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VENTURA COUNTY WEEKEND | ROCKTALK

Four Toiling Musicians Mind Their Mother

As students at Cal State Chico, the Mother Hips began pursuing success. Now they have a label and a third album.

September 19, 1996|BILL LOCEY | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

The Mother Hips, four guys who met as students at Cal State Chico, are about to release their third album, "Shootout." For the last four years, the band members have became serious road dogs. They will be stopping by Nicholby's in Ventura tonight for a 9-ish show.

By 1992, the Mother Hips had outgrown Chico, a town of 70,000 and site of what could be the nation's No. 1 party school. But rather than wait for something to happen, they recorded their own CD, "Back to the Grotto," and began touring, building a fan base and selling CDs. These days the band is signed to American Records, Johnny Cash's label.

On the first two albums, the band had more of a country rock groove. The latest, "Shootout," runneth over with clever wordplay and lyrical harmonies on a lot of songs--such as "Can't Sleep at All" and "Emergency Exit"--which sound like someone lost his girlfriend.

The band, which includes singer / songwriter Tim Bluhm, guitarist Greg Loiacono, Isaac Parsons on bass and Mike Wofchuck on drums, will be available for your dancing or listening pleasure for a mere fiver. And not surprisingly, Bluhm felt like talking about his band during a recent phone interview.

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How is "Shootout" different than the other two albums?

Well, we recorded it differently. It's mellower with not too many hard rock songs. We did that intentionally because we want to make sure every record sounds different than the one before. The songs aren't so much sad, just mellower. We're really proud of it. I think it's a good record.

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What's the biggest change from being an unsigned band to being a signed band?

Nothing has changed much, really. We could have signed a big deal, but we turned down the big deal. The label gave us a little money for touring, but we don't use much of it. We're not making nearly as much money as we thought we would, but we've never sold a lot of records. We make our money playing live. We're pretty strapped for cash these days. We're still just pluggin' along.

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You once said the Mother Hips is not a dance band. So, do people dance or stare at one of your shows?

A lot of people dance, but it depends where the show is. It's always been kind of strange, and I would be just as happy if people just sat there and listened to the music.

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What's next for you guys?

We'll be hitting the road and hoping the record sells. There's a definite privilege in doing something you really like to do, playing in front of people. It's a blessing to have people come and pay to see you. It's a great honor that we can't take for granted.

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Apparently everybody didn't stay home to watch "The West" on PBS Sunday night as the Ban-Dar, Ventura's longtime country and western bar, tried the rock 'n' roll thing. It worked. The place was packed as the Silver Strand-based Ska Daddyz tore it up with their high-powered dance music.

No word yet on who's next to play, but for a place that's usually closed on Sundays, the owners may be on to something.

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For a fiver, you can catch Little Jonny & the Giants--one of the best local blues bands--Monday night at Cafe Voltaire. At least they are three-fourths local--Jon Lawton, a guy who likes to drive, now lives in the Bay Area and comes down from time to time for gigs.

Anyway, with Jim Calire on keyboards, Gary Sangenitto on bass and Bill Flores on guitars and about everything else, there are stalwart players at every position.

Cafe Voltaire, a place that has its fair share of coffee, also has a vast ensemble of beers and wines, plus food. The venue is located at 34 Palm St. Call 641-1743 to find out more about this 7:30 p.m. show.

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