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Stephen K. Peeples here, and you’ve veered onto Peeples Place at KHTS!
It’s the FIFTH post of the new local music blog I’m producing in collaboration with AM 1220 KHTS and the Santa Clarita Valley’s number one website, www.hometownstation.com . We’re online every Friday morning with hot SCV music news, reviews, features and photos right here at www.peeplesplace.com , with an on-air preview on the KHTS morning show each Thursday at 8:10.
This week, we’ll take an in-depth look at sultry blues/rock/soul/jazz singer Flavia Watson and her band The RedTempt, a bunch of mostly CalArts students who play a very special gig Saturday night at Valencia Wine Co. on Town Center Drive.
We’ll also spotlight the special multi-artist, multimedia event coming up a week from Sunday at the Performing Arts Center as locals mark the 10th year since the 9/11 terrorist attacks on New York and Washington, D.C.
We’ll get the 411 on hot new local music in the stores and online, and check out who else is playing live this Labor Day Weekend. We’ll also tune in to local music on the tube, see if we have a winner for our second SCV music trivia contest, and maybe throw out a new question!
Finally, classic rock fans, we'll get the inside scoop on the new Aerosmith album from producer Jack Douglas, the rock-sonic genius behind the band's greatest, hardest-rocking '70s albums. And we'll preview the upcoming Southern California dates by British blues-rock legends The Yardbirds, featuring co-founders Jim McCarty and Chris Dreja plus three younger Yards who manage to fill some sizable shoes (Clapton, Beck, Page, etc.) onstage.
But first, Peeples Place at KHTS rocks the SCV music news.
PAC HOSTS TRIBUTE TO THE MARTYRS: ‘9.11.11: REMEMBER. HONOR. REFLECT’ — Joining Americans around the world in observing the 10th anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks on New York and Washington, D.C., artists from throughout the Santa Clarita Valley will present a musical and multimedia tribute at the Santa Clarita Performing Arts Center at College of the Canyons on Sunday, Sept. 11 starting at 3:30 p.m.
Titled "9.11.11: Remember. Honor. Reflect," the program remembers the fallen, honors those who serve, and reflects on and celebrates our nation's freedom. An art show starts at 2 p.m.; performances onstage at 3:30. Suggested donation: $10. All proceeds benefit the SCV Warriors Scholarship for student veterans at COC. For ticket info, call 661-362-5304.
"We were approached by a lot of people in the local artistic community, both fine and performing arts, to see if we could partner on some sort of tribute to the people who died or lost a family member or otherwise suffered because of the 9/11 tragedy," said Adam Philipson, the PAC's managing director.
"So we developed an event where all the groups, and also college groups, will be performing, and proceeds will go toward scholarships at College of the Canyons for our returning vets.
"The pre-event art show in the lobby will display some thematic art. After that, there'll be a nice flow of talent and multimedia events in the afternoon," he continued.
"We have COC music students, the Santa Clarita Master Chorale, the Ballet Folklorico group, REP Theatre performers, members of the Santa Clarita Ballet, ESCAPE Theatre, Canyon Theatre Guild and the Santa Clarita Valley Concert Band. We have a video interview of a relative of one of the victims, and we have some real video of 9/11. So the program was developed by all of us coming together.
"Of the suggested $10 donation, 100 percent will go to the scholarship fund. And from the art sales, about 25 percent will go to the same fund, to benefit returning veterans who are trying to get back into school and life back home after their experience overseas," Philipson said.
We'll check in with Philipson next week for an exclusive preview of the PAC's new season, which opens with Kenny Loggins Friday night, Sept. 16.
QUEBE SISTERS ROUNDED UP FOR FOURTH COWBOY FESTIVAL — The ink isn't dry, but both artist and the city have told me that triple-threat Texas fiddle players and singers Grace, Sofia and Hulda Quebe — The Quebe Sisters — are set to perform at the 2012 Santa Clarita Cowboy Festival in late April. It'll be the sisters' fourth headlining appearance since 2006.
Hulda Quebe (pronounced KWAY-be) called in as a guest on AM 1220 KHTS' "Around the Barn" show a couple Saturdays ago and said it was on. Then Mike Fleming, who books the Cowboy Festival's talent for the city, confirmed it when I spoke with him Saturday night at the Jack Mack & The Heart Attack extravaganza. "Papers aren't signed, but yeah, they're on, oh, yeah!" he said. We can thank Fleming for finding and booking The Quebe Sisters Band in the first place back in late 2005.
The QSB's festival debut several months later was a joyful experience for this lover of cowboy music, swing jazz, and deep vintage country. They played hard-core Texas swing on triple fiddles (even a primary influence, Bob Wills & The Texas Playboys, usually stuck with just a pair), sang jazzy three-part harmonies echoing The Andrews Sisters, played lots of cowboy classics and good ol' Texas breakdowns and, OK, each sister — they were 20, 18 and 15, respectively then — was as pretty as the next. (Ladies, forgive me, but know that my wonderful wife totally agrees.)
From Burleston, Texas, the band was just breaking out of the Lone Star state; the '06 Cowboy Festival was their first visit to the West Coast.
Since then, the Quebe Sisters Band — featuring Joey McKenzie on rhythm guitar and vocals (he's their longtime producer, arranger, teacher and mentor as well, aided by his wife Sherry) and barrelhouse bassist Drew Phelps — has toured the States and overseas, performed for presidents and billionaires, graced the Grand Ole Opry stage numerous times, toured with Asleep at the Wheel, performed in the Wheel's celebrated "Ride with Bob" tribute to Wills, recorded a couple of albums ("Texas Fiddlers" in 2003 and "Timeless" in 2007) and earned a worldwide following along the trail.
When QSB returned to Santa Clarita for the 2008 and 2010 festivals, they sounded even tighter, more confident, more musically adventurous each time (Grace, Hulda, Drew, Sophia and Joey are pictured above on the main stage in 2010).
