by Chris Jay

chris@armyoffreshmen.com

From bowling alleys in Ventura to open air festivals in Vienna, from a legendary actor moonlighting as a singer/songwriter to a mask-wearing ska band moonlighting as cartoon superheroes, these are the shows and the artists that made a lasting impression on some of the Ventura County music scene’s finest in 2019.

“Collective Soul at the Ventura County Fair. One of my all-time favorite bands. When I heard they were touring, I started making plans to fly out to one of their shows. Then I heard they would be in our own backyard. Ed Roland’s voice is just amazing. Loved it!”

Jodi Farrell Photo by T Christian Gapen

— Pam Baumgardner, VenturaRocks.com

“Avett Brothers this summer playing to a sold-out crowd at the Santa Barbara Bowl. Lake Street Drive opened, who actually played Zoey’s on the tour for their first record. The Avetts know how to entertain an audience. High energy from start to finish. Their tight playing, thoughtful lyrics and pure joy of performing is the key to their successful connection to their fans. An amazing night.”
— Polly Hoganson, Ones To Watch Productions

“On Monday, June 24, I went to the Hollywood Bowl to see Carlos Santana perform. He was spellbinding and all the band members were world-class musicians. Cindy Blackwell, his wife and drummer, blew me away with her passion and endless energy. Sharing the love of music, community and culture with 18,000 other people made for a very moving concert.”
— Jodi Farrell, Jodi Farrell’s Music Studio

“Jeff Bridges at Discovery. It just doesn’t get better than ‘The Dude’ playing his jams in a space where his vibes are amplified with the nostalgic energy of an old-school bowling alley brought to life by great live music and state-of-the-art sound.”
— Joshua Pemberton, Discovery Ventura

Dad Brains

“My favorite show this year was Good Riddance and 88 Fingers Louie at Discovery in Ventura. My former band, No Motiv, did a tour with these two same bands in 1998. It was our first real tour and we learned how to be a band because of what Good Riddance showed us. So to see them together 20 years later, still dominating the stage, brought back so many memories. I love all those guys and have so much respect for them.”
— Pat Pedraza, Dad Brains 

“Aquabats at Discovery. These guys never disappoint. Hilarious on stage banter, birdcage theatre-style battles and a real focus on their younger crowd were just a few of the wins of the night. There’s something special about any group that has the confidence to have a great time on stage regardless of the reaction from the crowd. Super rad!”
— Owen Bucey, Mandex

“I got a tie for my favorite show. First one would be Rival Sons and The Sheepdogs at The Fonda. When the support act is just about as good as the headliner, you can’t forget it. Second would be the Raconteurs and The Melvins at the Santa Barbara Bowl. We couldn’t contain ourselves when The Melvins blew up the Bowl. Then Jack, Brendan and the rest of the Raconteurs showed no rust from taking a break for a long time.”
— Bill Bensen, Penny Arcade Studios

Bill Rotella

“Blond at the Waves Fest in Vienna, Austria. Sassy German disco-glam punkettes equipped with cheesy synchronized dance moves and new wave synth blips. Never laughed and danced so hard in my life and didn’t understand a single word of it.”
— Eddy Numbskull, Numbskull Promotions

“My favorite show of the year was Mac DeMarco at the Madonna Inn. Seeing my idol in real life really was an inspiration for me. When he played it wasn’t just the same songs from the records. He did whatever he wanted with them, mixing in new solos or experimenting with pedals. His laid back and creative way of playing really amazed me.”
— Spencer Karayan, Garage Door Opener

“No Motiv’s anniversary show at Discovery. One of my favorite local bands growing up. I love seeing a band still putting in effort for the love of music and their fans. Great venue. Great sound. Great band. Great night.”
— John Sveiven, Arkive Studios

“The Who at the Hollywood Bowl. I was never really a Who fan. I dug some of their music but not really a big fan. I was curious about how good could they be at 74 years old? But to my surprise Roger and Pete are still hungry and they still bring it. I was beyond impressed. Legit British rock and roll. Very cool experience.” 
— Bill Rotella, Amber and Smoke

Zeke Berkley

“Torche at Teregram Ballroom. They’re one of the few bands that have been going solid for ages but somehow only get better. They rocked so hard but with smiles and having fun. Very rare in heavy music.”
— Kai Dodson, Army of Freshmen

“Louis Cole at the Lodge Room in Highland Park this month was my favorite show in 2019. Twelve-piece band. Dressed as skeletons. Absolutely shredding. Louis is a unique artist and his band was top notch. The Lodge Room is a former Masonic Temple with a bar that serves glasses of milk… so the night had that going for it too.” 
— Zeke Berkley