Polly Hoganson The MusicMuse

I am super excited to join Pam and VenturaRocks.com as a guest writer on a semi regular basis!  I hope to bring insight as a former music venue owner, music lover, indie advocate and longtime resident of Ventura County on the music and art scene of the place I hold dear.   I will write out loud about – “how to” ideas for the DIY Indie band/artist, shine a spotlight on up and coming musicians, bring exclusive interviews of stars in the music industry who make the 805 their home, cool new music and find answers to – Can Ventura really be the new Austin?

My goal is to continue to build our Ventura County music community and focus on how amazing we are.  I’d love to hear from musicians who either are from or play in the 805 along with promoters, and all you music fans!  Send us the happening news.  Message me at therealmusicjunkie1@gmail.com   Let’s do this!


Benefit Concert Scheduled for Polly

The music community is coming together to help a woman who has been the heart and soul of the Ventura music scene for many years, Polly Hoganson.  Polly and her husband Steve were pivotal in helping so many artists launch their careers, giving them a safe place to play as well as bringing national acts to our town. Now Polly needs our help.  There will be a benefit concert on November 24 at Bombay Bar and Grill, 143 S California St, Ventura, from 3:00 pm to midnight. The benefit will help with medical expenses and recovery for a much needed operation.

At press time these are the artists schedule to perform:  The White Buffalo, Timmy Curran, Meiko, Shane Alexander, Todd Hannigan, Lee Koch, Guy Martin, Tommy Marsh, 50 Sticks of Dynamite, Ray Jaurique & the Uptown Boys, Kyle Hunt, Jade Hendrix, Justine Bennett, Jamie Drake, Shelby Figueroa, Pi Jacobs, Nathan McEuen, Xoc Moraza and Roger Keiaho and more!  (Added note 11/20: The more includes:  Calico the Band, Max Kasch Trio, Chelsea Williams and Salty Suites, Seth Petersen)

This will be a full night of amazing music for someone who has helped launch and nurture the careers of so many musicians. Tickets will be available at the door $15 from 3-6pm; after 6pm $20. Also scheduled is a raffle/silent auction.

Click here to Purchase tickets in advance.  Or Click Here to make a Donation.

Thank you for your help.

(Added note 11/20: contributions from Guitar Center, The Watermark, Amigos, Saltzers, Betty B, Blenders in the Grass, Channel Island Packers, Four Brix Winery, Got Rhythm Dance, Pulse Drumming, Rubicon, Squashed Grapes, Totally Local VC Dinner series, Trufflehound, Ventura Wine Walk, Winchesters, Yoga Jones, Garman’s, Architexture, The Armory, Sweet Pea Floral, BluesAholics, Pin Ups, DW Drums, Pete’s Breakfast house, Guitar Tech Corner, JD Wolf Photography, Willing Guitars, VenturaRocks.com, Robin Lee, Mary Osborne Surf Camp, Edwin C Dies, Suzanne Blanco Massage, Kim Pickering Print, Brendan B. Willing art, Delaney Gibson art, Guy Martin DVD & shirts, Kat Wasden, Shawn Jones music, Pi Jacobs music, Print from Amanda Peacock, Where2Print posters, Jodi Farrel voice lesson, Chrstine Marie intro violin…. and more coming in!!!)
Heart & Soul

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
Pam @VenturaRocks.com
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. www.danisgrimm.com

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 www.Gindick.com.

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: http://venturabreeze.com/10.30.13.pdf]

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

Ventura’s Jazz Renaissance

Kudos to our venues for embracing jazz!  Jazz-bnw
Ever since California 66 went out of business, there hasn’t been a solid jazz scene here in Ventura.  It’s been way too long.   Since CA 66, you’d see from time to time jazz trios pop up at Wine venues or at the Pierpont Inn and definitely at Sidecar, but we have too much talent here in Ventura to have an occasional gig at a random venue.  But now, we do have a jazz renaissance occurring.  Squashed Grapes has been heavily supporting jazz, and of all places, Amigos has come on board.  Jazz is becoming more common and we’re delighted to see over the past six months that Zoey’s, W20, and now Bombay’s are taking this unique American art form for a test drive.

