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NIGHT LIFE

Power Rock Trio Could Be All the Rage : The Raging Honkies make their Ventura debut at Nicholby's. The group even has its own version of a guitar god.

July 21, 1994|BILL LOCEY | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

There have been some pretty powerful trios--Blue Cheer, The Jimi Hendrix Experience, Grand Funk Railroad and Cream. The Raging Honkies are this year's model. They play supercharged blues with endless guitar solos. And they'll be making the beer pulsate and pool balls defy the laws of physics at Nicholby's in Ventura on Saturday night. Opening is Ventura guitar band, Aerial.

Naturally, the starting point for a power trio is a guitar god. Michael Landau more than qualifies. The band's bio sheet is filled with quotes by writers who compare Landau to Hendrix, Jeff Beck, Eric Clapton and Stevie Ray Vaughn.

Landau has more fans than just writers, half of whom just show up for the free beer, anyway. When something like 250,000 people voted, Landau won the 1994 Guitar Player Magazine reader's poll as the best around. Past winners include Steve Vai, Eric Johnson, Eddie Van Halen and Clapton. According to bassist and brother, Teddy Landau, it was in the genes.

"I remember when he was real little, he always had 45s in his crib. Sometimes, he'd put them on his wrist and wear them as bracelets. He used to stick his head right by the speakers in the living room. When Michael was young, his nickname was 'Drix' because he could figure out Hendrix. Other kids would be playing heavy metal or something and Michael would be playing the Hendrix version of 'Hey Joe.' "

All three members of the trio, including drummer Abe Laboriel Jr., were in other bands before becoming Honkies in January. The Landaus, as Burning Water, were hits in Japan as recently as last year.

"At first, it was just me and my brother sitting around playing," said Teddy Landau. "Then we started looking for a drummer and we just called up Abe. A trio just seems to fit our style, which is sort of like Jimi Hendrix and Cream.

"Anyway, lead singers are a pain. . . . They're always whining about something. Michael's guitar is sort of Hendrix, sort of Stevie Ray Vaughn. It's pretty hard rock, but it's not heavy metal or anything. We've got 12 to 15 originals; we do a couple of Hendrix songs."

Not only do they rage, but they join a growing list of other bands that think they do too. There's Ventura's own Raging Arb & the Redheads, Raging Slab and Rage Against the Machine. Their name came courtesy of the younger generation.

"We got the name from these punk rock skateboard kids that live by us. We'd be playing in the garage and they'd come over," said Teddy. "When we decided we needed a name, we asked the kids. One of them said, 'Duuuude, the Raging Honkies.' The name doesn't mean anything, and it's certainly nothing racial. Our drummer is black."

This will be the band's Ventura debut. The rest of the time, the band does the L.A. thing, playing a lot of small bars where the floor is sticky and everything smells like old beer.

"Usually, we play these low-key little dives, none of which pay very much," said Teddy Landau. "But we're not a cover band, so that's pretty cool. And since no one is paying 15 bucks to get in, no one is going to panic when we don't play 'Free Bird.' "

And the buzz for the Raging Honkies is definitely on--they have a four-song demo tape, but as yet, no deal. That could be changing soon. But how to get signed where everyone in L.A. who is not a screenwriter, is in a band?

"It's hard," said Landau, "but we're sort of working with this guy named Dave Jerden who produced Alice in Chains. We just got out of the studio with, of all people, Tom Jones.

"A lot of people think that my brother plays on other people's records all the time and is some sort of geek session guy. Then they see him live."

Details

* WHAT: Raging Honkies and Aerial.

* WHERE: Nicholby's Upstairs Pool Hall & Night Club, 404 E. Main St.

* WHEN: Saturday, 9-ish.

* HOW MUCH: $5

* FYI: 653-2320

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