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A Musician Who Knows Industry Well : Patrick Landreville talks about his band, the business, how to make a hot record deal and his beard.


Patrick Landreville could more than hold his own with other famous bearded guys--Moses, Lincoln, the Smith Brothers, Wolfman Jack. If Landreville's beard was much longer, he wouldn't need a shirt. It's almost as long as some of his stories or the sets his band, Blues Deluxe, plays.

Blues Deluxe will be doing its incendiary brand of rockin' blues Tuesday night at the Midnight Hour in Ventura. Buddy Smith on guitar is the one who puts the "rock" in those rockin' blues with bushels of searing solos; Paul Fasulo hits the drums; Landreville sings, plays bass, and insists they start on time. He also writes all the songs.

Landreville, now an Oxnard resident, is the president of Bald Ego Enterprises, and deals with all aspects of the music industry. He has played with everybody, knows everybody and has plenty of stories to tell. Without further exposition, here are his insights on the usual topics, plus advice on how to make a cold call to a record label that could end in a hot deal.

On moving here:

I've lived in Oxnard for the last 12 years, but I first came up here in 1968 or 1969. I was backing up Dave & Davis, a soul act who had this gig at this place called the Greasy Slough Duck Club in Goleta.

The band was myself; John Boutelle, a local guitarist who lives in Ventura now; Bob Siebenberg who ended up in Supertramp; and Scotty Gorham who later was in Thin Lizzy. We didn't have any songs, we just faked it, and sometimes played 16 hours a day.

On famous rock stars:

I've been fortunate to have played with a lot of heavyweights. I played with Muddy Waters after Willie Dixon had seen me. Whenever Dixon went off to do his own thing, I was his personal replacement. I stayed with Muddy for a few months, then played with John Lee Hooker for awhile. In the early '70s, I went to England for awhile, but I always seemed to end up backing up other touring Americans. Later, I was on the road with Little Richard and Chuck Berry for a few years. I've promoted shows, booked bands--I've done everything in the music business except retail.

On playing the bass:

By 1965 or so, I had been a roadie for a bunch of different bands and I figured I could do as well as those guys. So I placed an ad for a band and I figured whatever I didn't get, I'd do that. That's how I ended up as the bass player. Most bass players are just frustrated guitar players. Actually, the bass is a very difficult instrument.

On the blues:

Blues is the mother of all American music. I just happened to grow up with the blues. If you're a blues man to the core, you just can't get away from it. Eric Clapton is a blues man, and no matter what he plays, it's still blues based. Blues is an approach to music, a way of playing.

On Blues Deluxe:

I have a song called "Blues Deluxe," so that's where the name came from. Most of the songs we do, I wrote in 1966. They're old enough now so it seems that someone else wrote them. I think they have a modern sound.

On Buddy Smith:

He's the next guitar god. I've known him since the '60s and I think he's better than Stevie Ray Vaughan. He just hasn't really shown his stuff yet. He's very transcendent in his thinking and he understands rhythm.

On getting signed:

Most of the local bands seem to have the initiative to record themselves. They make demos, then probably send them to the labels. If you send them to the A&R (Artists & Repertoire) Department, they usually go straight to the wastebasket and you get some sort of form letter. Or, the mail room guy gets them and records over them--free tape. That's why CDs are better. The music business is a social business and you have to know someone to be heard. Tapes get screened by personal recommendations. There are so many people trying to make it and there's only so many minutes in a day. Also, I'd say never pay to play. If anyone shows up, they just schmooze with each other, and it's on your tab. If you're generating enough heat, the A&R guys will come and see you.

On making a cold call:

The first thing you do is find a label that has signed a band most similar to yours, not the same, just similar. Then you call Artists Relations--not A&R--most people don't even know they exist. Then you ask about the act, who their booking agent is, and who signed them. It's an insider sort of thing; it's the job of Artist Relations to give out information. Once you find out who signed the band, then you have a name, a person to call. Even if they won't return your call at first, keep trying, send them a tape, or better yet, a CD. You never know what can happen. Schmooze a little bit on the phone with the secretary, get her name. Write it down. Take notes. This could be the person that opens the door for you. If you can get her interest, maybe she can get your stuff to the top of the pile.

On beards:

I've had beards off and on since the '60s. I've had this one since 1981 or so. I used to have a really long one but it got caught in a motor and ripped half my face off. This one's only about a fifth of my old beard.

* PERFORMANCES: An opinionated guide to the county's music scene appears today in the 11-Day Calendar.


* WHAT: Patrick Landreville & Blues Deluxe.

* WHERE: Midnight Hour, 281 W. Main St., Ventura.

* WHEN: Tuesday, 9 p.m.

* HOW MUCH: Cheap, free.

* FYI: 641-2112

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