Ventura Music Scene
by Pam Baumgardner
With most of Southern California under another lockdown, live in person music, has been put back on hold; and it turns out, both the Canyon Club at the Oxnard Performing Arts Center and Concerts in Your Car at the Fairgrounds are on hiatus until at least mid-January. You can see live performances on social media platforms such as Facebook and YouTube, but for the most part, we just need to hunker down, be patient, and hope this new vaccine will be our saving grace.
I’m sorry to report that The Winery Ventura is shutting their doors by the end of this year. They had so many great live performances there the past couple of years. The building which holds their lease has been sold, and instead of pushing the agreement with the new owners, they decided to close. They are having a blow out sale which you are welcomed to support with great deals on not only their wine, but tables, chairs, plants, etc… They’ll be open Fridays 5-7, Saturdays noon-5, and Sundays noon – 2. Do note: The Grape jazz club is still scheduled to open this June barring anymore pandemic shenanigans.
One of the previously mentioned online performances will be coming from the Namba Performing Arts space on Sunday Dec 20 at 7 pm featuring Jayden Secor, Power2ThePeople, Joe Henry III, Delta by the Beach, Kris Simeon, Aaron Burch, Medicine Hat and Fred Kaplan & Robert Kyle. The money raised ($10 streaming donation fee) goes to benefit Namba which is a 501c-3 non-profit organization. Get the lowdown at www.NambaArts.com.
And though Jodi Farrell’s Music Studio 2020 Holiday Recital is available online. The production is a collaborative effort of her studios producing home videos to share some holiday musical cheer. You can view the recital at www.JodiFarrell.com/2020-Holiday-recital/#5.
I reached out to local musician Gary Best for a little Q&A, and he was happy to oblige. It’s always a treat to run into Gary out and about supporting other bands and artists when he’s not playing. You might know Gary from the local Improv group here in Ventura, and seeing him perform in Los Dudes. I’ve been playing his original tunes (which are really good!) on the Pam Baumgardner Music Hour on KPPQ-LP at 104.1 FM here in Ventura.
Pam: How long did it take for you to gain confidence that you actually have skills?
Gary: I am a fearless dilettante. I never wait to have the skill to do anything. I usually dive in and learn to swim as I go. You can tell from reactions if any song works. I try to keep writing.
When did you first start writing songs?
Gary: In high school. My songwriting partner moved to my town and he played James Taylor and Cat Stevens and the Beatles. I sort of stalked him until he taught me chords and I wrote songs to impress him. Still do.
When did you start recording them?
Gary: We had a reel to reel back then and started playing with recording techniques. I started going to Nashville in the 90’s to demo songs. My first trip was with Jonathan McEuen and Jimmy Adams.
How did that evolve into playing in a band?
Gary: A dozen years ago a local group had a gig and one of their members had just dropped out. I had always done Johnny Cash at parties so I volunteered. Thus was born the legendary garage band, Los Dudes.
I always try to hang around people that know more than me.
Do you have a producer you work with?
Gary: Locally I love working with Jesse Seibenberg. He can play anything and has a wonderful ear. He always makes my songs better than they are.
What’s the Randy Parsons connection?
Gary: When I retired, I started looking for new projects. My original songwriting partner, Bruce Scism, was building guitars in Nashville so when I saw Parsons Guitar Building School I was already primed to the idea. I picked a pretty difficult build for my first and Randy was really game to give it a go. Great guy. Lucky to have him in our community.
How has the Pandemic affected you as an artist? Personally?
Gary: It’s been a boon to me artistically. I got a lot more work done in the last 9 months writing songs and painting. I’m starting a Podcast; which is exciting.
I miss seeing and hearing music and art which is how I get inspired and steal ideas. I’m a pretty social animal so I miss seeing friends.
Are you still working with your improv group? And if so, in what capacity?
Gary: The Ventura Improv Company is certainly looking forward to doing shows again. I haven’t encouraged our people to do Zoom shows. I haven’t seen many that work real well. I’m still Artistic Director, as far as I know, but the ship is in harbor.
What goals do you have in the near future…pandemic or not?
Gary: The podcast I mentioned… it was inspired by a song of mine called, “My Daddy Never Cried.” Friends sort of spontaneously started sharing stories of and about their fathers. My sister, Brenda, suggested we might have the basis of a book or collection. We should be rolling it out early next year.
Other than that, to just keep writing and producing art in my own way. It’s what I do.
It’s all holiday music produced locally and mostly original on the Pam Baumgardner Music Hour on KPPQ-LP for the next two weeks. I’ll be spinning tunes from Gary Best, Jill Martini & the Shrunken Heads, Warren Takahashi, Kelly Zirbes, Professional Americans and more. The program airs Tuesdays and Fridays at 5 pm and Sundays at noon at 104.1 FM, online at www.CapsMedia.org/Radio or by using the MyTuner radio app for your smart device.
Happy holidays to you and yours. Here’s to putting 2020 behind us (too many jokes about 2020 vision). I’m wishing you peace, health and prosperity, along with a hefty dose of live music for 2021. Take care, be safe and rock on.
Do you have any music-related news or upcoming shows (online or live) you want help publicizing? Please send all information short or long to Pam@VenturaRocks.com, and for updated music listings daily, go to www.VenturaRocks.com.