And "Timeless" though it may be, I've played the last QSB album just about to death and need an update. They've grown a lot musically in the past four years. On "Around the Barn," Hulda assured us they're working on songs for a new album they hope to release sometime next year as well. Kin hardly wait.
BAND, BABES, BIKERS, BBQ BUFFS CELEBRATE FOREST RECOVERY — The Station Fire blackened a huge area of the Angeles National Forest in 2009, and much of the forest was closed for about a year and a half for cleanup and recovery. Among the local businesses affected was Newcombs Ranch Restaurant and Bar, on Angeles Crest Highway north of La Canada.
The popular mountain pit stop for car buffs, cyclists, bikers, hikers and other nature-lovers has been making a comeback since the forest was reopened to the public 18 months after the fire, and on Sunday and Monday hosts a recovery party from noon to 3 p.m. both days, with hot BBQ and the band SunnyLand performing on the patio.
"The patio is dog-friendly, the atmosphere is relaxed and friendly, and the bar serves a fair variety of beer and mixed drinks," said Corrina Roberts, a friend of the forest and one of the event's organizers.
"There'll be lots of cars and bikes to see, and for all we know, maybe races on TV," she said. "A Pro Italia (motorcycle) ride to Newcombs happened last Labor Day weekend during their annual bike show, and we expect some of their crowd to come up to Newcombs this year as well, since last year's ride was so much fun." (Thanks to Roberts for the photo from 2010.)
The weekend will include an informal presentation of the ongoing Forest Recovery Project, which involves clearing dead trees and other debris plus a massive replanting effort. For more info, visit the project's Facebook page .
From the 210 freeway in La Canada, take Highway 2 north; Newcombs Ranch is near mile marker 50 on the left past the Charlton Flat Picnic Area and the Chilao Campground.
LAST WEEKEND FOR 'ALWAYS...PATSY CLINE' AT CTG — The Canyon Theatre Guild's run of “Always…Patsy Cline” wraps this weekend. Presenting the story of country singer Patsy Cline, the production stars Marie Wise-Hawkins in the title role and Dawn Shelden as Patsy’s biggest fan. The final two performances will be tomorrow at 8 p.m. and Sunday at 2 p.m. Tickets are $17 for adults and $15 for seniors and kids. Call 661-799-2702 for more info or to save a seat.
SCV ARTIST SPOTLIGHT: FLAVIA RETURNS FOR A VERY TEMPTING GIG — In my third Peeples Place at KHTS post (Aug. 19, 2011 ), I wrote a short item about soul-jazz-blues-funk torch singer Flavia Camilla Watson and her band, The RedTempt. They'd played the previous Saturday night at Valencia Wine Co. on Town Center Drive — pictured with her are Chris Pucher (guitar), Nick Baker (drums), Rich Brown (keyboards) and Isaac Watts (bass), sitting in for the vacationing Caroline Cirone.
Watson and some of her bandmates met while she was studying music at CalArts in Valencia, and their repertoire that night included her originals like the yearning "Come to L.A." and the risque "Kinky Boys" plus a choice covers including "Fever" (Peggy Lee) and "I Heard it Through The Grapevine" (the Marvin Gaye arrangement).
It's not often I encounter a young vocalist who uses a classic Shure Super 55 mike (think Frankie and Elvis) and whose points of reference go back to old-school jazz and blues standards of the '40s, '50s and '60s, to icons like Billie Holiday, Ella Fitzgerald, Lena Horne, Peggy Lee, Etta James, Nina Simone. But Watson is not only up to the material and the style, it's also her comfort zone, where she lives as an artist. Music of heartbreak and a lifetime of experience flows from her naturally and believably.
As I found out speaking with her outside during a break between sets, Watson has indeed experienced a lot more than most people her age. Her father Jeff's American, her mom Carla's Italian, and she grew up mostly in Europe, attending international schools there and in the States as her father's jobs changed, and after her parents split up. Flavia speaks four languages, including American English without a trace of another accent.
"We play (Valencia Wine Co.) about every three weeks," she said. "We love this venue — the vibes are great, the people are so nice. We play a bunch of wine bars in Valencia, actually, and they just have this great vibe overall. We love it. And I encourage you to come to our next show here — it's Saturday night, Sept. 3, and it's going to be a very special show."
Spoken like a true promoter, I'm thinking and smiling. I'll ask her about that later. Pressing forth I asked for some notes about the bandmembers and how she connected with them.
"I moved over here two years ago from Italy, and went to CalArts, a vocal major," said Watson, who also studied piano and guitar. "That was actually classical voice training. Of the band, the first guy I met was the drummer, Nick Baker, and we've been playing together almost two years. We've had other players, but this is kind of a set band now. Chris on the guitar has been with us about seven months. Isaac on bass I've known about four months — he's only filling in for Caroline Cirone, who's gone for the summer. And Rich Brown, our keyboardist, has been with us about four months. Right now, our main thing is to perform and try to get our name out there."
Watson, who has an eponymous EP out (below) but says it's pretty outdated, said the band is also recording its first album. "It's going to be a completely cohesive sound, mainly blues-funk-rock 'n' roll. It won't have any of our Latin or pop, but it'll be most of what we do as a band. It's us and a few for-hire studio players — we've had an accordion player come in, violin, viola, cello."
Watson and her crew are working at College of the Canyons' new studio. "We're the first and only band to use it," she said, sounding amazed, not boastful. "Jon Amador from the music department saw one of our performances and basically said he loved us and wanted to help us out. He's producing, engineering and mixing. So he's been amazing. We couldn't do it without him."
Watson records some of her vocals at home. "I've got a home studio I get a great sound out of — I have all really good equipment," she said. "So, a lot of my vocals are actually cut at home, just to save Jon some time, 'cause I can engineer myself on vocals."
