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VENTURA COUNTY WEEKEND

Beach Fans Can Soak Up a Variety of Surf Sounds

The renowned Dick Dale will headline, with such locals as Big Bad Voodoo Daddy, the Convertibles and Roadhouse Rockers.

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

This year's California Beach Party will feature music as good as the surf was 10 minutes before you arrived. Dick Dale, "King of the Surf Guitar," is the famous headliner, but there will be a wide array of local talent on hand, including Big Bad Voodoo Daddy, Spencer the Gardener, the Convertibles, Roadhouse Rockers, Southern Cross, Raw Silk and Acadiana.

And with five separate adult stages and one for kids--located from just west of the Ventura Pier to just past Surfer's Point--there will be music all over the place.

Dale has been cranking out left-handed surf music for over 35 years, even though he now lives in the desert, which still has free parking but far worse surf. In the early '60s, Dick Dale & His Deltones had three songs in the Top 5 on KRLA, back when AM was totally cool.

One of his biggies, "Miserlou," was on the "Pulp Fiction" soundtrack, a song as relentless as the film's plot. Dale has continued to tour and make new music over the years--his latest album is "Calling Up Spirits" on Beggars Banquet. All in all, clearly a wise choice for anyone's beach party.

Big Bad Voodoo Daddy, the "Kings of Swing" who dress to impress, will get to do something they haven't done in awhile--work on their tans. But they will be doing that in their usual period clothing, looking as if they fell out of some black and white '40s movie.

Voodoo Daddy is the most popular local band in Ventura County and they're on a roll. They've sold more than 10,000 of their self-produced CDs, and have some songs on an upcoming movie soundtrack, "Swingers." If that's not enough, they'll be featured in a GQ spread, and they're currently appearing on "Big Deal," a Fox show unfortunately in the death slot across from "60 Minutes."

Spencer the Gardener, the most popular band in Santa Barbara year after year, is about the only S.B. band to have a significant Ventura following.

"Spy movie music at the beach" is what Spencer Barnitz himself calls his stuff. And he and his band have been touring relentlessly with it for the last seven years, mostly up and down the California coast from the Bay Area to the border.

And everyone's favorite car band, the Convertibles, are back and cruising after a lengthy hiatus. Mary Kay Burke, one of the premiere local vocalists, took a break to have a baby and play in another band, but she has returned.

Not only does Burke belt out a song to Aretha Franklin proportions, but she rejoins Steve White, who plays keyboards and sax, and who is no slouch in the vocals department, either.

"I always knew she could sing, but I never knew she could wail," said her brother, guitarist Mike Fishell. "Besides Mary Kay, we have Steve White, and no band has two better singers."

Lisa Henson, yet another talented vocalist, is the group's new drummer, Bernie Travers returns as the bassist, with Fishell on guitar. A local music teacher, Fishell is responsible for about half the local bands. Scotty Morris of Voodoo Daddy is but one of his alumni. The Convertibles know about every song written after 1959, so they can probably play longer than the dancers can dance. They also have a set of originals.

"We're back and we're proud," said White. "It'll be the rock 'n' roll machine it used to be, only more so."

Acadiana is a bunch of rockin' Realtors out of Oxnard. The members started a band a few years ago for fun, and have gotten very good. With the addition of singer-guitarist Teresa Russell and fireball fiddle player Phil Salazar, the band has finally come into its own--the monthly gig at Whale's Tail in Oxnard is a serious party. Acadiana plays a gumbo mix of zydeco, Cajun, country, blues and rock music.

The Roadhouse Rockers, a rockabilly-flavored trio, has been around for an amazing 14 years. So far, they've released a pair of CDs, three tapes and six vinyl 45s. Their most recent CD, "He's My Tiger," features all originals but one. The band can even do the Johnny Bond version of "Hot Rod Lincoln," reason enough to show up.

Southern Cross, an acoustic group, might be the best local band on the program. They have a group of guitarists and percussionists that create a groove that's, well, spellbinding, or better than that if you happen to be a Deadhead. Thus far, there's just a four-song tape from this quartet.

Besides Dick Dale, surf music will be provided by the Insect Surfers, the Hodads and Big Wednesday featuring Robert Ramirez (also of Extract) on guitar. Raw Silk is a veteran R&B band out of Santa Barbara featuring Leslie Lembo on vocals and harmonica.

The children's stage near Promenade Park will provide two days of continuous music and entertainment, including a 12-year-old Elvis impersonator and Jest In, a clown group offering some big laughs for the little people.

(BEGIN TEXT OF INFOBOX / INFOGRAPHIC)

California Beach Party Lineup

SATURDAY

10 a.m.

Convertibles

Big Wednesday

Insect Surfers

10:30 a.m.

Carl Sonny Leyland Trio

Noon

Ronny & the Classics

12:30 p.m.

Chuck Rio & the Champs

1:30 p.m.

Acadiana

2 p.m.

Lil' Elmo and the Cosmos

Chuck Rio & the Champs

2:15 p.m.

Big Bad Voodoo Daddy

3 p.m.

Acadiana

3:30 p.m.

Insect Surfers

*

SUNDAY

10 a.m.

Southern Cross

Roadhouse Rockers

Hodads

Ronny & the Classics

10:30 a.m.

Carl Sonny Leyland Trio

1:30 p.m.

Lisa Haley & the Zydecats

2 p.m.

Dick Dale & the Deltones

Spencer the Gardener

2:15 p.m.

Raw Silk

3:30 p.m.

Lisa Haley & the Zydecats

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