, ‘Let’s see what we can do with just horns, bass and drums.’ It feels really good. It feels good to rock hard.”

And rock hard they did.  I have to admit it was one of the coolest nights of music ever and has earned a spot on my Top Ten favorite shows list.  That being said, I may be adding another show soon as I recently learned that Squashed Grapes has an ever bigger attraction on the books, Saturday, August 23, Doug Webb featuring none other than Danny Carey of TOOL will be in the house.  Yeah, you heard it here.

Speaking of rocking hard and I mean REALLY HARD, Chiodos played the Ventura Theater Friday, August 1.  The band is based out of Davison, Michigan, and just released their fourth studio album.  They have had some personnel issues over the years, but Craig Owens is back as their lead singer, and their fans couldn’t be happier.  Bradley Bell, keyboardist, told me about the new record “Devil” and how they released it on 4-1-1-4, which of course was April Fool’s Day, but he swears it wasn’t planned out that way.  There were label issues, and they were finally able to release it having to persuade fans it wasn’t an April Fool’s joke that Owens was back on board.  I sat down with Bell before their show to talk about “Devil.”  Bell said, “The release went really well, above our expectations and we have a new music video coming out in the next couple of weeks so there’s a lot of exciting things coming up.”  Chiodos is currently co-headling with Blessed the Fall.

Hot off of two huge tours backing Jennifer Lopez and Stevie Wonder this summer, Fausto Cuevas stopped in town for a free show at Pancho’s which is located in the former Zoey’s spot.  It’s small, intimate, and honestly who would have thought you’d find Cuevas there; but Ventura is just that cool of a place for this caliber of artist to come play.  The room was packed and the Latin jazz was hot!

Music Under the Stars at Olivas Adobe continues to entertainment to the delight of concert goers.  Don’t forget it’s the final show for Jeff Hershey and the Heartbeats on August 9 when you know Hershey will pull out all the stops. The following weekend you can take in the Neil Diamond tribute band on the 16th, and then the next afternoon at 1:00 the Ventura County Blues Society presents Rod Piazza & the Mighty Flyers.

And finally the concert lineup is as popular as ever at the 2014 Ventura County Fair.  Music lovers were thrilled to see actor John Stamos join the Beach Boys last week, which was cool and got the girls hooting and hollering, but it was extremely cool to have David Marks back playing with the band.  There’s still plenty of music to come and I’m looking forward to catching Deep Purple, Seether and Jake Owen

Do you have any music related news or upcoming shows you want help publicizing?  Send all information short or long to


2014 Ventura County Fair Parade

Thanks so much to Squashed Grapes for inviting us on their float.  And thanks to everyone who sent us your photos that you took as we passed by on the parade route.  The musicians rocked it:  Trey O’Toole (Happy Birthday Sir!), Jacob Scesney, Franklin Murphy, RJ Root and Andrew Hill!

Here now the preparation, the parade route & celebration that evening.  LOVE The Grape:

The band warming upPreparing for the parade and the band warming up:

Thanks Felix Cortex for these shots:

Thanks Diana Boydstun for these shots:

Thanks to Lance Baird for the “winning” shots!  Squashed Grapes took #1 Place for Best Commercial Float!!

After party at Squashed Grapes:

Rj Root and Franklin Murphy celebrating!!
Rj Root and Franklin MurphyJacob Scesney getting the crowd up and dancing!
Jacob Scesney