Ventura Rocks in the Ventura Breeze 6/2/21 – 6/15/21

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by Pam Baumgardner
VenturaRocks.com
Pam@VenturaRocks.com

Ventura Rocks artwork

It’s good to see people out enjoying live music again.  We still need to follow the rules as we head towards summer and with any luck at all we’ll put this pandemic behind us once and for all. I’m happy to report that Margarita Villa and Boatyard Pub are ramping up their music calendars but the writing’s on the wall numbering the days for Concerts in your Car, though they recently added Vanilla Ice with Tag Team #WhoopThereItIs for Saturday, June 26, which could be their final show.

In this issue of the Breeze, I have a Part Two of a Two-Part Interview with local artist Natalie Gelman who is releasing Moth to the Fame this month. Natalie talked about her background, lessons learned to date and working in the studio in the last issue, this time we learn more about her new release Moth to Flame, her mentors, and oh yeah, that time she opened for Bon Jovi.

Pam Baumgarnder: Tell me about your mentors.

Natalie Gelman: I’m lucky that many of my mentors are also my friends. I’m always so inspired by writing with Charlie Midnight. We’ve been collaborators for over 10 years now. He is a lyrical genius and has made me a better songwriter.

I love being inspired by my singer/songwriter friends and we all kind of mentor each other. Nathan McEuen, who many people in Ventura know for his great work as an artist, is a dear friend of mine and has pushed me musically as we’ve toured and shared stages together. My friend Rebecca Loebe is another singer-songwriter who I’m often in contact with about some aspect of the business or something artistic. It’s important to have those relationships to help make sense of this often-strange journey in music and lift each other up when things are rough.

How long has Moth to the Flame been in the works?

Natalie: I started recording this one seven years ago. It’s crazy to think that it’s taken that long to get to release but everything in the music business takes longer than you think it will. I wanted to have certain people play on it and it took time to get them in the studio when they were home from tour. Then I decided I wanted to do a lot of the editing on it myself and I didn’t really know how to do that when I started so that took a while to learn. Lastly, I decided that I was done and exhausted from doing everything myself as a DIY musician and I was adamant that I needed a team to help release this music and give it the best shot of being heard. Through a series of events, research and hard work I built a small team around me that I’m proud of and hopefully they will help the songs have a small chance of cutting through and reaching more people.

Photo of Natalie Gelman
Photo credit: Mariana Schulze

Is there a theme at work on this one?

The main theme on this album is the same as in so much of my music, which is not to give up on yourself or your dreams no matter what. I’ve had my share of hardships growing up and in my adult life but hope and the pursuit towards my dreams always carries me through and pushes me onward.

That isn’t to say that I don’t get down and a lot of the songs on the album are written from a place when I was feeling sad about something and trying to make sense of it all and lift myself up. Music is so often my therapy and release, it’s a way to make sense of the world. Sometimes I get really lucky and the lessons I find in writing about it serve as reminders each time I play the song.

Tell me about your producer and the players on it.

Charlie Midnight and I produced it together. He’s incredible and I’ve already mentioned his songwriting but he’s also very well-known and respected as a producer. He’s produced albums for Joe Cocker, Hilary Duff, Whitney Houston and others.

CD artworkThe players on the album are all top notch. The backbone of the album is Curt Schneider on bass and Blair Sinta on drums. The two of them play for Sara Bareilles and Melissa Etheridge respectively as well as many others. Tim Young played guitar on the album and has backed up Beck and Fiona Apple who is one of my influences and is now the guitarist on James Cordon. Dave Palmer played keys and he’s also played for Fiona as well as Patty Griffin who is one of my absolute favorite singer-songwriters.

The guest artists on songs include Nathan McEuen who lent his wonderful banjo playing to “Heavy Heavy Heart,” the most recent single, and “Some People” from the full album. Jason Frazier, a Ventura treasure, played harmonica on “Won’t Matter Anymore,” a song that Bernie Grundman insisted in fitting on the vinyl in our mastering session. Fernando Apodaca who often played around Ventura with Todd Hannigan played his gorgeous and dreamy violin on a few songs on the album too.

What sort of plans are in the works to market it?

Things are a little strange now still because of Covid but I’m hoping to start touring with it in late summer and the fall. Right now, the focus is on sharing it out online. I’ve been collaborating with by husband, Brent Florence, on music videos for the album and I am dreaming up creative plans for the release so it’s still special even though it’s not a traditional album release.

You have Live from Quarantine available on your website; what’s the backstory on that?

Thanks for asking. That’s a free “live” album that I give away. I’ve been sharing a free live album every year on my birthday in July for the last 6 or 7 years. Past releases have come from Chicago, London, New York, Los Angeles and more. Because we were all in lockdown, recording the “live” album at home was the best I could do. Maybe if we’re still somewhat in lockdown on my birthday in a few months since venues haven’t really opened up again yet I’ll have a Live from Quarantine part 2.

I’ve always wanted to ask you about opening for Bon Jovi.  How did that come about?

That was so awesome, one of my favorite memories that I’m sure will last for years to come. Thanks for asking about it. The band actually runs a contest where they choose a different local or regional act in each city on their tour to open their arena show. I was selected for their Sacramento date and it was an incredible experience.

The whole team was really nice and as I finished my last song, I was relishing the moment and thinking; “what song do I need to write so I get a chance to do this again?” It was all just incredible to play my music for that many people and to meet Jon and his team.

I’m really looking forward to following your career and wishing you nothing but the best.  Do you have any closing thoughts you’d like to share?

Aww thank you! That means a lot to me. I really appreciate the time to chat with you and everything you do for the local music community. I think we’re so lucky here in Ventura to have so much amazing local talent and venues. I know everyone has been starved for live music this past year and believe me that all the artists want just as badly to come out and play for you too. So, when things open up, please do come see the shows and support your local music community.

I’ll definitely be out there with this new album and I’ve been writing lots of songs this past year during quarantine so it won’t be long before there’s even another one from me! If you want to order the album or pre-save the music visit my website nataliegelman.com to find the links. Thanks again for talking to me today!

To find out more about Natalie Gelman, visit her website NatalieGelman.com or follow her on social media, Facebook.com/NatalieGelmanMusic, Twitter.com/NatalieGelman and Instagram.com/NatalieGelman.

Do you have any music-related news or upcoming shows you want help publicizing? Please send all information short or long to Pam@VenturaRocks.com, and for updated music listings daily, go to www.VenturaRock.com

Ventura Rocks in the Ventura Breeze 5/19/2021 – 6/1/2021

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by Pam Baumgardner
VenturaRocks.com
Pam@VenturaRocks.com

artwork

You know we’re heading back to normal when the Ventura Music Festival confirms live concerts. These will be 100%-vaccinated events for artists, crew, audience, staff and volunteers. The three-day line-up includes Aubrey Logan on July 23, Time for Three on the 24th and Italy’s Andrea Roberto on the 25th. Tickets and more information on the artists can be found at VenturaMusicFestival.org.

