Ventura Rocks in the Ventura Breeze 12/30/20 – 1/13/21

Ventura MusVentura Breeze logoic Scene
by Pam Baumgardner

Artwork for article

Last year at this time, and traditionally speaking, this time of year I’m usually sharing where all the New Year’s Eve parties are happening and what bands are playing, but this year, not so much. Instead, we have to be patient and diligent and before long, we’ll be back in the venues with friends listening to live music. Until then, I’d like to share a story about one of our own, and how the community is coming together to support. I reached out to Mike Fishell after reading on social media what happened to his son and he was so gracious to share his story with the Breeze.
Mike has been playing music in Ventura county nightclubs and restaurants since the late 70s playing countless weddings and parties with bands like Rudy and the Reverbs, the Convertibles, the Barstool Pigeons, Fish Fry and the Vonettes. Mike’s two sons, Roy and Miles, have been playing with him professionally since 2010 when he started Fish Fry, a rock and blues band that’s played all over Ventura County. Mike told me that the three of them have performed with the Vonettes with his sister, Mary Sawyer and his brother-in-law, Brent Sawyer. He said, “Playing music I love with people I love has been a high point in my life.”

Mike added that both of his sons and he began playing music when they were very young. Miles started on the drums when he was about four years old. In fact, he was Fish Fry’s drummer for many years. He also played professionally on keyboards, bass and guitar. Mike said that Miles had been playing lead guitar with Fish Fry, bass with the Vonettes, and keyboards with the Soulutionaries, a Los Angeles based reggae band.

And then this past summer everything changed.

Pam: Please explain what happened to Miles

Mike and Miles FishellMike Fishell: It happened so fast. In July, 23-year-old guitarist Miles Fishell checked into St. John’s Hospital in Oxnard, CA with a high fever. He was diagnosed with a rare, life-threatening bacterial blood infection called meningococcal disease, and deteriorated rapidly. The infection led to blood poisoning and spread quickly throughout his body, leading to overlapping medical traumas known as purpura fulminans. The infection caused Miles’s blood to clot, limiting oxygen to the smallest capillaries in his fingers, feet and nose, resulting in devastating, permanent damage. Thankfully, St. John’s ICU team arrested the bacteria’s progression and saved Miles’s life. He was then transported to UCLA Medical Center, where he remained for seven weeks, including a long stay in ICU. Miles was prescribed daily hyperbaric oxygen treatments to help heal his wounded limbs. He has had all ten toes amputated, will lose parts of eight fingers, and requires surgical reconstruction of his nose.

And on top of everything else, this is happening during a pandemic. Did that play a part in his treatment at all?

Mike: The pandemic has affected everything, but we felt safe during Miles’s seven weeks in the hospital; the doctors and staff at St. John’s Hospital and at UCLA were all great.
Have you been able to spend time with him while he was in the hospital?
Mike: We were fortunate due to the severity of Miles’s medical Condition that one family member could stay with Miles at UCLA twenty-four hours a day. He needed constant assistance; our help was needed. While only one of us could be in the room at one time, someone was there around the clock. He is now staying in Ventura where he gets the daily loving care that he needs from two of his mothers, Julianne Fisher and Michele Sumner who have both been nothing short of miraculous. We are so happy he is out of the hospital.

How is Miles holding up?

Mike: Miles is an inspiration. Honestly, he never complains. He is focused on getting past this stage of his treatment and moving on to a normal life. Whether it be treatments or physical therapy, he has been enthusiastic and diligent. Before this happened, he was taking classes full time at Ventura College and he looks forward to getting back to school.

How about you and the rest of the family?

Mike: We take our cues from Miles. Of course, we are saddened by these events, but his positive nature is an inspiration. My entire family and so many friends have been directly involved with providing love and support. Miles inspires us to stay strong.

So, who started the funding raising efforts on social media?

Mike: My brother Steve and my wife Valerie (Miles’s other mom) helped enormously, but I was the organizer of the GoFundMe page.

Go ahead and describe the response as best you can.

Mike: We have been overwhelmed by the response. It has been stunning. The outpouring of love and care sent his way has lifted us all emotionally in ways that are indescribable. We realize that so many folks are struggling now. The generosity that people have shown has been very heartening.

How will this help your son?

Mike: This trauma has been monumentally life-changing for Miles. Medical insurance covered most of his hospitalization costs, but his long-term working prospects remain uncertain. Miles must now rely on multiple medical specialists over his lifetime. Future medical bills are a huge concern, as are his daily living expenses. Your donation helps him prepare for his uncertain future.

