Ventura Rocks in Ventura Breeze – 10/30/13 – 11/12/13

Jason Mariani, Dave Palmer, Don Heffington, Neal Casal, Dan Grimm, Jesse Siebenberg and Bob Glaub. Photo by Amanda Peacock.

Jason Mariani, Dave Palmer, Don Heffington, Neal Casal, Dan Grimm, Jesse Siebenberg
and Bob Glaub. Photo by Amanda Peacock.

The Music Scene
Around town
by Pam Baumgardner
I heard an amazing cut off of Dan Grimm’s upcoming new CD, Average Savage , called “Sweet Relief.”  Dan told me that he just got done recording his third release at Brotheryn Studios in Ojai. It was produced by Jesse Grey aka Jesse Siebenberg and engineered by the Grammy winner Jason Mariani. “It sounds like JJ Cale, Dire Straits, Jackson Brown, Steve Miller, and Paul Simon,” according to Dan. His players are virtual who’s who in the industry from Don Heffington on drums (Bob Dylan, Dwight Yoakam and Lucinda Williams); Neal Casal on guitar (Ryan Adams, Chris Robinson Brotherhood, Weir andl Lesh); Jesse Grey Siebenberg’s help on guitars, keys, drums, and other various instruments (Lissie, Supertramp, Kenny Loggins); Dave Palmer on keys (Fleetwood Mac, Fiona Apple, Chris Issac) and Jaime Wyatt on duet vocals best known for the Calico Girls.
Average Savage available soon on iTunes, Spotify, Sound Cloud, Salzers, and of course at all of Dan’s live shows.

Tony Cortez and Carl Valdez, original members of the legendary Nardcore band Ill Repute, are teaming up again after 20 years to form an “old school punk” band with a hard-edged punkabilly sound. Rounding out the new band are Randy Miller, lead guitar (Global Warming, Mayors of Garratt) and local bassist Mojo who is well known on the local music scene. The band hopes to be gig ready by the end of the year and have already been offered a spot on a local punk compilation album. Cortez and Valdez are also featured in the book and documentary, “Clean Cut American Kids – the story of Ill Repute” by True Underground Network in association with Firehook Entertainment and Canadie Bacon Films.

Author and blues harp master, Jon Gindick is bringing his Blues Harmonica Jam Camp to Ventura. This 5-day camp, usually held in the Mississippi Delta, takes place January 21 – 25 at the Pierpont Inn. Focusing on the joys of jamming, each camp is limited to about 30 students, or campers. Gindick is flying in his core team of harmonica coaches to give each camper the time and attention they need. Campers jam with a great blues band daily. It’s a music-learning vacation. Coach/performers include Cheryl Arena from Boston, Hash Brown from Dallas, TJ Klay from Nashville, Rj Mischo from Arkansas, Ralph Carter from Malibu and Brian Purdy of Florida. In addition to in intensive instruction, a show is planned at Yolie’s Blues Club. Get more information at

And then finally, it’s a travesty that we lost Zoey’s. Their doors official closed October 20. We can all be Friday Morning Quarterbacks and place the blame on the City, or landlords, or poor management, or the economy. But deep down inside, if you have the courage to look, you might agree with local musician and photographer, Chris Jensen. Jensen commented on Ventura Rock’s Facebook page, “I’m feeling guilty as hell because I wasn’t down there at least once a week, every week, experiencing great live music…when was the last time you were there? We are the reason Zoey’s is closing…So sorry Zoey’s.”

What the Hogansons did was quite amazing; they provided national acts in an intimate setting while allowing the best of our local talent to shine. So we need to learn a lesson, and learn it quickly.

What a class act Steve and Polly Hoganson are as they leave us with this thought, “Our hope is that you all continue to enjoy and support live music and the community of musicians here in Ventura County and beyond.”

And I say, “We won’t let you down Steve and Polly.

[PDF of Ventura Breeze issue:]

Ventura Rocks Mission Statement

Updated July 1, 2023’s mission is to help stimulate the economy in Ventura County by promoting venues who offer live music, promoting the artists who live in and around Ventura County, as well as promoting those who travel here to play.

We want to inspire people to get out and support Ventura’s music scene.

We promise never to charge the venues or the artist to be listed on


Zoey’s: The Heart of Local Music No Longer Beats

By Pam Baumgardner

I wrote an article recently titled, “Venues vs Musicians?” where I point out the two should work hand in hand to empower each other, but I also encourage music fans to loosen their purse strings and support the venues and events who pay their musicians. I suggested buying dinner there; paying the cover charge; getting a late night snack, or buy a round of drinks (soda counts!). This is how venues stay in business.  It’s not rocket science!  Yet, it still came as a shock when Zoey’s closed their doors this week to a lot of people.  Some of us had heard rumors for some time hoping for the best. But alas, it was not to be.

Zoeys-frontSteve and Polly Hoganson really gave it a good run and provided Ventura with top notch national touring acts while giving locals a place to shine and try out new projects.

For a little understanding on what happened, Polly gave me some background on how they had been running their business.  When they started, they had their entire family involved, “Our kids Adam, Marie and Andrew (our chef) were all in charge of certain aspects of the business.  Their involvement was so important to keeping the business humming.  Over the years life events took over and slowly the kids left to follow other endeavors, with our blessing.  We tried to replace them but we never truly recovered from that loss.”

But a major key element is that Zoey’s was two entities in one.  A restaurant and a music venue. Polly said, “We tried to be a foodie destination up until a year ago when our son left to become a chef at Ojai Valley Inn.  He was the heart of our kitchen and a very gifted chef.

