Ventura Music Scene 2/21/23 – 3/5/23

Ventura Music Scene
by Pam Baumgardner
The rescheduled River Bottom Sessions’ Inaugural Bluegrass Festival is set for Saturday, March 2, noon to 7 pm, at Las Palmas de Ojai with performances by Tarantula Banjo, Ellie Rollins Band, The Van Allen Twins and Chris Murphy, and headlining the event is Mark Masson’s Jam Grass and Moonsville. Tickets can be found on EventBrite.

Jon Gindick has put together an acoustic blues night at Greater Goods in Meiners Oaks with fellow musicians, Ralph Carter, RJ Mischo, Bill Flores, TD Lind and Vaughn Montgomery. The show starts at 7 pm with donations accepted at the door.

Punk rockers John Doe and Exene are back at it taking X out on the road with a date at the Oxnard Performing Arts Center on Sunday, March 24. It worth mentioning that Doe and Exene will be the special guests for the Psychedelic Furs when they play the Ventura Theater on Tuesday, May 14.

Ventura Music Hall has several great acts coming up in the next two weeks including The White Buffalo on Thursday February 22; Health, an American noise rock/industrial band on Saturday March 2; and East LA legends, Los Lobos, on Sunday, March 3.

Taking a break from playing huge arenas and festivals this past year including two shows at Arena in LA this month and with more tour dates continuing through June in Europe, Danny Carrey, drummer for Tool, returns for a spirited night of jazz playing with The Doug Webb Group. If you’re a fan of Tool, or just enjoy some pretty hardcore jazz, then do yourself a favor and secure tickets now for Saturday, March 30 at

You might want to snag your tickets for Forever Motown returning to the Rubicon with six performances June 6 – June 9. Performers include members of the Marvelettes, the Temptations, The Spinners and more. Find out more at

Quick Notes: Limon y Sal has In Stone upstairs every Sunday afternoon 1-4 pm; Duke’s Beach Grill is offering up live music early Saturday evenings with Mark Cross on February 24 and The Zepp Heads on March 2; Margarita Villa in the Ventura Harbor is back to live music on the weekend starting Saturday February 24 with 805 Crosscut; a Tribute to Leonard Bernstein, American Songbook will be held at the Ojai Underground on Sunday February 25; Shawn Jones has a vinyl release party for his latest offering, “In my Blood,” at the Grape on Friday, March 1;
Tierra Rejada Golf Club in Moorpark has more live music with 805 Social Club on Friday, February 23, and Recharged on Saturday March 2; and 311 has two dates at the Majestic Ventura Theater on Tuesday, March 5, and Wednesday March 6 with Sitting on Stacy to warm up the crowd.

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

Ventura Music Scene 2/7/24 – 2/20/24

Ventura Music Scene
by Pam Baumgardner

There are two traditional days this month to go out and enjoy music, the first of course is Mardi Gras on Tuesday, February 13. Several venues will have live music with a Mardi Gras theme, but the biggest event I found would be in Santa Paula at Rabalais’ Bistro with D.on Darox and the Melody Joy Bakers. D.on is the perfect band for this occasion with their unique brand of roots, blues, and swampy jazz in the vein of New Orleans Jazz. Along with the perfect music is the perfect venue which always features home cooking with Cajun roots and a bar which serves Mint Julep and Hurricanes. Reservations are highly recommended.

Then the following day of course it’s Valentine’s Day with several establishments hiring live music to accompany this romantic night out. Just a couple of venues include Café Fiore with Donna Butler, The Grape with Eric Harrington and Friends featuring Valentine ballads, Seth Andre will be at Moofish Café in the Crowne Plaza and the Blue Moon Boys with Elvis covers at the Manhattan in Camarillo.

And then over President’s Day weekend, it’s the 7th annual Country Bar Crawl whichfalls on Saturday, February 17. While all venues are open to the public, you will need to purchase one of their special cups to be a part of the event (red for being in a committed relationship and blue for single and ready to mingle). The cup gets you exclusive food and drink specials at each of the venues (Early bird specials at Here’s the rundown: check in at 3 pm with the first band, Mike Scully at 4 pm at The Blue Agave (185 E. Santa Clara). Then at 5 pm it’s Lousy Little Gods at the Star Lounge, The Twist on Main has 33 Thunder at 6 pm and finally back across the street at The Six, Chad Baker (Nashville recording artist) at 7 pm. This event helps to benefit which supports the children of victims from the Route 91 Harvest mass shooting in Las Vegas.

