Amigos – November 26, 2014
WAV – November 23, 2014
Donna Lynn Caskey
Squashed Grapes – November 19, 2015
The Tavern – November 14, 2014
The Winchester Rebels
Amigos – November 26, 2014
WAV – November 23, 2014
Donna Lynn Caskey
Squashed Grapes – November 19, 2015
The Tavern – November 14, 2014
Ventura Music Scene
Ventura Continues to Rock!
by Pam Baumgardner
Chris Jay of Army of Freshmen is totally looking forward to their upcoming UK tour with the band Lit. Jay told me, “I just love being on tour. We don’t get to do it nearly as much as we used to so I think we tend to enjoy it more and appreciate it. Every night is like a big party. It’s more like vacation than work.” The dates in the UK run from November 13 through the 23 so it looks like the guys will be back in time for Thanksgiving. See complete interview with Chris Jay at VenturaRocks.com
No news yet on the Discovery entertainment permit appeal. We have our fingers crossed this matter will be settled sooner than later and with Discovery retaining the right to have live music in their venue.
Way to go for The Velveteen Band who has been invited to play the Steampunk Worlds Fair in Piscataway New Jersey. The SPWF is the world’s largest gathering of steampunks. After only six months of being a band, the Velveteen has gained national attention with their Puppets, Rabbits, and big rock band sound. You can find them playing locally at Bombay’s The Dia de los Muertos, Day of the Dead, party on November 1 with Cirque Noir, Angie’s Curse and Fangboy and the Ghouls.
Kelly’s Lot will be holding a fundraiser for one of Kelly Zirbe’s favorite charities, C.A.R.L. at the Patio at The Player’s Club which will raise money for Canine Adoption and Rescue League. Look for appearances by Teresa James, Guy Martin, Steve Hinojosa, Lenny Mazzotti and Bobby and lee Orgel. The event will be held on Saturday, November 8 from 6 – 10 pm. $10 donation plus 15% of food sales donated.
Looking forward to hearing the new song that 8Stops7 has been recording. Bass player, Cory Tarallo, says, “This song is straight up awesome!” I can’t wait to hear “Center of Our Universe” after they put on the finishing touches.
Jan McWorter of Hi Hat Entertainment reminded everyone, “When one door closes, another one opens,” after Hi Hat said goodbye to over six years at Yolie’s on October 17 with the R&B Bombers. But after just a couple days of searching they found their new location just a stone’s throw away, at the newly renovated facilities at 281 W. Main Street at Ventura Beach Club (formerly Fuegos). Just a quick head’s up as Ventura Beach Club already had a previous obligation, on Halloween, Hi Hat’s James Harman party will be at Peirano’s on October 31.
There will be a cool fundraiser at Bombay’s on Saturday, November 1, to help raise funds for Dawn (single mom) and Damian (7 years old) and their battle with Cancer. There will be lots going on all day but on the music side of it there will be Alastair Greene, James Harman, Morganfield Burnett, Hot Roux and more.
And finally, I’d like to wish Ken Winters, “Happy Birthday!” Ventura’s jazz scene will be helping to celebrate his 88th birthday on November 4th during the bi-monthly jazz jam at Squashed Grapes. I’m sure cake will be involved.
If you have any music related news or upcoming shows you want help publicizing? Send all information short or long to Pam@VenturaRocks.com.
I once wrote that it’s been such a pleasure getting to know our venue owners and artists and that the gamut of personalities range from sweethearts to dickheads. Enter in the boys from Army of Freshmen and they definitely fall on the sweetheart end of the spectrum. Chris Jay is one of the hardest working, nicest guys in Ventura’s music scene and one of my favorite people to run into when I’m out and about. He was happy to answer some questions about the band’s upcoming tour of the United Kingdom (November 13 – 23, 2014).
Ventura Rocks: When was Army of Freshmen’s last time in Europe?
Chris Jay: We were over there last year in the spring for the Hit The Deck Festival and a one off show with The Aquabats in London. Short run but a lot of fun. We try to get over there at least once year.
VR: In ten words or less, how did this tour come about?
