Friday, November 30, 2007

The Dear & Departed: '80s revisited in style

Photo credit: KEVIN ESTRADA
Orange County used to be the place where musicians would seemingly get their start and then move on in search of greater fame or a more prominent place to feed their artistic appetite.
The list of musical exports includes artists such as Jackson Browne, Gary Allan and leading members of No Doubt and Sugar Ray.

But times are truly a changing as artists from as far away as New Jersey (Walter Trout), New York (Lee Rocker) and Hawaii (National Product) now call Orange County home.

Add to that list a fantastic Australian export, the Dear & Departed. The quintet's inception and history is complex, but the members' various backgrounds include extended residences in England, Wales, New Zealand and – most recently – Australia before setting up sonic shop in Orange County in 2006.

The band's full-length debut "Something Quite Peculiar" was released by Science Records on May 22 and the group has found a growing audience for its accessible blend of '80s and '00s styles. Fans of the Cure, New Order and the Church, as well as modern rockers such as Placebo and Rock Kills Kid will enjoy the Dear & Departed.

"I think we are playing just what comes out," said singer Dan Under in a phone interview earlier this week. The Dear & Departed also features guitarist Simon O'Gorman, drummer Joel Bourne, guitarist Darren Parkinson and bassist David Williams.
"We've all had an English music upbringing. My dad is responsible for getting me into music from a very young age," Under said when asked how a group of twentysomethings is so able to masterfully work in a genre first mined before they were born. In addition to the Cure and the Church, he also cites modern rock outfits like AFI, Placebo and Tiger Army as influences.
"As a whole, we look to the '80s," Under explained. "We did the Warped Tour (in June and July 2007) and we didn't fit in. We don't consider ourselves part of that scene but people definitely get it."

It only helps the Dear & Departed that Under lent his spellbinding vocals on AFI's 2006 release "Decemberunderground."

Having toured with well-known acts such as Avenged Sevenfold and AFI, the members of the Dear & Departed have found themselves the rare young rock troupe able to appeal to fans from several generations.
Under is excited that young fans are embracing the Dear & Departed, and he even salutes the sounds of "Down Under" with a moving version of the Church's 1987 classic "Under the Milky Way Tonight" that has him sharing vocals with fellow Australian singer Jessica Origliasso of the Veronicas.

"I was listening to a lot of the Church before we started to record ('Something Quite Peculiar'). It's such a timeless song; more people need to hear it."

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Travis blows the roof off the House of Blues

Travis frontman Francis Healy, shown here performing in Switzerland in August 2007, and the rest of the Scottish band delivered a stirring performance Saturday, Nov. 24, 2007, at the House of Blues in Anaheim.

Story originally posted on the Orange County Register Web site on Sunday, Nov. 25, 2007

Travis' opening at the House of Blues in Anaheim on Saturday night (Nov. 24, 2007) may have been one of the most appropriate in recent history. The house lights went dark and the recorded theme music from the movie "Rocky" was played over the sound system as spotlights suddenly revealed the members of Travis walking from the rear of the venue through the crowd dressed in colorful, Las Vegas-ready boxing robes.

The theatrical opening was not lost on the capacity crowd, which cheered loudly as the Scottish band made it to the stage.

The group opened with several strong cuts from 2007's "The Boy With No Name," both "Selfish Jean" and "Eyes Wide Open" providing the explosive one-two punch to drive the point that Travis is back.
In the late 1990s, Travis appeared to be poised to be a major force in rock. But after the success of "The Man Who" (armed with gems such as "Driftwood" and "Why Does It Always Rain on Me?"), Coldplay released "Parachutes" in 2000 and the rest – as they say – is history.
It didn't help Travis' case that 2003's "12 Memories" lacked the magic of 1999's "The Man Who" and 2001's "The Invisible Band."

But thanks to the group's solid appearance at Coachella in April and a consequent marathon-length tour (the members joked Anaheim was somewhere between stops 83 and 85), the band is better than ever.

Over the course of 23 songs, Travis proved it is not only ready to rumble, but can truly go the distance. Reflective rockers such as "Side," "Closer" and "Sing" showcased the band's love of powerful melancholy, with singer Fran Healy using his wonderful voice to bring beauty and emotion to every line.

Although the majority of songs were not offered up in ways dramatically different from on Travis' studio recordings, the enthusiastic audience packed in on both levels of the venue provided a dramatic element to the concert. "As You Are" attained the rage of an Oasis rocker, with guitarist Andy Dunlop hammering his guitar as much as strumming it.