After Steve and Polly’s son left they scaled back their menu and focused on the music.  Polly explained, “Many fans would come for the music, pay the cover but not order any food or drink.  Since most of the door went to the artist there were some nights when the band would walk away with more money than the venue.  Too many of these nights takes a toll on  the bottom line.  We never did establish any other identity.  We were just a venue with a great listening room and eclectic, unique original music.  Not a pick up bar, not a DJ dance spot, not a food and wine destination.  Just amazing musical performances.”

And that was part and parcel to Zoey’s downfall.

It quickly became quite a struggle keeping Zoey’s open. Polly confessed, “We not only poured our heart and soul but all our personal resources into Zoey’s until we had no more.  We had help from family and friends and will be grateful to them for giving us another year or two of life but with so many other choices downtown our limited audience was not able to sustain us.”

Adding insult to injury, the stress and everyday grind started to take its toll on Polly’s health. Taking care of these personal issues rightfully is now top priority.

In a closing statement from Steve and Polly, they give their thanks and wishes for Ventura:

“We thank our entire staff who hung in there during the good and bad times.  Soundman extraordinaire Jeremy along with Aly, Kenny, Adam.  Our front of house – Mel, Amy, Bernie, Titus, Maya & Cass. Back of house – Marta & Chris. Special thanks to Sam Bolle, Tony and Mike Ferrari, son in law Harry and son Andrew for helping us on the last day.

We love Ventura and want all our friends and music fans to know it’s been such an fantastic experience.  We will always cherish and remember our time at Zoey’s for years to come. All in all we are proud of what Zoey’s was and what our legacy is –  Bringing new and established artists to the forefront and giving them a place to be who they truly are.”

Again, borrowing from my previous article: “So in the end, you’ll ask yourself, did you help?  Did you take some responsibility in making this town a great music community?”

Ventura’s music scene really is something special.  But it needs to be nourished and supported, before it’s too late for all.

Do not let this lesson be for nought.

Chi McClean, Matt Zeltzer and Dan Grimm

8Stops7 at Billy O’s

Monday Night Residency at Billy O’s October 2013.  Ventura’s music scene even ROCKS on Monday nights if you care to venture out!

Jazz Punks at Squashed Grapes

The Jazz Punks made their Ventura debut this weekend at Squashed Grapes.
May I just say, OMIGOD!!!  These guys were off the hook!!  Melding traditional jazz with rock/punk favorites.  We’re talking the Clash, Pink Floyd, Nirvana, Led Zeppelin melded with jazz standards like Take Five, Take the “A” Train and No Blues.   UNFREAKIN’ BELIEVABLE!!!   Do not miss them the next time they roll through town!
Like them on Facebook:

Ventura Rocks in Ventura Breeze – 10/16/13 – 10/29/13

This Town Has an Amazing Pool of Talent


Ventura’s music scene is alive, well, and thriving! We’re glad to get Shawn Jones back home as he just returned from his 16th trip to Ireland. This past tour included 17 shows in three weeks. The man is busy. One of his first stops was to pick up his brand spankin’ new Lowden guitar.  Shawn had approached George Lowden at NAMM earlier this year and struck up a conversation ending with an invite to visit the owner at his Factory the next time Shawn would be in Ireland. That turned out to be last May. After the factory tour, and over lunch, Lowden told Shawn he’d like to build him a guitar. When Shawn returned this past month he was surprised to receive not one, but two beautiful Lowden guitars made to his left-handed specs. The guitars are hand-crafted and made from 450-year-old California Redwood. Shawn beams as he declares, “They’re the most beautiful and the best sounding acoustic guitars I’ve ever played, I’m really blessed to have them.”

Watch for “Blues at the Beach” scheduled for Saturday, November 2nd, at Ventura State Beach.  The folks behind the concert are the Players Casino, Roadshow Revival (RSR) and Totally Local VC.  Ross Emery of RSR assured me the event will go on rain or shine, “Traditionally it’s our best weathered forecast of the year.” On the bill will be Elvin Bishop as the headliner with the Mannish Boys Revue, James Harmon Band, the 44’s as well as the best of Ventura County local acts including Guy Martin, Shawn Jones, and the R&B Bombers. Asked how tickets are selling, Ross said, “At a very steady pace! I would encourage fans to buy tickets ASAP!” More info at

8Stops7 has once again taken up residency Monday nights at Billy O’s for the month of October. The band gets to try out stuff they aren’t necessarily ready to show to a much larger crowd than you’ll typically get on a Monday night, but lead singer, Evan Sula-Goff explains, “It’s also a really accessible way for fans and friends of the group to come out and just hang out.”  Evan is also stoked to be able to pick out their openers. “It’s an awesome sort of community night; it’s got this real laid back sort of feel.”

And finally, congratulations to Adam Clark who nailed the Store Finals in the Guitar Center 2013/2014 Drum Off Competition. Clark is well known for his jazz ensembles, playing with Tommy Marsh and Bad Dog as well as tons of studio work. Tony Cicero of Tony Cicero Ventura Drum School was once again asked to be a judge this year and he told us, “. . . Clark exhibited experience and good jazz chops reminiscent of drummers Tony Williams and Max Roach.”  Best wishes to Adam as he now represents our area as he moves on to the Quarter Finals on Tuesday, October 22.

This town has an amazing pool of talent and it never ceases to amaze me how much Ventura Rocks!

Pam Baumgardner

Ventura Rocks is new Music Scene Writer for the Ventura Breeze

We’re the new columnist covering Ventura’s music scene in the Breeze!

Look for Ventura Rocks on newsstands and online for Ventura’s hometown newspaper.  In our first column we talk about Shawn Jones, Adam Clark, 8Stops7 at Billy O’s, and Blues at the Beach.

It’s a great way to further our endeavors to help spread the word on Ventura’s music scene.

Send story ideas to Pam Baumgardner at