Chris: We bothered our booking agent in the United Kingdom. For the record, I just did that with nine words meaning I have a word to spare. I shall make that final word be coolio, as in the state of being, not the rapper.
VR: Had you played with Lit before?
Chris: Actually, no, but we’ve had a writing session with Jeremy from the band on two different occasions. The two songs we wrote together never made it to a record but we got a long really well. We came close to the playing with them on occasion but never really happened. We’re excited cause they’re a band we’ve always thought we’d fit well with. We consider ourselves a rock band but we do end up playing with a lot of punk bands and ska bands which we don’t mind but it will be nice to play with a straight up rock band. Crowd will be a little older I imagine and since we’re old too that will be nice! They seem like really good guys too so hopefully we’ll get a long well on and off stage. We have a lot of mutual friends as well.
VR: What are you looking forward to the most?
Chris: I just love being on tour. We don’t get to do it nearly as much as we used to so I think we tend to enjoy it more and appreciate it. Every night is like a big party. It’s more like vacation than work. In all honesty the UK in November is not the greatest place on earth, cold rainy, dark but it’s still being on tour. Looking forward to seeing old friends and hanging with everyone in the band too. We don’t get to see each other as much as we used to.
Chris: It’s a large club tour. Not sure how crowds will be as later in the year is always a difficult time to bring people out- lot of distractions and people are saving up money for the holidays but I think no matter the size, the audience will be made of people that really want to be there and that always makes for really great shows.
VR: Getting the band’s schedules all aligned to hit the road can’t be easy. What’s the biggest hurdle you guys had to overcome?
Chris: You nailed it. Schedules. Work schedules for the most part. Everyone has “real” jobs and financial commitments and what not so getting everyone to be able to take a week or two off at the same time is not easy. Then of course the money to fund it all.
VR: Who pays for your travel? If you guys pay your own way, I trust the tour will reimburse? Just curious.
Chris: We pay for our travel and that’s the other big issue. Being an opening act or supporting act, the pay is bizarrely uneven versus the headliner. International touring is especially difficult cause of the cost of flights. Makes it all extremely difficult. Most of the time the tour doesn’t reimburse. More than ever, with a few exceptions, you do it cause you love it not to make money. But with that said, we’re always looking for financial help from donations to just buying a t shirt at the show. Everything and anything helps. It’s hard times for dope rhymes. The whole music industry and labels collapsing has been a real double edged sword.
VR: Feel free to add any additional thoughts you’d like to share.
Chris: Thanks for talking to us as always and keep up the good work on the site! I know how much time and effort it takes. Ventura’s music scene is special but it has it challenges. For more Army of Freshmen news come find us on Facebook and be sure to listen to our weekly podcast, Fresh Talk!
One evening taking in music around Ventura I came across Owen Bucey performing a solo set at Bombay’s. Owen of course has played keyboards for Army of Freshmen since day one. I hadn’t seen him perform solo before, so I was impressed. Jeff Hershey was in the crowd and encouraged me to check out one of Owen’s “other” project The Calamity. Less than a week later I found myself sitting down with Owen on Main Street at Palmero’s talking about Army, Calamity and the the music scene in general.
Honestly, the tape ran much longer than what you see here, as we got off topic more times than not just talking about Ventura’s music scene which we both love! But here is the spliced down version of our conversation.
Ventura Rocks: How did The Calamity originally get started?
Owen Bucey: Calamity was a project that got started with Kai, Aaron and myself when we were touring on the East Coast in Jersey around 2004/2005. We just hung in one night when everybody was going out and we were staying at Chris’s folk’s house. They live in a place in Cape Main. His mom’s a music teacher so they have a piano room and we were just messing around, drinking beers and whatever; and we just put it together. It was just sheer organic fun. We loved what came out of that night and decided to explore it a little bit more.
VR: How was the experience different from Army?
Owen: In Calamity everyone was on different instruments, except for me, but I was starting to write lyrics which was a new experience for me.