The group's lengthy encore was particularly interesting, highlights being an acoustic and vocal harmony-heavy "Flowers in the Window" and night-ending "Why Does It Always Rain On Me?" that had everyone in the crowd singing along without the customary bullying from the band (usually pointing a microphone out into the crowd).

Maximo Park opened the show with an energetic 50-minute set that clearly impressed those who arrived in time to catch the outfit's lively rock that is in tune with many of the '00s most successful indie artists from across The Pond.
The five-man group recalls Franz Ferdinand's rapid-fire rock and that worked well in a live setting, with songs such as "Girls Who Play Guitar," "The Unshockable" and the set-closing "Our Velocity" offering solid punk rock-paced songs that were even more dexterous than the group's studio recordings.
The Newcastle quintet did hit a sonic drive out of the Mouse House with a strong performance of the original song "Books From Boxes," which showcased guitarist Duncan Lloyd and offered a more melancholy sound than the rest of the material.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Johnette Napolitano coming to San Juan Capistrano

Although Concrete Blonde is no longer together, the Los Angeles band's outstanding lead singer Johnette Napolitano is back.

Napolitano is not only out on the road, but has released her commercial solo debut on Hybrid Recordings, "Scarred." Recorded in London and Los Angeles, the 12-song collection showcases Napolitano's wonderful songwriting and affecting vocals that have been her trademark since audiences heard her on modern rockers such as "Everybody Knows," "Dance Along the Edge," "Your Haunted Head" and "Joey."

Napolitano penned most of the songs for "Scarred" at the rural California cabin that she now calls home, while the recordings on the disc were co-produced with Danny Lohner. Guitarist James Mankey, who was a member of Concrete Blonde, engineered and mixed the album.
While Napolitano's versions of Coldplay's "Scientist" and Lou Reed's Velvet Underground-era gem "All Tomorrow's Parties" may draw in some listeners, these are the 10 songs that Napolitano wrote or co-wrote that most fully showcase her artistry.

The confessional "Amazing," emotive ballad "My Diane," stark "Poem for the Native" and intoxicating title track are among the many highlights on one of the best rock releases of 2007.
Napolitano, David J and Cat Party will perform at the Coach House, 33157 Camino Capistrano, San Juan Capistrano, at 7:30 p.m. on Saturday, Nov. 24. Tickets are $20.

Information: 949-496-8930.

OC's Social Distortion rocks the house in Anaheim

Photo by Joshua Sudock/OC Register
Social Distortion's performance in Anaheim on Monday, Nov. 19, 2007 played out exactly how fans of the Orange County troupe might expect. There was a mix of old and new, with Mike Ness and company offering up 16 songs over the course of 90 minutes.

Kicking off a series of 15 shows by the band at the Mouse House that will include dates later this month, throughout December and in early January, Social Distortion is a band that feeds on its adoring audience. The capacity crowd Monday was just what the band ordered, singing along, pumping their fists in the air and – for a couple of dozen brave souls – slamming around in a giant mosh pit in front of the stage for most of the set.

And as fun as it is to watch the band's multi-generational audience get into Social Distortion's pioneering mix of early punk, Johnny Cash-styled country and roots rock, the five musicians on stage displayed that they are up to the challenge of fueling the crowd's thirst without ignoring their roles as musicians.

While the performance of the early '80s punk classic "Mommy's Little Monster" was strong, it was actually Ness' more recent and mature material that lifted the show to something far exceeding the group's shorter, more straightforward shows at Hootenanny.
The performance of "Reach for the Sky" and "Highway 101" offered the best one-two punch of the night, and elsewhere in the set "Winners and Losers" and the newly-penned "You Can't Take it With You When You Go" showcased Ness at his most reflective.
That is not to say Social Distortion didn't rock. The band did, with drummer Charlie Quintana's powerful style helping propel classics such as "Prison Bound" and "Story of My Life" with defiance.

Ness used his powerful baritone to sing the full-size rockers, but was surprisingly emotive while singing a piano-anchored version of Cash's "Ring of Fire" and the old Hank Williams nugget "Six More Miles (To the Graveyard)."