Quick Notes: RJ Mischo has a one-man show at Namba, Saturday, May 29; Cadillac Zack presents Kirk Fletcher on Monday, May 31 for a Memorial Day Blues Bash at Vaquero y Mar (call for tickets at 323-377-5291); McWorter, Berghoff & Jones are starting back up Tuesdays Blues Day at Copa Cubana; and tickets go on sale May 20 for the Gin Blossoms Concerts in Your Car date at the Ventura Fairgrounds for Saturday, June 19.

In this issue of the Breeze, I have Part One of a Two Part Interview with local artist Natalie Gelman who will soon be releasing Moth to the Flame this next month.

Pam Baumgardner: Congratulations on your new music! So many questions to ask, but first share the basics.

Natalie Gelman: Thanks! I’m really excited to be sharing this new music from Moth to the Flame and can’t wait for the full album to come out on June 18th. The singles are being really well received and it’s my best music yet which I know everyone says but this album has been seven years in the making and I worked very hard to bring together amazing people to make the music I heard in my head come to life.

Charlie Midnight and I produced it together. Charlie is a fantastic, Grammy-nominated songwriter and he and I wrote many of the songs on the album together as well. We recorded in Ojai at Carbonite Sound with Grammy-winning engineer Jason Mariani and featured musicians from Ojai and Los Angeles that have played for some of my favorite artists. The mastering on the CD and vinyl was done by Bernie Grundman; he’s mastered so many legendary records like Tapestry for Carole King and Thriller for Michael Jackson so it was a treat to work with him. This is my first full-length album and first release with an indie label so that’s really exciting.

Photo credit: Mariana Schulze

Before we circle back to Moth to the Flame, get us caught up on your music history to date.

Natalie: Most recently I’ve released a series of singles, a fun song called “2020” came out this past December. It’s a look back at the crazy year we all went through and there’s a fantastic music video out for it too. Before that, I shared “The Lights Upstairs,” which is a song I wrote for my mom. She passed from Alzheimer’s a few years ago and I wrote the song when she first started showing signs of the disease. It ended up giving me a lot of hope and grace to keep the message of the song close as she progressed and eventually passed from it. There’s an artful music video for that song that captures the lightness of the message. The last single I released looking back is “Sundance In Your Eyes” which is a love song I wrote after I met my husband while busking at the Sundance Film Festival.

Before those singles, my Streetlamp Musician EP came out. That music was produced by Mark Needham as well as Charlie Midnight who was my songwriter collaborator on many of the songs too. Those songs took me around the world on tour playing for lots of folks and those are still some of my favorites. Looking further back, my debut, self-titled EP Nataile Gelman came out a long time ago but I still get requests to play songs from it and love it for the role that it played in me starting to release music more officially. I had a bunch of bootleg studio EP’s before then that I released in college and somewhere those are still floating around waiting to embarrass me I’m sure.

I’m certain there’s been several lessons learned since your first recording session, but what sage advice would you pass along to artists looking to record for their first time?

Natalie: I think the best advice I have is to not rush and to be prepared. Studio time is expensive but you don’t want to push to get too much done and then end up without anything that’s truly great or even usable. It’s better to record one amazing song then 3 that are just okay. I would also suggest to record yourself a lot at home before you go into a studio; even just into your iPhone or Garageband… really whatever you can get your hands on. Then you can listen back to your song or your band and see if there are things you don’t love about it. That’s the time to work on it and change it, not when you’re already in the studio. Unless you have a rich uncle paying for it all and money is no object then do whatever you feel like.

How well prepared are you before you step into the studio? Do you just roll out the tunes, or is there collaborating with your musicians and/or working with a producer and changing things up?

CD artworkNatalie: It’s actually in the woodshedding and preparedness that you can be spontaneous and find some magic and happen upon something amazing. I had lived with some of the songs that I recorded for many years before recording them for this new album. So, there were hundreds of shows where I played them live and tried things out and I also rewrote parts of the lyric or arrangements. Then, I also was prepared with lyric and chord charts for all the musicians in the studio but found out that they would write their own too.

Each song was mostly tracked live with the core band; drums, bass, acoustic guitar, pianos/keys and me singing live over a series of 4 days. Before we would record each song, I would sing through the song with the band and we would talk about the vibe and try out some things. I sent them demos of the songs before the session so they were already familiar and they would listen and chart what the form was and make notes about what they wanted to do within the arrangement. It was amazing to see how even the guitar player playing acoustic could mimic the way I play and the kinda “singer-songwriter” percussive vibe of my strumming. They were just incredible musicians. Because of their talent and ability, it allowed for us to get the song down in 2-3 takes usually and then we would go back over it and try new things if one of us heard something.

Having it be mostly live really breathes a lot of life into the recording. We did some percussive overdubs and a half day of electric guitar overdubs too. We also overdubbed some instruments that I didn’t have on each song; banjo, cello, harmonica and violin and I also spent sessions with Jesse Siebenberg at his studio going over each song and adding a little more percussion, some guitar parts and harmonies.

There were a couple sessions of just vocal overdubs on some songs too. I noticed that I could approach my songs differently as a singer once they were built with the band. Often at my live shows it’s just me and a guitar, ukulele or piano and I have to communicate the full range of the song with just my voice and instrument. When I had the full band playing, they are dynamic as well and create the energy or mood with me. Then I can use my voice more to sit on top and share the intimacy of the stories in each song. Some songs were very different from how I approach them solo so that was very cool to unfold.

It’s all such collaboration. I have tons of ideas always but I like to bounce them off people and often what I’ve come up with is just a stepping-stone to an even better idea the musician has. If you bring creative people together sometimes the best thing you can do is just get out of their way and let them be creative.

Be sure to pick up the next issue of the Breeze for Part Two of my interview with Natalie Gelman when we find out more about Moth to the Flame, her mentors, free music on her website and that time she opened for Bon Jovi.

Do you have any music-related news or upcoming shows 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.

Ventura Rocks in the Ventura Breeze 5/5/2021 – 5/18/2021

Ventura MusVentura Breeze logoic Scene
by Pam Baumgardner
VenturaRocks.com
Pam@VenturaRocks.com

More venues are offering more live music as we transition gently back towards normalcy. I’m grateful to see strict Covid guidelines in place at the venues I’ve frequented the past couple of weeks. I’m hearing Winchesters will be offering live music on Thursdays (along with Fridays and Saturdays), the Raven Tavern in Oxnard now has live music on the weekends, Pierano’s has been ramping up their live music roster, and more and more artists are reaching out to me sharing their live music schedules which can be found at VenturaRocks.com. You can find the week’s listing on the Ventura Weekly Music Calendar link and the current day’s line up on the homepage.


