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Larry Dean Always Proving He Can Get His Hooks Into a Tune : Singer and songwriter brings his danceable, traditional music to Simi Valley club tonight.

October 06, 1994|ROBYN LOEWENTHAL | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

Tired of dancing to the same old canned Top-40 deejay tunes? Or just want to sit and listen to great country music and vocals? Well, hang onto your cowboy hats. There are plenty of opportunities across Ventura County this weekend to do both.

Get a head start tonight with Larry Dean and the Shooters at Cousin's Country Saloon, Simi Valley's popular nightspot. Similar in size and atmosphere to the Crazy Bull in Camarillo, Cousin's is an intimate club that accommodates line dancers and couples. But fans of couples-dancing will be in paradise with Dean's very danceable, traditional country music tonight through Saturday.

What's unusual is that Dean draws a club crowd even though more than 90% of his material is original. He's not a human jukebox for the line-dancing patrol. But the requests just keep coming. And Cousin's is the only place in Ventura County where the Canoga Park resident plays. So run, don't walk, to hear Dean's acoustic lead guitar and beautiful low tenor vocals backed by a tight band (Mickey Wells, pedal steel; Danny Cifalia, bass guitar; Brad Swanson, drums).

"I write music to match my voice--traditional country with the '50s and '60s sound," said the Texas native.

In 1984 Dean captured the California Country Music Assn.'s Song of the Year award. In 1990 two singles from his albums, "Thirty Years Ago Today" and "Outside Chance," both charted on Country Billboard, Radio and Records and Cashbox.

" 'Outside Chance' " was the first song I ever sang on 'Nashville Now,' " Dean said of the TNN show now called "Music City Tonight."

Dean's experience as a staff writer for some Nashville publishing companies has helped him learn to write lyrics that are tender without becoming cliched or gooey.

"Clever hooks--that's kinda what we're supposed to do as a songwriter," he said. "But there's a fine mix between being clever and showing emotion. There's a lot of clever writers in Nashville. But so many times they leave out emotion."

There's no danger of that with Dean's tunes. "Barely Gettin' By," "Slowly, With Feeling," and "Are You Listening?" are ballads guaranteed to deliver romantic goose-bumps. "When I Drive Out of Sight" is a new, hot straight-ahead highway song. And the strong instrumental hook of "Angel Day," penned with "Rhinestone Cowboy" writer Larry Weiss, is very appealing.

But Dean's up-tempo shuffle, "Sometimes Love Ain't Enough," contains my favorite line: "She said, 'I'm gone. I'm outta here.' She slammed the door and she disappeared. She didn't take the car. She didn't take the bus. Couldn't take a plane--that costs too much."

*

Dance-aholics, including many members of Ventura's Country Lovers Western Dance Club, are still recovering from their pilgrimage to dance workshops in Pismo Beach and Bakersfield. When I saw Bonnie Sommerville on Sunday, she was still flushed from learning 17 new line dances in one weekend.

But if you didn't make it to Pismo or points beyond, you've got a second chance. Starting Friday, Ventura will become "Bakersfield-by-the Sea" for two nights and three days of dancing competitions and workshops featuring some of the region's best instructors at the first annual California Western Dance Invitational.

Deejay Vince Fiske, the organizer of the event, said there will be something for all dancers, from novice to advanced level. And package room rates are available at the Country Inn near the American Legion hall and the Elks Lodge--sites of all the events, including two social dances Saturday evening with Shiloh and the Rhythm Rangers bands.

But Friday night after attending the workshops, why not practice what you've learned at the Crazy Bull in Camarillo? Darlene O'Connell and the Dixie Flyers will be in town after opening last week for Nashville recording artist Radney Foster.

Sunday afternoon check out the duo "Sibling Rivalry" at Thunder Country radio's fund-raiser, "Save Our Bases." Next hit the Ventura Harbor Village for outdoor tunes with the Rhythm Rangers. Then follow 'em over to the Crazy Bull for an early dance lesson on family night and country rockin' on a rare Sunday night of live music. (See Two-Steppin' listing for details on all these events and more).

Details

* WHO: Larry Dean and the Shooters.

* WHERE: Cousin's Country Saloon, 2381 Tapo St., Simi Valley.

* WHEN: 8:30 p.m. tonight through Saturday; dance lessons 7 p.m.

* CALL: 522-2559.

* ETC.: Dean will also appear at Cousin's on Oct. 18 and 19, Nov. 8, 9 and 17-19, Dec. 15-17 and 29-31.

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