Ventura Music Scene
by Pam Baumgardner
More venues are offering live music complying with all the Covid-19 restrictions in place as we continue to move through the tiers. Of course, you need to do your part as well so we don’t ruin it for everyone…again. Wear your mask, keep socially distanced from others not in your party and don’t be rushing the stage (sort of kidding on that one). So far, I’ve seen the posts/listings for live music here in Ventura at Winchesters, Vaquero y Mar (formerly Hong Kong Inn), Café Fiore, Leashless Brewing, Prime, and Copa Cubana; Camarillo has Camarillo Barrelworks (Flatfish Brewing/Cantara Cellars), Relm Wine Beer Bistro; and Oxnard has the Shores, Surfside Seafood, and 1901 Speakeasy. You can find listings on VenturaRocks.com; I update the website whenever I get wind of any live music. It’s a bit of a crap shoot when certain venues don’t list their events on their website or on social media, but a lot of the bands let me know. When I hear, you hear.
A big congratulations to Shane Alexander for landing a national Chevy commercial featuring one of his songs, “Everything as One.” It’s featured in their Drive Safe campaign which literally gave me the chills watching it knowing how much Shane deserves to have his music featured. Very well done Shane…and Chevy!
Interview with Max Kasch
For this issue, I caught up with Max Kasch out of Ojai. I’ve seen Max perform a number of times which included the first time at Zoey’s One to Watch contest back around 2012. He shared top honors with another local performer Derek Jennings that year. I understand the prize was an opportunity to record an EP in Santa Barbara with famed sessions and touring musician Tariqh Akoni (musical director for Josh Groban) along with a bunch of famous musicians including Doug Pettibone. For a lot of people including myself, Max landed on our radar as a young actor in the 2003 movie “Holes” alongside Sigourney Weaver, Jon Voight, Shia LaBeouf and Tim Blake Nelson. He can also be seen in “Waiting”, “the Greatest Game Ever Played” and “Whiplash” to name just a few. But even with all his acting credits, music is rightfully and thankfully his passion.
Pam: I understand music is your passion now, and it has been for some time. I believe the first time I saw you was at Zoey’s…many years ago. Where do you typically perform in the 805?
Max Kasch: Well, truth be told, music was always the passion. It sort of took a while to circle back to it being the direction I wanted to move in. I detoured a bit into the acting world by pure chance and really only pursued it to make a living for my family.
I performed anywhere I could, really. Any place that would have me. Rock City in Camarillo, various Farmers and Makers Markets. Zoey’s was really the only place that gave me a consistent stage to work from and I loved their performers and vibe so it sort of became my main focus.
Pam: How did you first develop your songwriting skills, or did it just come naturally for you?
Max: I think it came naturally. Of course, everything needs to be honed and refined, but I like to think of the process as out of my hands really. When you’re really plugged in, writing is like pulling it out of the ether. Sort of like a conduit to some other realm. When it comes like that, it’s incredibly easy.
Pam: Do you collaborate with other artists? If so, who?
Max: I haven’t collaborated extensively as far as writing together with other artists, but Jesse Siebenberg and I work together producing my music like dancers in a tango.
Pam: That’s a great way to describe a working relationship. Did performing in front of an audience come easily with your acting experience? Or did you need to work on your stage presence and interaction with the audience?
Max: I’m still not really sure if having a stage presence was a conscious decision or something I chose to work on. It really wouldn’t matter to me playing for 3 people or 30,000. I’d do the same show either way. When I’m playing live, I suppose if I really feel like I’m doing what I need to do artistically, I feel nothing. Nothing personally, I mean. I’m neither impressing or disappointing myself. my focus is on doing the songs the way they should be done and communicating with the band effectively and hopefully the people watching or listening are feeling the presence through the music.
Pam: Catch me up on all your produced music to date.
Max: Well a few years ago I had an EP produced by Tariqh Akoni up in Santa Barbara. I did a very limited, unmastered run of CD’s for that release. To date I’ve only released one full length album with Jesse Siebenberg producing. We had a tremendous cast of players on that album that breathed some serious fire into my songs. The likes of Joey Waronker and Bob Seibenberg (Jesse’s father and drummer for Supertramp) Dave Palmer, Dave Levita, Austin Beede, Gabe Noel and Danny Wright.
Pam: How has it been this past year working as a singer/songwriter during the pandemic?
Max: To be honest it was the first time in my life I didn’t have to work. I finally found myself with time and a little money to finish this album. I really focused on writing new material and refining my craft and abilities even more. Beyond that, I didn’t do any zoom shows or live streams and it felt great not having any pressure or demand to do that!
Pam: What are you currently working on?
Max: Well I currently have a self-titled album “Max Kasch” live on all the streaming platforms and for sale on Bandcamp. I also have two follow-up EP’s complete. One is more of a stripped-down sort of lonesome acoustic cowboy [genre] and the other under the working title “Max Trash” which are very aggressive, experimental tracks that represent a whole other side of my musical tastes and expressions. I’m very excited about putting both out before the year’s end. I’ve compiled so much material over the last few years that it seems intuitive now to just keep releasing things.
Pam: What are your short-term goals; and long-term goals?
Max: Short term goals are to keep refining my craft of songwriting and to self record. I finally put a little money behind some gear and being able to record myself whenever, wherever. I think it’ll open up a lot of new ideas I’d like to get out quickly.
Long term I’d like to maybe pay my rent doing this for a living. Beyond that, it’s all sugar on top!
Pam: Any final parting words for our readers?
Max: Please pick up your trash wherever you go. It’s all headed for the Pacific anyway, but its goddamn unsightly.
I love Max’s parting words! You can follow Max on Instagram at maxkaschmusic or find out more about Max on his Bandcamp page: https://maxkasch.bandcamp.com/releases.
We’ve schedule Max to be a guest on an upcoming episode of the VenturaRockSpot which is a monthly interview show where mostly local artists out of the 805 are interviewed and they share some of their music either live, or with pre-recorded videos. You can view all episodes to date at www.VenturaRockSpot.com where you can see bands/artists such as Guy Martin, the Guitar and Whiskey Club, Bone Maggot, Kelly’s Lot, Kyle Smith and more (28 episodes to date).
And don’t forget to tune into the Pam Baumgardner Music Hour on KPPQ-LP out of CAPS Media at 104.1 FM here in Ventura. My show airs Tuesdays at 5 pm with repeats on Fridays at 5 pm and Sundays at noon. You can also listen via the MyTuner app on your smart device or online at CapsMedia.org/radio.
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 Pam@VenturaRocks.com, and for updated music listings daily, go to www.VenturaRocks.com.