In this issue of the Breeze, I have a Q&A with local artist Tom Buenger, He first landed on my radar performing as Tom & Milo around town a few years ago. Tom has been working on original music which always warms my heart. He has his debut release Suburban Gospel this month so I thought I’d reach out and get the community acquainted with Tom Buenger.

Pam: How long have you been playing live music in the 805?

Tom Buenger: I grew up in the 805 and have always been around music one way or another. But after I left the military and settled into Ventura County in 2014, I quickly met Milo Sledge. Milo and I played a few times a week at venues between Goleta, Oxnard, Ventura, and Camarillo. One New Year’s, (2017 I think), I picked up a gig, and Milo was unavailable. I asked Teresa Russell if she would play the gig with me, and we instantly hit it off. She and I then played at least weekly until 2020 or so.

Give me the background on your musical journey.

Tom: I grew up singing. My mom has the most beautiful voice, and I was raised with her constantly singing to me. Singing, melody…just a sort of melodic communication…is even more engrained into my brain than the English language. I did not pick up an instrument until I turned 21. While in the Air Force I went to this Blues Club (Blues Central) for my 21st, while I was stationed in Alaska. There was a man playing wonderful boogie woogie blues on the piano, and I eventually asked if he would teach me a thing or two. He taught me the Nashville system, and it was downhill from there. I obsessed over piano, locking myself in my apartment on my days off until I had the basic skill (and courage) to play at a local blues jam. I got up, played my one song, it was absolutely terrible, but I loved it. I was obsessive about it and practiced not to memorize, but to understand the language of it all.

Eventually I fell in love with the Hammond organ sound; I saved and bought a Hammond B3, and played in a classic rock band while I was at the Air Force Academy where I learned how to be a good band-member and musician. After a while, I got tired of lugging a 350-lb organ everywhere, and looked for the smallest instrument I could find…the harmonica. Similarly, to piano, I obsessed, keeping a few in my car, playing and practicing harmonica for hours while in traffic and on road trips.

Then a couple years ago, I turned my time and attention to the guitar, which has been the hardest instrument for me, by far. However, it’s opened up a whole new level of understanding and satisfaction, and it really opened the door to allowing me to (1) play extended solo gigs, and (2) write my own music.

What music most influenced you growing up?

All the great music my mom and dad listened to. We would go on camping trips, and the playlist had everything from Elton John to Earth Wind and Fire, to Clapton, and so on. In high school, I discovered jazz, which led me to the blues, which brought me to gospel (sort of backwards!). And I fell in love with the gospel sound. All that said, I spent many hours listening to Ray Charles, Nat King Cole, and funny enough, Bradley Nowell from Sublime. I tried hard to emulate their voices as a kid before finding my own.

How is it you landed back in the 805?

Tom: After leaving the military, I wanted to come back to where I grew up, which is Oxnard and Ventura. It’s a pretty magical place.

Where are a few of your favorite places to play?

Tom: I cut my teeth locally, at The Waterside Restaurant in the Channel Islands Harbor. However, some venues that have been particularly good to me (while playing with Milo and Teresa) are The Red Piano in Santa Barbara, Captain Fatty’s in Goleta, and Madwest now and again. These days, I split my time playing between Oxnard/Ventura with Milo or Teresa, and solo gigs around Seattle.

When did you first start writing original tunes?

Tom: I started writing original tunes about a year ago. Until that time, I felt like I had always had some mental block, keeping me from writing original music. With COVID slowing the world down, coming through a tough personal time in life, and then finding new love, I learned that writing (for me) is all about head-space….open space, mentally, to allow my brain and body to communicate feelings I hadn’t quite understood before.

Suburban Gospel is your first release as a solo artist?

Tom: Suburban Gospel is my first release. I’m not typically one who is good at self-promotion or shouting about my successes, but I will say that I’d put the music on Suburban Gospel up against anyone’s; it’s a great album for which I’m incredibly proud. I also have another 15 songs just about complete for album number two.

What does the title suggest?

Tom: I grew up in the church, and I love the gospel sound. I’m also a middle-class white guy who loves the blues, soul…all of it. I thought Suburban Gospel sort of fit what I was going for. For some songs, I get a bit up onto my soapbox (or pulpit), while others are more songs of hope, and then others are love songs. I’m not sure what genre this album is…It’s certainly blues and gospel influenced, but I truly believe I’ve created something uniquely me. It breaks the mold of a “blues” album in too many ways to be considered blues.

What kind of plans do you have in motion to help get the word out?

Tom: I will probably hire some marketing or push toward a label. As of now, I’m hopeful the music will speak for itself, once it comes available May 14.

Where can people find out more?

Tom: Follow me on Instagram @tombuengermusic, or on my website www.thomasbmusic.com.

Closing words?

Tom: Suburban Gospel is available everywhere, beginning May 14. I have a bunch of collaborations in work, and I’m excited to share more music with the world!


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 where you can hear Tom Buenger’s single, “Butter my Bread” off of Suburban Gospel. 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 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.

Ventura Rocks in the Ventura Breeze 4/21/21 – 5/4/21

Ventura MusVentura Breeze logoic Scene
by Pam Baumgardner
VenturaRocks.com
Pam@VenturaRocks.com

artwork

More As we get back up to speed and navigate social protocols in place to protect us and others, you know, so we don’t slip back into another lockdown, please do your best to abide by the rules. I appreciated the fact that Winchesters had Will Breman read the rules before he started his set last week; he looked a bit worried when a woman got up to dance, but a waitress politely reminded the patron about the “no dancing rule.” She looked a bit put out, but sat back down. Jeez, really? Do what the rest of us do and dance in your seat! It’s a small price to pay as we get this pandemic under control.

Meanwhile, I’m happy to report that Grapes and Hops will reopen on Thursday, April 22, with a new menu and a couple of modifications to the establishment (including full bar coming June 1). Live music is back on the weekends with Dave Parsonage on Friday, April 23, The Swillys 2-5 and “Dive Bar” Steve Kramer 7-10, then on Sunday afternoon 2-5, it’s Shawn Jones.

Quick Notes: Jill Martini & the Shrunken Heads are back to playing Friday evenings 4-6 at the Harbor Cove Café in the Harbor; Pedals & Pints Brewing Company is looking for artists to perform at their establishment, if you’re interested send them an email drink@pedalsandpintsbrewing.com; Concerts in Your Car recently added War to their lineup for Saturday, May 29; and Caffrodite at 1987 E. Main Street has been hosting live music Saturday mornings 9 am – noon.


