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NIGHT LIFE / THE CLUB SCENE

Word of Mouth : Rust doesn't advertise but the band's been pulling in the crowds anyway with its rockin' bluesy beat.

March 11, 1993|BILL LOCEY | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

Not too long ago, the only two Ventura bands that had the technology to make greedy club owners salivate were Raging Arb & the Redheads and Lion I's. But now you can add Rust to that short list of local bands that can pay the rent at Club Ugly Bouncer in a single evening of raucous rock.

Rust hardly ever advertises. Perhaps that's because even the most basic rules of society are lost on most of their concert-goers. Remember, these are the types who walk when the light turns red or only when traffic approaches. They don't get their concert news out of the paper, and rely instead on flyers attached to the nearest telephone pole. In fact, some of those poles probably remain erect solely due to the 8 million staples.

But while there may be plenty of rusty staples around, there won't be any Rust flyers announcing the band's upcoming gig: at the Bermuda Triangle in Ventura, along with In Between Jobs, this Saturday night.

"We hardly ever advertise our gigs," guitarist Ryan Denger said. "It's just by word of mouth; we just tell a few friends. It's just guys we went to school with and girls, a lot of girls."

This is a communications network that city council candidates would surely pay for. Because when Rust talks, people listen.

The band regularly packs Garfields Bar & Grill in Ventura. That's the place with a million TVs tuned to hockey with the sound off, as the Kings skate around with their brains switched off. But more importantly, Garfields offers inexpensive drinks, good food and free popcorn. Last time Rust played there, so many people were dancing that the drum set kept getting knocked over and the band gonged the gig early.

Former Mudhead and lifetime Dodger fan Dave Ragsdale described Rust as "sort of like Raging Arb from the East End." They do have that rockin' bluesy beat, but they're also a bit like Neil Young (they got their name from two of his album titles) and have traces of the Black Crowes from the mall scene.

The band does mostly originals, but also covers songs by Chuck Berry, Creedence Clearwater Revival and the Clash, among others. But whatever they do, people dance.

"Our music is energetic, for sure," Denger said. "It's party music. We do about eight covers and we have 20-something originals. The music is a combined effort; everyone does their thing."

"We're just a bar band," said Jeff Avila, Rust's drummer and an original band member.

Rust went through various lineup changes for a few years, doing the usual new band thing: playing at parties. The five Rust dudes are all Buena High School graduates and lifelong friends. In addition to Denger and Avila, Rust also includes brothers Chad Turner on vocals and Kelly Turner on rhythm guitar, and John Young on bass.

The current lineup has only been together since August, and a money-making juggernaut since Thanksgiving.

"We had the crowd before, but after Ryan joined, the band just took off," Avila said. "For me, the band is what I live for. I'm not doing this for success; I'm just happy seeing my friends happy. But I do think the scene here could expand and Ventura could be the next Seattle, especially if Ventura had the same exposure as Seattle."

If Ventura ever becomes the next Seattle as far as rock 'n' roll is concerned, there will be several differences. For one, the bands here are good. For two and three, the weather is a lot better and even the Rams could beat the Seahawks.

But if Ventura ever does become Seattle II, it may well have to do so without Rust--whose members are contemplating a bizarre career move.

Just as every band in the nation wants to move to L. A. to be near the music industry, Rust is going to fool those A&R guys by moving to Bakersfield. No one will ever find them there.

Vocalist Turner lives in Bakersfield and works for his father there during the week, which is why the band doesn't practice and only plays on weekends.

According to Avila, the band will relocate to the San Joaquin Valley around June. According to Denger, maybe not. In any case, Rust will continue to play in its hometown on the weekends.

Whether they start doing Buck Owens songs remains to be seen.

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