At VWC, she was caressing that big, clunky Shure vocal mike as if it were an old friend.
"My sound, like this mike, is old-school, bluesy, funky — old-school meets young Flavia," she said, laughing. "When I hold that mike it just gives me a new confidence. It's totally different from holding your average mike. it's very different now for a singer to use [the Shure]."
We talked a little about the vocalists she most admires, including the aforementioned. "All the usuals, but also modern-day singers, too, like Nora Jones and Amy Winehouse, rest in peace," Watson said. "She was one of my biggest inspirations, vocally. Adele, too. All those bluesy soul artists are my inspirations, the older ones and the newer ones."
Her kind of music may be unfamiliar to some audiences, especially younger music fans, but Watson hopes to expose them to it and win them over. "That's kind of what I'm trying to do, to give them a little bit of what they maybe missed in the past, and bring that to life now, make it something that's now, and appeal to those audiences who may have never heard it. 'Cause what I do is not completely old-school. I have a kind of sound that's modern."
Watson was born in California, grew up in Ireland for 10 years, lived in Italy a few more, and then moved to the Santa Clarita Valley to attend CalArts two years ago at age 18.
"I'm in no way Irish, but by personality, I'm as Irish as it gets," she said. "Everything about me is quite Irish. But my mom's Italian, so that's why I'm fluent in Italian as well. Then I moved to Italy and lived with her for three years and went to high school there. I graduated, then moved out here on my own and studied at CalArts the past two years. I'm, you know, straight off the boat (laughs). My family's all still in Europe."
By then I was thinking, to paraphase ZZ Top's Billy Gibbons, this girl is bad and international. I confided I thought she sounded and carried herself like someone who's been around a lot longer than 20 years, and knows a bit more about the world than most people her age.
"I think it's the Europe in me; that's what people tell me," she said, obviously familiar with the observation. "No offense, but I feel like Americans are a little bit different from how the Europeans are. Growing up in a bunch of different countries, going to 10 different schools, I've definitely had to adapt to a lot of different social environments. And yes, I've had to mature a lot quicker than most people, because I'm out here on my own and trying to live the Hollywood dream, I guess."
Watson knows now she's lucky to have experienced so much so soon, and sthat she has a lot to look forward to. "At the time, I was like, 'I don't wanna move!'" she said. "But I look back now on the life I've lived, and I thank my parents every day."
Which segues nicely to why Saturday night's Valencia Wine Co. gig is so special to Watson and The RedTempt.
"Although my dad has come to visit me and heard me sing as a child, he's never heard me sing with my band," said Watson, whose father's name is Jeff.
"When he was here last about two years ago, (the band) wasn't as established as now. So my dad's coming to visit and will be at the show Saturday night, and I'm pumping this show up. It's going be our best one to date, I hope, because I want him to see what we do. So I really encourage you and everyone to come to this show. It's going to be really great."
When I posted my original item a couple weeks ago and Facebooked the link to Watson, she shared it with her FB friends; soon, her mother, Carla Grazia Edigati Watson, had posted a comment. So I sent Ms. Watson a friend request and message saying I was writing a story about her daughter's special gig for her dad, and was delighted to receive this reply:
"Hi, Stephen, wonderful article on Flavia and her band," Ms. Watson wrote. "I'm her greatest fan, she can vouch for that. :) As much as I'd love to be there on the 3rd I will not be able to since I live in Florence, Italy, and have to work, though I'll be cheering Flavia from a distance as I always do.
"Music just runs in Flavia's blood. She must have inherited her passion from her maternal grandpa through me. I have two sisters and when we were children my father used to make us sing in the car on outings. I learned all the popular Italian songs of the 20th century from the beginning to the 1960s, including many opera arias.
"When Flavia and her two siblings, Giulia and Nicholas, were children, I had a 6-disc CD player in the car filled with opera arias which they had to sing with me while going from one activity to the next ... history repeats itself!
"Flavia showed her passion for singing at a very early age. In fact, when she was 3 we moved to Boston for my husband's post-grad studies and she decided she wanted to take singing lessons. So we hired a Berklee student to teach her. I would say she knew right from the start what she wanted to be when she grew up!
"In 2002 we had a historic house hotel in Ireland and Natalie Merchant came to stay with us for a week prior to her performing at the Olympia in Dublin. Natalie used to sit every day at the piano with Flavia and, after grabbing a book of poetry from one of our library shelves, she sang the poems with Flavia, creating music impromptu. Natalie even invited the family to her opening night and, in front of a packed audience, dedicated a song to her 'friend Flavia.' This whole experience cemented even more Flavia's desire to keep singing.
"Today she sent me the last three songs she composed... simply beautiful. I encourage her to stick to 'sultry, sexy, dark, swampy blues' because her voice suits the style perfectly as Phil Coulter, the Irish singer, once said to her while handing her first prize at her school music competition. Have her sing them to you, I'd be curious to know what you think.
"As you can see once I start writing there's no stopping me — a bit like Flavia when she starts singing! :)
"All the best, Carla."
Ms. Watson added I was welcome to contact Flavia's father directly and gave me his email address. Jeff Watson, too, sent a delightful response that filled in a lot of blanks.
STEPHEN K. PEEPLES: Please tell me what you do now, how you met your wife, where Flavia was born.
JEFF WATSON: I work as an Associate Partner with IBM business consulting. I mostly advise companies and deliver IT and business transformation services to banks and other financial services companies. My focus is on Internet and mobile smartphone solutions. Essentially I help banks to Web-and-mobile enable their products and services.
