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VALLEY WEEKEND | ROCKTALK

Stoney Curtis Plays the Yabba Dabba Blues

The group's guitarist traces his devotion to the genre to his Chicago roots--and the name of the band to a 'Flintstones' episode.

May 23, 1996|JAMES E. FOWLER | TIMES STAFF WRITER

It shouldn't be surprising that Curtis Feliszak, who moved here from Chicago 10 years ago, plays the blues. Even if you're not a Cubs fan, life in Chicago and the blues just seem to go together.

"It's like growing up in Detroit and not knowing about cars," Feliszak said. "Blues was always . . . where my heart was."

So Feliszak has been picking blues guitar for quite awhile now, and lists his influences as Buddy Guy, Stevie Ray Vaughn, Albert King, Jimmy Vaughn and B. B. King. With the blues so fashionable these days, he's as happy as one of those famed Chicago hogs. "Hopefully, it will last, " he says. "I hope they don't wear it out. I think it's great."

Feliszak will play Saturday at the Classroom with the Stoney Curtis Band. The band, however, was not named after him. It got its name from a character in an episode of "The Flintstones"--Stoney Curtis (instead of Tony Curtis) was a Stone Age movie heartthrob.

From there it wasn't long before the band--specifically singer Eric Mitchell--created a completely fictitious three-page bio of Stoney and the rest of the band, plus a Stoney comic strip. The band elected Feliszak, however, to assume the character of Stoney Curtis, a man abandoned on the streets of Chicago at the tender age of 4 with only a Fender guitar and a rusty coffee can to his name.

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Anyway, Stoney and the band are at work on a CD with the working title "Under Cover of the Blues." Things have been delayed somewhat because Mitchell--who also acts as business manager, cartoonist, fiction writer and PR guy--is on hiatus from the band because of other employment responsibilities.

Besides Feliszak and Mitchell, other members of the Stoney Curtis Band are drummer Joe Burrell and bassist Charles Glover. Replacing Mitchell on Saturday night will be singer Mike Wheeler.

* The Stoney Curtis Band plays the blues Saturday night at the Classroom, 8333 Tampa Ave., Northridge. No cover. Call (818) 885-0250.

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Catch a Wave: Carrie James was raised here in Los Angeles, not Chicago, and thus didn't experience the Cubs, the hogs or the blues as part of her birthright.

Being a California girl, however, she knows a wave when she sees one. James has been playing her blues-style material for only about three years, hanging 10 on the surge of blues popularity and taking only a slight detour from the mainstream rock sound she used to perform.

The Encino-based Carrie James Band, which is playing at Bourbon Square on Saturday, has played at Coconut Teaszer, the Roxbury and other blues clubs in Los Angeles and Orange counties.

James is working on her first CD and expects to have it out by the end of the summer. The album, as yet untitled, will feature all original songs. James said she has no set method for songwriting. "Sometimes, I'll have an entire song in my head, and other times, I'll play around with a chorus," she said. "And then other times, I'll have a feeling and I'll try to convey that feeling."

Once her album is released, she plans to take short road tours to blues rock clubs throughout the Southwest and also at some blues / rock festivals. "We'll be selling our product and trying to generate some kind of a buzz," James said.

James is one of those rare Los Angeles artists who is somehow able to survive without a day job, relying solely on her music gigs and the kindness of strangers.

"It can be very stressful," she said. "But it's what I want to do."

* The Carrie James Band and other bands play Saturday night at Bourbon Square, 15324 Victory Blvd., Van Nuys. $6 cover. Call (818) 997-8562.

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Rarefied: Walking Giant started to crawl in 1993 when a mutual friend introduced Jonathan Hayes to fellow guitarist Norm Merten. The duo had chemistry and started writing songs together. Later, they added drummer Chris Morgeson and bassist Adam Kury, and Walking Giant was upright.

Hayes lists Soundgarden and Stone Temple Pilots among the band's more modern influences, along with classic rock acts such as Led Zeppelin, Aerosmith, the Beatles and Jimi Hendrix. "It's all melded into our sound," he said, which he described as melodic alternative hard rock.

The band recently completed its first CD, titled "Open Your Eyes." It was produced by the band and Steve Savage, who previously worked with the Robert Cray Band.

But what about that name, Walking Giant?

"It's just about walking tall," Hayes said. "It's a spiritual thing--being high on life."

* Walking Giant and other bands play Friday night at Bourbon Square, 15324 Victory Blvd., Van Nuys. $6 cover. Call (818) 997-8562.

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