Owen: We’d meet up occasionally to keep it going. We took baby steps, you know? We’d record a couple of songs with someone. But we finished a full length record in 09 and put it out on Missing Words label (The Return, Matt Marten’s label). It was cool, because he did a real push and even got us on college radio. We played a couple shows, but we continued to write more.
VR: And the rest of the guys?
Owen: Balt joined right before we finished Songs from the Gold Coast (the record that came out in 09.) Some of the songs were done, so he contributed to some of the songs on bass. But we were always like a three piece, just Aaron, Kai and myself. We basically wrote almost a full record like that, then Balt came in and we added three or four more songs for a full-length. Phil was added after that for more texture and guitars. We’re all from the same circle of friends and bands; it was a chance to jam out and get something with a little more guitar texture so it doesn’t end up being too Ben Foldsy, straight up piano pop.
Owen: The songs that were coming out of me were about what was going on in my life at that time, relationship stuff, marriage stuff, it was difficult, the economy, everything. So it was little more moody, so it was cool to have those other elements.
VR: And you got out and performed?
Owen: Yeah, when Phil came in, there was like an injection of passion, which was cool because he was all jazzed about doing some shows, so we organized some more and and this was all going on at the same time as whatever Army of Freshmen was doing. So we’d run around with Freshmen and go out on a trip for a week, then come back and have a show here and there with Calamity. We just coordinated everything with our off days.
VR: And what about the marketing of Calamity?
Owen: Well the cool thing about this, is that nobody really cared about whether or not it took off. It was all about just playing music, and writing songs. But we were real proud of it. It was always great when we had an opportunity to perform it. And we had some cool opportunities like when we got invited to play with Camper Van Beethoven’s camp out which they do every year at Pioneertown.
Owen: Winter of 2012. We knew we could book time at “The Captain’s Quarters” (Satellite Studios) in spring of 2013
VR: Who produced it?
Owen: The Calamity and Armand Tambouris
VR: What are you hoping to achieve with A Ghost of These Moments?
Owen: We wanted to achieve a more organic and raw sound with real instrumentation. The songs were a natural and personal culmination of the previous year. Something we can always be proud of. No agenda really
VR: How did the idea to cover the album start to finish at the show at Bombay’s on March 1 come about?
Owen: We liked the idea of making the show a one time event. Give the entire concept of the album in one fell swoop.
VR: Is there anything else you would like to say about the project?
Owen: Basically, the Calamity has always been about the music. Trying out new things without trying too hard, and playing with friends.
See VenturaRock.com’s music review of A Ghost of These Moments
The Calamity Members:
I caught up with Army of Freshmen’s Owen Bucey to get the lowdown on the upcoming Calamity CD release party set for Saturday, March 1 at Bombay’s. Owen told me how Army had been on the East Coast touring back in 2004/2005 and they had been staying at singer Chris Jay’s parent’s house. One evening most of the guys had gone out but Kai, Aaron and Owen had hung back kicking it around in the music room where Chris’s mom taught music. Before long, songs were being developed. Owen explained, “It was just sheer organic fun. We loved what came out of that night and decided to explore it a little bit more.” It was different too because they played different instruments except for Owen, but he actually started to write lyrics for the first time. Flash forward to present time with Calamity and their second release, A Ghost of these Moments, which will be played live, start to finish, with no stops. Price of the ticket at Bombay’s gets you a free download.
The Patio at Player’s Club Casino will play host for a fundraiser on Saturday, February 22, for the Canine Adoption and Rescue League with Kelly’s Lot and special guest on harp, Jon Gindick. There will be food, drinks and no cover, but plenty of opportunities to donate to this worthy cause to help our furry friends. See www.carlvc.org for more information.
The Garage is actively seeking bands to play there once again. Numbskull Presents announced Lower Class Brats out of Austin, Texas, with Kicker, The Loads and Global Crime Syndicate on March 27. It will be awesome having more live shows more often on the east end of town.
Parsons Guitars out of Seattle, WA, have moved into the space above the Ventura Theater at the corner of Main and Chestnut. I swung by during their “soft” opening and met owner Randy Parsons who gave me a tour, it’s amazing what they’ve done with the space. All stringed musicians should drop in and see what the man has to offer, from classes, to repairs, to building guitars to spec. We wish him well as we plan to get him involved with the music scene here in town.
