Ventura Music Scene
by Pam Baumgardner
Both Bombay Bar & Grill and Sans Souci are open again serving up food and libations, they both have limited hours and earlier in the day, in other words, no closing down the bar at 2 am, and they’re only providing takeout/curbside service; Ventura Music Festival has launched “Music Connects” a digital weekly series and they’re looking for musicians who would like to participate (www.VenturaMusicFestival.org); I’m sorry to report the passing of one of the Estrada Brothers, Henry Estrada (saxophonist), passed from a long-term illness at home this month; and the City of Ventura has officially cancelled the Music Under the Stars series for the summer. As with the fair, I wish I knew who they had lined up and who we’ll be missing out on this year, but I guess it’s just as well.
DRIVE-IN CONCERTS II
Speaking of the fair, in my last column I wrote about drive-in concerts and I mentioned a couple of locations that might work including the fairgrounds parking lot, and lo and behold we have a promoter stepping up to the plate. It great to hear Vincenzo from CBF Productions (the good folks who bring you the Winter Wine Walk, Boots & Brews Music Festival, Tequila & Taco Music Festival and more) was already on it and working on a concert series to be held this summer and as soon as the first few weeks in June, and I’m hearing Ventura won’t be their only venue. Keep tuned to www.ConcertsInYourCar.com for bands, dates and ticket information. There’s no doubt about it, there are a number of hurdles to overcome, but if anyone can pull something like this off, it would be Vincenzo.
(Post Breeze: First concert celebrating the class of 2020, Super Duper Kyle, June 12 & June 13. Tickets & Information: www.ConcertsInYourCar.com )
MAIN STREET VENTURA EXPERIMENT
There are discussions afoot in the City to shut down Main Street from the mission to Fir Street to allow merchants and restaurants to spill out onto the sidewalk and street to provide social distancing for pedestrians and their customers. I’ve seen an artist’s rendering and I have to say, “I like it!” My comments are few but include a couple of small stages for singer/songwriters (solo or duo) to enhance the experience; perhaps one on each block. Other cities throughout the country are considering the same idea to help ease out of this shut down and get people out enjoying their downtown safely while supporting local businesses.
(Monday, May 18, the City Council approved an emergency ordinance to accelerate the planning process and approval for businesses for use of outside space – but will wait for phase III to be enacted)
Now on to interviews!
BRIAN BRINGELSON OF ANCHOR & BEAR
Are either one of you still working?
Brian: No we’re both not working and of course no shows to play.
Do you find you’re playing music more…or less now?
Surprisingly it’s about the same. Before all of this we had at least three shows a month and rehearsals twice a week. But since all of this happened, we’ve both been writing a lot and making videos. In addition, I’ve started a side project with an old friend from high school. I record guitar, bass, and vocals at home and then send him the tracks to add his drums to. It’s been really inspiring and keeps me sane. Katy by the way has been finishing up her soon to be released new EP for her project Bearkat. So, we are keeping busy with music.
Any inspiration from this weird time we’re going through in history?
Brian: Yes, lots of writing/recording/making videos, (but) nothing really about the current state of how things are going. I think I write to distract myself from all of it.
Tell me about the live streaming events you’ve been hosting.
Brian: We’ve had a few (concerts) on our Instagram where we play a couple of songs and try to interact with the people leaving comments. They’ve been really rewarding in the sense that we get to connect with our friends and share our music. We also recently just had a simple chat with our bassist Zeke Berkley on Instagram live and lots of our friends joined in on that as well. They’re certainly not a replacement for a live show, but they’ll have to do for now.
Anything else you want to share?
Brian: Katy and I miss playing shows soooo much. And that includes rehearsing with our friends/band mates: Zeke and Paul. We also miss seeing all of our friends that work at Topa Topa Brew in Ventura, Ojai, and Santa Barbara. I’d like to encourage Breeze readers to pick up some beer at one of their locations. And that goes for all of the excellent venues we’ve been lucky enough to play in the last year: Peirano’s – Ventura, The Nest – Ojai, Lucky Fools Pub – Moorpark, MadeWest – Ventura, to name just a few. These places need our support. Besides being some of the only places to hear/play live music, they also provide so much to the community.
