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Out & About / Ventura County | Pop Scene

No Rush for Flush

With a CD still in the works, Simi's best band is coming to Ventura.

April 30, 1999|BILL LOCEY | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

Since eastern Ventura County has more bands than places to play, the solution for potential rock stars is obvious.

Heading west will be Flush, from Simi Valley, and Zoe's Garden, from the Conejo Valley. They'll play a Thursday-night Three Bands for Three Bucks gig at Nicholby's in Ventura. The final third of the program will be Venturan Joe Hamilton's latest project, None More One.

Flush is something of a Simi Valley supergroup, featuring a quartet of the area's finest players. Front man Tom Kelly used to sing for April's Motel Room, drummer Sam Jones is from the Bungee Chords, and guitar player Danny Jones and bassist John Shaw came from Contradiction.

But being the best band in Simi Valley is like being the smartest guy in jail or the best surfer in Kansas. It's hard to get much attention in a place where the vast majority of the bands are cover bands, or so says the bass player.

"There are a couple of bands doing well, but basically it's been dead in Simi Valley for a long time," Shaw said. "There are still the same places, like Schooner Time where we just played a few weeks ago, but you have to bring your own sound system."

The most famous band from Simi Valley was probably April's Motel Room. The group got signed to Epic and released an album in 1994 that sold 40,000 units with minuscule label support. After the proverbial long goodbye, the label dropped the band, and then, after another year or two, the band members dropped each other and broke up.

According to Shaw, Flush is also on a slow timetable.

"We've been in the studio for months just trying to get this stuff done," Shaw said. "The damn vocals have taken a long time. Tom's been singin' 'em slow, but we've almost got about 10 songs down. But I think things will come together quick for us with a video and the CD."

Flush may, in fact, sound like a combination of the bands that came before, sort of like an April's Bungee Chord. But whatever they sound like, they definitely sound like Kelly.

"Tom's voice, well, is always going to be Tom's voice, the guy from April's," Shaw said. "Being a musician in this area, I've always respected Tom as both a singer and a songwriter. We do three-part harmonies, and I guess we're kind of like the Foo Fighters, but with more pop. Our songs are upbeat, happy pop songs. I guess we're starting to get happy, even in Simi Valley."

While Flush hangs out endlessly in the studio, this does tend to help keep the band members out of the bars. Playing about one gig a month is certainly not overwork or overexposure.

"Our main agenda is to keep writing songs, and not to overbook ourselves, because we know what that does," Shaw said. "You get your courtesy fans--your friends."

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DETAILS

Flush, Zoe's Garden and None More One at Nicholby's, 404 E. Main St., Ventura, Thursday at 9 p.m.; $3; 653-2320.

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Randy Rich is the most famous blues man in Ventura County. He has been playing his rockin' brand of electric blues for decades at just about every venue in the county, plus several that have gone away. Saturday night, Randy Rich & the Ravens can be found at O'Leary's Side Bar in Ventura. In addition to the giant screen featuring those disappointing Dodgers, there's darts, pool, the ever-important free popcorn and, now, the blues.

Stubborn beyond belief, Rich has yet to release a CD--he's waiting until it's just so. A few years ago, during the initial Live at Cafe Voltaire recordings, which went on for nearly a week, the best track, hands down, was Rich's original rocker "Wiggle, Wiggle, Wiggle." It's on the Cafe Voltaire CD, which about sums up Rich's discography, except for a tape from years ago.

This may be changing sometime soon, however. The band has just completed the soundtrack for a surf video, "Burnt Toast." It also has a ton of live recordings and is about halfway through with a CD of Rich originals.

Rich--who has no day job, just plenty of night jobs--doesn't do those generic crying-in-your-beer blues. He rocks, having learned his licks from the likes of Albert Collins, Stevie Ray Vaughan, Buddy Guy and B.B. King.

Rich, who began playing guitar when he was 12, went to Camarillo High School in the '60s, was a session man in Nashville for a few years, did the acoustic coffeehouse tour and has been in and out of countless bands, including Mojo Hand, which played at the Hungry Hunter in Thousand Oaks for years.

Since 1991, it's been Randy Rich & the Ravens, the latter being a revolving cast of characters. For the last four years the lineup has been set with Rich on guitars, Eric Monteith on bass and Donna Eveland on drums.

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DETAILS

Randy Rich & the Ravens at O'Leary's Side Bar, 6555 Telephone Road #7, Ventura, Saturday at 9 p.m.; free; 644-4619.

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The mood will be dark. The color will be black. The music will be loud. Hey, it must be Brit Rock from Love and Rockets, making a rare appearance at the venerable Ventura Theatre on Tuesday night. All three original members remain--Daniel Ash (guitars), David J (bass) and Kevin Haskins (drums).

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