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VENTURA COUNTY WEEKEND | ROCKTALK

King Ernest Offers Blues Refill

Legendary Chicago belter returns for the Ojai Cupful, a downsized but matching version of the popular October Bowlful.

June 27, 1996|BILL LOCEY | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

Royalty is coming to the county this weekend, but the tabloids will probably let this one slide. Not a prince, an earl, or a duke, but the top of the royal food chain is none other than King Ernest, legendary Chicago bluesman.

Remember the Ojai Bowlful of Blues that rolls around in October? In yet another example of downsizing, King Ernest will headline the Cupful of Blues on Friday night at Libbey Park in beautiful downtown Ojai.

"We just decided we didn't want to wait all year for the Bowlful of Blues," said promoter Michael Kaufer. "Also, it was by popular demand; people were always asking us why we didn't do something else the rest of the year. And rather than call it 'The Bowl Half-Filled,' we decided to call it 'The Cupful of Blues.' "

King Ernest, originally from New Orleans, spent more than 30 years in Chicago, headlining all the hip blues clubs. A cousin of another blues great, Bobby "Blue" Bland, King Ernest's powerhouse vocals are reminiscent of the old Duke/Peacock sound of highly danceable blues.

The King has been singing gospel in area churches since moving to Los Angeles, but he started playing those blues again in the early '90s. Providing the soundtrack for King Ernest will be local favorites John Marx & the Blues Patrol, who have backed the King before.

Also on the bill are a couple of performers making their 805-area code debut, keyboardist Black Speed and vocalist La May, whom Kaufer noticed while attending a show at the 54 Blues Room in South Central Los Angeles recently. Local keyboard virtuoso Jim Calire is also on the bill along with Mitch Kashmar of the Pontiax.

"King Ernest is an incredible vocalist," said Kaufer. It'll cost 10 bucks to get into this 6 p.m. performance and see if Kaufer is kidding. The Ojai Bowl is nestled among the trees in Libbey Park, at the corner of Ojai Avenue and Signal Street, behind the 93023 post office.

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In further blues news, remember those Sweet Thursday gigs at Alexander's in Ventura? Well, forget them. According to the flier: "We had our mojo workin' on Thursdays, but it just didn't work on you, so . . . Blue Monday returns." The first five outings will feature the aforementioned John Marx & the Blues Patrol.

"John Marx has been so hot lately, I've had trouble getting national acts as good as he is," said Kaufer. Taking over for four gigs in August will be the Pontiax. Blue Monday gigs cost four bucks and will be transacted at 7:30 p.m. at Alexander's, 1050 Schooner Drive at the Ventura Harbor. Call 646-7230.

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Remember those music gigs at Stargate that the cops in Thousand Oaks hated so much? Well, the T.O. City Council recently yanked the venue's entertainment permit.

So where will all those bootie shakin' dancers go now that the Disco Inferno is history? Will they stay home and watch "Friends"? Probably, but afterward, they'll probably head to Splash, the nightclub in the Radisson Hotel in Simi Valley, where promoter Dave Hewitt has quickly solved Disco Inferno's homeless situation.

In Simi Valley, a place with a negligible night life, this should be a serious hit. Call 583-2000 for the particulars.

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Alkaline does not have the properties of a soluble salt obtained from the ashes of plants. Nor is it a contracted spelling of Detroit Tigers great Al Kaline. But it is the name of the Ventura band that is having its CD release party at the Ventura Theatre on Friday night.

Alkaline, you'll recall, won last year's battle of the bands at Metro in Ventura. Since then, the quartet plays locally when it can and has been playing Los Angeles--sometimes accompanied by up to three busloads of fans. The three-song CD titled "Permagrin" features a hideous cover picture of a man who either lost the battle with jaw cancer or tried to catch a cannonball with his teeth.

"At the first round of that contest, that was the first time we ever played before a crowd," said front man Steve Ledesma. "In the second round we beat Bloody Mary Morning, and that totally built our confidence."

What can you expect at an Alkaline show? "I'll tell you what our bio says," said Ledesma. " 'It's erratic high energy . . . really intense.' " Everyone says we have our own sound. We have the fans, and I think we have the music."

Alkaline has made 500 copies of a demo tape and sold them all, then printed 150 T-shirts and sold them all, too. Copies of "Permagrin" are five bucks. Also on the bill are Kitty Cat Stew and the cleverly named Apocalpyso. Tickets are $7 for this 9 p.m. show. Call 648-1888 to find out more.

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