Singer/Songwriter Karyn 805
How are you holding up?
Karyn 805: I’m coping very well right now. I think I’ve gone through a variety of emotions during this time: disbelief, fear, sadness, stress, acceptance, and finally a realization that this time may be a gift to slow down a bit more, enjoy the small wonders around especially in nature and have more time to write more songs and to check in with family and friends through Zoom or FaceTime.
Are you actively playing and writing?
Karyn 805: I have continued to play music daily, but now I have more time to create new songs (which is my passion) and work on new covers. Before the “Stay at Home” policy there was less time for this because I was performing regularly and spending a lot of time going over my sets.
Since the policy was enacted, I’ve written 3 songs – two deal with Covid 19; one is called “Corona” and it echoes my first impressions and emotions regarding this whole Twilight Zone experience; the second one, “It’s Just Who I Am” is a tribute to all who work in the medical field: nurses, doctors, and all the staff. I have three doctors in the family and when my daughter-in-law Nina volunteered to go to NYC to help on their front lines, I asked my son how she has the strength and courage to do this, he answered, “It’s just who she is.” That said it all, and his words and her bravery gave me the inspiration to write that song. She has shared it with her friends who are on already in this “war zone” fighting this pandemic. I just hope they realize how much they are appreciated. The other original, “Siren’s Song” is a bluesy, seductive tune which I had fun coming up with a nice riff on my guitar at the end.
How do you think this pandemic will change Ventura?
Karyn 805: I think the music scene will change in the near future. Of course, musicians need to perform, many are doing live-streaming, but there is nothing like performing to a live audience! (I miss this!) It will be hard for venues like restaurants to make enough money to pay musicians when they are limited in the number of people they can have. However, with a bit of creativity, there will likely be solutions. We all need to be innovative until we have a safe vaccine at which time the music scene can get back to what has been normal.
Bill Rotella, Singer/Songwriter, Amber & Smoke
How are you holding up during this Stay at Home mandate?
Bill: I’m holding up as well as can be expected. We in Ventura County are fortunate to have coast lines and trails to help us weather these challenging times. I’m taking advantage of this time I’ve been afforded to create music.
Are you still working?
Bill: Yes, I just filmed a show for Beverly Hills TV and I’m streaming two concerts for the Beverly Hills Virtual Art Show this month. I’m also streaming shows for the Center For Spiritual Living and for BIG BIG SLO productions in San Luis Obispo.
Do you find you’re playing music more…or less now?
Bill: I’m always writing, recording, playing no matter what’s happening but I’m performing far less due to venue closures.
You have new music right? Any inspired by the recent state of affairs?
Bill: I just wrote and released a new song born from quarantine called “River of Smoke.” It is the title song of my new album “River of Smoke ~ a Retrospective” which was released May 1. I recorded the title song, and many songs on the album, with Ventura County’s Doug Pettibone. Doug and I recorded together in the late ’80s at renowned Sound City recording studios in Van Nuys.
Have you hosted any livestreams or Facebook events?
Bill: I hosted 7 episodes of “Live @ 5” on Facebook. It was a happy hour hang more than a concert. It was a cool way to stay connected with friends and fans and they really dug reconnecting not just with me but with each other. My last show had 700+ comments, like they were in a bar chatting with each other. We toasted, did rock ‘n’ roll trivia, I shared some vinyl with them and sang songs from my new album as well as some nuggets from my favorite artists. However, I must admit it was pretty strange creating conversation with a distant and silent audience while singing into an ipad …from my living room. Now with the new album released and more time on my hands (those shows require prep!) I will resume “LIVE @ 5” in June. My streaming capabilities will be upgraded by then.
Any other thoughts you’d like to share?
Bill: Music brings people together. If ever we needed to be reminded of the magic of music this is that time. Some say you don’t know what you have ’til it’s gone (live music venues) but I think many people have always valued live music venues. They just really miss connecting with each other and experiencing music together. Listening to good live music collectively is just a great moving experience. I am grateful that VenturaRocks.com allows us to keep sharing and delivering music during these unprecedented times. They are in service to our community. Thanks for allowing me to share my music. Everyone please stay safe. Together we will get through this.
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.