I met Flavia's mother (we are separated) in Florence, Italy while I was in a one-year Rotary International scholarship study. Flavia was born in Contra Costa County, San Ramon, in Northern California. Then I was accepted into Harvard Business school. So we sold our house and moved to Boston when Flavia was 3. After two years in Boston, I got job with an Internet startup in Atlanta. We stayed there just over three years. Then, in 1999, I got new job in Dublin, Ireland, with a European Internet banking startup and moved the family there.
We bought a guest house in the Irish countryside about 60 miles from Dublin and my wife ran it for next seven years while Flavia attended school, first locally then boarding school in Dublin. I worked on and off between Dublin, London and Edinburgh, Scotland, during that time. Weekends I was back at our guest house in Ireland and kids were home from boarding school. I did lots of gardening at the house and dragged Flavia and her brother Nick into it. I also ended up chauffeuring Flavia and her sister Giulia and brother into the city for social events, sports and school activities.
PEEPLES: When did you realize Flavia was very talented?
WATSON: When she was about 11, I walked into Flavia's room and papers were all over her bed as she talked with her sister. Flavia said they were working on writing a song. "A song?" I said. "When did you start writing songs?" "Da-aad!!" she said. "I've been writing songs since I was 7!" Oops! She had been taking piano lessons, but it was then I realised the extent of her creativity, drive and commitment to music. That's when the lightbulb went on and I got serious about trying to support her.
PEEPLES: How did you help her at first?
WATSON: I bought her first guitar. Someone sent around an email at work about a great guitar and case nearly new for sale. Flavia only played piano at the time. I was pretty much her weekend chauffeur and helped her find a steady flow of music teachers and drive her to weekend lessons. Since we lived about an hour outside Dublin, it was good quality time driving to/from lessons through the Irish countryside. She was a famous car sleeper and would try to snooze but I would insist she stay awake and keep me company until I had a full update on her week's activities. I really came to enjoy or commutes to lessons, concerts, rehearsals, etc. She was always very open to talking (motivated also by the promise of a snooze if she gave me some good bonding time and updates).
PEEPLES: She performed in talent contests, too?
WATSON: Yes, she was lead in her high school play, "Oklahoma." She went on to do a community version of "High School Musical." Ireland had excellent music programs and she competed in numerous contests. She really blew people away and won her first big competition in Dublin singing "Fever." She was brilliant. I cried like a baby.
PEEPLES: She had a famous visitor who made an impact. Carla told me a bit of the story.
WATSON: Yes. Natalie Merchant once was a visitor at our guest house for approximately five-six days. She had a concert in Dublin but also just wanted to relax a bit since she had been on the road lots. She really took to Flavia and spent time with her working on the keyboards and teaching her. Flavia loved it and Natalie really took to her. In the end Natalie had a great stay and invited us as special guests to her Dublin concert, where she even mentioned Flavia, "a very special little 14-year-old." Unfortunately while Flavia was at the show, she had gone off to the bathroom when Natalie saluted her! She was very pleased albeit a bit disappointed she did not hear it. But it was a great and formative time and after that, Flavia's commitment to music redoubled.
PEEEPLES: How did you react when she wanted to come to study music at CalArts?
WATSON: I always knew Flavia would go away to school in the U.S.; Ireland was never going to be a permanent home. I was actually very pleased and felt it was better for her to attend a specialist music school and liked the idea she was attending school in the L.A. area, the entertainment capital of the world. She has really blossomed there and her enthusiasm flows from the emails she writes. I just felt elated she had made the right decision in going there and that it offered her exactly the total immersion in music she needed.
PEEPLES: Why is Saturday night's gig so special for both you and Flavia?
WATSON: I visited Flavia once at CalArts, however, she only had one very short classical concert. It was just her first semester and she was still really finding her way. So for me this is really like a homecoming since she has massively blossomed over the past 20 months since I was last there. She has really taken her own initiative, found her own gigs, surrounded herself with other creative people, and made huge progress as a songwriter, singer and performer.
While I have heard her music, (Saturday night) will really be the first time I have seen her perform on a stage in almost four years. She was about 16 when I last heard her in Dublin. When Flavia's mother and I separated, Flavia finished (high) school in Florence, Italy. She attended an International school there and was not really performing as much and I was not able to be there for the performances she did have.
So this will be the first time I have really heard Flavia perform live as an adult, so it's very special to hear my little singing angel again after so long. We have always been close personally, but given our international lives and the distance between us, we get very little quality time together. I am looking forward to spending four days just dedicated to having a good time together and hearing her work and seeing her perform.
PEEPLES: Great story. I'll be there to see the gig.
WATSON: OK, Stephen. Just one other thing. The music industry is very tough. I am no expert but did spend 18 months as CEO of a digital music industry startup, which gave me a reasonably good understanding of the industry, including the modern-day social media aspects.
But I can say with total bias as the "father-unit," if anyone can be a success, it is Flavia. She has the skills, voice, verve, creativity, beauty, drive, focus, charm and total commitment to succeed as a commercially and creatively successful artist in today's music business. She will let nothing stop her and brings the beauty, brains, heart and soul to bare to make her be a star. As I told her from a young age, she is already a star and only needs to see it, believe it, be it, and it WILL be done."
Flavia knew I was writing up an advance on tomorrow's show, but had no idea I contacted her folks. I thought hers was a fascinating story that illustrated how important supportive parents can be to a young son or daughter who has obvious talent and a burning passion to succeed. Great artists don't just spring out of nowhere with fully realized talents and skills. They're usually talented, focused, hard-working kids who've been lucky enough to have supportive parental units and sibling substances like the Watsons, who are separated and live thousands of miles away, yet still manage to back their daughter's play.
Keep up with Flavia Watson, if you can, on her blog at www.theflaviadiaries.tumblr.com . And we'll see you Saturday night at VWC.
DICK DALE SHREDS AT VENTURA BLOCK PARTY — As previewed in last week's post , Dick Dale, King of the Surf Guitar and Sultan of Shred, ripped for almost an hour and a half in Ventura Sunday to close Spencer Makenzie's Fish Market's annual end-of-summer Block Party.
