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Stage Presence : Lead singer for Man Made Souls has band's sights set on big-arena shows.

March 12, 1998|JAMES E. FOWLER | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Derek De Vette, lead singer and sax player for the band Man Made Souls, wants his group to be more than just a club band.

"Most bands you hear locally are club bands," De Vette said, meaning that they just play their music, without making any effort to entertain the audience. "I'm trying to create a show--something that's larger than life."

Although large-arena shows are the band's ultimate goal, Man Made Souls will perform tonight at the intimate Blue Saloon in North Hollywood.

The band, formed in 1995, also includes lead guitarist Tom Valdez, bassist Patrick La Touche, singer Tricia Small, percussionist Reid De Fever and drummer Eric Powers.

"Tom and I were in another band, a folk-funk group," De Vette said. "And then we started composing songs together."

They originally named their group Blue Tear but found that another band already had the name, so they became Man Made Souls. The band's first gig was at Bourbon Square in Van Nuys. Since then, Man Made Souls has been gigging nonstop all over town, including dates at the Whiskey, the Viper Room, the Roxy and the Troubadour.

Last summer, the band was signed to appear at a World Music Festival in Uzbekistan. But because of political unrest in the former Soviet republic, their appearance was canceled.

But what was bad luck for Uzbeks was good luck for the band. They used the advance money they received to finance their first CD, which they self-released late last year.

They had done some homemade recordings with an eight-track digital machine. The tracks were originally intended as a demo tape to send to club owners, but with their windfall, the band decided to put out their CD. De Vette admits the reaction to the recordings has been lukewarm. "Our fans tell us the CD doesn't capture our live performance," De Vette said. "But it's gotten us out there."

Man Made Souls' music is a jazzy pop rock--sometimes evocative of the Dave Matthews Band, sometimes of Sting's "Blue Turtle" album. De Vette said the band's live show displays more of its world music influences. De Vette's vocals and sax are front and center on most tracks.

De Vette said the band is still perfecting its live performance--a show that he wants to be arena-ready when the time comes. In the meantime, you can catch them tonight at the Blue Saloon.

* Man Made Souls will play tonight at the Blue Saloon, 4657 Lankershim Blvd., North Hollywood, (818) 766-4644.

*

Busy: The National Blues Band will be at the Rusty Pelican in Glendale on Friday and Saturday night. The Rusty Pelican, which formerly booked only Top 40 cover bands, has changed its music policy to feature blues and R&B-based acts on some nights.

Despite its name, the National Blues Band plays more than just the blues. But lead singer Mark Gaillard says the blues remain the band's first love.

In addition to gigging on the local club scene, the National Blues Band has been scoring some film and TV work. Gaillard said the band has just finished filming a Mike Hammer TV movie, which will air sometime this spring. In the movie, the band plays an original song from their first CD, released last year.

Also, the National Blues Band's rendition of "Flat Foot Floogie With the Floy Floy," a song written by Mark's father, Slim Gaillard, is being used in the soundtrack of a film titled "Too Fast, Too Young."

Meanwhile, the band is in the studio recording its second CD.

* The National Blues Band will play Friday and Saturday nights at the Rusty Pelican, 300 Harvey Drive, Glendale, (818) 242-9191.

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Down Home: Bluegrass and gospel music fans will not have to travel far to hear some of their favorite music this Saturday.

The American Heritage concert series presents the bluegrass of the Witcher Brothers and the Southern gospel sounds of the Crimson River Quartet on Saturday night at Bethel Lutheran Church in Encino. Guitarist Howard Yearwood also will perform.

The Granada Hills-based Witcher Brothers are considered one of the hottest bluegrass acts in the Western United States. Nineteen-year-old fiddler Gabe Witcher splits his time between playing with his family band and with such performers as Beck, Randy Newman, Herb Pederson, Lyle Lovett, Bernie Taupin and others.

The Orange County-based Crimson River Quartet performs about 65 concerts a year. Their repertoire includes country gospel, traditional hymns and Southern gospel.

* The Witcher Brothers, the Crimson River Quartet and Howard Yearwood will perform in concert at 7:30 p.m. Saturday at the Bethel Lutheran Church, 17500 Burbank Blvd., Encino. (818) 700-8288. $5-$15.

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