In this issue of the Breeze, I catch up with Bill Rotella. Bill has sent me music over the past couple of years to share on my radio show and he never ceases to amaze me with his songwriting ability, quality of sound and over all fun vibe. On his latest project, Smoke & the Earthtones delivers the vintage sound of California rock.

Pam: First off, get us up to speed on your musical journey.

Bill Rotella: I guess you could say my musical journey began at eight when my parents got me piano and drum lessons. And, there was a lot of music in my house growing up. My dad, Johnny Rotella, was a top session player in L.A and recorded with some of the great ‘60s and ‘70s artists (Zappa, Turtles, Nillson, The Wrecking Crew, etc.); he took me to sessions and concerts. So, I saw it early. He also wrote songs for Sinatra, Dean Martin, Tony Bennett, etc., which exposed me to the song writing process. My mom, Anna Graziano, was also very musical. Her brother, my Uncle, was Jerry Gray the famous big band arranger for Glenn Miller (String of Pearls, etc.) and she was always singing or playing piano. Hearing music all the time was the first step on that journey.

Then, in college I was playing guitar and started a Southern Rock band, Baywood. We had a large following from playing the CSUN PUB and The Palomino Club in North Hollywood. We were signed by Greenlight productions (Night Ranger) and recorded an album for them and another two albums for an indie label, Bison Records. Baywood was my ‘80’s band. When the ‘90s arrived I formed a new band, Dakota. We were signed to Budweiser and other sponsors for 10 years. We did over 100 shows a year, here and in Europe, …for 20 years. I wrote and recorded three albums for Dakota. Then I went solo for a bit recording three albums before I started a Folk ‘n’ Soul duo, Amber & Smoke in 2016. We performed more than 500 shows and recorded four albums in four years. Now, I perform and record solo and with my album band, Smoke & The Earthtones.

Where have you played in the area?

Bill: My first Ventura County gigs were at The Holiday Inn. I was there monthly in the ‘90s with Dakota. Those were great gigs. That downstairs bar would get packed and the ocean air coming through the patio doors was great…especially at 1:00 a.m. I remember meeting George Martin (Beatles, America producer) sitting at the bar. That was cool. I did a lot of gigs at Café Fiore and Bombay’s as well. In outer Ventura County I play at The Strawberry Festival, DeLiese Cellars, Café Firenze, The Collection Concert Series, Copper Blues and others.

How, when and why did you land in Ventura?

Bill: My agent at the time booked me in Ventura. I was booked a lot in L.A. and I wanted to put some miles between gigs. Not only to avoid saturation, but because I wanted fresh ears for my original music. Now, I live in Ventura County and I have family in Ventura.

Has music been a side labor of love…or your main income over the course of your life?

Bill: When the club scene was healthy, music was my only source of income for many years. However, now it requires many nets. Live performances, song royalties, merchandise sales, song placements, etc. Now I have other sources of income because I’ve chosen to gig a bit less; I recently discovered I’m not 25 years old anymore.

How has the pandemic influenced your life?

Bill: Interestingly, that lemon of a year did become lemonade. (sorry) At first it was a real drag due to cancelled shows. Then all that quarantine time led to a batch of new songs which led to a cool reunion with former bandmates who were all in town from cancelled tours. I wanted to record an album like we used to, in the round, before home studios and bouncing tracks back and forth via the internet. So, I called three of my favorite ex-band members, local guitarist Doug Pettibone (John Mayer, Keifer Sutherland, etc.), Ryan Brown, (drummer with ZPZ band/ Dweezil Zappa) and Trent Stroh (Zeppelin USA). We went into the studio, together, and Smoke & The Earthtones was born. The quarantine experience became the quarantine band and the title track of the new album -Smoke & The Earthtones.

Were there live stream performances, or collaborations with other artists via Zoom or other platforms?

Bill: I heard fans and friends expressing their need for live music. They weren’t alone. All that distancing was taking a toll on us all. So, at the beginning of quarantine I did a series of 11 weekly Facebook concerts – “LIVE @ 5” – which were SO much like doing a bar gig. They could comment back and forth with each other as if they were sitting at a bar. It was cool for them, and me, to stay connected. I also did monthly zoom concerts for a spiritual community.

Tell me more about your most recent project.

Bill: I wrote the song “Smoke & The Earthtones” about a fictitious band that came to the rescue during quarantine, that song led me to actually create the band. The new album features the “Callifornia sound” of the ‘70s and it’s available on vinyl which also is relevant to the lyrics of the song. What are your short-term and long-term plans now that we’re hopefully (knock on wood) seeing the light at the end of the tunnel? Bill: I’m looking forward to that great energy exchange that happens from live shows. Some of my shows here, New York and elsewhere are still not re-booked but we gotta do it right. So, I’m cool with being patient.

Anything else you’d like to share?

Bill: I count my blessings. I’m grateful I had parents who shared their gift of music. So, I’m trying to do the same. My daughter Brianna played flute, autoharp and sang on a few tracks and my young granddaughter Viola appears in a few music videos, turns knobs in the studio and is already showing signs there will be more music coming from the next generation in Ventura.

If you would like to find about more about Bill Rotella and his newest project Smoke & the Earthtones, go to his official website BillRotellaMusic.com. You can view videos, read more about all his past projects as well as finding all the links for his music including Spotify, iTunes, Pandora, and more.


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 where I’ll be spinning the new Smoke & the Earthtones. 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.

And finally, the latest installment of the VenturaRockSpot has been released featuring Christine Law of Star Goes Nova. Christine is just an amazing artist having worked with so many artists in the past (Suzanne paris, Martha Davis, Charles Law & Jagged, John Baffa) and now she’s ventured into the EDM spectrum of music. Catch this episode and all the previous 27 at VenturaRockSpot.com.

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.

Ventura Rocks in the Ventura Breeze 4/7/21 – 4/20/21

Ventura MusVentura Breeze logoic Scene
by Pam Baumgardner
VenturaRocks.com
Pam@VenturaRocks.com

Ventura Rocks artwork

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.

photo of Max Kasch

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!

photo of Max Kasch

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.

Ventura Rocks in the Ventura Breeze 3/24/21 – 4/6/21

Ventura MusVentura Breeze logoic Scene
by Pam Baumgardner
VenturaRocks.com
Pam@VenturaRocks.com

artwork

Spring has sprung and with warmer weather on the horizon, it will be a lot more comfortable supporting live music outdoors at such venues as Winchesters, Leashless and the brand new Vaquero y Mar (formerly the Hong Kong Inn). Along with the venues of course are the drive-in style concerts where you can stay in your car, or just outside on folding chairs. For all the latest listings please visit our music calendar for the daily updates.

