YOU ARE HERE: LAT HomeCollections

MUSIC: Ventura County | ROCKTALK

Worth a Shot

Blue Line, a band whose name was inspired by hockey, has a goal.


"It's no fun if you can't complain" is a witticism that must have been invented by a musician--musicians have raised whining nearly to an art form: "I need a new guitar." "I can't afford more beer." "That stupid bouncer won't let my girlfriend's brother's roommate in for free.

Fred Dixon of Blue Line has no such illusions when it comes to the rock 'n' roll biz. He has been in a lot of bands that have gone nowhere, had plenty of gigs that no one ever heard of, and has made lots of CDs that no one ever bought. Rising from the ashes of Slam Alice, Blue Line features Dixon on bass, Jack Rickman on lead guitar, Rowland Hill on rhythm guitar, and Bill Parry on drums. The band has a new, hard rockin' CD, "Hit Kickin'."

Blue Line is one of those bands whose gigs one usually finds out about after the fact, since their advertising budget is nonexistent. They did have sort of a CD release party recently in Ventura, at the Rendezvous, better known as a place for dedicated elbow benders rather than as a rock 'n' roll venue. Dixon, who hasn't lost his sense of humor, talked about his new band recently.


So is Blue Line a blues band?

Oh, hell no. It's named for the blue line in hockey. Hey, the Kings'll be good--yeah right, in about 10 years--but you've got to be loyal. I'm just waiting for baseball season anyway.

What happened to Slam Alice?

They broke up. It became more of a baby-sitting job, which is no fun if you're the only responsible one. Also, I guess I got too old to be that hard core.

So where did this band come from?

I saw an ad in the Recycler from a band that was looking for a professional bass player. So I called them and told them that I sucked, and as it turned out, they were worse than I was. This band is completely different even though Jack and I are still the fat slobs we were in Slam Alice. The other two guys are total preppies. Like last weekend, they actually went out of town to go golfing, can you believe that? We laugh at them and they laugh at us.

How was your gig at the world-famous Rendezvous in Ventura?

It was like some surreal David Lynch movie. All the regulars were all out front dancing after awhile. The lady that owns the place doesn't understand rock 'n' roll time. She made us start right at 9 o'clock, and by 11:30, we had played every song we could, and we just didn't have any left in us. We are playing there again on March 15.

How's the Ventura scene these days?

The scene around here just went dead. First Charlie's, then the Midnight Hour, then the Bermuda Triangle. There's nowhere to play around here unless you're one of the Big Three--and we're not Big Bad Voodoo Daddy. We play weird places. We played at that pastrami place across from the Meta Motel about 30 times to about 50 people total.

That bad, huh?

Worse. You have never heard of us because we are not one of the three or four bands from around here that can actually get a weekend gig in this town, though we have been able to play a couple of those all-important Tuesday night gigs at Metro, which suck because not only do you not make any money but you usually end up owing money because you had to drink so many beers to block out the pain of knowing that you are only playing in front of your girlfriends and they think you are lame because nobody else is there watching, and you're not cute like those guys in Big Bad Voodoo Daddy.

So is there a plan besides plastic surgery?

We're going to give it a good shot. I've been mailing out CDs to record labels, so I guess we'll be hitting the Hollywood scene and having to deal with their [expletive deleted]. We want to quit our day jobs and do drugs freely.

And you believed the $1,000 CD story?

Yeah. Primitive Radio Gods did their CD for a thousand, so we bought into that, and now five grand later, we're totally broke. We never charge a cover when we play, and we sell the CDs for five bucks each, which is exactly what they cost us. When we get drunk, we start giving them away. There is no way this band will ever make any money.


By 9 p.m. tonight, Cisco's will be packed, so if you live in the Conejo Valley, most of your friends are probably at the popular Mexican restaurant in Westlake Village. Usually, Euphoria plays. The band, out of Ventura, does mostly reggae at this gig, but they are capable of other stuff as well, according to bass player John DeSurra.

"Euphoria is an eclectic band that plays reggae, ska and funk with Phish as our big inspiration. We just love those guys. When we play Cisco's, it's almost all reggae, but we also do a set of Euphoria originals. Those people are like family--they always treat us right. Everybody dances, so ya gotta love it."

The cover is less than five bucks, so there's that. The venue is located at 925 S. Westlake Blvd. Call them at 497-3959 to find out more.


Bill Coffey, singer and songwriter for the Mudheads, one of the greatest Ventura bands of all time, is living in Boise, Idaho, these days and playing a few times a month. His latest endeavor is the band the Third Man, and their new album is called "Lightspeed and the Western Front." Named for that surreal Orson Wells film, the band is more countrified and folky than the Mudheads were, yet Coffey's voice is as strong as ever.

"Live a Long Time" and "More Time" are the standouts on this one, which is available at Beat City Records in Ventura. Coffey, along with Matt Schulte, his sidekick from the Matt & Bill days, should be in our area for a few gigs in June.

Los Angeles Times Articles