And as this renaissance is occurring it’s quite interesting to see our local talent collaborating and restructuring their lineup.  It not unusual to have guest players sit in, or to feature musicians from L.A. or from other parts of the country or world.  At this point, I would normally list off local musicians, but I know I will leave some off, and so I won’t.  But know that you guys kick ass. Yea, I know it’s jazz…but you really do ROCK!

And to be frank, jazz is completely therapeutic. To sit in a lovely environment, with friends, sipping a glass of nice wine while listening to extraordinary musicianship…well, it takes you to a different place.  And sometimes you’ll be so connected to the players as the band will be working on a particular piece that the room becomes a part of the process and they become engrossed and their instantaneous feedback of appreciation with applause and cheering after a solo, well, it’s just amazing…yea, there’s definitely passion with jazz.

And whether it’s Avant-garde jazz, Nu jazz, Latin jazz, or traditional jazz, we know it’s an acquired taste.  And so we hope that our venues will continue to support this art form as patrons become accustom to where they can DEPEND on jazz.  Because as the saying goes, “Build it and they will come.”

We invite you out to support our jazz scene.  See you there!


Zoey’s Love Notes 1/19/13

A VERY special evening of song from some of Zoey’s favorites. Out of love for what they do, these talented artists gathered together on this one night to thank Zoey’s for providing an environment of community, family, collaboration and creativity. A truly magical evening for those in attendance as well as for the artists who shared the stage in support of Zoey’s.

Interview – Lee Koch

Interview with Lee Koch

Ventura Rocks sat down with Lee Koch just after his sound check before his show at Zoey’s recently.Lee Koch

Ventura Rocks:  Ok, let’s just get this out of the way right now.  Now do you pronounce your last name?

Lee: Cook, like C.O.O.K.

Ventura Rocks:  Doesn’t look like that at all.

Lee:  Not at all. K.O.C.H., but I believe I’ve come across other people over the past few years that spell and pronounce their name the same way.  I never thought I’d meet another person who spells and pronounces their name the same way except my family.

Ventura Rocks: And where are you from originally?

Lee: Temecula, California.

Ventura Rocks: Do they have a big music scene there in Temecula?

Lee: No. Not at all!  There are touring acts who play like at the casinos around there, but that’s about it.  And then there are bar bands and cover bands, but there’s no venues like Zoey’s here [in Ventura], where you can pay ten bucks and see a really great band you’ve never heard of.

Ventura Rocks: Right!

Lee: Actually one day my wife and I hope to do something like that some down there in that area.

VR: Your own club?

Lee:  Keep in touch with Polly and Steve [Zoey’s owners].

Ventura Rocks: Absolutely!

Lee: They’ll show us how to do it out in that area and guide us.

[At this point Nicole Koch stops by and gives hubby a kiss.  Nicole is pregnant with their first baby, and she is glowing! After Nicole walks away Lee is now glowing as much as his wife.]

Ventura Rocks: Your first?

Lee: Yea.  We’re about halfway, she’s due February 1st.

Ventura Rocks: (Don’t you love when the man uses “we” when referring to pregnancy? Their love for one another is almost tangible!)  Wow! Congratulations!  Do you know if it’s a girl or a boy?

Lee: No! We’re going to wait. We like surprises.

Ventura Rocks: You crazy kids.


Ventura Rocks:  Well that’s awesome.

Lee: Yea, we’re excited.

Ventura Rocks: How long have you been married?

Lee:  Two and half years.

Ventura Rocks: Well that’s super cool.

Lee: Yea, a lot of pivotal happenings going on right now with music, and obviously a baby; it’s good; it feels like you’re really living life.  After being on the road, and then getting that news and doing that whole surreal TV thing!

Ventura Rocks:  So tell me how the “TV thing” came about.

Lee: Well actually I had stepped out of music to pursue a bakery with my wife and my older brother.  I have friends who already run one in Temecula so I worked there to educate ourselves so one day we could open one of our own.

Ventura Rocks: Now are you a baker or a business people?

Lee: Neither.

Ventura Rocks: (laughs) I’M A MUSICIAN!

Lee: Yea! But we just wanted to try a different avenue and we’re both hard workers and we thought we’d collect some business savvy along the way.  We already learned how to bake decently.  And then The Voice came along with an email from a guy who manages the runner up from the first season.  His girlfriend saw me do a show at Zoey’s, she bought a CD and brought it back home to him and said, “You gotta listen to this guy”.  At that time, his artist, Dia Frampton, was doing really well, she had an indie sort of voice and she ended up taking 2nd place on The Voice.  So her manager sent me this email, and I wrote back and said, “Thanks anyway, but I’m getting into baking and I’m not really going to perform music anymore.  You know, I’ll always write, but not perform anymore.

