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MUSIC: Ventura County | ROCKTALK

Now Hear This

Stigmata, known for high-decibel rock, plays Saturday at Red Cove.


Never a cover charge, Bass Ale for three bucks, Raging Arb & the Redheads on the CD player and pool for a quarter clearly make the Red Cove in Ventura a cultural landslide. The popular neighborhood bar can give the CD player a rest Saturday night when they host a rare live event with two bands, Stigmata and Crust.

Opening the festivities around 9-ish will be Stigmata, the only other local band on the CD player at the Cove. Stigmata is a hard-rocking quartet known for relentless rock cranked up real loud--loud enough to make your liver quiver. Stigmata brings to mind the saying: "If it's too loud, you're too old."

"Stigmata is so loud, they should be playing on their own planet," said Bill Benson, guitarist for Raging Arb & the Redheads. This should put Stigmata in solid with the Cove's neighbors.

All veterans of the local scene, Stigmata has been around for about four years. Originally a trio consisting of Josh Brock on bass, Kyle Toucher on guitar and Steve Vega on drums, they recently added Bobby Barajas on bass, freeing Brock to concentrate on his lyrics and vocals.

"When we started, Josh was playing bass and I was doing all the vocals, but what was I thinking?" said Toucher. "Josh has this awesome voice. It's really tough to play a musical instrument and sing, anyway."

Although the members of Stigmata are accomplished players, and they practice four times a week, it's an uphill battle for bands that don't sound like Big Bad Voodoo Daddy, Papa-Nata or Spencer the Gardener, according to Brock.

"We're a good rock band. We're kinda heavy, but we're not a speed metal band or a growling scream band," he said. "The local scene is not really happening for us because we're just a rock 'n' roll band and not a ska band or a dance band. Besides that, everyone is lazy. They're too busy watching 'Seinfeld.' It really doesn't do us any good to play live. This is Ventura."

Ventura indeed. Bands routinely get signed in L.A. and often Santa Barbara as well, but rarely in Ventura, as the record label people, much like the tourists, tend to drive right by en route to Santa Barbara. The guitarist maintains a skeptical outlook as to any MTV dreams coming true from this here Poinsettia City.

"It's all about who you know. . . . [Ventura's] a healthy, nice place with great food, but there's no future here for a band," Toucher said. "There's nothing to achieve here, but, hey, I just play guitar in the band. I can do cool Stigmata graphics on my Mac and get on the Internet, but I have zero skills at being a big management pimp."

Stigmata released an album last year, "The Gods of Earth and Heaven," and they have written a lot of new songs since then. So are they about to learn some subtle and soulful ballads and maybe a few danceable ska songs? Not likely, according to Brock.

"Ten years ago, it was different. I was in a speed metal band called Dark Carnival and Kyle was in Dr. Know. We both opened up for big groups up and down the coast. We're not really angry anymore. We just play the kind of music we enjoy and hope other people do, too."

Toucher agreed. "I just want to play music I would buy, plus we've sunk so much money into this, we have to do this now."


One of the slated-then-canceled shows at Ventura Theatre, a venue now floating somewhere between limbo and oblivion, was Clarence Clemons, who will be moving a few blocks down the street to play Sunday night at Nicholby's in Ventura.

Clemons has enjoyed a lengthy career, but is known primarily for his 19 years as the sax-blasting sidekick of his Boss, Bruce Springsteen.

Barrelhouse may open the show with an acoustic set--but this was not confirmed at press time. They rage to Otis Redding dimensions.

Doors open at 8 p.m. for the 9 p.m. Clemons show, which will set you back 15 big ones. Nicholby's is at 404 E. Main St., (805) 653-2320.


The festival of the week is Sea Fest, at Ventura Harbor Village this weekend, involving several of the premiere local dance bands. Papa-Nata, Southern Cross, Euphoria and the Upbeat, among others, are likely to incite widespread outbreaks of dancing.

Blue Stew plays both days as well. The band appears, as it has for years, at Hi Cees--what it lacks in spelling skill it makes up for in patrons.

The festivities are 11 a.m.-7 p.m., with arts, crafts and food vendors to boot. Admission to the Sea Fest is the ever affordable free. Here's the weekend lineup:

SATURDAY: Doug Sacacci & the Keys (11 a.m.), Papa-Nata (noon), Tropical Squeeze (2 p.m.), Euphoria (2 p.m.) and Mento Buru (4 p.m.).

SUNDAY: Social Climbers (11 a.m.), Southern Cross (noon), Tropical Squeeze (2 p.m.), Yahman (2 p.m.) and the Upbeat (4 p.m.).


Stigmata and Crust at the Red Cove, 1809 E. Main St., Ventura. Sat., 9 p.m. Free. Call (805) 643-1101.

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