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Doing His Own Thing

With Crazy Horse out to pasture, guitarist Sonny Mone tries a different scene.

February 04, 2000|BILL LOCEY | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

The Sonny Mone Band, featuring a Conejo Valley guy with a long local track record, will be opening Sunday for bassist Victor Wooten at the Ventura Theatre.

Mone is a guitar player out of Massachusetts who headed west and ended up playing in Neil Young's famous back-up band, Crazy Horse. But with the Horse out to pasture, the singer/guitarist is running his own show these days.

Best-known locally for playing a long-running gig at the Hungry Hunter in Thousand Oaks, Mone has just completed a new CD, "Ride Around the Sun." The Sonny Mone Band, in addition to the obvious, includes Bill Burchett on bass, Corey Little on guitar, Phil Smith on cello and Pat Gallagher on percussion.

Mone discussed recent events before his next Ventura Theatre gig.

So where have you been lately?

We play around every month or two. Sometimes I do a solo gig with the cello player at the Miramar. It's a nice incognito, in-and-out gig. Also, we're pretty much in there at the Ventura Theatre--we've played there six or seven times in the last six months. We opened for Dave Mason, the Tubes and Dave Davies. I live in Thousand Oaks, and even though I played there for a long time, there's really no scene. It's more of a cover band kind of town.

How did you get started in all this?

I started playing in clubs when I was 15, then I left high school a year later. I'm from Cape Cod, but I've been in California since 1984. I think there's more culture back there because it's older. People are more set in their ways back East, and when I go back to visit, I see the same people sitting on the same forklift 20 years later.

How did you end up in Crazy Horse?

I knew Billy Talbot, the bass player, and finally I called him up. I came out here in 1984 and two years later there I was, a kid standing there holding a 1964 Stratocaster playing "Cinnamon Girl." We did Crazy Horse right up to about a year-and-a-half ago when we pretty much stopped, although we do have a compilation album coming out soon.

Crazy Horse is Neil Young's backup band--where did you fit into all that?

I was Crazy Horse's guitar player and songwriter when they weren't with Neil Young. We did a lot of studio work--there's a whole Crazy Horse discography that you can find on the Internet. The few times I met Neil Young, he was always really gracious.

What did you learn from all that?

Crazy Horse did a lot of recording and was mostly a studio band and not much of a performing band. Our last live show was probably about three years ago. It was a great experience and I had a great time. I definitely learned how to record--how to do things the old way. You don't set out to write a hit, you set out to write a song. Hey, I'm a journeyman, but I'm a pretty good songwriter. By 1976, I had 100 songs that I knew, but once I started writing my own songs, I stopped learning covers.

What does the new album sound like?

It's adult alternative--how's that? It's got an edge to it, but it's modern and not classic rock. The songwriting kinda tells you where I've been.

What was the strangest gig you ever played?

There's been a few of those. When I was 16, we got hired to play a party on the Cape. After we were done, they wouldn't let us stop, so we had to play all night. When they all passed out just before the sun came up, we all snuck away.

What's next?

We have someone shopping the new album in Europe, then we'll start shopping it in L.A. and see what happens.

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DETAILS

Victor Wooten (see Josef Woodard's adjoining Classical/Jazz story) and the Sonny Mone Band at the Ventura Theatre, 26 Chestnut St., 8 p.m. Sunday; $15; 653-0721.

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There's a big punk rock show tonight at the Ventura Theatre featuring, among others, Pulley from Simi Valley, D.O.S. from Ojai, and Guttermouth out of Orange County. To quote the poster flyer that seems to promise a new low: "Headliner Guttermouth [is] hands down one of the wackiest, most obnoxiously offensive, in your face, bands in punk rock. Infamous for their anything-goes live show, Guttermouth definitely aims to displease."

Punk music, in addition to being fully annoying to parents, does possess a certain populist strain. Concert tickets and T-shirts are usually cheaper (this show is 10 bucks), and oftentimes, fans are invited onstage, to the utter annoyance of security.

Rock is different. Generally, communication between rock stars and their fans is limited, since they cross paths only at the anonymous intimacy of the show.

Just try to go chat with Britney Spears or Mick Jagger after the show. Good luck.

Infinitely more accessible--actually up close and personal without a sea of bouncers who hate your face--will be one Mark Adkins, songwriter and lead singer of Guttermouth.

Ready to schmooze with the faithful, he will appear at noon Saturday at the Beach Hut next to the Vans store on the second floor of the new Pacific View Mall in Ventura.

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