You never can tell what you might find in bowling alleys, or "entertainment centers," as they're now calling themselves.
I was club-hopping three weeks ago and discovered a nice surprise in Goleta's Galleon Room, inside the Orchid Bowl.
Even on weekends, the line dancing isn't as feverish as it is at the City Line Club or Red Dog Saloon in neighboring Santa Barbara. Many folks come just to hear the band, so the floor is open for two-steppers. And the Galleon Room is a smaller, more intimate club than its two competitors.
And it was nice to escape the overly familiar sets played elsewhere as I found myself dancin' and romancin' with my fella to songs by Spaghetti Western that extol the virtues of truckers and good-hearted, forgiving women.
Readers who haven't traveled up the coast to dance may not know this band, since they play mostly at the Galleon Room, City Line and Red Dog. But now you won't have to go farther than the Ventura Concert Theatre to catch their fresh, danceable music and harmonies.
They will be opening for Carlene Carter on Feb. 19. And they are ready--complete with their own T-shirts (designed by the lead vocalist's 15-year-old son) and a new tape of 14 original songs.
Here's what the group's founder, Joe Ferrario, had to say between aftershocks during a recent phone conversation.
"Spaghetti Western" is a catchy name. Where'd you get it?
We took that from the old Clint Eastwood movies like "The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly" and "A Fistful of Dollars." A couple of us are Italian. Besides me, there's our lead vocalist, Frank Sunseri. And there's Kenny Warren, lead guitar and honorary Italian. The three of us started the band in the summer of 1991.
Describe your sound.
We're not your typical Nashville pretty-boy glam band. We try to have fun when we play, and we have no hypocrisy about being a human jukebox for the dancers. I'd call us a contemporary country band with a little of the old stuff thrown in--the honky-tonk, Buck Owens sound, sort of like what Dwight Yoakam does.
What's the lineup?
We don't have keyboards. Two guitars (Sunseri and Warren), bass (Ferrario), drums (Art Meckauer) and steel (Randy Maseda) is all we really need. Kenny also plays mandolin. And we're just now breaking in a female singer, Jill Miles, who plays guitar and sings some backup and leads to enhance the harmonies.
Tell us about the tape.
All 14 songs are originals. And we hope to have it out in stores in Santa Barbara in about six weeks. Musically, it's selected more like a demo tape. But I would say it's good for listening and dancing. We're calling our own little homespun record company Bent Records.
The tape is named after one of the songs Frank wrote called, "For a Fistful of Pasta." It's a fast, humorous two-step about this guy who's craving pasta and sitting with an empty bowl in front of him. There's a fly doin' a backstroke in his beer and the garlic toast is as hard as his wife's brassiere. And the chorus is: "For a fistful of pasta, I would kill. In this world there ain't one thing pasta can't heal. For a fistful of pasta I would die. Take my dog, my wife, my best friend too. Just hit me with some Ragu."
Does anybody want to claim credit for that?
Kenny, Frank and I are the main songwriters. We have been playing in various bands together on and off since the mid-1970s. Musically, we've done everything, from country back then, then rock 'n' roll, Top 40 and funky R&B. Of course, we'd like a record or publishing deal. We all have day jobs. . . . It would be nice to make a living off our music."
Robyn Loewenthal, an avid two-stepper, welcomes all news of country doin's around the county. Submissions should arrive at least two weeks before the event. Write to her at 5200 Valentine Road, Suite 140, Ventura, 93003, or send faxes to 658-5576.
* WHAT: Spaghetti Western band opening for Carlene Carter
* WHERE: Ventura Concert Theatre, 26 S. Chestnut St., Ventura.
* WHEN: Feb. 19
* COST: $18.50
* PHONE: 648-1888
* FYI: The group will also perform this weekend in Goleta (see Two-Stepping) and in various locations in Santa Barbara and Goleta over the next several weeks. For the band's newsletter or for additional play dates, call 682-7417.