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It’s the first edition of a new local music blog I’m producing in collaboration with AM 1220 KHTS and the Santa Clarita Valley’s number one website, hometownstation.com . We’ll be online every Friday morning with hot SCV music news and reviews right here, with a preview on KHTS-AM 1220 each Thursday.
As I did for The Signal newspaper and website for the last several years until May, I’ll cover as many aspects of our local music scene as possible.
Our goal is to provide our music-crazed community the props it deserves, and spotlight local artists who are just as passionate about music as you and I and everyone at KHTS — especially those artists who have the potential to bust out of the SCV to greater fame and fortune.
In THIS edition, we’ll feature The Feaver, The McGrath Project, Tae Muhl, and Kounterfeit Change. We’ll take a look at new and hot local releases, review the first CD by Serena, and check out the live music lineup for the weekend. We’ll take a look at what local music is on the tube, and even throw out an SCV music trivia question.
And later, Peeples Place at KHTS will have a world exclusive — the latest news on the epic Beatles biography now being written by pre-eminent Fab Four historian Mark Lewisohn.
Buried in the project, Lewisohn has not spoken to anyone in the press about it for eight years, and we are honored that he chose yours truly and Peeples Place at KHTS for the ONLY interview he will do until the first volume is published. It’s already three years late — when will that be? Read on.
First, Peeples Place at KHTS rocks the news.
THIS FEAVER’S ON FIRE — We checked in with bass player Zack Mendenhall and guitarist Braeden LeMasters of red-hot local teen rockers The Feaver, who guested on "House Blend with Stephen K. Peeples" in fall 2010 (pictured; see www.scvhouseblend.com ). Also featuring Dylan Minnette on vocals, guitar and keyboards and Cole Preston on drums, they’ve been working at Hubbadaddy’s Rehearsal Studios in Canyon Country with owner Kevin Cloud (also drummer of Jack Mack & The Heart Attack, who close this summer’s Concerts in the Park).
Cloud’s helping The Feaver tighten up before they go into the studio to record the followup to their 2010 debut EP.
“The idea is we do our practicing [at Hubbadaddy’s] and make sure everything's perfect, so that when we go into the studio to record, we don't waste a lot of time — we’re just ready to go,” Mendenhall said. “Kevin has a great musical ear.”
He noted there are some people in the music biz who don’t think a band of 14-16-year-old dudes like The Feaver can bring it in a professional recording environment, and label execs might push for studio musicians as a condition of a deal. No way, Mendenhall said. “We want to record this ourselves and get it perfect.”
Lemasters said the guys are working on five or six new songs. “We're getting the drums and bass really good and all the vocals down. We’re gonna start recording really soon, maybe with Mike Fraser, this really major guy.”
Indeed: As an engineer/producer, Fraser’s worked with hard rockers like Led Zeppelin, Jimmy Page, Aerosmith, AC/DC and Metallica. Sounds like a great choice for The Feaver.
The band (pictured above with the author when they guested on "House Blend with Stephen K. Peeples" on SCVTV) plays CityWalk at Universal Studios tonight at 8. “We're playing on the big main stage in front of the movie theater for 30 minutes,” Lemasters said. “We're gonna perform seven songs — all originals. That’s gonna be great.”
“I’m thrilled,” Mendenhall said, adding that there may be a few of the brand-new songs in the CityWalk set. “I remember playing there last year, for the competition for 98.7 (the band topped 75 other local SoCal bands to bag a prize of $10K plus gear and studio time). That was just amazing, and now I think it's just going to be even more amazing on this stage, with the five towers, the light shows…it’s crazy.”
Lemasters also noted the band is playing the Acton Concert in the Park Saturday night. “We’re headlining — that’s going to be pretty sick,” he said. “We get to play an hour, at least 13 songs and probably a couple covers, and they're just for fun, so the people don't get bored with us (laughs).”
Lemasters, also an actor (as is Minnette), played Ray Romano’s teenage son Albert for a couple of seasons in the TV series “Men of a Certain Age,” recently axed by TNT.