It’s coming up on five years since VenturaRocks.com was launched and you’re officially invited to help us celebrate at our anniversary party on Monday, March 17, at Bombay’s. Yes, it’s a Monday. Yes, it’s St. Patrick’s Day, and Yes, we have Rey Fresco playing! You won’t want to miss it!
Do you have any music related news or upcoming shows you want help on publicizing? Then send all information short or long to Pam@VenturaRocks.com.
During their down time local musicians Chris Jay and Aaron Goldberg (Army of Freshmen) decided to write a screenplay. As anybody in the biz can tell you this is not a small feat. This project has been a long time dream of the super energetic Chris Jay. We chatted about the low, low budget film and their decision to shoot it entirely in Ventura. They will film all over the city for the next 13 days but their immediate need is for extras on MLK day – 1/20/14 at Camino Real Park Ventura from 10am-5pm.
Polly: Tell me about this film project that you’re working on, how did it come about? It’s you and Aaron right?
Chris: It’s me and Aaron, we co-wrote it. Actually, we started to not tour as much when the music industry got a little funky. We began working on a little screenplay on our off time, here and there, just a little bit, for the past couple of years really. It’s a comedy. What happened is we got a producer who produced one of our old videos. We got in touch with him, turned him on to the project and he helped us put the script together to a presentable point. We made the decision we didn’t want to do what we do with music where you spend so much time begging people to listen to you and help you and sign you. And we knew that for first time screenwriters no one is going to read a script two musicians wrote.
Chris: So we decided to fundraise on our own. We thought the film was funny, the concept was funny. For the past couple of months that’s what we’ve been doing raising money but we have also been working on pre-production we’ve actually been putting it together. Like you know I contacted you months ago asking to film a scene at Zoey’s long before we got any interest.
Polly: Yes, I remember.
Chris: We were hoping once we got the funding we could jump. We were basically in pre-production on a film that had no money and may not exist.
Polly: Haha, well did you finally get that producer on board and who is that?
Chris: Yes a gentleman by the name of Reza Rezai and you know he’s just a friend who did our video and also did some smaller indie films. So he knew really low budget. Even if we did raise some money it was going to be incredibly low budget.
Polly: So what is your budget?
Chris: I can’t really tell you our budget because we don’t have a finalized one yet. And frankly we are trying to continue to raise money but we did get more people on board and one or two investors who decided to back the project enough for us to get cookin’.
Polly: Nice, good for you.
Chris: We’ve been going absolutely nuts for the past two months basically putting the movie in to production. And we are happy to report we’ve been working, working, working. We kinda kept our months shut, because we didn’t want to seem like we were bragging and telling people we were doing it because these things can fall apart so easy especially when we had this many people, and money and stuff, we didn’t want to embarrass ourselves. So we put everything in place. We picked a date, got tons of people, we’ve been casting, working on the script, just literally doing a crash course on the film business. We started filming yesterday [1/18/14] and we are filming 13 days over the next 19 days all in the city of Ventura. Every single scene is going to be shot in a location in Ventura.
Chris: So we have 13 more days on 6 days off on a 20 day schedule. We wanted to keep it homegrown. We wanted people to contribute and people have been amazing! We got all of our locations for free with the exception of the baseball field we had to rent from the city which is understandable because we had to shut down part of the park. But we got everything else for free. We have gotten every single meal donated for the whole shoot, just local restaurants helping us out.
Polly: That’s so cool.
Chris: It’s been wonderful! Our producer was hesitant to film in Ventura simply because it’s an hour outside of L.A. actors driving and all that kind of stuff, but he’s been thrilled and what we’ve found is that community feel, and all the bonuses, and the fact that people are excited! So say if we did go down to L.A. and we walked into the “Zoeys” of LA and asked to film for a day you know their fee is going to be $1000 bucks. Flat out. That’s how they make extra money. So many people are filming down there, film permit people are hard, it’s a nightmare. Here it’s been such a smooth ride. Especially since we are so ultra, ultra low budget just to be able to have people so on board and so helpful it’s been really, really cool.
