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Reaching Euphoria

Delayed debut CD for local rock 'n' reggae quartet was worth wait.


The eclectic quartet known as Euphoria has had its collective euphoria on hold for quite some time. The rockers originally planned a June CD release party, but there were countless, endless, mindless and senseless delays. The debut disc "Melting Pot Society" has finally arrived, and it was worth the wait. The release party will be tonight at Nicholby's in Ventura.

With the band's large fan base and the venue's built-in Friday night crowd--which generates sufficient heat to have competed with Wednesday morning's conflagration next door--this one should be a hit. So too, is the band. Euphoria is perhaps the most musically proficient local band since Tao Jonz, and they are still just youngsters. The band includes John DeSurra on bass, Davis Gorospe on keyboards, Sonny Erickson on guitars and James Foster on drums. Everyone sings.

Not only is Euphoria a fine rock band, but also a fine reggae band, a fine jazz band, and they have the ska thing figured out pretty well. Also, Euphoria can jam sufficiently to make Deadheads and Phishheads swirl. The bass player explains:

"We started out in 1993 as a three-piece funk ska band. Next we added reggae, then jazz. We played reggae at Cisco's in Westlake for over a year on Thursday nights because that's what they wanted. Then last winter, Longboards in Ventura hired us to play jazz during their Sunday morning brunches. So if someone wants three sets of reggae or three sets of jazz, we can do it. When we play other places, we do what we want."

And the type of music Euphoria wants to play is ably represented on "Melting Pot Society." The 10 originals include plenty of reggae, ska and rock--imagine Phish meets Black Uhuru. And "Destiny," a ska-powered rager, is guaranteed to fill the dance floor.

* Euphoria at Nicholby's, 404 E. Main St., Ventura, Fri. at 9:30 p.m. COST: $10 for entry and a CD, or $5 just to get in. CALL: (805) 653-2320.


Better Than Ezra is a three-piece rock band out of New Orleans, but you would never figure out their origins by listening to them. BTE has absolutely no Cajun, zydeco or Creole influences on the lavishly produced third album of rockers, "How Does Your Garden Grow?" Their sound seems to have more in common with all those Brit pop bands that live long and prosper on KROQ and geezer rock television VH-1.

The radio single off the new one is "One More Murder," which is also on the "The X-Files" soundtrack. The single sounds a lot like a U2 song, which is not surprising because Malcolm Burn produced the record. His credits include Iggy Pop, Peter Gabriel and, what a surprise, U2.

Better Than Ezra has been around for 10 years, starting as a bar band in New Orleans, then hitting the road for extended poor-paying road trips. They released "Deluxe" in 1993 on their own Swell Records, and the record was picked up two years later by Elektra. Powered by the hit "Good," the album went platinum.

This is a smart and hip rock band that is on top of its game. And they make a lot of noise for just three guys. Opening will be Ednaswap and New Zealand hit maker Bic Runga.

* Better Than Ezra, Ednaswap and Bic Runga at the Ventura Theatre, 26 Chestnut St., Thurs. at 7:30 p.m. COST: $15. CALL: (805) 653-0721.


In addition to Euphoria, there are plenty of Friday the 13th gigs that merit a mention even though there isn't enough space to get really serious about any of them. Kiki Ebsen, a singer, songwriter and keyboard player, and, yup, the daughter of Jed Clampett (Buddy Ebsen) himself, will be at Borders in Thousand Oaks. Ebsen has recently released her second album, "Avenues."

Blue Beat Cartel, what's left of Papa-Nata even though they do no Papa-Nata songs, will perform plenty of their reggae-flavored dance songs at Duke's, located on the Port Hueneme naval base. Also, the Ska Daddyz, the greatest band in all of Silver Strand, also with a new CD, will be at the Bombay Bar & Grill in Ventura.

Meanwhile up the coast, a new low is guaranteed for one and all when the notorious Cocktails From Hell play NYM, which is above the Yucatan Cantina on State Street. It's worth the drive just to hear them play "Girlfriend."

Then just a few miles north at the Creekside Inn, those ubiquitous Cadillac Angels will join their pals from Pasadena, the Hillbilly Soul Surfers, for a rockabilly-flavored hootenanny.

And finally, in the Flashback Department: Remember Gary Myrick? A guitar player on the L.A. scene since moving from Dallas in 1976, Myrick is probably best known for the song "She Talks in Stereo" from Gary Myrick & the Figures.

Anyway, he will be performing along with Victor Bissitti at a Wednesday night gig at Cafe Voltaire. For three bucks, why not?

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