Ventura Rocks: You were really thinking you’d never perform again?

Lee:  Yea, I had actually quit.  I performed my last show at Zoey’s as a performing musician.

Ventura Rocks: Wasn’t that hard?

Lee: Kind of, but I never get too hung up on stuff.  You hear people say that they’re going to make it no matter what, against all odds, and that’s great, more power to them. I love hearing success stories.  But I don’t really beat things over the head.  I kind of do it until it gets exhausting.

Ventura Rocks: Do it as long as it feels right?

Lee:  Yea, I think I just felt stuck doing the local bar scene and I had come full circuit.  I love all those places and I’m so happy I got to meet all the great people I had, but I think I was just done after five years of doing it. I did an album I was really proud of and I said I did my music thing, now let’s see what else I can do.  I’d still do music for myself, my family and my friends.

Ventura Rocks: So you said no to The Voice.

Lee: Yea, I said no, and then he got back to me again and he said it seems like you have nothing to lose, why don’t you  try it out and maybe it will get you a couple of cool shows and sell some CDs from it, and get you a little bit of exposure.  So I said, Yea, he’s right, it would probably be fun and what if I actually got on TV; that would be a trip!  Something to tell my kids. And so it happened…barely, by the skin of my teeth.  There were 120 people that it got whittled down to that did the blind audition. I probably was like the 90th person to go and by then I thought all the teams would be full, but I grabbed the 48th spot out of 48th.

As soon as I made it onto a team, Nicole and I agreed that that was kind of the push we would need, the exposure we would need to get back into music and give it one more go. For all that to happen and to not try to jump back into music, it would almost be arrogant in a way.  Oh yea I could do this, but I’m not gonna… you know, people would kill to get that kind of exposure.

Ventura Rocks: Absolutely.

Lee:  It would almost disrespect the people that have been so supportive of my music by not pursuing it again.  And I thought, that’s not really my style. A lot of people had my back and a lot of people really supported me during the show. So the only thing to do, and the right thing to do would be hit the road again.  We hit the road in March, so that we’d be cross country while my episodes were airing, and that’s exactly how it played out.  A lot of people recognized me because the show was fresh, and I got to play a lot of venues that I would not have been able to otherwise. I pulled The Voice card and even if it’s not my idea of validation of good music. It’s still other people’s.  If someone famous tells them it’s good, then they believe it’s good. If that’s how they think of me as a good musician, then I’ll take it and I’ll go play for them and share my original stuff.  That was my main goal, to get my written stuff out there.

Ventura Rocks: What size audiences have you been playing for?

Lee: Some festivals with about 1200 people, but I’m use to 50-100. So anytime there’s a few hundred people, that’s a good size crowd for me.  I’m still an unknown in the industry for sure, even after being on national TV.  A lot of people are on national TV nowadays, it gets played up and a lot of the other contestants are like, “As soon as I get on NBC, I’ll be famous.  It’s surefire.”  But I didn’t’ think that going into it. There were a lot of people that were let down as they were getting eliminated, but I was totally content because I knew I would just run with the momentum until it stopped and then hopefully we had built our own organic momentum.  That’s kind of where it’s going.

Ventura Rocks:  You already had so many people who believed in you.

Lee: Yea definitely, the fans I do have, are super supportive, they’re like super fans…but not in a weird way like where they stalk me. I know most of them personally and they have become friends, some of my best friends these days are people that we’ve met at shows.  We just kept in touch and they really connected with my lyrics we usually have a lot in common, it’s just really cool.   So I just got to show some respect to them by continuing to do this music.  Like I said, I will always write, but I’m going to keep recording and performing for those people who want to come out; they really long to hear me play these songs, which is really flattering.

Ventura Rocks: You have a new project you’re working on now?

Lee:  A new album.  I’m going to go in next month where I did my debut album with Jesse Siebenberg and use pretty much the same formula, I’m going to introduce about 10-12 new songs. And we’re just going to build them with some great musicians that we know and some new ones who have freed up recently.