And speaking of drive-in concerts, after a winter hiatus, both Concerts in Your Car (Ventura Fairgrounds) and the Canyon at the Oxnard Performing Arts Center are both ramping up with shows schedule in April. Concerts in Your Car has Don Pasquale from Opera Santa Barbara on April 10, Ziggy Marley on April 17 and Hippie Sabotage on April 24. Canyon Club dates are all tribute bands such as 4NR on April 2, Robert Plantation on April 3, Strange Days (Doors) on April 9 and Erotic City (Prince) on April 10.


Meanwhile, I caught up with Will Breman who appeared on NBC’s The Voice just before the pandemic hit where he made it all the way as a semifinalist on Season 17. Will calls the Central Coast home and is currently ramping up for post-pandemic shows.

Will Breman on The VoicePam: What has been the biggest impact to you personally and professionally this past year during the pandemic?

Will Breman: The hardest part of the pandemic last year was cancelling all of my national tour dates. Especially after coming immediately off of a show like NBC’s The Voice, that hit hard. I had to figure out very quickly how to make up for a lot of lost income, as well as hold on to the wave I was riding from the show.

Cancelling a national tour had to be so hard! What else was put on hold?

Will Breman: I had to delay a lot of recording plans. I have a couple projects that I’ve been sitting on top of until recording them in a studio with a group was safer to do. Thankfully though I was fortunate enough to record one of the songs I did on The Voice last year in Nashville with some legitimate studio cats, so at least something got done.

What do you miss the most?

Will Breman: I miss hugging people a lot, especially my close family. I feel like people were a lot less anxious before the pandemic. I think what I miss the most however is being able to play regularly in front of people. Doing it on Zoom is just not the same.

Will BremanHow did you work during the past year (writing/performing/recording)?

Will Breman: I had to switch to a lot of virtual gigging. I’m thankful to have an amazing manager who set me up with a lot of awesome corporate gigs that I could record from home.

Anything good from the close down?

Will Breman: I was able to go back to school. I’m in my second year of my masters in vocal techniques/performance. Now if the whole singer-songwriter thing doesn’t pan out, at least I know I have a career somewhere in opera or teaching at a higher academic level.

What are you most looking forward to doing again?

Will Breman: I’m looking forward the most to seeing, and playing, some excellent live shows. I know coming up I’m working closely with Kristen Stills and a wonderful team at Autism Speaks in hopefully setting up a festival at the Greek Theater in LA sometime in the fall. I’m also slated to open for Paul Thorn at the Lobero around that time, as well as playing Topa Mountain Music Fest. Hopefully there’s more where that came from.

Do you have a game plan coming out of the pandemic?

Will Breman: I know I want to finish those recording projects I’ve been sitting on. I’ve been taking a break from social media lately, but I’m hoping soon to get back into creating some high-quality content for Instagram, Youtube, and TikTok specifically.

For more information on Will Breman go to WillBremanMusic.com or follow him on Facebook at www.facebook.com/WillBremanMusic. You can also look for Will on a future episode of the VenturaRockSpot.


Oh! By the way, the VenturaRockSpot 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. Will Breman is scheduled to be a guest soon. You can view all episodes to date at www.VenturaRockSpot.com where you can see bands/artists such as Star Goes Nova, Jayden Secor, Medicine Hat, Jodi Farrell and more (27 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.

Ventura Rocks in the Ventura Breeze 3/10/21 – 3/23/21

Ventura MusVentura Breeze logoic Scene
by Pam Baumgardner
VenturaRocks.com
Pam@VenturaRocks.com

ArtworkLittle by little Ventura is coming alive and a handful of venues are already offering live music outdoors including Caffrodite, Copa Cubana, Leashless, the Cave and the Shores. Check VenturaRocks.com for updates and the daily music listings, along with the latest VenturaRockSpot featuring Jayden Secor (coming soon, Christine Law and her project Star Goes Nova, and Guy Martin).

After a “winter break,” Concerts in Your Car is slowing rolling out their line-up, with an April 10 date with Opera Santa Barbara presenting Don Pasquale, and the following week April 17 (two shows) with Ziggy Marley and a live tribute to his father. Down in Oxnard at the Performin Arts Center parking lot, the carpool jams pick up on April 2 with a Foreigner tribute by 4NR, a tribute to Led Zeppelin’s Robert Plant by Robert Plantation on the 3rd and the following week on April 10th, it’s Erotic City and their tribute to Prince.

Jason BrockMeanwhile, this music scene column highlights local artist Jason Brock. His Facebook page states he is a… “self-described grunge rock hippy guitarist and songwriter whose passion for music rivals his passion for compost. Slightly geeky, slightly goofy, and slightly stoopid. Blessed to be surrounded by beautiful people.”

Jason is a career independent musician whose bands, solo albums, record labels, and nonprofits have all the aim of empowering artists to create regardless of their position in the hierarchy of the business world and he serves on the board for the Ventura Artists’ Union.

Pam: How and when did you get involved with the Ventura Artists’ Union?

Jason Brock: I started working with the Ventura Artists’ Union when the Art City Gallery was being designed. At that time, the organization was dormant because they didn’t have a gallery to show in. I didn’t know Ventura had a non-profit that was dedicated to supporting local artists. That’s how I found out. Since I had previous experience in organizing, running labels and nonprofits I felt like I could contribute to launching the VAU’s next chapter. My personal goal is to foster the musical side of the nonprofit’s programming by promoting musicians and supporting local music.

Are you one for hanging out in the music scene here in town?

Jason Brock: I guess so, though that’s a hard question to answer. I’d say I like to create scenes where musicians want to gather. That’s why I helped run Under the Bed for two years. It was like an underground Green Art People. Right now, there is a scene starting to happen at Caffrodite Community Coffee House in midtown. Cory Highberg is bringing musicians together there. I think we need another venue in town that provides that kind of open canvas for music. If you know anyone that has a space like that let me know!

I know you’re working on an album where you release a track a month; explain what the process looks like.

Jason Brock: I just released [the song] “One of A Kind,” and I’m trying to record a track a month, but in reality it’s a mark I’m using to create deadlines for myself. I work well if I have a mark to hit, otherwise I just write and write and never release. I have a lot of songs I’d like to record, and if I think on that level, I get overwhelmed. I also have to balance the creative process with the promotion and business side. As an independent artist you have to wear many hats. Good news is it’s possible. So, one single at a time is a good way to go for me. I’m working on my next one right now, called “Common Thread,” which should drop at the beginning of April if all goes well. It’s a rocker!

