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NIGHT LIFE THE CLUB SCENE

Fasten Up : The members of hillbilly-surf-rock band J. D's Last Ride are inspired by fallen idols--James Dean and Gram Parsons.

March 07, 1991|BILL LOCEY | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

How good is good? Marjorie Extract, lead singer for J. D.'s Last Ride, is so good, she'll be one of those singers who make people say, "Gee, I saw her way back when . . . ."

She's like k. d. lang, Maria McKee and Patsy Cline--on steroids--with a voice as big as all outdoors, and sweeter than a weekend at the Twinkie factory. In fact, Extract (she swears it's her real name) has got it all--hits and a zillion rowdy male fans willing to drink swamp water and sleep in a hollow log just to hear her say, "Drop dead, sucker"--except for a record deal.

When Extract starts to sing, it's like a command performance. The drinkers quit drinking and the talkers quit talking and the bartenders quit tending--everyone pretty much sits and stares in rapt wonder, as if her vocals were melting their shoes. For most of the guys, it is an added incentive that she's generally gorgeous.

But any guy on the prowl better forget it, since Extract's heart belongs to another--something of a romantic dead end, so to speak. "Gram Parsons is the only man I've ever loved," Extract said in a recent interview. "My favorite person in the world is Gram Parsons. Gram Parsons is God. When I get to heaven, I'm going to marry him."

Parsons, a former member of the Byrds, died more than 20 years ago, or 10 years after the J.D. in the title. The J.D. stands for James Dean, and we all know how that ended. Was James Dean listening to stuff like this? The band's music is more listenable than lethal--and who wouldn't rather dance than crash?

J. D.'s Last Ride music is roots rock 'n' roll mixed with country, hillbilly, oh, and surf music. They have quite a few originals, plus they perform a lot of obscure covers. They also cover "It's All Over Now" (the Stones version) plus Chris Isaak's "Gone Ridin," with sufficient power to light up Isaak's goofy suits like a neon sign.

"We're definitely not a country or a rockabilly band," said Robert Ramirez, one of the guitar players and founder of the band.

"We're a hillbilly rock 'n' roll band--underwater," Extract said.

J. D.'s Last Ride used to be something else. Ramirez is also the guitarist for the off-again, on-again Big Wednesday, an outfit that covers '60s surf instrumentals. And like most other males, the first time he heard Extract it blew his mind.

"All the time I was in Big Wednesday, I was thinking about doing a band with vocals," Ramirez said. "Then one time at Charlie's, I saw Marjorie with her band, Scarlet Ribbons & the Johnny Yuma Five. Anyway, that band sort of flaked out, so her and I started playing together.

"For about six months, I'd drive up to her house in Goleta and we'd practice and start to get a set together. Then we added Tim (Anderson) on guitar, and then we met Paul (Harrison), our bass player. Louie Franco, our drummer, is from Big Wednesday. Everybody writes in this band. Everybody is important. We all like each other--we're all good friends."

* WHERE AND WHEN

J. D.'s Last Ride will open for Santa Barbara's ever-popular singing landscaper, Spencer the Gardener, at Hussing's tonight.

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