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MUSIC GARDEN PARTY : Not Grateful : The Grammys prove that talent is incidental to 'making it.' What's left besides luck? Attitude--and Kelly Green has it.

January 17, 1991|BILL LOCEY | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

It's not news that people seem to have a tendency to fall in love with celebrities. For example, every male under 75 who isn't blind and has cable and a pulse is probably in love with Christina Applegate. And those with only a VCR are in love with Kim Basinger, Michelle Pfeiffer or that other woman with the lips, Julia what's-her-name. It's the same for females--they lust after Bruce Willis (why, I don't know), Tom Cruise or Johnny Depp. Celebrities want us to love them, and we do.

Anyway, today's tip is for you guys: If you fall for Kelly Green, the singer in Santa Barbara's Garden Party, don't ever confess to being one of Jerry's Kids (Garcia, that is) and for sure don't send her a tie-dyed T-shirt for her birthday.

"I hate the Grateful Dead," Green said during a recent interview, "and I don't really care who knows it." And since she said it to a newspaper columnist, we can now safely assume her secret is out. Her confession came moments after the band concluded a spontaneous and lengthy instrumental to kick off its practice session. It sounded a lot like, well, never mind.

"I wouldn't even wear a Garden Party T-shirt even if we had them," Green continued. So much for the theory that a rock band has not, in fact, arrived unless they have T-shirts. Being in a band is one thing, but "making it" as a band is something altogether different. Luck is probably the most important ingredient, and talent is, of course, incidental--the Grammys prove that annually. So what's left? Attitude, that's what.

And Green has got the rock 'n' roll attitude, not yet to the Chrissie Hynde level where rockers are dropping right and left, but an attitude nonetheless.

"It's pretty boring around here, except when we play at parties," said Green. "When people are drunk, they don't care. Once we played at The Graduate. I hated it. The bouncers are complete jerks, but somehow it was one of our best shows.

"Another time, we opened for The Call at the Ventura Theatre. I couldn't stand The Call. I stayed for about half the show, then I left."

Science fiction writer Theodore Sturgeon once noted that "90% of everything is crud." Green probably thinks he was an optimist.

"The state of American music is awful and pathetic. People sit around and listen to Trixter all day," she said. "And now, alternative music means college radio, which means everybody ends up sounding like Toad The Wet Sprocket. Current pop music is the most horrendous thing that's ever happened in the history of the world."

Green is obviously not a history major. Actually, she's an English major at UC Santa Barbara.

Garden Party has a tape and even a gig, at Zelo in Santa Barbara on Wednesday with The Sleepwalkers. And with a name like Garden Party, you'd almost expect a Rick Nelson cover band.

"We have about 19 Garden Party songs. The only cover we do is by Berlin, not Rick Nelson. It's 'The Metro,' " said Green. "I used to be in this band in the Valley called the Vegetables, and we actually did play once with the two godlike offspring of Rick. But as for Garden Party, we practice a few times each week and play about three times a month."

Green sings while the three guys basically shut up and play--Bob Albert on bass, David Pearce on lead guitar and Kurt Hobson on drums. And like most people in this part of the world, these four are from somewhere else. Green is from Tarzana and the three dudes are from the Bay Area. Her voice, nearly powerful enough to be heard in the Bay Area from Isla Vista, compares favorably with Natalie Merchant of 10,000 Maniacs.

The band recently made the "sweet 16" list of the Snicker's New Music Search, which ultimately yielded a tape with one song by each band. So if you're in your dentist's office, who knows, you may hear Garden Party doing "Creep" in the background.

"I write most of the songs, 70% or so, and we all do the music," said Green. "We're not an alternative Santa Barbara band. We're sort of like the Jazz Butcher and Aztec Camera, sort of college and mainstream folk. People think we're really poppy, but we're not. We're accessible and we rock 'n' roll."

Green is in no danger of being mistaken for one of the Indigo Girls or any of those other mellow pop rockers.

"People are so dumb. They think I'm just this flaming redhead in a band and the guitar player has a cute haircut. People come up to me on campus and say, 'I know you're in a band, but I can't remember which one.' And also, we are not friends of Duncan Wright, that guy that writes for The Independent. I have no idea why he likes us and slags everybody else. I'm not in this for the money. I just want to be happy."

WHERE AND WHEN

Garden Party and the Sleepwalkers at Zelo, 630 State St., Santa Barbara, 9 p.m. No more than three bucks. 966-5792.

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