“Yeah, it's kind of sad but you move on — better things happen,” Lemasters said. “Like I just found out that I've booked on ‘The Haunting Hour,’ a TV show that shoots in Vancouver, Canada, so I'll be there from Aug. 18-25.”
Check out the band’s Facebook page at www.facebook.com/thefeaver .
TAE MUHL, CANYON COUNTRY CHANTEUSE — In February 2009, I was one of the human sardines packed into the Foundation Room at the House of Blues on Sunset for the first major public performance of rock-blues chanteuse Tae Muhl. She had a head cold and was a little nervous, but still gave it 110 percent, and showed the crowd she had big-stage potential.
The Canyon Country chanteuse (and granddaughter of longtime Universal Studios production VP Edward Muhl) has worked hard and come a long way since then. Her latest single, “So I Say Goodbye,” is in rotation on AM 1220 KHTS right now, and she’s posted an accompanying video on her YouTube channel at www.youtube.com/taemuhl . Find out more about her at www.taemuhl.com .
McGRATH PROJECT LABEL DEAL: SNAFU? — The McGrath Project, whose last album “Love is a Four-Letter Word” scored a gold album for sales, downloads and airplay, just finished their followup album, titled “Boom!” and the first of a three-album deal with a division of Universal Records.
The band tracked and cut most of the overdubs at Command Studios in Valencia, with bandleader/guitarist/singer Gary McGrath producing.
We had a chance to visit Command during McGrath’s guitar overdubs for “Casey’s Last Chance,” a standout rocker featuring Ann-Marita singing lead. A sneak preview of the rough mixes showed the rest of the album shaping up to be a solid followup to “Love…”
But now that “Boom!” is done, it’s seemed to have lived up to its name: Something has blown up. A dispute between the label and the band is hanging up the album’s release. We’ll hope to have an update next time. Visit the band’s site at www.themcgrathproject.com .
I’d like to give Gary and the Project a special shout-out for providing the theme music for my weekly Thursday morning radio report. It’s the intro from a track titled “What’s Your Name” that he and an earlier version of the Project recorded with Carlos Santana and his rhythm section a few years back.
GENUINE KOUNTERFEIT CHANGE — The SCV’s hottest reggae band, Kounterfeit Change, recently was in Washington State playing welcome home gigs for troops returning from Iraq and Afghanistan.
Just off the plane, the band headlined the Senses Beach Party on Main Street in Newhall, and after the show I had a few minutes to talk backstage with lead singer Kameren “KC” Neal about these very special gigs.
“We were there to make sure they know they’re not on the back burner, that they’re getting the respect they deserve, because they’re the ones who have the courage to go out and fight for our freedom,” he said.
“We partied with the troops, and eventually got to play a show. And a couple of men had just gotten back from Afghanistan. They got to hang around backstage and then came up and played the guitar and drums for us. It was really cool, a fun time."
KC recounted how the band and the military got together, and that appearances like this are part of the therapy for wounded soldiers on the mend, both physically and mentally.
“The person who put it together was a young man about 26 who had returned from Afghanistan, and he had post-traumatic stress and other issues related to being over there,” he said. “He saw that when troops come home, they needed something that heals the soul, too, and his ultimate remedy was music.
“So he went to his mother, who was actually into fundraising, and asked her if she could put together a concert for troops. She contacted our manager, Bret Lieberman, and he contacted a couple of other acts, and we all went up there and donated our time.”
Next month the band heads to Oceanside to play at Camp Pendleton. "We'll have a good time with them, too," KC said. "They’ve done so much for us, we need to give back to them.”
Kounterfeit Change has been working on a new album for several months between a heavy touring schedule.
“We finally finished our huge, ambitious project,” he said. “It’s called ‘American Dreadlock’ and it's going to be out maybe later this year, we hope. We have one single out called ‘War and Crime,’ and the title song is coming out as a single in September.”
Lieberman said after Pendleton, shows in Hawaii and New York are being planned. He has great faith in the band’s future. “Kounterfeit Change is my favorite reggae group. Their music and their drive inspired me 100 percent, and I see the bigger picture.”
That’s my take as well. I’m proud to say I had KC and the guys as guests on my very first “House Blend with Stephen K. Peeples” show on SCVTV in September 2010. Keep us with them via www.kounterfeitchange.com  and www.facebook.com/kfchange .