Tickets went on sale for Frank Turner & the Sleeping Souls with Skinny Lister at the Ventura Theater for Friday, March 15 and tickets are still available for Save Ferris at the Ventura Music Hall for Saturday, March 16.

Quick Notes: Adrian Floy and THC play Rincon Brewery on Friday, February 9; singer/songwriter, Shane Alexander plays the Ojai Underground Exchange on Saturday, February 10; Chopper Fest at the Fairgrounds will have Zepp Heads, One Foot in the Grave and Tattoed Songbird on Sunday, February 11; Porno for Pyros play the Ventura Theater on Saturday, February 17; a tribute to Tina Turner called Always Tina will be held on Saturday, February 10, at Copper Blues; and Numbskull Productions will bring Tiquana Panthers, Sweet Reaper and Softjaw to Mrs. Olsons on Sunday, February 18.

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

Ventura Music Scene 1/24/24 – 2/6/24

Ventura Music Scene
by Pam Baumgardner
There’s already a lot going on for 2024, so let’s get right to it. You should consider treating yourself to an intimate show with singer/songwriter, Nathan McEuen, on Friday, January 26, at the Ojai Underground. I became a fan when he had a week-night residency at Amigo’s several years ago, and I’ve played his original music on my radio show at Caps Media in the past. He’s a sweetheart of a guy and uber talented coming from a musical family including his brother, Jonathan, and father John McEuen of the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band fame.

Namba Performing Arts will be hosting their 2024 Winter Gala, a celebration of the diverse tapestry of talent in our community as well as to honor their late founde, Julia Campbell Namba. Featured performers include Grammy Award winning jazz pianist, Greg Karukas and Mexico City based singer/songwriter, Maya Burns. While I’m happy to report this one is sold out, that doesn’t mean you can’t still help keep Namba going by making a donation, large or small, to

On Friday, February 2, The Deer Lodge hosts British singer/songwriter, Pete Molinari, but also on the bill will be Robin Taylor Zander. Now if this name sounds familiar and you’re a fan of classic rock, well it should; his dad, Robin Zander, is founding member of Cheap Trick with whom he’s been touring with the past few years. I caught Cheap Trick in 2022 at the Ventura County Fair where it was a treat to see father and son on the same stage.

The Beatrice Wood Center for the Arts will host a Women’s Voices Concert on Sunday afternoon, January 28, featuring Grammy nominee Janet Robin, national radio chart topper Rebecca Folsom; International Singer-Songwriter Associate (ISSA) Entertainer of the Year Charu Suri; poet & NYT Bestseller Katie Hendricks; and #1 iTunes top Singer/Songwriter, Kris Angelis.

Tickets are on sale now for 311 at the Ventura Theater for Tuesday, March 5 and recently added to Ventura Music Hall are Los Lobos for Sunday, March 3, Guttermouth with Buck-O-Nine on Thursday April 18 and Steel Pulse for Friday, April 19.

Quick Notes: Julian Marley and the Uprising play the Ventura Music Hall on Wednesday, January 24; a special Sunday afternoon birthday bash will be held on January 28 at the Garage with Bloody Mary Morning in the mix starting at 3 pm; The Trivle Omdobble play Topa Topa Brewing on Sunday January 28; Jesse Harris and his band with special guest Katie Skene will play Cantara Cellars on Friday, February 2; Phil Salazar and Tom Corbett play the Ojai Underground on Saturday, February 3; and the Old-Time Country Bluegrass Gospel Music Association standing monthly gig at the Poinsettia Pavilion falls on Sunday, February 4;

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

Ventura Music Scene 1/10/24 – 1/23/24

Ventura Music Scene
by Pam Baumgardner
Happy New Year! Just like every year before, my hope for our community is that more people get out and take in live music here Ventura while supporting our local venues. My personal New Year resolution on the other hand, is to enjoy and support even more singer/songwriters.

After the closing of Copa Cubana last month in the Ventura Harbor Village, Jerry McWorter has relocated his popular Tuesday Blues Day to a new location, this time downtown Ventura at the Twist on Main; hours remain the same 7-9 pm.

Thursday, January 11, The White House will feature a special night of live music featuring Rick Marcel who has worked with Kool & the Gang, The Isley Brothers, Stephanie Mills and more. Marcel brings a full band playing all your favorite boogie, disco and dance favorites. Call to RSVP tickets (with or without dinner) to (805) 320-8655.

