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VENTURA COUNTY WEEKEND | ROCKTALK

Papa-Nata --the New Jesters on Local Scene

Front man Guy Jeans not only has lined up a sponsor for the group, but has booked a full schedule as well.

May 02, 1996|BILL LOCEY | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

Fifty bucks to go to a movie with no cartoons, a hundred bucks to go to watch the Dodgers get shut out, a thousand bucks for gas to get to a lawyer to file for divorce--the '90s are truly a decade of diminishing returns, broken dreams and expensive hobbies. That's why the hyphenated Ventura band, Papa-Nata, is such an entertainment deal these days.

The band's CD release party Friday night at the Bombay Bar & Grill in Ventura will set the musically minded back a mere ten bucks. And for this you get the new CD, "Destination," or a Papa-Nata T-shirt.

Papa-Nata, the musical cousin of Lion I's, one of the most popular local bands ever, remains the brainchild of keyboard player Guy Jeans.

Now get those scorecards ready, folks, here's the band genealogy: First, there were Lion I's, then Trouser Trouts, then the Throbbin' Willies, and then Simple Phunkshun. Jeans, taking the what's-in-a-name theory to extremes, was leaning toward the Simpletons or the Simpletones but both were taken by other bands.

"I didn't like any of those names," said Jeans, if that's his real name. "Simple Phunkshun? I hated that name, even Lion I's. What does that mean? We never even had a logo for any of those bands. But Papa-Nata, this is the one. Without the hyphen, papanata means 'jester' in Spanish."

This must account for the jester logo on the new CD. For Papa-Nata, just 6 months old, business is booming and no laughing matter.

They play every Thursday night at Bombay and are booked through June elsewhere, including road trips to Lake Tahoe and a gig at Polypalooza, a serious party in San Luis Obispo next weekend. And an eight-day tour of Australia in September looks to be a Fosterspalooza in the making.

From Lion I's to all those bands in between, there's been an obvious musical progression up to Papa-Nata. First, there's songwriter Jeans, now the front man, still playing his hand-held keyboard, the AX-1. And the group still does "Pressure," one of the best Lion I's songs.

The rhythm section has a couple of familiar faces--Robert Rachelli on drums and Bruce Conaway thumping a bass--both Lion I's alums. Dave Price and Gabe Chesher play saxes and Jeff Magyar is the guitarist and the sound man.

"I think our music is a cross between ska, reggae and jazz with some funk in there. There's a lot of improvising going on when we play. People can solo for days and express themselves musically," said Jeans. "We have a distribution deal on the West Coast, so right now we just want to sell the CDs and some shirts."

By being a veteran of so many bands, Jeans has become adept at band logistics as well as keeping the players happy. Jeans did for Papa-Nata what every band should do--he got a sponsor.

And because they play almost exclusively in bars, what better sponsor could there be than a beer company? Not surprisingly, their show-stopper is the self-explanatory Trouser Trouts' song, "Beer in My Hand."

Musicians who end up giving their money back to the venue at the end of the night to cover the bar tab, take note.

"Basically, your band has to play a lot with people buying a lot of beer," said Jeans. "I recommend that every band do this, especially Raging Arb because their fans drink so much. Even if it's crummy beer, they [the sponsors] pay for fliers, posters, the mailing list. . . . Also, some beer companies put you on tours, pay for hotels, stuff like that."

The Bombay Bar & Grill is at 143 California St., not far from the dead Buster's. The gig will be in the Oasis Room in the back with the doors opening around 9:30 p.m. The Papa-Nata show--one long set--begins at 10:30 p.m. Call the venue at 643-4404.

*

It's great to be in there with the boss, just ask a teacher's pet, an only child or Doris Duke's chauffeur. Two Lane Blacktop is in there with the boss, Nick Taylor, the Nick of Nicholby's in Ventura. The Bay Area band blew Taylor's mind when they opened for Blue by Nature on March 23.

The band gets to play twice this weekend, once Friday night with The Uninivited, then again with those ska kings out of Carpinteria, The Upbeat.

"I want them to be headliners," said Taylor, a man with the technology to make it so.

Two Lane Blacktop, in addition to being named after a 1971 weirdo cult movie, has a CD from last year on Rockstar Records. The first song begins with the musical mother of all bad advice, "Let's get drunk and start all over again . . ." The band is the essential bar band with lots of songs about wimmen and drankin' all rolled up in a bluesy rock package.

The venue is at 404 E. Main St. in Ventura. Call 653-2320 to find out more about these $5 shows.

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