Polly: That’s so great. So you started yesterday.
Chris: Yes, and it’s been more work than I’ve ever done in my entire life. Music videos are great but that’s one day. This is a like a music video times 2 weeks. We got enough people to be in the film but we are so low budget we couldn’t hire a production crew. We do wardrobe, we do location scouting, we supervise catering. Literally we weren’t prepared for that on set work so for the past 48 hours it’s just been this whirlwind of four hours of sleep. Getting there at 6am it’s great. The energy has been great but it’s been a whirlwind. We are going for it! Tomorrow is day 3.
Polly: Tell me about tomorrow and needing Extra’s at El Camino Park
Chris: It’s our big baseball day and we’re at the park we need a bunch of people hanging out, in the stands, kicking it, we just need to create that vibe.
Polly: What’s the basic storyline?
Chris: It’s a raunchy comedy in the vein of “40 Year Old Virgin” or “Super Bad” or “Old School”. The plot is a loser in life and love gets into a high stakes bet where he has to find and go out with the girl he had a crush on for every single year he went to school. So he’s got to go back and find 12 different girls, find out what they’re up to now and somehow convince them or trick them into getting with him. That’s the gist of it but there is an evil company owner that if he wins the bet he gets the company and he can give it back to his dad. This is not high brow. This is Adam Sandler stuff.
Polly: Haha, right. Is this a short film?
Chris: No, it’s a full length feature film.
Chris: We are going for it a full length movie. That’s the insanity of it. If it were a short film we’d shoot for 3 or 4 days but we’ve got tons of characters and locations. We’re basically making a low budget movie by Hollywood standards on no budget. To be frank we are trying to make a million dollar movie on a tenth of that budget. People are telling us we’re insane, we can’t do it, you’re getting in way over your heads but that’s the only way we’ve ever don it, we don’t know any other way. So if we’re going to fail we might as well fail in a big way. We’ve got a bunch of extras in it, bunch of homies from the local music scene. If this comes out, when it comes out at least from a local stand point we’re going to rent a screen at Century 16 and invite everybody and say – we don’t know what the hell we made here but at least we’ll get a kick out of it. And you’ll see a bunch of people on the screen.
Polly: That’s awesome. I’m so happy for you guys.
Chris: It’s always been a dream of ours. It’s a weird thing. It’s either put up or shut up. It’s one thing to work on a screen play but it’s completely another thing to make it because the whole time you’re wondering man if this stinks I just spent a massive amount of my life working on this project. So it’s wild. And you put your faith in so many people. That’s what I’m learning too. You know me, and much like yourself we’re micro managers. We want to have our eyes on everything we do. But it’s hard to trust someone with your baby. That camera man he’s got your baby. That director, he’s got your baby. Those actors they have your baby. You may have a little bit of say but you’re not going to tell the camera guy who’s gone to school where to put the camera. You’ve got to roll with the flow. So in the last 48 hours I’ve learned to breath and if you’re not digging what you’re seeing you have to trust that they are doing it for a reason.
Polly: That’s so exciting for you guys. We’d love to be involved. How can we be involved?
Chris: Well thanks for spreading the word and encouraging people to come out. There’s going to be some really neat stuff. We have cameos from three legendary wrestlers. I know that sounds funny but I’ve always been a big wrestling fan. We ended up getting Jake “the snake” Roberts, Tommy Dreamer and Diamond Dallas Page. So if anybody comes tomorrow afternoon, if you’re a wrestling fan, these wrestlers will be hanging out, in Ventura, in Camino Real Park, and will be accessible for autographs and stuff. And I know this is super last minute. But that’s how film world is.
Polly: I know, you audition on a Friday and then you have to be on set at 7am Saturday.
Chris: Exactly. Thanks for everything, spread the word and if you can please swing by tomorrow it will be an experience!
After 15 years together, The Army of Freshmen have released a new CD, Happy to be Alive. The band packed Bombay’s and put on a great show!