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MUSIC: Ventura County | ROCKTALK

Moving to Next Level

Folk singer hopes to engender a rock following during her U.S. tour, which starts in Ventura.

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

She wants to rock, but for now, Kim Baker is a folk singer who has a million songs about relationships or the lack of same. She and her backup singer, Krista Enos, will kick off the Rock Star 101 Tour with a gig at Cafe Voltaire in Ventura tonight.

The tall singer-songwriter moved from L.A. to the Bay Area to go to school and ended up staying there with all those Giants fans. Baker has an album, "On Her Dream," that came out last year.

She has fans, too. During her last visit to Ventura several months ago, a carload of them followed her down from the Bay Area.

Baker stopped packing for her big tour long enough to chat about the latest.

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So what's the deal on this tour?

We're going everywhere, and Ventura is the first stop. We're going across the country to the East Coast and heading as far north as Portland, Maine. The whole thing is going to be sort of a test for us. We want to choose three territories we like, and then keep going back. I'll probably start on another album when we get back, probably in the winter.

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How's the Bay Area music scene?

Oh, it's pretty cool, but I'm actually looking forward to getting away from it. Lots of people come to see you at certain clubs, but I want to take it to the next level. I'm ready for the next step, and I think, you can only do that by touring. You have to develop a fan base. Right now, I have a mailing list of about a thousand, and I want it to be 10,000.

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Is it a bad thing to be called a folkie?

No, not at all. It's all good, but I'll know more about the folk scene when we get back from the tour, because we're playing three folk festivals. Right now, I'm a folk musician, but I want to be a rock musician. I want to have a cool drummer and a cool guitar player, but it's hard to find people who want to tour. My ultimate goal--my two-year goal--is to have enough fans and enough money to hire some musicians and start playing at bigger clubs.

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What's the difference between playing a coffeehouse and a bar?

At a coffeehouse people tend to listen more to the music, while at a bar, there's lots of people getting drunk and getting loud. It's definitely hard to play in a bar if you're a folk musician.

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Who goes to a Kim Baker show?

I get various types of fans. I've made a lot of friends with people I've met and then ended up spending time with. Once, when I played the Genghis Cantina in L.A., over 20 people came down from the Bay Area, so I've made a lot of loyal fans. Hopefully each fan I make will tell a dozen more.

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What do you think your music sounds like?

I usually say it's acoustic rock, but I am starting to play more on an electric guitar.

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If you weren't doing this, what would you be doing?

All I can think of doing is music. I really can't think about anything else because there really isn't any other option for me. I worked full time to make enough money to do this tour. Music is definitely a lot of hard work--I think I spend 90% of my time on the phone or the Internet instead of playing my guitar.

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Do bad relationships make for good songs?

Yes, they do, although I'm trying to move away from that and write songs about other things. Right now, I have at least two full hours of stuff, mostly all originals.

So for now the plan is tour, tour, tour. Money, money, money. Rock, rock, rock?

That's it.

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The 10th annual Live Oaks Music Festival will be from June 19 through 21. This is a family-style event that features eclectic music from all over the country and around the world. Located at Live Oak Camp just over San Marcos Pass, 20 minutes west of Santa Barbara, the event will feature the usual arts, crafts, food, dancing and music workshops.

This year's music lineup includes the Rincon Ramblers, the Brave Combo, Steve Riley & the Mamou Playboys, Laurie Lewis & Her Bluegrass Pals, the Laura Love Band, the Blind Boys of Alabama, Alvin Youngblood Hart, King Sunny Ade and others. The Truth in Advertising Award goes to the Brave Combo, which certainly lives up to its name--it plays polka music. For more information, call (805) 781-3169.

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When Brad Nowell, the lead singer of Sublime, made a bad career move and overdosed on heroin, he stranded the two other guys in his group and imperiled the other bands on his Skunk Records label. Now, two years later, Skunk Records lives and one of its bands, the Ziggens, has a new album with one of the best titles of the year, "Pomona Lisa."

For a bunch of guys from Wisconsin who moved to Orange County, the Ziggens play pretty good surf music. They also play pretty good ska music, pretty good country music, pretty good rock music and pretty good punk as well. The Ziggens are also screamingly funny. They will appear at the Mercury Lounge in Goleta on June 19. The venue is at 5871 Hollister Ave. Call them at (805) 967-0907 to find out more.

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The Lobero Theatre-based Sings Like Hell series has announced its third season lineup: Iris DeMent and Kieran Kane (July 18); Mose Allison (Aug. 14); John Hiatt and Jon Dee Graham (Sept. 25); the Joe Ely Band and the Phil Cody Band (Oct. 3); the Dead Reckoners (Nov. 13); and David Lindley and Lori B. (Dec. 4). Season tickets cost $135, and single event tickets go on sale July 1. To find out more, call (805) 963-0761.

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And finally, in the Best Band You've Never Heard Of Dept.: The Fatt-Back Blues Man, Yusef Olaitan, will make his debut Tuesday at Cafe Voltaire in Ventura. This dude is a slide guitar wizard who does a one-man-band blues thing. Showtime is 7:30 p.m. and will set you back three bucks. Call (805) 641-1743 to find out more.

BE THERE

* Kim Baker at Cafe Voltaire, 143 Palm St., Ventura, 7:30 tonight. Tickets, $2. (805) 641-1743.

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