SCV MUSIC ROUNDUP — To get the 411 on the newest and hottest local music, we checked in with our friends at Rock Candy Music & More, the SCV’s only retail record store, at Bouquet and Plum in Saugus.
David Green tells us A Basement Rendezvous' new acoustic-indie-folk EP “The Negro Spiritual” is just out. “It’s really good,” he said.
More local sounds on the Rock Candy shelves include The Victor Ship's “In Somnis Veritas,” Nathaniel Dobies' “The Long Hugs,” Serena's “Allow Me to Introduce Myself” and Moonraker’s “Amber Alert” (that’s David’s band).
And it’s Shark Week through Sunday at Rock Candy Music; if you say “Bite me!” at the register before your purchase, you’ll get a discount on most stuff. Mention you heard about it on Peeples Place at KHTS.
Rock Candy Music owners Billy and Melissa Yergensen have been boosters of Santa Clarita Valley music since they opened a year ago — happy anniversary, BTW — and they present free all-ages shows on Friday and Saturday nights in the front corner of the store.
Tonight at 8, local duos The Kris Special and Jaberi & Deutsch play an acoustic set. Saturday at 7 p.m., The Knitts, The Endless Summer and indie/rock/surf band Fitzgerald and The Bellafonte are set to rock the joint. Cowabunga, dudes and dudettes. For more, call 661-263-9800 or visit www.rockcandymusicstore.com .
SCV ALBUM SPOTLIGHT: SERENA — Speaking of Rock Candy and Serena, the 14-year-old SCV rock/pop singer, songwriter and guitarist played a Friday night show there a few weeks ago, accompanied by guitarist Adam Burton (pictured) and bassist Emmanuel Figueroa. I had just filed a review with iTunes that went something like this:
Rock/pop singer-songwriter-guitarist Serena's "Allow Me to Introduce Myself" (GB Records) would be a strong debut for an artist at any age. The songs are age-appropriate (she's 14), but her powerful pipes and phrasing sound way more grown-up.
The solid instrumental backing (by members of The McGrath Project, Phil ("Mr. Squeeze") Parlapiano and singer-songwriter Ann-Marita, among others) and the uncluttered production by two-time Grammy-winner Gary McGrath are world-class.
Serena wrote or co-wrote five of the seven songs; "You Blew It," co-written with McGrath, sounds like it belongs on the radio and on iPods.
As a live performer, Serena delivers, too — what you hear on this disc is what you would get onstage. As a guest on "House Blend with Stephen K. Peeples," my TV show on SCVTV, just before the EP was released, she nailed her songs, and impressed the entire crew with her delightful combination of youthful enthusiasm and easy-going professionalism.
"Allow Me to Introduce Myself" deserves attention on its merits. But as the title implies, it's also the launch of a promising career.
SCV MUSIC LIVE — Who’s playing in the SCV this weekend, or spreading the musical love outside the valley? Tonight, The Bruce Brothers are set for the Summer Sunset Concert Series at the Valencia Marketplace on The Old Road at 6. Dona Oxford takes the Lexus of Valencia Jazz & Blues Concert stage at 7 at McBean and Town Center. And as previously mentioned, at 8 p.m., choose from The Feaver at CityWalk or The Kris Special and Jaberi & Deutsch at Rock Candy Music & More.
Saturday, all starting at 7 p.m., Boogie Nights shake their groove thang in Central Park; The Feaver, Open the Coda and Lockdown rock the Acton Concerts in the Park at Acton Park; and The Knitts, The Endless Summer and FATB play Rock Candy. At 8 p.m., you can catch an acoustic set by The McGrath Project at The Cellar in Centre Pointe.
At the Canyon Theatre Guild “Always…Patsy Cline” presents the story of my favorite female country singer Patsy Cline, starring Marie Wise-Hawkins (left, in the 4th of July parade) in the title role and Dawn Shelden (right) as Patsy’s biggest fan. Call the CTG at 661-799-2702 for showtimes.
