Champagne Sunday It’s a tough time for original rock bands in Ventura County. These days, it seems anyone who spends more time on songwriting than screaming will end up in a coffeehouse battling to be heard over espresso machines and clinking silverware. Long gone are the glory days of Café Voltaire, when the area’s more subdued acts had a home base to cultivate a healthy scene. Nobody should pine for those days as much as Champagne Sunday, a band that, if it had been around in the late ’90s, probably would have been the center of that vibrant scene. Comprising singer-guitarists Jessi Reems-Terrell and Jared Fredeen and bassist Thom Thomas, the band, which formed in May 2005, has at least succeeded in creating a truly original sound. Pooling their influences — from rock to folk and everything in between — the musicians have a tough time classifying themselves. Surprisingly, the band’s “throw it in a pot and hope it cooks” mentality does not hurt the songwriting. From the perfectly sublime groove of songs like “With You” to the hauntingly gorgeous “Music Box,” it’s obvious the guys and gal of Champagne Sunday respect the craft. They perform every Monday in July at Billy O’s.

Spigga Declaring their sound “garage funk,” Los Angeles underground collective Spigga formed in 2000 with the idea of creating music without boundaries. Mixing rock, funk, house, soul and industrial influences with multilingual lyrics, the band — which expands to a six-piece live — quickly became a cult favorite in the Latin alternative scene. Their debut album, 06105: The Mixtape — a self-described “symphony of dirt” — finally dropped this year, packing a multi-stylistic sound that can only be described as Spigga. Or, to use their words again, “Maniacodepresivopsychosexual.” To figure out what that means, check the band out at the La Dolce Vita Lounge in Oxnard on June 30.



Gwen Stefani It is hard to believe it has been more than a decade since Gwen Stefani first entered public consciousness. But from practically the moment she entered, she was a household name. Exuding charisma, energy and a presence unmatched by almost any frontwoman since Debbie Harry, Stefani led her backing band — otherwise known as No Doubt — to a few million album sales before departing on a solo career that has seen her become an even bigger star, a fashion trendsetter and barrier-crossing celebrity on par with Madonna, except that there’s more to her than hype. Her sound — an eclectic mix of 80s new wave, modern hip-hop, dance, pop, rock, reggae and the kitchen sink — is as unclassifiable as her dressing style. She stops in at the Santa Barbara Bowl for a consecutive two night stay beginning June 26.

Don Rickles If you’re the only guy allowed to make fun of Frank Sinatra to his face — and not only live to tell about it, but elicit a laugh from Old Blue Eyes — well, that might make you the baddest man on the planet. Don Rickles, with his wrinkled bulldog visage, may not look like it, but ask anyone of certain age and they’ll tell you: no comedian commanded the respect he did. The ultimate insult comic, Rickles was an unofficial member of the Rat Pack back in the 1950s. To be insulted by Rickles is an honor, and the insultees will surely line up for the privilege when the legend himself picks up a mic at the Canyon in Agoura Hills on June 23.

Cadillac Angels Tony Balbinot is pulling off a pretty good ruse. Not that he is any way fake or something other than what he proclaims himself to be — the guy is as real as the dirt on his boots and the grease in his hair. But not everything about him is exactly as it seems. For example, he has been playing guitar for only 20 years. That is a hearty chunk of time, yes, but on record, with his band the Cadillac Angels, he sounds as if he came out the womb chopping a Gretsch. Although he was raised on a steady diet of Bo Diddley, Howlin’ Wolf and Slim Harpo, the Illinois native says he is just beginning to fully understand the inner workings of the music he built his career from. Cadillac Angels perform at the Deer Lodge in Ojai on June 22 and at the Beachcomber Tavern at Silver Strand in Oxnard on June 24.



I Am The Ocean It doesn’t take much to be an outlaw in the capital of Mormonville, Salt Lake City. Even so, Utah’s own I Am The Ocean do a pretty good job of rattling their hometown’s conservative feathers — as well as a few city walls whenever they practice, we’re sure. Playing “post-hardcore prog-rock,” the band isn’t afraid to mix chaos with melody, all within the scope of massive songs that fuse ear-bleeding riffage with complex rhythms. And Your City Needs Swallowing — which may or may not be a reference to the town that spawned them — seethes with “nihilistic discontent that reads like Hunter S. Thompson on a Mescaline Binge.” Hey, we’re in! Be in Ventura when I Am The Ocean takes hold at Alpine on June 18.

