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VALLEY WEEKEND | ROCKTALK

New Roundup of Country Tunes Recorded at Chatsworth Saloon

Cowboy Palace, a unique bar that inspires loyalty among regulars, hosts its second live taping session.

November 21, 1996|JAMES FOWLER | TIMES STAFF WRITER

The Cowboy Palace Saloon is one funky little honky-tonk.

So, it's not the Palomino. So what? Time marches on. The fabled Palomino is not even the Palomino anymore. Today it's one dead horse.

The Cowboy Palace is not your average neighborhood haunt. More than most other clubs, the Palace is a community unto itself, with a monthly newsletter, complimentary barbecues, and live music seven nights a week.

After the Jan. 17, 1994, Northridge temblor, in which the saloon was badly damaged, club regulars pulled together in fellowship, offering to raise money for repairs, not unlike a church congregation might for a new organ. Although appreciative, the owners declined, and the club did not open again until April 1.

"When we had the earthquake, some of these people were lost," says owner Bob Rustigian.

Dancing is definitely the primary community activity.

The dance floor is populated by people of all ages, ranging from that young girl up front in the tight jeans with lots of sparkle in her smile to the old guy by the bandstand in the western shirt with damn few teeth in his head. Some wear fancy cowboy clothes, others wear T-shirts and jeans, and the attire of most falls somewhere in between.

Last week for the second time in less than two years, the Cowboy Palace Saloon staged a live recording session. The first Cowboy Palace Saloon CD was recorded in April 1995. "Live at the Cowboy Palace Saloon" featured the music of four country-western bands that regularly play the club--the Chad Watson Band, Dean Dobbins Band, Geary Hanley Band, and Larry Dean and the Shooters.

"It's been distributed overseas more than it's been here--Europe, Australia, Japan," Rustigian said. "It was fun and it was successful enough to do it again."

This time, 12 separate acts were recorded, including several of the club's Talent Night winners, among whom are Del Hartley, Juliet Lane and Toni Hudson.

Country singer Chad Watson emceed the show, and his band backed up many of the solo performers. Special guests who showed up to participate included Chris Montez--the 1960s teen pop star who is all grown up and sings backup on a Tex-Mex tune by singer Lee Harper--and Hal Blaine, the Los Angeles studio drumming legend.

As Watson noted when he introduced him, Blaine may be the most recorded drummer in history. During his career, he worked with everyone from Frank Sinatra to the Mamas and the Papas to the Partridge Family. On Tuesday, Blaine added percussion on several tunes.

Watson sang an original tune about a man whose mate has demands that are few but specific, entitled "Rub My Feet." The tune does not appear on Watson's own CD, "Push It to the Edge," which was released a couple of months ago.

"I saved it for this live album," Watson said. "Some songs just work better with a live audience."

Larry Dean wowed the crowd with his original, traditional-style country tunes. He also used the event to showcase protege Michael Dart, a young man who sings older than he looks.

Although there's little money coming out of this recording endeavor for the entertainers, it does give them some exposure. But Dean says that creative control is also a motivational factor.

"As an artist, it allows you to do what you want to do," Dean says. "You do what you do, and you're totally free creatively."

Besides gigging locally, Dean has made some trips to Nashville, where he recently hooked up with a new publisher. He also produced some tracks for Dart and demos for country singer Pamela Sumlin in Muscle Shoals, Ala. Dean is slated to perform on New Year's Eve at the Crest Country Lounge in Reseda.

* "Live at the Cowboy Palace Saloon II" will be available sometime in February. Meanwhile, the Cowboy Palace Saloon, at 21635 Devonshire St., Chatsworth, offers its first CD, "Live at the Cowboy Palace," for $15 for CD, $10 for cassette. Call (818) 341-0166.

Going Away?: They held a going-away party for Tim Casey on Friday at the Classroom in Northridge. Casey, a mainstay performer and longtime booker at the club, is moving to the Seattle area to follow his day job. But is he really going away?

Casey still plans to return to the Los Angeles area on weekends to play with his band, the Bluescats. And he has recently taken on the booking chores at Volare, a new Italian restaurant in Northridge.

Some of the acts Casey has already scheduled for Volare include the Jeff Naideau Band, Preston Smith and the Blue Crocodiles, the Birdman Blues Band and, of course, Tim Casey and the Bluescats.

* Tim Casey and the Bluescats play the blues at 9 p.m. Friday at Volare Ristorante, 11131 Tampa Ave., Northridge. No cover. Call (818) 831-0010.

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