Like Ness, singer-bassist Lee Rocker celebrates his past even while moving confidently about in the 21st century. During his 30-minute opening set, the Orange County rocker focused on recent material that has continued to bring him out of the long shadow of the Stray Cats.
Opening with "Lost Highway" and "Gone" from 2007's "Black Cat Bone," his eight-song set also featured the beautiful "One More Night," a song as wonderful as anything released this year (now, if only commercial radio would champion his art).
Rocker also thrilled the crowd when he balanced on his upright bass like an acrobat while leading his solid four-man band through a wild "Crazy When She Drinks."

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Remembering Lance "Romance" Faulk

Lance "Romance" Faulk, lead singer of the Attraction, died on Saturday night, Nov. 10, 2007.

Lance "Romance" Faulk of Huntington Beach, the lead singer of the popular local band the Attraction, has died at age 36. According to the group's Web site, Faulk died Saturday of a heart condition he had suffered from for some time.

"Lance was living on borrowed time, having had heart problems for many years. Somehow this is of absolutely no comfort to me." Martin Brown wrote in an e-mail to music on Monday. Brown is the founder and producer of the Orange County Music Awards and was at the Grove of Anaheim earlier this year when the Attraction picked up best punk band honors at the 6th annual ceremony.

On Oct. 25, the Attraction celebrated the release of the group's sophomore CD "The Attraction Presents …" with a show at Hurricanes in Huntington Beach. The band's debut "Step Right Up!" was issued in 2006.

Although he had suffered from heart-related illness since 2003, Faulk was an energetic and talented frontman for the Attraction (the band's always-the-same lineup featured drummer Humper T., guitarist Chris Master John and bassist Beaver), one of Orange County's best modern rock outfits.

The Attraction performed its show at Gallagher's in Huntington Beach on Oct. 11, 2003, and built a strong and loyal following through a combination of hard-hitting and theatrical-styled live shows, a popular MySpace site and radio airplay (including on Los Angeles' Indie 103.1 FM).
"He was really the heart and soul of the band," guitarist Master John said of his friend. He added that it was Faulk who founded the group four years ago and set the tonewith his fun-loving, dynamic personality.

Brown of the Orange County Music Awards agreed.
"In conservative Orange County, where even musicians blend in easily with the standard crowd at generic restaurants and bars, Lance stood out. His preference for makeup and hats, à la 'Clockwork Orange,' made him noticeable in a positive way. He was having fun at the world's expense," Brown wrote in his e-mail.
"As the lead singer and main songwriter of his band, Lance will – I fear – be irreplaceable. But, more than this, he will be missed by his young son Wylan, who was such an important part of Lance's life."
Faulk is survived by his 12-year-old son, Wylan, longtime girlfriend Vicky Bedrosian, father Richard Faulk of Dana Point, mother Emma Faulk and brothers Jason, Jeff, Richard and Mark Faulk.

Services for Faulk include a 9 a.m. visitation, followed by an 11 a.m. mass at St. John Fisher Catholic Church, 5448 Crest Road, Rancho Palos Verdes, on Nov. 15.
For more information, visit or

Friday, November 09, 2007

One honors U2 in a full tribute to the Irish rockers

Photo cutline info: Kenny Hale portrays Bono in the U2 tribute band One. The group will perform a benefit in support of underprivileged Ugandan children at OC Pavilion in Santa Ana on Nov. 17.

One (tribute to U2)
Where: OC Pavilion, 801 N. Main St., Santa Ana
When: 8 p.m. on Saturday, Nov. 17, 2007
How much: $35 (orchestra), $30 (balcony), $25 (theatre)
Call: 714-550-0880

Anyone not content to patiently wait until the opening of the highly-anticipated film “U2 3D” in late January 2008 might want to consider catching the acclaimed U2 tribute band One when the Orange County-based quartet headlines at OC Pavilion in Santa Ana on Nov. 17.

“Regarding the fans, we have a pretty strong fan base from the Web site and definitely from our MySpace page,” said bassist Damon Tucker, who has portrayed Adam Clayton in One since early 2006.
“We sound just like the band; this is no watered-down version of the real thing. The people who continue to come to the shows over and over and visit the Web site and Myspace are a testament of that.”

Indeed, since One launched its Myspace page ( in May 2007, the band has recorded more than 245,000 visits to the site.
“We get emails and postings from all over the world regarding the band,” Tucker said.
Not only does One recreate the magic of a U2 concert and play the music with mirror-minded precision, but the band’s charitable aim is pointed in the same direction as the Irish troupe. Proceeds from the upcoming concert will go to support needy children in sub-Saharan Africa.

