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MUSIC | LOCAL ANGLE

For Love of Blues

Cozy's is dedicated to the musical category, right down to the jukebox. Although the Valley has no shortage of hot groups, there are fewer venues than bands to play them. And although local bands get a lot of coverage, less has been written about local clubs. This column offers a rundown of local night spots and their amenities.

June 18, 1998|BILL LOCEY | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

Right across the street from Ralphs on Ventura Boulevard in Sherman Oaks is Cozy's Bar & Grill, clearly a more comfortable locale for the blues than being stuck on the 101 during peak traffic.

"We do nothin' but the blues," said owner Steve Rakoczy, who more or less named Cozy's after himself.

The pictures on Cozy's wall attest to the owner's favorite music. Stevie Ray and Jimmy Vaughan, B.B. King, Buddy Guy, John Lee Hooker and Robert Cray among others, are a pretty fair representation of blues heavyweights.

"I saw Stevie Ray play several times, and one time Jimmy dropped by here and jammed," said Rakoczy.

Imagine a jukebox with no Metallica. Cozy's has the blues jukebox to destroy all quiet moments between bands, and several of the CDs are by local groups or those that play Cozy's. The big room where the bands play is next to the dining room, from where you can hear the band. There is a separate pool and game room. The all-ages venue charges a cover on the big nights--Thursday, Friday and Saturday.

Most bar owners love those three nights because that's when they make money. The other nights are perpetual problems, and owners work overtime to figure out what to do in the dead zones. Rakoczy has it worked out.

On Sunday, Cozy's is closed. Monday is Pro Blues Jam, featuring John Marx & the Blues Patrol, who have held this gig for a year and a half. "Trouble Tuesday," usually one of the deadest nights of the week, features one of Rakoczy's favorites, Gashouse Dave & the Hardtails. Dave has been playing at Cozy's for 2 1/2 years, or almost as long as the place has been open. Not only is Dave's CD on the jukebox, but Rakoczy is thinking of moving him to the weekend because he's such a good draw.

On Wednesday, it's the Scarletts, a guy drummer and four gals who sing classic rock plus a few blues tunes. The band has been there for two years and has a built a following, as the place gets fairly packed before the band starts at 9:30 p.m.

Thursday night has featured Preston Smith & the Crocodiles for the last eight months. Smith not only does the blues--his repertoire reaches from Louis Armstrong to Jimi Hendrix.

Friday is generally rockin' guitar night, and Saturday is the Real Deal, usually featuring a big-name blues act. This Friday, though, ivory tickler Rob Rio & the Revolvers will fill the joint with boogie-woogie. Rio has about half a dozen albums and lots of songs dealing with cars he can't afford, women he can't be with and women he can't get rid of.

Saturday night, "Mighty Joe" Houston will play tenor sax on a bunch of sweat-inducing songs.

BE THERE

Cozy's Bar & Grill, 14058 Ventura Blvd., Sherman Oaks, (818) 986-6000. Preston Smith & the Crocodiles play blues, original and classic rock tonight; Rob Rio & the Revolvers play boogie-woogie and blues Friday; Joe Houston plays blues Sat.; John Marx & the Blues Patrol host a blues jam Monday; Gashouse Dave & the Hardtails play blues Tuesday; the Scarletts play classic rock and blues Wednesday.

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