Closed to traffic, Ash Street was packed with Dickheads of all ages and genders in a crowd stretching back at least a block from East Thompson toward the beach.
Playing The Beast, his legendary green/gold sparkle right-handed Fender Stratocaster (he's a southpaw and just learned to play it upside down, as Jimi Hendrix did several years later), Dale was backed by his lanky 19-year-old son Jimmy pounding the drums and Ventura's own Sam Bolle thumping the bass.
In fact, late in the set, Dale grabbed a pair of Jimmy's sticks and thumped out rhythms on Sam's bass, while Sam worked the frets. It was a joyful noise.
Dale delivered big-time with reverbed riffs on favorites like "Let's Go Trippin'" and his jacked-up version of "Hava Nagila," sang a couple of covers including "Fever" by Peggy Lee and "House of the Rising Sun" by The Animals, and closed with the immortal "Misirlou." For most of the hour-plus set, the trio powered forth at one volume — 11, and were likely audible on the Channel Islands several miles off the coast.
Decked out in a fancy Western shirt, the Twentynine Palms resident paced the stage like someone a quarter his age (74), talked and joked with the audience between songs, helped an older female fan get a set of earplugs, and looked healthy and trim, showing no sign of his battle with cancer a few years ago.
Jimmy Dale has come a very long way since I saw him play with his dad 15 years ago almost to the day, also at a summer-ending event on Ventura Beach. Then, the 4-year-old tyke played a toy kit on one side of the stage, but showed serious potential. Sunday, the young man was on a riser at center stage rear, a powerhouse driving his legendary dad's power trio on a full-sized kit with his name emblazoned on the kick drumhead.
Last night, the elder Dale celebrated his 50th anniversary in the biz with a concert on his home turf in Orange County, playing a set with his band and then a special performance of "Misirlou" backed by the Fullerton College Orchestra.
LOVIN' THOSE GOOD 'ACOUSTIC VIBRATIONS' FROM SURF CITY ALLSTARS — Featuring former members of The Beach Boys' and Jan & Dean's touring bands, the Surf City Allstars played one of the summer 2011's final Concerts in the Park. As I prepared the advance story for Peeples Place at KHTS, bandleader David Logeman sent an advance medley from the band's new "Acoustic Vibrations" CD. That was very cool, but I was finally able to listen to the whole album last Sunday afternoon, cruising Highway 126 from Santa Clarita to Ventura to beat the heat — and to see Dick Dale.
"Acoustic Vibrations" was a beautifully laid-back soundtrack for a smooth 45-minute drive on a gorgeous day; by the time we hit the beach, our Pacific vibrations were in tune, and we were ready for some serious shred.
The Beach Boys' original versions of songs like "Surfer Girl," "In My Room," "All Summer Long" and "God Only Knows" and even Jan & Dean's "Little Old lady from Pasadena" set the bar pretty high, especially on the vocals (though most of the early tracks were played by Brian Wilson and session aces from The Wrecking Crew). There was a youthful innocence and energy to songs like those that's a challenge for for veteran players, excellent singers and musicians they may be, to project.
But all things considered, I thought the Allstars' arrangements and unplugged performances of those songs and more on "Acoustic Vibrations" were very credible, vocally and instrumentally. Original Beach Boys Al Jardine and David Marks contribute lead/backing vocals and guitar, respectively, and Dean Torrence guests on "Little Old Lady," adding to the cred. My wife Nadine and I enjoyed the album enough to play it twice — on the way home to Santa Clarita, it was like a great cool-down session after Dale's blazing set.
Check the album out for yourself at www.surfcityallstars.com , and may all your summers be endless.
SCV LOCAL MUSIC ROUNDUP — For the latest on what's new and hot in local music, we called our friends at Rock Candy Music & More, the Santa Clarita Valley’s only retail record store, at Bouquet and Plum in Saugus.
Staffer Ryan Corbett gave us the 411, saying that no local music was released this week, but that the Foster the People release and the Tidemouth 7" he mentioned last week had come in and were selling really well. "We got Tidemouth shirts in, too," he said.
"Another band that's hot is Manchester Orchestra," Corbett said. "They have a 12-inch called 'Simple Math.' That one's been selling a lot, and so have both of the albums from the band Tool. They have an album called 'Opiate,' like the drug. We have a couple of copies on vinyl and sold a couple on CD. Face to Face's 'The Good Left Undone' and Rise Against's 'Blind' split 7-inch vinyl single is happening, too."
On the vintage used vinyl front, Corbett said, Rock Candy just got a copy each of The Rolling Stones' "Steel Wheels" and Bruce Springsteen & The E-Street Band's "Born to Run."
"And by popular demand, we just got a bunch of black Rock Candy shirts in," he said. "A lot of people have been asking for them. So those and the Tidemouth shirts are hot."
Rock Candy Music & More presents live music by local artists on most weekend nights; tonight, C.C. Archer plays a free set starting at 8. For more info, call the store at 661-263-9800 or visit www.rockcandymusicstore.com .
SCV MUSIC ON THE TUBE & ONLINE — "House Blend with Stephen K. Peeples" on SCVTV Saturday night at 10 features an encore broadcast of our show featuring local teen pop singer, songwriter, actress, dancer Ariana Sloan, and funky bluesman T.J. Sullivan accompanied by hot 'n' nasty harp player Greger Walnum.
Accompanied by guitarist Jon MacLennan, the 14-year-old West Ranch High cheerleader sang unplugged versions of two originals, "That Way Again" and "Everything's Gonna Change" and chatted with yours truly for a few minutes between songs.
Both tunes come from Sloan's six-song debut EP, "Day One," produced by Bryan Todd and Gary Stober, which also includes the title track, "Different Story," "In Hollywood" and "No Apologies."