“The main thing is to bring awareness and tie that in with U2 because of Bono’s commitment to Africa,” said Kenny Hale, who portrays U2’s famous lead singer in One. The Edge is played by Aaron Broering (who recently released his strong solo effort “Reason to Believe”) and the role of drummer Larry Mullen, Jr. is played by Dave Goode (who is the touring drummer for Frank Marino & Mahogany Rush). The aforementioned Tucker is also a member of the outstanding original rock act Parkaimoon.

Hale noted he is a worship leader at his Costa Mesa-based The Crossing; that church supports a program titled Compassion (, which provides food, medical care and other needed services to children in Uganda, as well as Mosaic Vision (, specifically geared toward assisting many of the estimated 1.8 million Ugandan children who are orphans because of the HIV/AIDS crisis.

Ian Stevenson, pastor of outreach services at The Crossing, was the one who saw the obvious link between the growing popularity of One and an organized benefit to assist Compassion and Mosaic Vision.
“We’re going to give people at the concert a chance to make a difference,” said Stevenson, noting they are assisting an area where it is estimated that 30 percent of the population suffers from HIV or AIDS.
“There is a clinic we’re working on (expanding) to turn into a hospital.”

He added he was attending a concert at OC Pavilion a few months ago and ran into Hale at the show. It was there he realized the benefit of staging a tribute to U2 that would celebrate both the Irish band’s music and long-time commitment to helping children in Africa.
“I said ‘You have to do something for Africa. That’s what Bono is all about’, “ Stevenson recalled.
“We do U2 songs at our church. He (Hale) is phenomenal.”
Stevenson said one of the things that really impresses him about the work of Mosaic Vision is how the group works with so-called “double orphans,” children who have lost both parents and aunts and uncles so they are truly on their own.
“People have a chance to get personally involved,” said Hale, who also fronts the Kenny Hale Band. Hale opened for Shaw-Blades (Styx’ Tommy Shaw and Damn Yankees’ Jack Blades) at the Coach House in San Juan Capistrano on Nov 8.
“It’s something easy to do and it’s fun,” said Hale, of the ability for music fans to help underprivileged children in Africa.
“When kids get help, they flourish.”

For more information on One and to hear the band perform solid versions of several U2 classics, visit

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Dada, Gin Blossoms showcase melodic rock

Intelligent power-pop and well-crafted melodic rock will be showcased at the Coach House in San Juan Capistrano this weekend, thanks to the arrival of Dada on Saturday, Nov. 10, and the Gin Blossoms on Sunday, Nov. 11.
Those who initially labeled Dada (seen here in a 2004 photo) the Police of the 1990s haven’t kept up with the Los Angeles-based trio. Dada’s astounding blend of melodic songcraft, smart lyrics and propulsive rhythms shares the same daring arc drawn by the Police in the late ‘70s and early ‘80s, but Dada’s original blend of melodic choruses, smart lyrics and propulsive rhythms is as strong and inventive as any act in memory.
The band’s collection of wonderful CDs includes 1992’s “Puzzle,” 1994’s masterpiece “American Highway Flower” and 1996’s “El Subliminoso.” More recent titles include 1998’s self-titled “dada” and 2004’s 13-song genre-defying “How to be Found.”
The group’s most recent commercial release, 2006’s “A Friend of Pat Robertson,” finds Dada continuing to be masters of melodic rock (“7 Dot 1”), as well as able to blend jazz (“72 Hours”) and psychedelic flourishes (“Emily Sang to Me”) into an intoxicating mix.
Even various side projects have resulted in winning efforts that ultimately further the legacy of Dada. Singer-guitarist Michael Gurley and drummer Phil Leavitt released “Napalm Springs” under the Butterfly Jones moniker in 2001, while singer-bassist Joie Calio released a wonderful solo disc titled “The Complications of Glitter” in 2003 and more recently launched X Levitation Cult.
The Gin Blossom’s 1993 debut “New Miserable Experience” and 1996 sophomore effort “Congratulations…I’m Sorry” propelled the Arizona band into the forefront of the 1990s music scene.
Songs such as “Hey Jealousy,” “Allison Road,” “Lost Horizons” and “Follow You Down” still enjoy frequent airplay and are favorites at Gin Blossoms concerts.
In 2006, the Gin Blossoms released the epic comeback “Major Lodge Victory,” a full-length disc featuring infectious songs such as “Learning the Hard Way,” “Heart Shaped Locket” and “Come on Hard.”
Dada and Vesper will perform at the Coach House, 33157 Camino Capistrano, San Juan Capistrano, at 8 p.m. on Nov. 10. Tickets to that show are $20.
The Gin Blossoms and Beyond 7 will perform at the same venue at 8 p.m. on Nov. 11. Tickets are $29.50.
Visit or call 949-496-8930 for more details.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Springsteen tribute to benefit L.A. Food Bank

