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Bonedaddys Boast Costumed Fun by the Trunkload : Danceable tunes, where the beat is king, attract loyal fans known as 'boneheads.' The band plays in Ventura on Saturday.


Bonedaddys. Weird name. Weird band. If one of the members wore a hawg hat, like an alumnus of President Bill's favorite school, well, he'd be the normal one. The band wears feathers, fezzes, leopard-skin pillbox hats and stranger stuff that doesn't even have a name. They also wear dashikis, robes, party dresses and that American staple, polyester, in a swirling array of colors loud enough to daze a Deadhead.

"We do spend more on instruments than on clothes," said bandleader Mike Tempo during a recent phone interview. "But our clothes are becoming a little more '90s--everybody just brings their own stuff. Sometimes when we tour, we'll bring a trunk. "

It's anybody's guess what the Bonedaddys will pull out of their trunk when they return to Nicholby's in Ventura on Saturday night--suit, tie and tutu wouldn't be out of the question. But what is for sure is the party energy the band will shake loose.

"When we play, hopefully it's fun and there's a lot of dancing," Tempo said. "We feed off the energy of the crowd. If the crowd is hot, then we'll be hot."

Bonedaddys. Weird name.

"The name just popped up years ago, and it just sounded appropriate," said Tempo. "It's the kind of name you can build a myth around."

The Bonedaddys has developed a hard-core following (fans are known as "Boneheads") and a network of band members who come and go. Much like baseball spring training, you often can't tell the Bonedaddys without a score card. "There's probably 30 or 40 ex-band members," Tempo said. "We're sort of like an extended family, and a lot of times ex-Bonedaddys come back and play with us."

As of the third week of August, Tempo was on percussion; Kasper Abbo handled vocals; Marcus Watkins played guitar; Jay Work, sax; Rick Moors, bass; Roderick Njoes, drums, and Gary Johnson, keyboards.

Their music is nearly as eclectic as their wardrobe. About everything except heavy metal can be found in a Bonedaddys' song, where the beat is king.

"It's 'up-full,' you know," said Tempo, inventing a new word. "It's soulful and danceable, and if it has those things, it can be a Bonedaddys' song as long as it moves people. Sometimes I like to describe our music as country music, except that it comes from a lot of different countries. There's several African styles, some samba and some Caribbean stuff."

They do all sorts of weird covers from Elvis to the Wild Magnolias, each becoming suddenly very danceable.

"We have a pretty big repertoire, about 50 songs, something like that," Tempo said. "We never make out a set list until we check out the (club) and try to get a feel for it. We've never had a planned set list until 20 minutes before the show. Plus, we're susceptible to calling audibles on stage, depending on the crowd."

Tempo says the band likes playing at Nicholby's. "We'd like to establish a little beachhead up there because we haven't been playing L.A. much lately," Tempo said.

The band is easier to find than their old music. "Well, I guess we just haven't found the right record company yet," Tempo said. "The first two albums are out of print, and the other two are just hard to find. So, the label scene could have been a lot better. We wish the records we've made were more accessible."

The Bonedaddys is currently working with a producer and hopes to record a demo. "All we can do is try to make good music and let the chips fall where they may," Tempo said. "We have to stay true to ourselves."


* WHAT: The Bonedaddys.

* WHERE: Nicholby's, 404 E. Main St., Ventura.

* WHEN: Saturday, 9 p.m.

* COST: 5 bucks.

* ETC.: Call 653-2320.

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