Is there anything else you’d like to share?

Mike: Miles is very moved by the outpouring of love and support. Our family is so grateful. We urge anyone with kids between the ages of 14 and 23 to learn more about Meningococcal vaccines here:

Pam to readers: If you would like to help out one of Ventura’s own too, just go the page and search “Miles’s Amputation Recovery Fund” or just click here:


Happy New Year & Ventura Breeze readers! I wish you love, peace and prosperity as we all look forward to getting back to a more normal way of life in 2021 and once again being able to get out and listen to live music again.
Do you have any music-related news or upcoming shows (online or live) you want help publicizing? Please send all information short or long to, and for updated music listings daily, go to

Ventura Rocks in the Ventura Breeze 12/16/20 – 12/29/20

Ventura MusVentura Breeze logoic Scene
by Pam Baumgardner

Breeze artwork

With most of Southern California under another lockdown, live in person music, has been put back on hold; and it turns out, both the Canyon Club at the Oxnard Performing Arts Center and Concerts in Your Car at the Fairgrounds are on hiatus until at least mid-January. You can see live performances on social media platforms such as Facebook and YouTube, but for the most part, we just need to hunker down, be patient, and hope this new vaccine will be our saving grace.

I’m sorry to report that The Winery Ventura is shutting their doors by the end of this year. They had so many great live performances there the past couple of years. The building which holds their lease has been sold, and instead of pushing the agreement with the new owners, they decided to close. They are having a blow out sale which you are welcomed to support with great deals on not only their wine, but tables, chairs, plants, etc… They’ll be open Fridays 5-7, Saturdays noon-5, and Sundays noon – 2. Do note: The Grape jazz club is still scheduled to open this June barring anymore pandemic shenanigans.
One of the previously mentioned online performances will be coming from the Namba Performing Arts space on Sunday Dec 20 at 7 pm featuring Jayden Secor, Power2ThePeople, Joe Henry III, Delta by the Beach, Kris Simeon, Aaron Burch, Medicine Hat and Fred Kaplan & Robert Kyle. The money raised ($10 streaming donation fee) goes to benefit Namba which is a 501c-3 non-profit organization. Get the lowdown at
And though Jodi Farrell’s Music Studio 2020 Holiday Recital is available online. The production is a collaborative effort of her studios producing home videos to share some holiday musical cheer. You can view the recital at
Gary Best w/ Pam Baumgardner photoI reached out to local musician Gary Best for a little Q&A, and he was happy to oblige. It’s always a treat to run into Gary out and about supporting other bands and artists when he’s not playing. You might know Gary from the local Improv group here in Ventura, and seeing him perform in Los Dudes. I’ve been playing his original tunes (which are really good!) on the Pam Baumgardner Music Hour on KPPQ-LP at 104.1 FM here in Ventura.

Pam: How long did it take for you to gain confidence that you actually have skills?

Gary: I am a fearless dilettante. I never wait to have the skill to do anything. I usually dive in and learn to swim as I go. You can tell from reactions if any song works. I try to keep writing.

When did you first start writing songs?

Gary: In high school. My songwriting partner moved to my town and he played James Taylor and Cat Stevens and the Beatles. I sort of stalked him until he taught me chords and I wrote songs to impress him. Still do.

When did you start recording them?

Gary: We had a reel to reel back then and started playing with recording techniques. I started going to Nashville in the 90’s to demo songs. My first trip was with Jonathan McEuen and Jimmy Adams.

How did that evolve into playing in a band?

Gary: A dozen years ago a local group had a gig and one of their members had just dropped out. I had always done Johnny Cash at parties so I volunteered. Thus was born the legendary garage band, Los Dudes.
I always try to hang around people that know more than me.

Do you have a producer you work with?

Gary: Locally I love working with Jesse Seibenberg. He can play anything and has a wonderful ear. He always makes my songs better than they are.

What’s the Randy Parsons connection?

Gary: When I retired, I started looking for new projects. My original songwriting partner, Bruce Scism, was building guitars in Nashville so when I saw Parsons Guitar Building School I was already primed to the idea. I picked a pretty difficult build for my first and Randy was really game to give it a go. Great guy. Lucky to have him in our community.

How has the Pandemic affected you as an artist? Personally?

Gary: It’s been a boon to me artistically. I got a lot more work done in the last 9 months writing songs and painting. I’m starting a Podcast; which is exciting.
I miss seeing and hearing music and art which is how I get inspired and steal ideas. I’m a pretty social animal so I miss seeing friends.

Are you still working with your improv group? And if so, in what capacity?