Audiences who caught Bruce Springsteen & the E Street Band at the L.A. Sports Arena on Oct. 29 and 30 undoubtedly noted the Boss’ vocal support for the Los Angeles Regional Food Bank.

Now a group of area artists are paying tribute to the music of Springsteen at a special Nov. 8 concert that will honor New Jersey’s best-known rocker while simultaneously benefiting the fight to stop hunger.

Organized by Huntington Beach-based roots rockers the Fallen Stars (pictured here), the lineup also includes Newport Beach-based Sue Paine, Surf City outfit Johnny 99, and Los Angeles’ Phil Cody and Nobody’s Darling. Several businesses have already stepped in to co-sponsor the event, including OC’s own Backyard Drums and Lindell Productions (a commercial recording studio in Westminster).

“It’s a Springsteen tribute night where eight different bands each play three Springsteen songs and one original,” said Bobbo Byrnes, singer-guitarist of the Fallen Stars and organizer of the upcoming show.

The show will be held at DiPiazza’s, 5205 E. Pacific Coast Highway, Long Beach, at 8 p.m. on Thursday, Nov. 8. Admission is $7 and all proceeds will go to the Los Angeles Regional Food Bank (

For more details about the upcoming concert, visit

Rosie Shipley and Gerry O’Beirne to perform Nov. 3

There will undoubtedly be plenty of sonic magic when Gerry O’Beirne and Rosie Shipley perform two special shows together in San Juan Capistrano on Saturday evening, Nov. 3, 2007.

O’Beirne, that rare singer-songwriter who is also a virtuoso guitarist, and much-admired fiddler Shipley will perform as part of the ongoing Music at the Library concert series.

Born in County Clare – located on Ireland’s music-steeped west coast – O’Beirne grew up in Ireland and Ghana in West Africa, and has since lived in England, California and Mexico. His music is rooted in traditional song craft, but both his songs and instrumental works have a timeless sound that draws comparisons with the early work of Bruce Cockburn, Don McLean and Nils Lofgren.

Songs such as “Darkness Now,” “The Holy Ground” and “Half Moon Bay” (the title track on his solo debut release) are dazzling, and O’Beirne’s poignant lyrics are just as effective.
He is also an incredible instrumentalist, as evidenced by the beautiful “Off the Rocks at Clahane,” which showcases his expressive touch playing a 6-string guitar and melodica.
On “When You’re Gone I Say Your Name,” O’Beirne’s ability to layer his playing of Spanish guitar and steel guitar achieves similarly-enchanting perfection.

O’Beirne has been a touring member or recorded with a number of well-known groups, including Patrick Street, the Sharon Shannon Band, Midnight Well and the Waterboys.
Shipley embarked on her recording career with the release of 2002 CD “At Home,” which teamed her with pianist Matt Mulqueen, as well as with her brothers Peter Shipley (fiddle) and Trevor Shipley (uilleann pipes, flute, whistle). Rosie Shipley is a talented fiddle player, able to lend her four-stringed instrument and bow to wonderful displays on jigs, reels and waltzes.
She grew up in Baltimore, Maryland, and began taking violin lessons at the mere age of three. By age 8, she was already learning traditional tunes from fiddler Brendan Mulvilhill.
In 2003, she teamed with singer-songwriter Lisa Moscatiello to record a full-length CD titled “Well Kept Secrets,” which blended Shipley’s fiddle playing with Moscatiello’s alto soprano on a collection featuring traditional and contemporary songs from Ireland, Scotland and North America.

Gerry O’Beirne and Rosie Shipley will perform at San Juan Capistrano Regional Library, San Juan Capistrano, at 6:30 and 8:30 p.m. on Nov. 3, 2007.
Tickets are $10 for adults, and $5 for children (12 and under).
Information: 949-493-1752.