Another Concert for Causes show will be held at the Ventura Theater on Saturday January 13 to benefit Autism Speaks which is a non-profit autism awareness organization and the largest autism research organization in the United States. It sponsors autism research and conducts awareness and outreach activities aimed at families, governments, and the public. This special event will feature local bands such as The Guitar & Whiskey Club, Raised on Vinyl, Fallen Saints and the Allegations.

It’s been a while since Cadillac Zack has brought one of his shows to Cantara, so I’m pleased as punch that he brings legendary blues and rock band, Canned Heat, to Cantara Cellars for a show on Thursday, January 18. There will be an opening set by Eugene Hideaway Bridges. I assume I don’t need to tell you how inspiring it is to be in the presence of a band who played Woodstock. Secure your tickets on

Tickets are on sale now for Kenny Wayne Shepherd Band (Dirt on my Diamonds Tour) at the Oxnard Performing Arts Center for Friday, April 19; and Save Ferris for March 16 at Ventura Music Hall.

Quick Notes: don’t forget Bombay Bar and Grill has moved their Blues Night to Thursdays starting at 7 pm; catch Black Flag at the Ventura Music Hall on Sunday, January 14; Barrelhouse Wailers return to the Ojai Underground for a show on Saturday, January 13; Nashville-based singer/songwriter Halley Neal plays Namba on Saturday, January 20; Agent Orange plays Gigi’s on Saturday, January 20; enjoy classical music with violinist Phillip Levy at Beatric Wood Center for the Arts on Sunday, January 21 (program includes Beethoven, Tchaikovsky and more); get your dancing shoes on for this month’s Sunday afternoon of swing dancing at House of Dance featuring Swing Shift on Sunday, January 21; and Café Fiore has an open mic and jam on Tuesday, January 23.

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

Ventura Music Scene 12/27/23 – 1/9/24

Ventura Music Scene
by Pam Baumgardner
Well, we’re at the close of another year and looking forward to the new one. I’m typically not one for looking back, but rather one who anticipates all the good things to come. That being said, now is as good of time as any to reminisce, just a bit. It’s been almost fifteen years since I decided to get involved with Ventura’s music scene hoping to inspire people to get out and enjoy live music while supporting our local venues and artists by launching It was ten years ago that Sheldon Brown, publisher of the Ventura Breeze, invited me to write this music scene column. Since I got involved keeping my finger on the pulse of our music community, the most important thing I’ve learned is that the music scene is a living entity. You have to nurture it. The venues (God love them) need to promote, the artists need to captivate and entertain, and just as importantly, us music loving fans need to support by not only showing up, but show up with our wallets opened. Several venues provide no cover charge, so they especially need your patronage; buy a beverage, order up some food, tell others about the great time you had, and please don’t forget about the artists, especially our beloved singer/songwriters; buy their swag, order their music, leave a tip. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, it takes three elements to make a music scene, the venues, the artists, and us music fans, together, we make Ventura Rock!

Now on to bringing in the New Year. Most venues will have a special celebration on Sunday, December 31, but not all at midnight. Some pub/wine houses are celebrating the “UK” New Year at 4 pm, others at 9 pm aligning with the New York dropping of the ball in Time Square, but most will ring in 2024 at midnight our time with entertainment and party favors. My column (as well as only lists live music, so if you don’t see a venue here (Bombay’s, the Six and others), it doesn’t mean they’ll be closed, they’ll most likely rock in the year with a DJ. No matter your preference, I recommend you take a look and see what’s available, call the venue to secure reservations and find out if they’ll have a cover charge so you’ll be prepared. And speaking of being prepared, if you’re planning to tie one on, I highly recommend you either have a designated driver, the phone number of a taxi service or have a rideshare app on your phone (Uber, Lyft).

Go to VenturaRocks full calendar page and search NYE for  all live music listings to bring in the new year!

Quick Notes: Copa Cubana has permanently closed their doors their final show was December 19; Nick Waterhouse plays the Deer Lodge on Thursday, December 28; Rincon Brewery continues with live music on Friday, December 29, with Milo Sledge Trio; and Namba hosts All Ears described as a musical alchemy on Saturday, January 6.

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

Ventura Music Scene 12/13/23 – 12/26/23

Ventura Music Scene
by Pam Baumgardner
I hope you are enjoying the holiday season, there are a few more opportunities to catch live music if you need a boost. On one end of the spectrum, the Rubicon Theater will host a Saturday afternoon Tiny Tots Christmas Concert on December 23 (2-4 pm) featuring enchanting songs of the season that will tug at your holiday heartstrings.