Through the marvel of multi-tracking, Ariana handled all the lead and almost all backing vocals on the tracks. Todd and Stober's production is tight, punchy, and bright; the duo wrote or co-wrote most of the songs, and Ariana and her mom, Kim, contributed to "In Hollywood." The songs are geared to teens, with themes of first love, first heartbreak, friendship and betrayal, and thinking independently.
Sloan, who credits her parents and family as her most important boosters, has studied with vocal coach Valerie Morehouse-Wilde and at the Rock Nation Music School in Agoura. She does them all proud on her first outing, which displays serious potential as she keeps working on her vocals and developing her songwriting.
In the second half of the show, we segue from the sublime, squeaky-clean innocence of a super-talented high school cheerleader to the sublime grit, wisdom and wit of a veteran bluesman — singer, writer and guitarist T.J. Sullivan, AKA Thelonius James.
The card-carrying member of the SCV Blues Society (who's worked with artists like Big Joe Turner and Delaney Bramlett) played his trusty Taylor and a 1938 National Duolian on a pair of songs, accompanied by Greger Walnum, one of the raunchiest harp players I've heard in, maybe, forever. His nasty little amp had...tubes!
You have got to see and hear these two get funky on a T.J.'s "Nothin' Matters" and "Is That a Monkey You've Got."
(On a side note from the "no degrees of separation" file, I attended a meeting a couple of weeks ago with my Rare Cool Stuff  partners Geoff Gans and Gary Gonzales about a 9/11-related book we're having printed by our associates at NPA Graphics in Palms, on L.A.'s west side. The state-of-the-art press is owned by Gary Shaffner, who was a road manager for Bob Dylan during the mid-'70s Rolling Thunder era, and eventually pursued a less peripatetic lifestyle. Geoff, coincidentally, has designed almost all of Dylan's album packages for the past 16 years.
(Unprompted by me, Shaffner was surfing the Web to check out my "House Blend" episode with rock photographer Henry Diltz, another RCS client and mutual friend with a book soon to be printed by NPA.
As he was navigating to Henry's show on demand at www.scvhouseblend.com , Shaffner saw the T.J. Sullivan segment playing online. "Hey, that's Greger Walnum on harmonica, right?" Ahhhh, yep! Turns out they know each other. I love when stuff like that happens.)
"House Blend with Stephen K. Peeples" is co-produced by yours truly and SCVTV's studio director, Megan Mann, with Mike Mazzetti producing the sound. Shows air Saturday night at 10 on SCVTV Channel 20 on Time Warner in the SCV.
You can also see "House Blend" throughout Los Angeles and Orange counties on AT&T U-Verse 99, and everywhere else in the known universe streaming live at www.SCVTV.com  and/or on-demand at www.scvhouseblend.com . Visit the channel’s website for a complete schedule of local music on SCVTV.
McGRATH PROJECT GOES A-COURTIN' AT MARRIOTT, DEBUTS NEW SINGLE — The McGrath Project  is playing a series of gigs to launch the advance single — "Tarantino Girl" b/w "Casey's Last Chance," both featuring Ann-Marita on lead vocals — and more songs from their just-completed "Boom" album.
They played Mixer's last Saturday night on her birthday (with a ringer sitting in to play drums on a ripping cover of Lynyrd Skynyrd's "Sweet Home Alabama"), and another acoustic showcase gig at The Roxy's On the Rox club last night.
Tomorrow night, the Project will rock the Courtyard Marriott in Valencia, with teen singer Serena and her full band sharing the bill and performing tunes from her wlel-received debut EP, "Allow Me to Introduce Myself."
McGrath says they continue to shop for a solid label deal, with the aforementioned Jack Douglas attached as producer. Douglas, meanwhile, may have a break in the Aerosmith sessions soon. Read more about that later in this post.
MORE SCV (AND ADJACENT) MUSIC LIVE — Who else is playing in the SCV this weekend, or spreading the local musical love outside the valley?
Stronghold, a four-piece rock 'n' soul band that plays original material, sets up at Tri-Tipps on Newhall Ranch Road Friday night starting at 7. They'll gig there the next three Fridays as well.
Galo Pacheco appears Friday and Saturday at Salt Creek Grille on Towne Center Drive from 9 p.m. to midnight, while The Kraze will play on the patio Sunday from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m.
Also on Friday, Aja Kim and her band play a free concert at Valencia Wine Co. on Towne Center at 9 p.m., and the Flavia & The RedTempts show Saturday at 9 p.m. is also free.
As they have for more than 20 years, The Grateful Dudes  keep traditional bluegrass alive and pickin' in the SCV at Vincenzo's Pizza Esperienza on Lyons in Newhall on Saturday nights from 7:30 to 10:30. The band features Bill Bryson on bass, Rodger Philips on banjo, Scott Micale on guitar and Dennis Fetchet on fiddle and mando, plus the occasional guest artist (Herb Pedersen and Chris Hillman have sat in on numerous occasions).
Finally, if you happen to be near the South Bay Saturday night, world-jazz-fusion-funkmeister Lao Tizer and his band featuring violinist Karen Briggs, who impressed local fans at Central Park here a few weeks ago, will play a pair of sets at Spaghettini, 3005 Old Ranch Parkway in Seal Beach, starting at 7:30.
SCV MUSIC TRVIA: KELLY'S MYSTERY AXEMAN — What local guitarist toured with Kelly Osborne early in his career? 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, plus a free CD from the Peeples Place swag vault. This week’s answer and winner will be announced next week.
FIVE LIVE YARDBIRDS SWOOP ON SOCAL AGAIN — Legendary British psychedelic blues-rock ravers The Yardbirds will fly into Southern California later this month for three dates that fans have been waiting decades to see.