And there's trouble in Awesometown, AKA River City this weekend as the Santa Clarita Regional Theatre presents “The Music Man” at the Performing Arts Center at College of the Canyons Saturday at 8 p.m., with a matinee Sunday at 2 p.m.
If you want your gig listed, email event, artist or band name, venue, date and price of admission to me at email@example.com .
SCV MUSIC ON THE TUBE & ONLINE — “House Blend with Stephen K. Peeples” on SCVTV features singer, songwriter, actress and musician Sara Anne Niemietz and Folk-Americana-rock singer-songwriter and guitarist Kai Clark through next weekend.
Clark and his band performed the original "Sunlight" from his eponymous EP and "So You Say You Lost Your Baby," written by his legendary dad, the late Gene Clark, of Dillards and Byrds and solo fame. Gene was an Americana godfather before the genre was tagged. Fan appreciation for the subtleties and depth of his music grows with time. Kai is carrying his dad's legacy into the future, while finding his own voice en route.
Backing him were Don Segien Jr. (guitar, mando, vocals), Nick Bearden (lead guitar, vocals), Ben Maddux (bass) and Jim Moreland (drums). We also chatted for a few minutes between songs.
The same show features singer, songwriter, actress and musician Sara Anne Niemietz, accompanied by renowned guitarist W.G. "Snuffy" Walden (left). Niemietz, a recent Saugus High grad and "Glee" on-screen bandmember, sang two originals, "Dangerous Outside" and "Find a Dream," and talked with me about getting her start on Broadway at age 10, and what she's up to now.
Both Clark and Niemietz earned high praise from my "House Blend" co-producer Megan Mann, sound guru Mike Mazzetti, co-producer Mike Dowler and the entire crew, and the artists thought the same of them, as do I.
The show airs Saturday night at 10 on SCVTV Channel 20 on Time Warner in the SCV. You can also see it throughout Los Angeles and Orange counties on AT&T U-Verse 99, and everywhere else in the known universe streaming live or on-demand at www.SCVTV.com  and www.scvhouseblend.com . Visit the channel’s website for a complete schedule of local music on SCVTV.
SCV MUSIC TRIVIA — What local guitarist used to play with Ozzy Osbourne? If you know the answer, email firstname.lastname@example.org . We’ll toss all the correct entries into a hat and randomly choose a winner who’ll receive a free Restaurant Row certificate to a great local eatery. This week’s answer and winner will be announced next week.
PEEPLES PLACE WORLD EXCLUSIVE: LEWISOHN GIVES UPDATE ON BEATLES BIO — This may not be local, but your hometown radio station’s website has breaking news of great interest to Beatles fans all over the planet, including the SCV (and there are lots of us).
In an interview this week with yours truly exclusively for Peeples Place, Mark Lewisohn, the world’s best-known Beatles historian and author, broke an eight-year silence to update me and Fab Four fans on the progress of the definitive three-volume Beatles biography he’s been working on since 2003.
As I mentioned at the top, he’s done ZERO press on this until now, preferring to just get on with it.
Beatles fans know Lewisohn’s creds are impeccable. He’s written several essential books about the band including “The Beatles Live,” “The Beatles: Recording Sessions,” “The Complete Beatles Chronicle” and “25 Years in the Life.”
Lewisohn wrote liner notes for several Beatles collections including the two “Past Masters” CDs and the three “Anthology” CDs. Google him for more.
Mark was also my research consultant when I wrote and produced “The Lost Lennon Tapes” radio series, heard on a few hundred stations in the U.S. and worldwide via Westwood One from early 1988 to mid-1990. I’m forever grateful to him for fact-checking my scripts and keeping me out of trouble.
Lewisohn and I have stayed in touch over the years. Because of our relationship, and because he recognizes it’s time to let people know how he’s doing with it, he chose to give Peeples Place at KHTS this exclusive.
When the deal was inked in 2003 it called for three volumes to be published over a 12-year period, with Volume 1 appearing sometime in 2008 and the last two a few years apart after that.
In fall 2007, when Mark was last in Los Angeles on a research trip, we had a delightful dinner, and he was very excited about the fresh info he was finding, but he hadn’t actually started writing yet. I kept my word to him and wrote nothing about it at the time. Not easy, trust me.