Gary: The Ventura Improv Company is certainly looking forward to doing shows again. I haven’t encouraged our people to do Zoom shows. I haven’t seen many that work real well. I’m still Artistic Director, as far as I know, but the ship is in harbor.

What goals do you have in the near future…pandemic or not?

Gary: The podcast I mentioned… it was inspired by a song of mine called, “My Daddy Never Cried.” Friends sort of spontaneously started sharing stories of and about their fathers. My sister, Brenda, suggested we might have the basis of a book or collection. We should be rolling it out early next year.
Other than that, to just keep writing and producing art in my own way. It’s what I do.

It’s all holiday music produced locally and mostly original on the Pam Baumgardner Music Hour on KPPQ-LP for the next two weeks. I’ll be spinning tunes from Gary Best, Jill Martini & the Shrunken Heads, Warren Takahashi, Kelly Zirbes, Professional Americans and more. The program airs Tuesdays and Fridays at 5 pm and Sundays at noon at 104.1 FM, online at or by using the MyTuner radio app for your smart device.

Happy holidays to you and yours. Here’s to putting 2020 behind us (too many jokes about 2020 vision). I’m wishing you peace, health and prosperity, along with a hefty dose of live music for 2021. Take care, be safe and rock on.

Do you have any music-related news or upcoming shows (online or live) you want help publicizing? Please send all information short or long to, and for updated music listings daily, go to

Ventura Rocks in the Ventura Breeze 12/2/20 -12/15/20

Ventura MusVentura Breeze logoic Scene
by Pam Baumgardner

Ventura Rocks artworkIt’s the last month of the year, a year that will go down in history where music scenes everywhere took a major hit including our quant little Ventura. But now with a vaccine or two on the horizon, let’s hope 2021 shows a slow yet steady recovery. All those venues that provided live music pre-pandemic will need your help getting back up to speed. Meanwhile, please continue to be diligent when venturing out as the pandemic numbers have risen yet again. Do your part and social distance and wear your mask to help reduce the spread of the virus.

The Canyon Club at Oxnard Performing Art Center continues to add more concerts (see listings on this page), and if you’re a fan of The Beatles, then you won’t want to miss The Fab Four who have been a professional tribute band for the past 23 years. The band has a couple of CDs to their credit, including their popular HARK! Christmas CD, which features traditional Christmas songs done in that unmistakable Beatles style. They’ve also released a live concert CD and a CD of their Emmy-winning 2012 PBS special, “The Fab Four: The Ultimate Tribute.” The Fab Four plays Friday, December 4.

Here in Ventura, Concerts in Your Car has a handful of shows before a short break at the beginning of the year. Still to come this year, Iration on Friday, December 4, and then a couple of stage productions including a live drive-in opera of Carmen on Sunday, December 6, the Nutcracker from Ventura County Ballet on Saturday, December 12 (two shows 5 and 8 pm) and Santa Saves Christmas on Saturday December 19. The same venue has been offering actual drive-in movies in between concerts, and leading up to Christmas, they’ve lined up a number of holidays classics including Elf, the Polar Express, The Santa Clause, Dr. Seuss How the Grinch Stole Christmas (the Jim Carrey version) and of course, A Christmas Story. For more information on any of these shows, or ticket prices, just go to

The 3rd annual Doc the Halls, Holiday Blues show with Doc Ventura will be held virtually this year out of Namba Performing Arts space on Sunday, December 6 from Noon until 6 pm. For the cost of admission (a mere $10), you can catch performances online live from Delta by the Beach, Mark McKinney, Tom Buenger, Robert Kyle & Alyse Korn, Lucious Spiller, the Ventura County Ballet Company, Freda Ramey and Frank Barajas.

We’ve continued to produce monthly episodes of the VenturaRockSpot which features local bands and artists. You’ll want to check out our current interview with the talented Jodi Farrell. You can either go to (listed on homepage), or go directly to which includes past episodes featuring such bands as Kelly’s Lot, How to Live with Robots, Mark Masson of Shaky Feelin’, Kyle Smith, Crooked Eye Tommy and more. We currently have 22 episodes posted for your listening pleasure.

Quick Notes: The Forty Nineteens just released their latest single, “Go Little GTO” which takes the 1966 GTO out of the garage for a ride on Sunset Strip where the bandmates learned their chops; and the Mighty Cash (Michael J and Leticia) will be performing at a social distanced, free concert at Chuy’s in Simi Valley on Saturday, December 12.

Do you have any music-related news or upcoming shows (online or live) you want help publicizing? Please send all information short or long to, and for updated music listings daily, go to