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Name-Dropping in a Good Cause : Musicians who've been playing as Sky King and Caught Red Handed settle on use of the latter.


It's finally official. Fans of singer Troy Robinson and all of the previous incarnations of those popular country bands--Sky King and Caught Red Handed--can rest easy. The dating period is over. The engagement was a success. And the wedding is set for the first of the year. Meanwhile, they're happy just livin' together.

"Sky King is kaput after Dec. 31--we're going to call ourselves just plain Caught Red Handed," said Rob Wilson, lead vocalist and guitarist with Sky King.

Since returning last February from a yearlong stint as an ostrich farmer in his native Oklahoma, Robinson, the popular co-founder of Caught Red Handed, has played every gig except Lompoc and the Galleon Room with Sky King. And club owners wanting to cash in on his name recognition were billing the group as Troy Robinson "with" or "and" Caught Red Handed, disregarding Sky King completely. (The previous members of Caught Red Handed eventually joined other bands, including Sky King, after Robinson's departure for Oklahoma.)

The musicians finally decided to end the confusion after showing up at Port Hueneme for a K-Hay radio event in which they were booked as Sky King. Seeing Robinson with the group, "(Deejay) Mark James said, 'But this is Caught Red Handed,' " Wilson recalled. "The only difference was Troy was with us. But it was just getting too hard for the people to understand what's what."

So Robinson will play rhythm guitar and front the five-piece group as he did with his own original lineup of Caught Red Handed. Joining him are the members of Sky King: Wilson on lead guitar, bass player Ron Robinson (Troy's cousin), Alan Flaa on pedal steel guitar and Randy Guzcman on drums.

No matter. A great band by any other name will still be a great band.

I've heard them a couple of times since March and they sounded fine. The band's trademark vocal harmonies and Flaa's pedal steel licks really enhance those slow couple-clutcher dances.

Look for original tunes by the Robinson cousins and Wilson in the near future and more Los Angeles appearances. And after the first of the year, Caught Red Handed will play the Crazy Horse in Santa Ana.

Meanwhile, Thunder 105.5 radio will be playing "Hard Work Havin' Fun," a West Coast Swing cut from Troy Robinson's mini compact disc. The four-song CD was recorded in June with Nashville-based producer Clyde Brooks.

"I just think that this is gonna be a great Caught Red Handed vocal band because everybody can sing lead and a lot of harmonies," said Robinson. Yep--but he still gets to wear the cowboy hat.


Platte River Crossing has gone on to bigger and better things since moving to Nashville. Thunder 105.5 deejay Bob Allen just broke a second single, "High Life," off the band's debut CD called "Sleepin' With My Boots On." And you can catch them live Nov. 28 through Dec. 3 in Las Vegas at Boulder Station, a huge new country-western club.

Allen is currently playing a cut from Troy Robinson's mini CD during his afternoon drive-time slot. "Everywhere you go you can hear national artists," said Allen. "But I want to also highlight talented local people because there's an abundance of good local bands."


Blockbuster Entertainment has the same opinion. Beginning next week, the four Ventura County locations of Blockbuster Music--Thousand Oaks, Ventura, Simi Valley and Oxnard--will carry tapes and CDs by local bands, including country bands, of course.

At headquarters in Florida, Blockbuster Music President Gerry Weber confirmed the move: "This is going to be a nationwide rollout. We're going to feature local artists in all of our stores to give an opportunity to local artists to be heard."

Weber said they have already been doing that in some parts of the country since taking over Music Plus and several other chains two years ago. The chain has introduced music sampling, which allows the customer to bring up any CD--not tape--to the sample bar and listen before deciding to buy. And you'll soon be able to sample local groups, too. According to Linda Oh, salesperson in the Thousand Oaks store, fans can also order tapes and CDs of local artists as long as they are distributed by a label--even independents.

"Bands can't just walk in with an armload of their stuff and expect us to stock it," she said.

Country music is selling so well that the Thousand Oaks store plans to double the section size after the holidays.


Cousin's Country Saloon in Simi Valley will be under new management by mid-December. Mark Lucatorto, one of the new owners, told me they plan to remodel the stage and sound system. And they'll swap the cafeteria-style chairs and tables for tall, round tables and stools. Lucatorto said dance lessons will continue: "We're bringing in some bigger name local bands and some that have opened for the major artists. And we're contemplating bringing in comedians one night a month."

* TWO STEPPIN': Your guide to area country-western entertainment is in the 11-Day Calendar today, 16.


* WHAT: Caught Red Handed.

* WHERE: City Line Club inside San Marcos Bowl, 4050 Calle Real, Santa Barbara.

* WHEN: Nov. 25-26 and Dec. 16-17.

* FYI: Call 967-5631.

* ETC: On Nov. 25, 8 to 9 p.m. Diane will teach a new line dance, Jammin', and Nov. 26 she'll help couples master beginning waltz with basic turns.

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