The 2008 publication date came and went, as did another in 2009. As recently as December 2010, Volume 1 was slated for release this fall. But that’s not going to happen, either.
When we spoke via Skype Tuesday morning West Coast time, it was suppertime in London.
I started out by asking him to recap a quick history of the project and why it's taking so long to get the first volume done. (Click here to play the video. )
"OK, gladly.Well, Volume 1 ought to be out in 2012 — that's what we're aiming for. So, it's nearly there. I've been working on it for about eight years now. The working title is 'The Beatles: The Complete Story' — I don't know if it's going to stay that way, but that's what it is at the moment. And everything is on track, except that we're running a little bit behind on time.
"But the idea of the book is still exactly as it was back in 2003 when I first came up with it, which is, it's really an attempt to tell The Beatles story like it's never been told before. It's a well-told story, but I always considered that it was not a well-told story. (laughs) I mean, it's been told a lot, but never very well, and I've always felt that it could be told better, and that's what the aim is, really—to absolutely get this right.
"I mean, The Beatles are the biggest band of the 20th century and they changed so much, and they're still huge in the 21st century. And yes, there isn't really one book that absolutely explained how it all happened, and also properly, accurately, comprehensively and with a kind of proper understanding. So, that's the idea. It's a vast job, it's probably about a 20-year project full-time, but I'm very happy about that because it needs to be done, and I'm very happy to be the one who's actually doing it. So, 2012 is the date we're shooting for, and I'm just about on track for that."
I asked about his very patient publishers.
"Well, I've been very, very happy to say that my publishers have been really patient with me. They expected the first volume out in 2008, and here I am in 2011, still writing it. So, I'm enormously grateful for them, for their patience. That's Little Brown in the U.K., Crown in America and Kawade Shobo Shincho in Japan. They've all been incredibly tolerant of this, but they've read the material, and they've read what I've written so far, and for that reason alone, I think they're staying right on track because this is going to be something very special, and it's taking longer than we thought, but it is going to be worth the wait."
I had to ask Mark, friendship aside, out of all the major media outlets in the world he could have spoken to, why did Lewisohn choose to speak with me for Peeples Place at KHTS, which is brand-new and as yet unknown?
“Well, I don’t normally talk to the media, certainly not while I’m writing — there will be plenty of opportunities to talk about the book when it’s out,” he said. “But I did feel that since people have been waiting for this book very patiently, it was really high time I reassured them that it is actually still on the agenda, that it is happening and will be out before too long.
“And really, with the Web, somewhere is everywhere now. One could go with a major network or one could stick with anybody who can put a video on YouTube or whatever.
“But it’s actually really nice to do this with you, Stephen, and Peeples Place because I’ve known you a very long time and I know that you’re always doing very good work, and I know that you understand what I’m trying to put across.
“So it’s nice to be here on Peeples Place, and I couldn’t think of a better place to actually do this.”
We are honored to the extreme. Check back next Friday for more of my exclusive interview with Mark Lewisohn about his book, “The Beatles: The Complete Story.”
THE WRAP RAP — Hope you liked the first blog. You can always visit us right here, and please check out and “like” our spankin'-new Peeples Place Facebook page .
If you have a new album to review or music news you’d like us to include in an upcoming edition, shoot an email to email@example.com .
Special thanks this week to all the artists and their families, managers and friends (you know who you are — far too many to mention, and to Mark Lewisohn. Extra special thanks to Elle Pratchett for her production assistance.
With a face perfect for radio, I’ll see you on AM 1220 Thursday morning at 8:10 when I preview the NEXT edition of…Peeples Place at KHTS.
Stephen K. Peeples is a Grammy-nominated record producer (“Monterey International Pop Festival,” MIPF/Rhino, 1992), an award-winning radio producer ("The Lost Lennon Tapes," Westwood One, 1988-1990), an award-winning online editor of The Signal website (2007-2011) and former music and entertainment columnist for The Signal (2004-2011). He is host and co-producer of the “House Blend with Stephen K. Peeples” music and interview show on SCVTV (www.scvhouseblend.com ), and is drummer with SCV jazz group RainTree. For more information, visit www.stephenkpeeples.com .