As far as the recording process goes, I record everything at home, mix and master, except for my most recent single “One of a Kind” which features David Uosikkinen on drums and Kenny Aaronson on Bass. They recorded their parts at their home studios in Philly. We had this one professionally mixed and mastered by Dave Downham at Gradwell House Studios. I think we did a great job of sounding live, even though we’re in different time zones.

“One of a Kind” wasn’t’ the first track?

Jason Brock: One of a Kind is the fourth single I’ve released since I started when the pandemic hit. I had all this extra time on my hands, and I was already recording so I just decided to step it up a notch. My first single was “Dubbers and Rex” which was released in June of last year. In August I released “Shine” which was inspired by the Black Lives Matter protests, and then in December I released “Ashes to Dust.” All of those tracks were self-produced at home.

Will this be your record or a group effort?

Jason Brock: I am the main songwriter at this point in time, though I’m totally down for collaboration. Working with Dave U is really lighting me up right now. He’s a multi-platinum artist with tons of experience. He brought Kenny Aaronson in to record bass, and Kenny is a monster. He’s played with some heavy hitters such as Bob Dylan, Joan Jett, Brian Setzer, etc. etc. I’m just enjoying the creative flow, wherever that leads.

Do you already have the tracks in mind? Or writing material as you go along?

Jason Brock: I have an idea of what I want, but things change along the way. For example, I produced a live stream concert to help launch “Ashes To Dust” and the songs took on this unexpected feel because of the musicians I was playing with, so I went with it. I’m a big supporter of accentuating the artists in the room. With that said, I have a direction, songs that rock live, have meaning and sound great in headphones. Some of them are already written, some are in various stages of completion.

Sum up what Spinningmerkaba is all about.

Jason Brock: Spinningmerkaba is my remix pseudonym at ccMixter.org, a creative commons remixing site where musicians and producers from all over the globe come to share and create music. Anyone with a creative itch can go there and remix my songs, or get remixed by me or other top-notch producers. It’s a free-for-all, which makes it fun and weird and spontaneous.

Anything else you’d like to add?

Jason Brock: I’d like to say thanks to you and my family and friends who support me and my art. We’re all connected and we all rely on each other. I’d also like to say to anyone out there reading this, that you can do it too. The tools are all out on the table. Get creative and make some art. You’ll find parts of yourself along the way that you’d never find if you didn’t put it out there. Have fun! It’s only rock and roll….

Amen!

For more information on Jason, go to JasonBrockMusic.blogspot.com or follow him on Facebook.com/jason.brock.927,


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 where you can hear from local artists like Jason Brock. 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.

Ventura Rocks in the Ventura Breeze – 2/24/21 – 3/9/21

Ventura MusVentura Breeze logoic Scene
by Pam Baumgardner
VenturaRocks.com
Pam@VenturaRocks.com

It’s a slow-mo rollout if you ask me, but I’m not here to complain about the lack of live music. In fact, I support venues taking it as slow as they need to in order to ensure our safety and to prioritize their efforts so they can stay in business. Be patient. VenturaRocks.com is listing live music when venues/musicians submit it, but it will take time to recover. Meanwhile…

I’ve become social media buddies with Chulz Torrez over the past couple of years, following her posts, playing her music on my radio show on KPPQ-LP, and corresponding via email. She recently sent me new music and revealed she was working on another new release so I thought this would be a good time to reach out to her so Ventura Breeze readers can get acquainted with her and her music, plus having Martha Davis in your corner as a mentor is quite extraordinary!

Photo of Chulz Torrez

Pam: How did you get started with your music career.

Chulz Torrez: My Grandma Marylou was a pianist, singer, and multi-instrumentalist. Most of my family used to be local musicians in Ventura County since the 1960s and even still till this day. My Grandma’s love of music, dancing, parties, good food, and togetherness, is what led me to know what I wanted to be when I grew up. I wanted to have a career in anything that had to do with music. I would sing at her side while she played the piano. Although I was born with health issues including Spina Bifida, both my grandparents would always push me and give me confidence to never let anything get me down. I took every opportunity to sing everywhere and anywhere. I tried to play the piano and guitar and took lessons at Henson’s music, but my back hurt too much, so my Grandma said to do what came naturally which was singing! I admired her so much. She played piano and any instrument she picked up by heart with no professional training! I have so many beautiful memories. I continue to keep my grandparents’ memory alive through music.  In the early 1990s I started singing for award assemblies, the YMCA in Ventura, the Boys & Girls Club of Oxnard.  I would sing for all our family parties. I would sing my favorite song “Angel Baby” anywhere that anyone would let me sing. In the late 1990s I started singing back-up vocals for local Spanish bands, different musicians, and hip-hop artists in Ventura County. In 2000, I met my partner in music Hexcercist. He’s been my producer, my mentor, and my best friend. Thanks to Hexcercist I’ve been able to make music and have lifelong relationships with amazing musicians such as the brilliant Kevin Simonett & also you Pam. I’m continually grateful for each & every relationship I do have, thanks to music.

How do you stay connected here in the 805?

I haven’t been able to perform live since the pandemic but I have been trying to get more involved with social media and learning really hard how to use it all. I have been doing tons of videos and learning TikTok. It’s really fun. I’m practicing to start doing a live stream on Twitch soon as I can. My Twitch name is Chulz1. I’m also hoping when shows come back I’ll get the chance to perform live again. Maybe open up for Martha Davis & The Motels which would be my dream come true.

Which brings up this amazing subject of how Martha came to be one of your mentors.

Chulz: I’m so proud and honored I get to call Martha Davis my best friend for so many years.  Martha taught me everything there is to know about music. From song writing structures, singing choruses, and how to do amazing harmonies.  Martha taught me music is universal. It doesn’t have to be one genre. Music can be anything you desire, it could be Rock, Hip Hop, and R&B. If the song is amazing and makes you feel good it doesn’t matter about the genre, or what you write about, it can be about anything if you use your imagination and put in the hard work, you can succeed at anything in life. Martha is such an amazing and kindest person. She cares so much and helps those in need. Martha brings happiness anywhere she is. She’s taught me so many positive life lessons. I can’t believe how lucky I truly am. I got to record at her studio and film my first music video for my song called “Sapphire Rain” at her ranch. It’s a fun story. I got to house sit while she went touring. It was fate! Her puppy Eva got to make an appearance in my music video. We were so lucky it even rained when we shot the music video. I wish you could see the behind scenes of the music video because I was in charge of the pets and all the birds were mimicking my music and lyrics!

