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MUSIC : Tao Jonz, Local Club Heroes, May Go North : San Francisco may be the next stop for this classification-defying quartet.


Life isn't fair. If it was, all the L. A. teams wouldn't keep losing, Reagan would best be remembered for General Electric Theatre and no one would have gotten an earthquake for their birthday.

Music, life's weird soundtrack, is doubly unfair. Crummy music abounds and good bands go away with alarming regularity. On the local level, another in that endless series of "Why ain't they rich?" bands is Santa Barbara's Tao Jonz.

Other bands may be more fun, but no local band is better than Tao Jonz. They combine a little reggae, a little ska, a little rock, a little blues, and they end up sounding just like, well, Tao Jonz. The quartet has a tape and two CDs of original material.

"Jeez, I can't really describe our music except to say it's original," bass player and lead singer Doug Jaffe said. "We have about 70 originals and have never--not once--done a cover song."

Besides Jaffe, the other Jonz boys are singer/guitarist Jimmy Werking, "The Working Man," with a Ph.D. in electrical engineering from UC Santa Barbara. Stosh (just Stosh) hits the drums, while Johnny Atmosphere creates a lot of it when he plays keyboards. The group has been playing in S. B. since 1989. Unfortunately, that may be almost long enough.

The band, having conquered State Street, may be on the verge of expanding its horizons, and perhaps meeting a lot of Giants fans.

"We've played in L. A. a couple of times, but afterward, it never seemed to be such a good idea," the bass player said. "San Francisco seems like the place to be. They seem to like us up there and we might move around March."

Santa Barbara has been home to Jaffe and Werking since they left Fort Collins, Colo., where they met.

"Around 1985 or 1986, we had an all-original band called Rhythm & Views," Jaffe said. "We were cool, but we only played about eight months when Jimmy left for UCSB. I went to Venice to try to be like Jim Morrison and became a drunk. Venice is great for that. We got together again around 1989 and formed Tao Jonz."

Now, everyone has a plan that will not work. Does Tao Jonz? At their gigs, both of their CDs were on sale--cheap, real cheap. The band ended up giving a lot of them away. OK, now name one show where you got anything free besides a headache.

"We must've given thousands of CDs away," Jaffe said. "We'd sell a few for five bucks, two bucks, whatever. We have always felt that getting our music out there was most important. Right now, we're out of CDs."

They'll never run out of clever songs.

Bill Locey, who writes regularly on rock 'n' roll, has survived the mosh pit and the local music scene for many years.


* WHAT: Tao Jonz.

* WHERE: Beach Shack, 500 Anacapa St., Santa Barbara.

* WHEN: Friday night, 9-ish.

* COST: Two or three bucks. 966-1634.

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