And then on the other end of the spectrum, if you appreciate a wicked sense of humor that is, then you won’t want to miss loveable punk rockers, The Vandals, when they play the Majestic Ventura Theater on Friday, December 22. This is the band’s 28th Annual Christmas Formal where they’re sure to play such punk holiday favorites as “My First Christmas as a Women,” “Oi to the World,” “Grandpa’s Last X-mas” and “I Don’t Believe in Santa Claus.”

Non-holiday events include a fundraiser to help get Red Headed Stephchild to the International Blues Challenge in Memphis next month. The event will be held at Bombay’s on Saturday December 16 from 2-6 pm with performances from Ray Jaurique Trio, Hot Roux, American Standard and Red Headed StephChild.

Singer/songwriter Amanda McBroom plays Beatrice Wood Center for the Arts in Ojai on Sunday December 17. So many of her songs have been recorded by a wide variety of artists such as Barry Manilow, Judy Collins, Anne Murray, Harry Belafonte, Kurt Cobain and of course Bette Midler who hit a number one hit with her tune, “The Rose”.

Albert Lee will be celebrating his 80th birthday at the Twist on Main with Hot Roux supporting the phenomenal Grammy award winning guitarist. Lee has worked with the likes of the Everly Brothers, Eric Clapton, Emmylou Harris and more. This ticketed event falls on Friday, December 22 with tickets available on the website.

Keep in mind, you should firm up your New Year’s Eve party plans sooner than later. My next column will highlight some of the bigger parties, but meanwhile, go to and on the calendar, just search “NYE” for parties throughout Ventura County.

Quick Notes: Rey Fresco opens for Ozomatli at the Ventura Music Hall on Thursday, December 14; Simon Phillips returns to the Grape for another sure-to-sell-out performance on Friday, December 15; Red Hot Cholo Peppers play Copper Blues on Friday December 15; Brendan Willing James plays the Farmer and the Cook in Ojai on Sunday December 17; and Tribal Me has reformed and renamed the group, The Jelly Jam Band.

Though I’ve placed the Pam Baumgardner Music Hour on hiatus after 200 shows, I’d like to invite you to start your very own radio show on CAPS Media’s KPPQ local non-profit radio station. You can do a talk/podcast type show, or play music of any genre. Reach out to the program director at

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

Ventura Music Scene 11/29/23 – 12/12/23

Ventura Music Scene
by Pam Baumgardner
There are a number of events lined up to get you into the holiday swing of things if Thanksgiving didn’t already do that. Let’s start with the Ventura Winter Wine Walk and Holiday Street Fair where at the corner of California and Main live music will abound with dancing in the street along with a “snowfall” which delights all attendees young and old. Live music runs 2-8 pm with Upstream, The Bomb and Adelaide. The street fair runs all day and is free to the public, but in order to participate in the wine walk, tickets should be purchased in advance as this one could sell out. Keep in mind all venues are open to the public at all times.

Then there is the 25th annual 4Kids 2Kids Toy Drive which will be held on Sunday afternoon, December 3, at Cantara Cellars in Camarillo with a stellar lineup including appearances from Nick St. Nicholas (Steppenwolf), Shawn Jones, Milo Sledge, RJ Mischo, Debbie Davies, Ray Jaurique Big Band, the Vonettes, Debbie Davies Steve and Sally Williams and more. The cost of admission is $10 and one unwrapped toy.

Doc the Halls, Holiday Blues at Namba is Saturday December 9 with electrifying blues tunes and soulful melodies which will include performances from Mint Dolphin, the Sea Hunters, Brasscals, Tom Collins, and the All-Star Blues Band featuring Fito De la Parra (Canned Heat), RJ Mischo, Rick Holstrum, and Hank Van Sykle…oh! And of course, the man himself, Doc Ventura!

The Majestic Ventura Theater’s 10th annual Holiday Sing-a-Long featuring Disney and holiday songs will be held on Sunday, December 10 from 3:30 – 6:30 pm with the price of admission as one new unwrapped toy per group.

And you may want to continue your celebration of Hanukkah this year on Sunday, December 10, with your family and friends downtown at California and Main from 4 – 6:30 pm where a night full of unity, light and community awaits along with live music from Cedars of Lebanon. This free event also includes dreidel fun and games, face painting and other activities for the kids along with a candle lighting ceremony.

Non-holiday type events include a night with Willie Porter who will perform at Namba on Sunday, December 3 (He will have performed the night before at the legendary McCabe’s Guitar Shop in Santa Monica). Porter is an American rock musician singer/songwriter who was inducted into the Wisconsin Area Music Industry Hall of Fame earlier this year. He’s currently touring in support of his 13th release, The Ravine.