When rock critics argue about the most influential bands in rock history, we generally stop arguing and start raving when The Yardbirds come up.
This, after all, was the British psychedelic blues-rock band that between 1963-1968 rechanneled and reinvented American blues, scoring hits like "For Your Love," "I'm a Man," "Heart Full of Soul," "Over, Under, Sideways, Down," "Happenings Ten Years Time Ago" and "Shapes of Things." and selling millions of records in the U.K. and the States.
This, after all, was the British Invasion band that featured, then famously launched to superstardom, in order, lead guitarists Eric Clapton, Jeff Beck and Jimmy Page. Those three, in turn, redefined the role of rock guitarist (along with Keith Richards, Jimi Hendrix and Pete Townshend), and essentially drew the blueprint for hard rock as a genre.
(The Yardbirds are pictured in a late 1966 promo photo, clockwise from left: Jeff Beck, Jimmy Page, Keith Relf, Jim McCarty and Chris Dreja. Beck and Page were in the group together only three months before Beck split in February '67.)
So then the next round at the Insufferably Opinionated Rock Critic Argument Clinic ensues — OK, which of the three Yardbirds guitarists was the best? I know music geeks who can go for hours chewing on that one. They hate me because I like each one for his individual contributions, and refuse to choose one over the other.
(Page, a top session player and producer way before Zeppelin, briefly morphed The Yardbirds into The New Yardbirds in mid-1968. After original singer/harp player Keith Relf, McCarty and Dreja bailed that July, Page in less than a month connected with Robert Plant, John Bonham and John Paul Jones to form Led Zeppelin. I'd missed The Yardbirds but saw Zeppelin's mind-blowing L.A. debut the next spring at the Rose Palace in Pasadena, with a few hundred other lucky kids. Relf and McCarty soon formed prog band Renaissance, while Dreja pursued photography.)
In 1992, 24 years after playing their final gig, The Yardbirds were inducted into the Rock 'n' Roll Hall of Fame. The positive response prompted McCarty and Dreja to reform the group with a new generation of 'Birds up front.
In 2003, Steve Vai's Favored Nations label released The Yardbirds' "Birdland" album, sporting new songs and guest appearances from Vai as well as Joe Satriani, Slash, Brian May, Steve Lukather, Jeff "Skunk" Baxter and John Rzeznik.
Two years later, guitarist Ben King joined the group in time for the "Live at B.B. King Blues Club" album, recorded on July 19, 2006 and released in March the next year. The album's 19 tracks included a version of "I'm a Man" featured on "The Simpsons" in 2007, all but sealing the band's immortality as pop culture icons.
Since 2009, The Yardbirds lineup has featured McCarty (purple shirt), Dreja (far right) and King (far left) plus lead singer/acoustic guitarist/harpist Andy Mitchell (front) and bassist David Smale (left center).
These are the five live Yardbirds who will fly into California later this month for the only West Coast shows as part of a 16-date, 48th-anniversary mini-tour of the States.
On Wednesday, Sept. 21, the band will perform at the Key Club on Sunset in West Hollywood, with Jon Pieplow and Margo Rey also on the bill. I'll see you there. Tickets are $25 and $28. It's an 18+ show starting at 8 p.m. Phone 310-274-5800 or visit www.keyclubla.com .
The next night, the quintet rolls south to the Coachhouse in San Juan Capistrano. Also on the bill: Delta 88s and Rising Water. The all-ages show starts at 8; admission is $28. Phone 949-496-8930 or visit www.thecoachhouse.com .
And Friday, Sept. 23, The Yardbirds wrap the tour with a final raveup at the Canyon Club in Agoura Hills starting at 9 p.m. Fans younger than 18 must be attached to an adult. Admission is $28, plus service charges. Call (818) 879-5016 or visit www.canyonclub.net .
Dreja will also make his historical photo art available for merchandise for the tour, including historic shots of Led Zeppelin. Prints of his Jimmy Page "halo" photograph (seen on the back cover of Zeppelin's epochal debut album) are autographed by both Page and Dreja, who will sell the art privately.
Next week, we'll have exclusive interviews with McCarty and Dreja. Meanwhile, you can catch up on The Yardbirds' history by visiting www.theyardbirds.com , www.theyardbirds.us  or the band's Facebook page . There are also loads of YouTube videos posted; here are a few good ones from the band's 2009 and 2010 road trips:
- “For Your Love”  - 7/10/09, Fillmore New York
- “Shapes of Things”  - 7/14/09, Ottawa Blues Fest
- “Heart Full of Soul”  - 7/10/09, Fillmore New York
- “Dazed and Confused”  - 7/6/09, Mohegan Sun Casino
- “Train Kept A Rolling”  - 5/26/2010
- “You're a Better Man Than I”  - 5/26/2010, B.B. King's
'FREDDIE FOR A DAY' AIDS FUNDRAISER DOWN UNDER — Now, this is a stretch, but we do have a few fans Down Under! Australian Queen fans take note: Monday is "Freddie for a Day" day in Sydney. Locals who head down to Martin Place at 8 a.m. dressed as Freddie Mercury can appear on national TV as Channel 7’s Sunrise show assembles a live cross to celebrate the memory of Queen's late lead singer. Organizers call it a "fun way for us to remember Freddie Mercury while at the same time raising money for the Aids Trust of Australia." You can still donate even if you're not in the neighborhood. Visit www.freddieforaday.com.au. 
AEROSMITH ROCKS IN A HARD PLACE WITH JACK DOUGLAS — All the original Columbia albums by Aerosmith will drop digitally on iTunes for the first time next Tuesday.
It's been a long time coming for fans of the hard-rocking band formed in Boston in 1970. The quintet's records have sold more than 150,000 copies worldwide, with more than 66 million in the U.S. alone. The band's won four Grammys and 12 MTV Music Video Awards, were inducted into the Rock 'n' Roll Hall of Fame in 2001, and are rock 'n' roll rehab success stories.
