After many lengthy delays, it looks as though the debut solo album by local musician Mark DeCerbo will finally see the light of day. Barring further impediments, the as-yet-untitled opus by the former guitarist-vocalist of San Diego's Four Eyes (and current member of the local vintage-rock band Rockola) will be released on the Bizarre-Straight label sometime in early September.
Actually, DeCerbo's record might have been out months ago were it not for the music biz's typically inscrutable machinations.
One day last summer, DeCerbo performed a private showcase for industry execs in a small nightclub on Sunset Strip. His ad hoc backing band consisted of ex-San Diegan Mike Keneally on keyboard and guitar, and Rockola mates Bob Tedde and Marty Eldridge on guitar and drums, respectively. In the aftermath of that gig, a honcho from Enigma Records made official his label's interest in signing DeCerbo.
In the fall, however, the artist-and-repertoire man left Enigma for Restless Records, and sought to bring the DeCerbo project with him. Reportedly, the suits at Restless loved what they heard of DeCerbo's music, but almost a year passed without the label advancing him the money to finish recording. Early last month, music-biz vet Herb Cohen (with whom DeCerbo has a production agreement) stepped in with the cash, thus forcing Restless out of the picture. Cohen gave DeCerbo three weeks to wrap up the studio work.
Immediately after Rockola's gig at the "Beatles Brunch Live" on June 23, DeCerbo drove to an Orange County studio to oversee the final mix-down of the album that he and co-producer Bob Duffey--a longtime Cohen associate--had been working on for more than a year. During one stretch, DeCerbo stayed at the mixing console for 24 hours straight to complete the task in the alloted three days.
Several of the songs on the upcoming album will be familiar to Four Eyes' fans, including "Blue in Clover," "Contagious," "Find the Time," "Anvil of Love," "Knotty Pine," and "Baby's Not in the Mood." Other cuts will include a new song, "House on the Edge of the Tracks," which was written during the protracted recording sessions.
Solid candidates to be the album's first single are the tracks "Mama Through the Years" and "Curtains." Because of an earlier suggestion by Enigma, DeCerbo will include one cover tune, an interpretation of the Beatles' "Hold Me Tight."
Players on the sessions included some local notables and some highly regarded industry musicians. Keneally contributed a multitude of keyboard and guitar parts, as well as backing vocals. Mighty Penguins drummer Paul Kimbarow played on seven songs. Additional drumming was handled by Mr. Mister's Pat Mastelotto.
The bass chores were divided between Byron Miller (who works with Luther Vandross and George Duke) and Terry Wilson. Ambrosia drummer Burleigh Drummond added percussion touches. Rockola's Tedde sang backing vocals and played guitar on one tune. Even DeCerbo's 12-year-old son, Ian, got into the action. He sings a high part on "Knotty Pine" that none of the adults could manage.
If DeCerbo's record label sounds vaguely familiar, it should. Bizarre Records and Straight Records were two labels founded in the early '70s by Frank Zappa and Cohen--then his manager--after Zappa's label, MGM, literally forgot to pick up the option on his recording contract. Alice Cooper and Captain Beefheart were two artists who released albums on the Bizarre label, while Zappa himself released several albums under Straight.
Cohen has reactivated and combined the labels, of which he now is exclusive owner.
Nominations are in for the first San Diego Music Awards, which salute local performers in several categories. The following nominees, chosen by radio dee jays, local media persons and area talent buyers, will vie for best-of honors in an awards presentation Aug. 19 in the San Diego Museum of Contemporary Art's Sherwood Auditorium.
"Best Solo or Duo": Bolton Dallas, Rugburns, A.J. Croce, Oh! Ridge, Jose Sinatra.
"Best Contemporary": Bordertown, People Movers, Siers Brothers, Heroes, Hut Sut Ralston.
"Best Vintage American": Tobacco Road, Fro Brigham's Preservation Band, South Market Street Band, Jimmy and Jeannie Cheatham, Bob Long Band.
"Best Jazz": Mark Lessman Band, Hank Easton Band, Reel to Real, Peter Sprague, Fattburger.
"Best Country": Savery Brothers, Scary Mary and the Noose, Char Carroll and the Durango Band, Country Casanova, Breakheart Pass.
"Best Reggae": Dr. Chico's Island Sounds, Cardiff Reefers, Shiloh, Common Sense, Roughneck Posse.
"Best Blues": Mighty Penguins, Tomcat Courtney, Earl Thomas and the Blues Ambassadors, Willie Jaye and the Texas Hurricanes, Ruby and the Red Hots.
"Best Classic or Vintage Rock": Rockola, Mar Dels, Dr. Feelgood and the Interns of Love, Redcoats, Cat-illacs.
"Best Original Rock 'n' Roll": Beat Farmers, Baba Yaga, Merry Go Down, Paladins, Buddy Blue and the Jacks.
"Best Nightclub Rock": Nemesis, Private Domain, France, Flyweil, Notice to Appear.