On the same night, an amazing singer/songwriter, Sara Lee Guthrie performs at the new space at the Ojai Underground. If Guthrie sounds familiar, well it should! She is daughter to Arlo Guthrie and granddaughter of Woody Guthrie and she’s been out on tour wrapping up the year with this date in Ojai.

Quick Notes: there’s a West Coast Jazz Jam at Copa Cubana on Thursday, November 30; the rescheduled Brit Floyd, 50 Years of Dark Side of the Moon is Friday, December 1 at the Ventura Theater; Birdbrain, Bonnie Boy and Duncan and the Dragonslayers play early evening sets at Bombay’s on Saturday, December 2; The Struts play Ventura Music Hall on Tuesday, December 5; after recently opening for Yachtley Crew at the Ventura Theater, Casual Business will play Topa Topa Brewing (Downtown, Thompson Blvd. location) on Saturday, December 9; and Margarita Villa will be taking a winter hiatus from live music after the Sunday, December 3 performance from Déjà vu Three.

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

Ventura Music Scene 11/15/23 – 11/28/23

Ventura Music Scene
by Pam Baumgardner

Thanksgiving is just around the corner and the tradition of getting out the evening before and hanging with friends taking in live music continues with several venues offering up live music. Many are calling it “Friendsgiving” though that is typically reserved for Thanksgiving-themed feasts eaten with friends (as opposed to family). I look at it as a way for people to decompress preemptively before hanging with the fam.

Now if you were to go to calendar of events and sorted by the date 11/22/23, at press time, you would find 14 venues in Ventura County with live music. Here now, just the Ventura venues I’ve found with live music on Wednesday the 22nd:
Bombay Bar and Grill with Blues Night feat. Milo Sledge
Vaquero y Mar with Tribal Me
The Cave with Bobby Apostol
Winchesters with The Van Allen Twins
Boatyard Pub with Frank Barajas
Leashless Brewing with Mark Masson
Aqua Beachfront Bar with Déjà vu Too
The Twist on Main with a “battle of the bands”
Tony’s Pizzeria with The Stoneflys and Johnny Knows No One

On to other music related matters starting with the River Bottom Sessions Inaugural Bluegrass Music Festival. This one will be held on Saturday, November 18 from noon to 7 pm at Las Palmas de Ojai. Artists schedule to perform include Tarantula Banjo, Ellie Rollins Band, The Van Allen Twins and Chris Murphy followed up with headliners Mark Masson’s Jam Grass and Moonsville. This event is part of raising funds and awareness for local nonprofit, Ojai Valley Land Conservancy (OVLC). This promises to be a family-friendly event, children 12 and under are free. Tickets available on
This event is being rescheduled due to pending rain.

On sale recently: Ventura Theater added Nekromantix for Saturday, December 2 and tickets for The Third Mind featuring Dave Alvin on February 3 have gone on sale for the Ventura Music Hall.

Quick Notes: 4th Impact at the Oxnard Performing Arts Center has been postponed; Neon Blonde featuring covers from the 80s plays an early show (3-6) at Bombay’s on Saturday November 18; Tony Bennett’s Pianist for the last five years, Tom Rainier, will play an intimate show at the Beatrice Wood Centers for the Arts on Sunday, November 19; Barrelhouse Wailers is the guest band for the next House of Dance Sunday afternoon show hosted by Channel Cities Jazz Club on November 19; Fear with Lower Class Brats play the Ventura Music Hall on Saturday, November 25; Tommy Quayle returns to Namba for a show on Saturday, November 25.

If you’ve ever thought about hosting your own radio show on CAPS Media’s KPPQ here in Ventura, the station is back to hosting open houses and training sessions making it easier than ever for you to do so. Please contact Elizabeth Rodeno at

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

Ventura Music Scene 11/1/23 – 11/14/2023

Ventura Music Scene
by Pam Baumgardner

We’re at the time of year where we don’t know what the heck to wear when heading out to take in live music. Is it going to be cold? Hot? Windy? What’s going on? It changes not only day to day, but hour to hour. Your best bet is to wear layers. You’re welcome.

It turns out there may be tickets available after all for the acoustic Soul Asylum show in Ojai for Saturday, November 11. This is a rare opportunity to see Dave Pirner and Ryan Smith perform in such an intimate setting. I was surprised to no longer see “sold out” on the Deer Lodge website (; my advice is to snag ‘em before they’re really gone!

