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VALLEY WEEKEND | ROCKTALK

He 'Plays It All,' but Don't Expect Name to Ring a Bell

Guitarist Walter Trout, known in Europe but little-known in the U.S., doesn't like to be tied down to one style of music.

May 09, 1996|JAMES E. FOWLER | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Ever heard of Walter Trout?

Most Americans haven't. But in Europe guitarist Trout, who plays at Smokin' Johnnie's on Friday night, is mentioned in the same breath with the likes of Eric Clapton, Jimmy Paige and Jimi Hendrix.

In 1993, he placed sixth in a BBC poll asking fans their opinion of the top 20 greatest guitarists. And, like Clapton and Paige, Trout is a former member of John Mayall's Bluesbreakers. He also toured with John Lee Hooker and Big Mama Thornton and spent four years as a member of Canned Heat.

He has recorded six albums, but only one, "Tellin' Stories," has been released in the United States. Last year's CD of blues and other musical experiments, aptly named "Breaking the Rules," is only available as a Dutch import.

"I have fun trying to blend styles," Trout says. "Some people like it and others say, 'We don't know what to call this.' "

Known primarily as a blues guitarist, Trout says he doesn't want to limit himself to that style alone.

"I quit John Mayall, and I loved playing with him, but I wanted to play more styles," Trout says. "It gets me in trouble with purists, but I don't care."

Trout lists such diverse influences as Hank Williams; the Beatles; Little Richard; Jimi Hendrix; Crosby, Stills and Nash; Muddy Waters, and Buddy Guy.

"I tend to put all that stuff together in my writing and playing, too, " he says. "I like a cross-section of music. I like to play it all."

Not surprisingly, Trout needs players who also can perform a variety of styles. Trout and his band--Jimmy Trapp on bass, Martin Gerschwitz on keyboards and Kevin Austin on drums--are currently preparing for a two-month tour of Europe.

* Walter Trout plays Friday night at Smokin' Johnnie's, 11720 Ventura Blvd., Studio City. No cover. Call (818) 760-6631.

*

Valley Metal: Sometimes, as a joke, members of Edicius tell people that the name of their metal band is Greek for "the Eagles."

Bassist-singer Steve Bryant reveals that it's really "suicide" spelled backward. It started as a joke, he said, poking fun at the death obsession of many heavy metal songs. Over time the group's interpretation has shifted to mean the reverse of suicide.

"Instead of 'taking your own life,' it means the reverse, 'making your own life,' " Bryant says. "It's not brain surgery, it's rock and roll."

Besides Bryant, band members are drummer Chris Cotton and guitarists Bruce Kagan and Tom Parker. The band's influences include Panterra and Metallica. "We don't sound like them," says Bryant. "But we're definitely influenced by them."

The band is having a release party for its new CD, "Neckbreaker," on Saturday at Mancini's.

Bryant writes most of the lyrics, which are drawn from personal experience and concerns--"being cornered by the pressures of modern society--crime, taxes, social unrest." But not all is negative. "I know life is bad, but c'mon, you gotta have some levity," Bryant says.

* Edicius' CD release party is Saturday night at Mancini's, 20923 Roscoe Blvd., Canoga Park. $6 cover. Call (818) 341-8503.

*

The Van Nuys Sound: In their bio, the band Darcy's Kiss--with its collective tongue placed firmly in its collective cheek--states that the band is "proudly based in the cultural hotbed of Van Nuys, California, city of magic, city of destiny."

So when they play at Bourbon Square in Van Nuys on Wednesday night, they won't have far to travel. The band rehearses in a garage about 30 feet from the club.

The group's guitarist and resident raconteur Jonny El describes their music as a kind of controlled frenzy. "It's pretty heavy and it rocks," El says. "But there's also a pop element thing to it."

The band's six-song cassette demo certainly confirms that. Is this the advent of the Van Nuys sound?

"I don't know if we can say there's a Van Nuys sound," says guitarist Jonny El. "But there's a healthy community of bands in the Valley."

Besides El, the band consists of singer Wade Vincent, bassist Derrick Anderson and drummer Kevin Holden.

* Darcy's Kiss performs Wednesday night at Bourbon Square, 15324 Victory Blvd., Van Nuys. $3 cover. Call (818) 997-8562.

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