Ventura Rocks:  So the tour is wrapping up?

Lee:  The tours been great.  We’ve been on the road since March; we went up to Alaska, across the South to the East coast and back to do this West coast tour for the last two months.   So from March until now, mid September, we’ve only been home for about a month.

Ventura Rocks: You’re wife has been on the road with you?

Lee:  Oh yeah.  That’s the only way we’d do it. As long as we’re together whether it’s baking or music, we just want to be together, and now with our little baby.  Any extra money that we raise from this fundraiser that we’re doing through Kickstarter, which is done in four days…

Ventura Rocks:  How far are you away from your goal?

Lee:  We’re two-thirds.  We’re at 16 grand, we need 24.  If we do go over, by the grace of God, we’re going to put it towards a small motor home and take the baby out after the next album is done, and just keep doing this as a family.  And whatever musicians are brave enough to come along with the baby…we’ll see!

Lee Koch Note:  Lee made is target on his birthday 46 hours before the deadline.  Total pledges after all was said and done were $25,360.  Looking forward to the new release and watching Lee hit the road with family in tow…as long as it feels right.

We hope it’s for a very long time.

Interview – Camper Van Beethoven

Interview with David Lowery

Camper Van Beethoven (CVB) will be releasing their forthcoming studio album, La Costa Perdida on January 22, 2013.  This will mark the first studio album they’ve recorded together since 2004’s New Roman Times!

Camper Van Beethoven

Camper Van Beethoven – photo credit: Jason Thrasher

Ventura will be the first of three shows in preparation for PioneerTown Palace, the band’s 8th annual end of summer camp out near Joshua Tree.

Ventura Rocks:  We caught both Cracker and Camper Van Beethoven last summer for Indie West Fest at the Fairgrounds.  It was extremely cool being able to see both bands on the same bill.  And now Camper is returning for an intimate show at Zoey’s.

David Lowery:  Yea, We really enjoyed that.  There’s a long history between Camper and Cracker stopping there in Ventura playing the Ventura Theater and even before in some weird places in some small bar off of downtown in the 80’s with Camper.  So a lot of history with the area.

Ventura Rocks:  You have a new album coming out.  Can you let Camper fans know what to expect along with trying to explain the vibe that is Camper Van Beethoven to those who are not familiar with the band?

David Lowery:    Well Camper Van Beethoven originally came out of the punk rock alternative scene.  We have a lot of sort of exotic sort of folky / hillbilly, old gypsy music sort of element to what we’ve always done.  I don’t know how that all really came about.  We just kind of mixed those things together…the punk and early alternative sort of folky things.  And we’ve had an enduring following since the mid 80’s all over the world.

This album we have coming out, it’s pretty much laid right up the middle of what Camper does.   It’s a lot like our other records, but there is a sort of California scene to the whole record.  We’re not sure how that came out, it’s not a “California Girls” sort of record, but maybe a “Northern California Girls.”

Ventura Rocks:  What can we expect at Zoey’s?

David Lowery:  We’ll be playing a half a dozen songs off the new album a dozen or so off all the other albums.  It will be a good mixed bag.  We haven’t played in a few months.  We have our festival that happens that weekend out at Pioneertown out by Joshua Tree

Ventura Rocks:  Yea, it sounds amazing.  How many people do you get up there?

David Lowery:  It’s not a really big place.  It only really holds about 700 people in the immediate area, so we sell 700 tickets, sometimes more people show up.

We’ve been doing it for eight years now. It’s a lot of fun.   But we were thinking we needed to do some warm up shows before this.  Cracker has been playing all summer but Camper Van Beethoven hasn’t been playing.  And so we wanted to do some warm up shows and we’ve had a long history of playing in Ventura so we thought we’d would play there.  Plus I don’t know if people know this, but the crew that works for us are all actually from “The Nard” or Ventura.

Ventura Rocks:  (laughs) That’s right!  The Nard.  So how much social media does Camper use?

David Lowery:  We use all that stuff.  You know it’s not like Camper Van Beethoven is all over the Television or the Radio, so this is the way they find out about us.

Camper Van Beethoven will be playing at Zoey’s on Monday, September 10, 2012.  Visit Zoey’s official website for more information and to GET YOUR TICKETS NOW.




David’s now infamous blog on: TheTrichordist