I’d get to go with Martha to her shows and meet all these amazing stars. I got to go with her to rehearsal in some amazing studios in L.A. I even got to sing back up with her. I’ve had an amazing life that other people only dream of and I know how grateful and lucky I truly am. I’ve had the time of my life. Martha and I have had some amazing adventures and priceless memories.  I miss her Thanksgiving get togethers and her cooking but she did teach me some amazing recipes that I use all the time. Hopefully we get to visit her or see her on tour here in Ventura, CA soon!

That’s so amazing, you are one lucky gal for sure! I understand you have a new album in the works.

Photo of Chulz Torrez

Chulz: My new album is called Burning Hearts Valley. Hexcercist produced all of the incredible music. The album is coming as soon as I’m finished recording it. Most of the songs are complete it’s just so hard due to the Pandemic. I’m waiting for the new studio to be completed so I can use my new microphone. It’s a beauty. This will all be worth the wait. Burning Hearts Valley is true to life stories I put into song.  Songs about love and the loss of someone dear to me my Grandfather Frank Torrez who passed away due to cancer. He was my number one supporter. Luckily my grandpa was alive when I published my first album in 2011. We had a release dinner and we got to celebrate together which means the world to me, he was so proud.  Burning Hearts Valley is my Ventura County Anthem. It reminds me of our community of Ventura County, of how much I love it, and love representing.  I want to continue making music for everyone who wants to listen. I’m also working on a few projects. I’m doing a four song EP called Chulz 805 Popstar Outlaw; I wanted to do a Rock, Hip Hip, with elements of Shadow Country album. I am also happy to announce, I’m going to be collaborating with some of my fellow 805 musicians. That’s gong be so fun. I can’t wait! I will also be shooting a music video for Evil Eyez with my talented friends The Seventh Dimension Dance Studio in Santa Barbara.

When do you anticipate it will be wrapped up, and what plans do you have to market it?

Chulz: Burning Hearts Valley should come out by May 2021, if all goes well; fingers crossed.  I am also going to release new singles starting in April this year. All my music is and will be available on Spotify, I-Tunes, and on all media platforms.

Anything else you’d like to add Chulz?

Chulz: Our future looks bright. Be on the look-out for my friend, an up-and-coming young rocker, Des Rocs; he’s opened for the Rolling Stones and Muse. He’s so talented, I’m grateful to witness his genius and musical journey.  I’m just so thankful and humbled for all my relationships thanks to music, like Pam Baumgardner.  Pam you’re my true inspiration. All of these years you’ve believed in me and my music. You believe in so many artists and give musicians a chance to be heard on the air waves! It’s a wonderful dream come true.  I appreciate all of your continuous support and look forward to continuing to produce music for every person out there. Never give up on your dreams. With hard work, discipline, confidence, and perseverance, dreams really do come true.  Please take care and stay safe.  Sending love to all of my fans and supporters, thank you for sharing this amazing musical adventure with me throughout all of these years I’m forever grateful!

For more information on Chulz, follow her on Facebook, chulzmusic1; Twitter, chulz1music; Instagram, Chulzmusic; YouTube, Chulz143.


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 where you can hear from local artists like Chulz Torrez. 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.

Ventura Rocks in the Ventura Breeze 2/10/21 – 2/23/21

Ventura MusVentura Breeze logoic Scene
by Pam Baumgardner
VenturaRocks.com
Pam@VenturaRocks.com

breeze artworkWith the Stay-at-Home order lifted, venues are doing their best to get stabilized yet again. I’ve seen one or two postings on social media about solo artists playing during dinner one or two nights a week (Peirano’s and the Cave), so it’s a start. Meanwhile, I’ve reached out to another musician to talk about his latest project.

photo of Darren "Zorba" CruzI met Darren “Zorba” Cruz back in the 90’s when we added the Ska Daddyz to our regular rotation at 96.7 the Bus, Ventura’s own alternative rock station. He’s been in many projects between then and now including Irie Ites and Strand Quentin. I caught up with Darren for a quick Q&A on his most recent enterprise to get the story behind Free Love Project 805.

Pam: How did this project come about?

Darren: The Free Love Project 805 started as my idea in March 2020. It was just supposed to be a couple of songs I wrote and recorded with some friends from other bands because we always talked about doing a collaboration. I had songs I wrote in Puerto Escondido Oaxaca Mexico, sitting around, not my band’s genres. I was listening to Santana”s Supernatural Album. He is my idol, I started hearing all the different styles and artists, I thought to myself this is genius, I can do that here in the 805. I put out a post on Facebook stating I need a female vocalist for an unplugged duet I wrote called “Insanity” out now on all platforms, the response was overwhelming. I had bands and solo artists lining up like Stalag 13, I Decline, Ill Repute, Raging Arb, Night Demon, The Question, Rising Son members, my reggae band, Collaboration, All A Blur, Bobby Campbell, Brandon Cruz, Dalton Cruz,and more. I also did a song with Peter DiStefano (Porno for Pyros guitarist) called “Closer” a 60’s vibe rock ‘n’ roller.

Pam: So then you are the brainchild behind all this, well done!

Darren: Yes, to be clear I got sober over a year and a half ago, had I not had some time under my belt none of this would be going down.

Pam: Why the name Free Love Project 805?

artwork Free Love Project 805Darren: This is a totally DIY project with no funding, no rules, when we want. how we want, we don’t need the money to express our emotions and talent. Record companies get money off of us artists for a talent that was given to us for “FREE.” Money has not even been a topic amongst the parties involved, this is not a get-rich scheme.

Pam: Tell me about the songwriting and recording process.

Darren: I do all the music songwriting, some are complete songs, I even sing lead on a couple of them. On a few of the songs the vocalist would write the lyrics. See a big part of why this project is doing well, is because I asked some of these bands and artists to step out of their normalcy. As an analogy, I went to the supermarket and bought all the groceries for the shindig, I took the ingredients to the chefs whom I’m working with and said, `You think we can make a great meal with this stuff, that we would be proud to serve? Then we started cooking it up in some of our fancy restaurant studios such as Armand’s Captains Quarters Recording Studio, Somis Sound Studios. Chingaso Records, MegaSound Studios. We have cooked up 10 killer dishes so far, 5 are almost done.

Pam: How has the response been on social media?

Darren: The response has been excellent, I’ve been on KTYD, Channel 3 news, and there’s been a write up in the VC Reporter. Other local media offers are in the making. I’m releasing two songs at a time starting in March.

Pam: Post pandemic, what’s the plan?

Darren: Post Pandemic plans? Good question, unfortunately I don’t have an answer for that; nobody knows, however there is one thing I know, and that is I smell a unity of musicians fed up with the industry standards of red-tape communism. We are treated like other country’s Olympic athletes, in other words, treating our own athletes in the amateur ranks. Pay to play? F!@# that! BANDS SHOULD NOT PLAY for FREE ever AGAIN!! The internet evened the playing field, Coronavirus gave ME the chance to see all this can be achieved by us artists. DistroKid killed the record executive star, LOL.

