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MUSIC | ROCKTALK

Santa Barbara's Cadillac Angels Hit on New Name by Accident

September 25, 1997|JAMES E. FOWLER | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Bill Shakespeare once posed the eternal question: "What's in a name?"

He had observed that a rose by any other name would smell as sweet. But of course, Bill was never in a rock 'n' roll band.

A rock band's name is sometimes half the battle; a good name can go a long way. Would Johnny and the Quarrymen have enjoyed the same international success if they hadn't changed their name to the Beatles?

The Cadillac Angels, who play Friday at the Santa Clarita Brewing Company, used to call themselves the Roadhouse Rockers. After working hard for almost 14 years trying to make a name for themselves, the Santa Barbara-based band decided last year to change it.

Upright-bass player Micky Rae Johnson said it wasn't a spur-of-the-moment decision; she and guitarist Tony Balbinot had wanted to change the name for a long time.

"We didn't like it, but the more popular we got, we didn't think it was a good time to change the name," she said.

The big problem was that almost every small- to medium-size population center in America has its own Roadhouse Rockers.

But no one in the trio, which includes drummer Jerome Taylor, could agree on the new name. Finally a near car crash with a woman in a 1956 Caddy provided Balbinot with inspiration.

The band has performed with a wide variety of musicians, including surf music king Dick Dale, blues singer Etta James, country artist Dwight Yoakam and early rockers such as Jerry Lee Lewis, Carl Perkins and Bo Diddley. The band's music mixes elements of all those styles.

"We just write whatever comes out and play whatever comes out," said Johnson. "We don't care if it sounds country, or surfy or rockabilly, if it works." In March, the band released its third CD, "Cadillac Angels Live."

BE THERE

Cadillac Angels play Friday night at Santa Clarita Brewing Company, 20655 Soledad Canyon Road, (805) 298-5677.

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