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MUSIC: Ventura County | ROCKTALK

A High Intensity Approach to Pop

Vocalist admits her songs tend to go to the extreme.

July 09, 1998|BILL LOCEY | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

Jennifer Terran is a piano player out of Santa Barbara who has recently released her second album, "Rabbit," and will make her Ventura debut Saturday night at Cafe Voltaire.

Coming from an artistic family, Terran has been playing for a long time, but mostly in Los Angeles or Santa Barbara. Her songs are intense, personal and often downright goofy about you-name-it. But she has the voice to pull it off and sounds a lot like, well, Jennifer Terran.

This gives a clue as to what Terran is about: Almost every CD has the obligatory list of people the artist would like to thank; Terran sings a "thank you" list on hers.

Terran, who even has her own record label, Grizelda Records, is another cool, underappreciated local artist. She talked things over during a recent phone interview.

How did you become the piano player?

I took a couple of lessons when I was 8 or 9 and, at that time I knew I wanted to be able to play and sing. When I was a kid, they called me "Jenny the Singer," but now I'm just Jennifer. I was inspired by my parents.

My mom was a dancer and my dad a professional trumpet player and a prominent studio musician, and still is. He played with everyone from Sinatra to the Beatles, plus he worked on a lot of classic television series. One of his first credits was the theme from "I Love Lucy."

And you teach piano?

Yes, I teach piano too, but I have a very nontraditional approach. I don't teach theory because I don't think you need that to explain music and creativity. I encourage people to make their own discoveries and go to the source of their creativity. The theory is an afterthought, although it can be an important afterthought.

So rock 'n' roll is your life?

Actually, I do a lot of other things as well. I teach dance--I teach hip-hop to a lot of people at different places like dance studios or health clubs. I used to get kicked out of dance classes, but I do OK teaching it. Dance is like music except with movement. It's just another incredible outlet.

You've been playing for how long?

I've had a few breaks from music over the years--I'm 29 now. I tried to be normal for awhile and went to UCSB and got a degree in sociology--those were the most interesting classes, but I knew I wasn't going to use my degree.

Are you a rich rock star yet?

I'm just going along on the independent path for now. It's a much smaller endeavor because I'm just one person and not a big corporation like Warner Bros. I'm just happy to be able to make the music I want to and not have to answer to anyone or be restricted.

But I'm open to getting signed if I could find some good people in the industry, and there are some good people out there because good music is being made.

What does Jennifer Terran music sound like?

It's avant-garde pop. It's emotional and personal and sometimes it goes to the extremes.

Who goes to your shows?

I would say all kinds of people who are interested in what I'm saying. I've had people show up who are interested in classical music and some interested in hard rock. It just depends on the individual, I guess.

You've done coffeehouses and bars. What's the difference?

I like playing at venues that feature music. I don't play background music, but music that you listen to. One time I was playing at Alex's Cantina in Santa Barbara and I ended up doing an a capella show outside in the alley.

I just said, "Whoever's with me, follow me," and they did. I also do home shows, which are performances in people's homes. They are focused and comfortable. It's the real thing.

What's next?

Right now, I'm working on another album that will be called "The Musician." It's going to be a concept album that will deal with the phenomenon of art, music and the record industry, which is ruled by money and not related to art. I'm going to be making a lot of records one way or another.

*

Bikers will head to San Buenaventura State Beach in droves Sunday. Bikers at the beach? Pretty weird, huh? The locals need not worry, however, because these guys don't surf anyway.

Yet about a zillion bikers riding enough steel to make Pickett's Charge seem quiet will congregate for Beach Ride '98.

Not only is it a good thing for them to get a little sun (or fog in Ventura), but the ride is a benefit shindig for the Exceptional Children's Foundation, an organization that aids the developmentally disabled.

In addition to the sheer spectacle of seeing a sea of Harleys lined up and around 10,000 bikers, the Beach Ride is also a party. More than 100 vendors will rake in some dough at the largest summer ride west of the Rockies.

And who would want to miss the Tattoo Contest, the bike show or the Mr. and Ms. Beach Ride Contest?

Providing the soundtrack for all this motorcycle mayhem will be Side Effect, the Mike Reilly Band, World Classic Rockers and, headlining, Stephen Stills. Some of them better know every biker's favorite song, "Born to Be Wild."

BE THERE

Jennifer Terran, 7 p.m., and singer-drummer Nicole Falzone, 9:30 p.m., Saturday at Cafe Voltaire, 34 N. Palm St., Ventura. $2; (805) 641-1743.

Beach Ride '98 at San Buenaventura State Beach, Harbor Boulevard and San Pedro Street, Sunday, 10 a.m., $25. (800) 696-3727.

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