[Editor note: DistroKid is an digital platform founded in 2013 for musicians to upload their music into online stores and streaming services]


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 where you can hear the first single,“Insanity,” from Free Love Project 805. 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. Every show I feature artists out of the 805 and artists who come to the 805 to play as well as a handful of indie artists I’ve come across.

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.

Ventura Rocks in the Ventura Breeze 1/27/21 – 2/9/2021

Ventura MusVentura Breeze logoic Scene
by Pam Baumgardner
VenturaRocks.com
Pam@VenturaRocks.com

Ventura Rocks artworkWith Ventura moving back into the “Purple Tier,” outdoor dining will be allowed and hopefully venues will start to offer some lite live music once again; however, drive-in concerts are still your safest bet, and now Thousand Oaks is getting into the spirit of things and will be hosting a drive-in concert at the BofA Performing Arts Center with Highway Starr performing on Saturday, February 6.

The Canyon at Oxnard Performing Arts & Convention Center has a number of live shows listed, but they’re not until April with a number of tribute bands and Buckcherry. I did see that Martha Davis and the Motels are schedule for May as well as Tierra & Malo. To keep track and for ticket information, go to WhereMusicMeetsTheSoul.com (Scroll down and select Oxnard). There is nothing listed yet on the Concerts in Your Car website.


I’ve been receiving a lot of great feedback on the interviews I’ve conducted with local musicians over the past year. It’s always interesting to check in and see how our local artists are faring and to see what new projects they’ve been working on lately. This time around, I reached out to an old friend of mine Christine Law who has a new project called Star Goes Nova.

Photo of Christine Law

Christine Law


Pam: Let’s get people who are not familiar with your work up to speed. Tell me about your past projects.

Christine Law: More widely known as a bassist, I’ve toured and recorded with the famous and the obscure; credits include Theo Mordey (Jesus Christ Superstar), Charles Law & Jagged (college radio), Grammy winner John Baffa and platinum selling songwriter David Holster. I recorded bass on Suzanne Paris’ Grammy nominated album “Pink Lipstick” – and toured nationally with her. Earlier, I played bass for Jan Kuenehemund’s (from Vixen) solo project around Los Angeles. I also had the chance to jam with many artists at iconic L.A. clubs in the early 2000’s – that was awesome! For about 3 years in the mid 90’s, I toured and recorded with Martha Davis during her hiatus from The Motels. My first experience having a song played on the radio was with my hardcore band Tantrum in the late 90s. About 15 years ago, I met my husband Charles, a singer/songwriter, when he performed at Zoey’s in Ventura. We recorded 3 albums together from which several songs charted Top 10 nationally on college radio. I’ve been so fortunate to hang out with iconic artists and perform fantastic venues, complete with wild stories!

Describe Star Goes Nova and why you’re delving into EDM (Electronic Dance Mix).

Christine: Last year, I inherited my Mom’s pianos – a 115-year-old Turin grand piano, and a newer Kawaii upright. I hadn’t played piano since my high school piano lessons, but, when I first put my fingers on the keyboard of the Turin, all these songs just started writing themselves. I had been dabbling with EDM, going the Cinematic Dubstep direction, and the piano stories I was writing just blossomed with the electronica. I write fantasy Cinemata and Dubstep Dance EDM – it’s like my high school orchestra, piano, and hardcore got melded together. Beautiful and powerful.

Please share the story behind your song, “The Ocean Between Stars.”

Christine: I knew your Dad had been terminally diagnosed, and one day, you told me about taking him to the beach. I sat at my piano, thinking about you two on the beach – the day, the sounds, the waves and wind – and the journey ahead. “The Ocean Between Stars” tells of the sojourn of the souls of our lost loved ones. The song also contains a sonification (Hubble telescope recording of galactic frequencies) of the supernova Cassiopia A. There’s an angel there too…

I feel so honored by this Christine; it truly gave me goosebumps the first time I heard it. I will be sharing it on my next radio show on KPPQ-LP. Who are other EDM artists you admire?

Christine: I really admire the Santa Barbara based EDM record label Ophelia – they have great artists – Seven Lions, Tauri and Gem, MitiS. I also love Illenium and Grimes. I’d say my music is a cross between Grimes and new age pianist Leo Z.

How is the EDM community/genre different from other genres?

Christine: EDM evolves very quickly, and there are truly no rules. From pure electronica to inclusion of acoustical instruments and vocals, it’s all out there. I have noticed that artist collaboration is practiced and really valued – from swapping samples to writing/recording to putting raves together. Many of the samples, songs and community are offered freely (no charge). Also, I’m into offering high-resolution versions to the market that has high-res (96K) systems (like Sony); many EDM artists will offer 96K downloads along with their regular spec releases. You haven’t heard music until you listen to it in 96K – that’s the resolution the artist hears in the studio. I’d love for people to hear my work at 96K!

How big a following does the EDM community have?

Christine: Well, Electric Daisy Carnival in 2018 had over 200,000 attendees, and Tomorrowland had over 400,000. Given this portion, I’d say the fans are in the millions, with around 300-400 artists, and about 50 of those really well known.

How are you networking/marketing to get the word out?

Christine: I work with a PR firm for the social media side, which is just getting started. For now, I use Facebook www.facebook.com/Stargoesnova and Twitter @StarGoesNova and Instragram star_goes_nova. And of course, the website www.StarGoesNova.com

What if any plans do you have to expand on this new project?

Christine: I am currently releasing singles on social media, which will be compiled into a complete album. I’d like to host an “electric” rave – you know, with headphones!! Socially distanced of course!! I’ll also perform at Burning Man (if they have it this year), and then a couple of EDM festivals. My super big dream is to go to Ibiza or Mykonos and collaborate on a recording and also have a song spun there. Ibiza is the ultimate! I also want to continue collaborating with other artists. So far, two amazing local artists have collaborated on Star Goes Nova singles – Karen Eden (from The Bad Apples) and Fuse (from Hard Six).

How can people find out more?

Christine: Go to www.StarGoesNova.com and become a Stargazer by clicking on “Become a Stargazer”! or Facebook.com/StarGoesNova. Checkout the tunes also on Spotify, Itunes and ReverbNation.

Any final words?

Christine: Keep looking ahead. Keep dreaming. Keep doing things that bring meaning to people’s lives. Mankind is becoming interplanetary and interstellar, we must keep our art, music and dreams as part of our reach into the stars.


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. It 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. Every show I feature artists out of the 805 and artists who come to the 805 to play as well as a handful of indie artists I’ve come across.
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.