Bad Manners No one is quite sure why Bad Manners, the English ska band that skanked alongside more famous contemporaries such as Madness and the Specials in the late 1970s, is playing at the Ventura Theater in 2007. But they are, and for fans of the genre (and we know there are still some out there), it should be quite a treat. Even if you’re unfamiliar with the group, whose hits include “Lip Up Fatty,” “Special Brew” and “Ne-Ne Na-Na Na-Na Nu-Nu,” there are reasons for attending, the biggest of which (literally) is singer Buster Bloodvessel. The group’s frontman is famously bulbous, bald and self-professedly stupid, and, even after all these years with several different supporting casts behind him, still manages to go ape onstage. Hey, it’s not like Suggs and Neville Staples are doing much these days. Bad Manners, along with Monkey, Dual Eyed Mic and the Slider, hit the theater on June 16.

Tim Segreto Musician Tim Segreto was born in Brooklyn and labors in a lab in upstate New York. His tools are varied and his work even more so: songs range from mammoth explorations of sound to singer-songwriter investigations of the heart. He uses instruments ranging from the piano to random electronic devices, “to take his music to a surreal and fantastical realm.” He performs either with his band, the Cosmoknots, or with just one other multi-instrumentalist, and every set is a mixture of acoustic and electric elements. This summer, he is leaving New York and traveling west. He will play an in-store at Buffalo Records on June 18. Be there.

~ Picks of the Week ~

~ Picks of the Week ~

Lindsey Buckingham Talk about a musician who needs no introduction. For the ignorant among us, however, Lindsey Buckingham is the six-string maestro behind Fleetwood Mac, a band that, back in 1977, released one of the highest selling records of all time, Rumours. You may have heard of this group and their musical accomplishments — but, chances are, you’re more familiar with the weird internal love dramas that made the Mac one of the bigger soap operas in the rock world. Years divorced from his old band’s achievements and troubles, however, Buckingham is now fully invested in the solo career he began in the 1980s. Though Stevie Nicks is probably the bigger individual name, classic rock aficionados know Buckingham as one of history’s great guitarists, capable of both beautiful, Brian Wilson-influenced balladry and scorching, belly-ripping blues. Last year’s mostly acoustic Under the Skin — his first album in almost 15 years — was more of the latter: delicately arranged, heavy-hearted threadbare pop songs showcasing his sometimes undervalued songwriting skills. Yes, Buckingham is a living legend, and he will perform at the Ventura Theater on June 13.

Snoop Dogg’s Boss Life Tour Let’s clarify this right off the bat: Snoop Dogg is not contracted to appear at that show which bears his name, coming to the Oxnard Performing Arts Center on June 8. But make no mistake, anything sporting his seal of approval is bound to be top notch. When has the Doggfather ever steered you wrong in the past, anyway? C’mon — you know you’ve got a cool, refreshing 40 ounce bottle of Snoop-endorsed St. Ides Malt Liquor chilling in your fridge, with a pair of Doggy Biscuitz shoes on your feet and a Snoop Dogg brand snowboard in the closet. You can trust your Uncle Snoopy to deliver the goods. And besides, the show features some reliable artists in their own right, including tha Dogg Pound, JT the Bigga Figga and War Zone featuring Goldie Loc, Kam and MC Eiht. Again, the D-O-double-G himself isn’t scheduled to show up, but who knows? Long Beach ain’t that far down the road.

The Health Club The Health Club “are a trio from Los Angeles, whose spiritual core is modern rock,” according to their MySpace. Sounds like? “A pastiche of all our musical influences.” And they have all the right ones: the Cure, Modern Lovers, Ramones, Pixies, U2, the Stones, the Velvet Underground, and “life, love, movies, pretty girls [and] the Dalai Lama.” Check them out at the La Dolce Vita Cocktail Lounge in Oxnard on June 9.








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