The catalog titles are "Aerosmith" (1973), "Get Your Wings" (1974), "Toys in the Attic" (1975), "Rocks" (1976), "Draw the Line" (1977), "Live! Bootleg" (1978), "Night in the Ruts" (1979), "Aerosmith's Greatest Hits" (1980), "Rock in a Hard Place" (1982), "Classics Live" (1986) and "Classics Live II" (1987), plus more than a dozen non-album releases from soundtracks, festivals and compilations (click here  for more catalog info.)
Meanwhile, the original lineup — Steven Tyler (lead vocals), Joe Perry (lead guitar), Brad Whitford (rhythm guitar), Tom Hamilton (bass) and Joey Kramer (drums) — started work in Boston this summer on a new album with Jack Douglas, the Grammy-winning hard rock producer behind the band's best 1970s albums.
(Check out Casey Patrick Tebo's very cool video  of Tyler "in a PEN-sive moment," working on some lyrics.)
But while Douglas reports the sessions have gone amazingly well, the new, as-yet-untitled Aerosmith album won't be done until early next year, and not out till May. With a lot of the tracks already in the can, the band is starting to ramping up for its fall tour of Latin American stadiums (kicking off Oct. 22 in Lima, Peru, for 10 dates) and major-venue dates in Japan during November and December (eight shows).
We met at Swinghouse Studios in Hollywood last fall (left, photo by David C. Kephart) when we spoke for a series of stories about John Lennon and Yoko Ono's "Double Fantasy" sessions in 1980, which he co-produced with the Lennons (earning an "Album of the Year" Grammy), and the 2010 "Stripped Down" remix, which he also produced.
Douglas was on a stogie break between sessions for the "Sensory Overdrive" solo album by Michael Monroe (ex-Hanoi Rocks). We've stayed in touch, and Douglas has been posting Facebook updates not only on Aerosmith's progress in the studio, but also about weathering what was left of Hurricane Irene by the time it hit Beantown. Here's his thread:
August 22 at 7:18 am: Today we are working up a new song in the rehearsal space here at Pandora's Box and then heading into the big room to record it. Yesterday we had our big summer Aerosmith BBQ and it was spectacular! Great food, plenty of laughs and some jamming.
August 23 at 5:42 am: Joe and Brad and Steven came up with a new song while we were recording another one.
August 24 at 8:17 pm: Got another basic track today. Going to rehearse two of Joe's songs tomorrow.
(Douglas adjusts a mike on Joey Kramer's drum kit in this August 2011 photo by Michael Coleman, used with Douglas' permission.)
August 26 at 5:34 am: We are getting ready for the storm. Guess I will spend the weekend in the studio since where I am living is right on the coast. If the power stays on we might as well get some more work done.
August 26 5:06 pm: We are all going to camp out in the studio and wait out the storm, like Boy Scouts with guitars and drums. Hope the power stays on.
August 26 at 7:56 pm: Thanks to all of you who have picked up the just-released Michael Monroe album I recently produced, "Sensory Overdrive."
August 26 at 9:11pm: 10 basic tracks done. Heading for 11 and 12 next. Just listened to the rough mixes we did today. I am going to bed very happy.
August 27 at 10:18 am: Over at Joe's today (The Boneyard) to set up for some tracking we are doing here next week. But back to Pandora's Box (the main Aerosmith Studio) tomorrow to ride out the storm and have some more fun.
August 27 at 7:13 pm: Sat with Joe tonight and studied the rough mixes. We both agree this sounds like the band at its best. Steven is cooking up some great lyrics as I am typing.
August 29 at 8:16 am: Put in a very productive day yesterday while the wind and rain tore it up outside Pandora's Box. Lost power just once for about 5 seconds. Today we are over at The Boneyard to record for the rest of the week. It is always a blast here because Joe has a great cigar stash and a room to enjoy them in.
August 30 at 5 am: For those who are asking, this album will be raw, nasty, tough rock with a good deal of the old Aerosmith "tongue in cheek."
August 30 at 7 am: The new album should be out around May 2012. I know that's a long wait but after the South American tour and Japan in Oct., Nov. and Dec., we will just get back to work on it in mid Jan. Hang in, everybody. I will have lots of cool reports from the studio along the way till its release.
August 31 2 am: This week Warren Huart (our engineer) and I have been shuttling back and forth between Pandora's Box and The BoneYard. We start at Pandora's at 9 a.m., work on selecting performances and editing for three hours, then head over to The BoneYard to track songs that sound cool there in the smaller tighter room. Then back to Pandora's till midnight for some more work. Even though these have been 14-16 hour days it is so much fun we hardly notice. Till I hit the bed and I'm gone in 2 sec.
September 1 6 am: I think we have now finished basic tracks. Joey and Tom can take a break for awhile. But they, probably, will hang out just for the fun of it.
THE WRAP — Hope you enjoyed the fifth journey through Peeples Place at KHTS! You can always visit us right here at www.peeplesplace.com , and at our under-construction Peeples Place Facebook page . Please share the posts and "like" the page and help us build our online community of SCV music-makers and music-lovers. We also invite you to sign up for the weekly newsletter .
If you have a new album to review or music news you’d like us to include in an upcoming post, shoot an email to me at email@example.com .
Special thanks this week to all the artists and their families, managers, media relations reps, friends and fans. Extra special thanks to Frieda Peeples for her invaluable production assistance, and to Nadine A. Peeples for her invaluable encouragement and support. This post is dedicated to my son Scot L. Peeples, who celebrates a birthday today.
With a face perfect for radio, I’ll see you on AM 1220 in the Santa Clarita Valley 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 (www.raintreejazz.com ). For more information, visit www.stephenkpeeples.com .