The next free Ojai Pops Orchestra show will be on Sunday November 5 at Libbey Bowl starting at 1:30 in the afternoon with classical woodwind quintet, Ventvm Qvintet followed up with Tuxedo Junction Jazz Band featuring vocalist Freda Ramey.

Poncho Sanchez returns to the Grape with his brand of hot Latin jazz with two shows on Sunday November 5. At press time, the 6 pm show was sold out with tickets still available for the 8 pm show.

Tickets are on sale now for the next Chick Singer Night returning to the Sound Palace in Oxnard for a show on Saturday, November 4. This time they’ll feature Krystal Park, Jess Bush, Rachael Lynda, Lois Mahalva and Eliya Frantz. Chick Singer Night started over 30 years ago in Chicago and has grown nationally with a local chapter here in Ventura County headed up by Jodi Farrell.

I am totally intrigued with the “Beatles vs Stones, a Musical Showdown” event at the Oxnard Performing Arts Center on Saturday, November 11. Taking the part of “Beatles” is the tribute band Abbey Road, and on behalf of “Stones” is the tribute band, Satisfaction. This is a national touring show having performed on stages coast to coast and having done residencies at Harrah’s in Reno and Laughlin for five months. Tickets available through

Concerts just announced include Ozomatli for the Ventura Music Hall on December 14 and you know it’s going be a tongue-in-cheek night of punk fun when The 28th Annual Christmas Formal will feature The Vandals this year at the Majestic Ventura Theater on Friday, December 22.

Quick Notes: Lowered Expectations will celebrate Dia de los Muertos on Wednesday, November 1, at Vaquero y Mar; Rose Valley Thorns play the Ojai Underground on Thursday, November 2; Bombay’s first Saturday live music show features Blurry Stars, Dielectric and Duncan & the Dragonslayers on November 4, 6-9 pm; D.on Darox and the Melody Joy Bakers take over Sans Souci on Saturday, November 4; and Luna Shade out of Colorado will bring reggae fusion to the Garage on Saturday, November 11.

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

Cirith Ungol

Cirith Ungol photoCirith Ungol will be winding down their careers on a high note this next year.
By: Pam Baumgardner

Ventura is full of musicians who live and breath music. It’s one of the reasons I love this town so much. One of those bands is Cirith Ungol whose history sounds like a rock opera, and if I didn’t know Robert Garven (drummer) personally, I would have laid money that their story was pure fiction.
From practicing in a bedroom here in Ventura in the 70s to playing arena festivals in Europe, it truly is an inspiring story. And though the point of this article isn’t to provide their history (I hope a book and/or movie will be in the works), the point is to pay homage to Cirith Ungol who will be winding down their careers on a high note this next year.
In 1992, after releasing four albums, a number of band personnel changes, and frustrations with the industry, the stress took its toll, and the band officially called it quits. Then in 1998, co-founder, Jerry Fogle died of liver failure. There would be calls for the band to reunite, requests for interviews, and a growing fan base in Europe, but the two remaining core members, Garven and Tim Baker had become “civilians” working their normal jobs and living uncomplicated lives for just about twenty-five years. Then in 2015, Garven, Baker, former guitarists Greg Lindstrom and Jimmy Barraza got together and started to play in a rehearsal space where I’m told, the magic was rediscovered. After bassist Flint declined to rejoin, Jarvis Leatherby of Night Demon (huge fan of the band), stepped in.
Then 2016 Cirith Ungol headlined the Frost and Fire II festival at the Majestic Ventura Theater. I was there that night and the packed house of metal fans from around the world cheered and welcomed back the band with open arms. In Garven’s words, “When the ancient stars aligned, Cirith Ungol crawled out of its ancient slumber, to wreak havoc on an unsuspecting world.” Two days later, the City of Ventura declared October 10, 2016 to be Cirith Ungol Day.

Fast forward to today, after playing metal festivals in Europe to packed stadiums and venues, Cirith Ungol has announced they will retire from live performances at the end of 2024.
Cirith Ungol will release their sixth full-length album, Dark Parade this month via Metal Blade Records and will play a special record release show on October 20 at the Roxy in West Hollywood. Not only will this be the bands first Los Angeles live performance in thirty-five years, but it will commemorate The Roxy’s 50th anniversary with the band playing their new release in its entirety followed by a full set of their classic material.
I can’t imagine what a thrill it has been since reuniting and playing to packed crowds, but it couldn’t have happened to a better group of guys. Congratulations Cirith Ungol!