Rompin’ and Stompin’ With a High-Energy Dance Band : Darlene O’Connell and the Dixie Flyers combines a variety of styles to produce a fresh, upbeat sound.

Share via

Get ready for some great music this weekend as Darlene O’Connell and the Dixie Flyers make a whistle stop at the grand opening of Jay Bee’s Bar and Grill in Agoura.

This high-energy group’s got talent, charisma and more stage clothes than Carter had pills. They’re a great dance band, concert and stage show all in one.

“We’re ‘New Country,’ ” said lead vocalist O’Connell. “We play everything from Patsy Cline and rockabilly to Southern rock and the Kentucky Headhunters.”


Whatever you call it, their fresh, upbeat show offers plenty of specialty dance numbers as well as current hits. They also mix in original, crowd-pleasing material. Look for guitarist Gary Rudolf’s swing-boogie composition, “Always Somebody’s Girl,” as well as “Sign of the Dove,” a lushly arranged waltz by O’Connell.

On vocals, the Tennessee native’s sweet, smoky alto works equally well on the “Tennessee Waltz,” a hot and steamy “Black Coffee” and a gutsy “Take It Back.” And she brings the house down with a raucous rendition of the Jerry Lee Lewis anthem, “Great Balls of Fire.”

But everybody sings. In addition to O’Connell, the Canyon Country-based group boasts Tom Ricardo, a hot Southern fiddler who also plays keyboards and acoustic guitar; drummer Paul Mathew; classically trained bassist Eric Stewart; country picker Rudolf; and rock guitarist Jimmy Waldrop.

O’Connell’s husband, Glenn, plays air guitar only. But as band manager he keeps the train on the track. He’s the guy at the mixer board sporting a “Darlene” heart tattoo. Glenn gets credit for naming the band after an old Southern steam engine. “I heard it in a song by Travis Tritt: ‘Our life is like a Dixie Flyer. She don’t ever look back,’ ” he said. “I thought that was appropriate for the band. Because we’re full steam ahead and not looking back.”

So far that seems to be the case. Since Darlene O’Connell and the Dixie Flyers first pulled into town in August, they have developed a local following of more than 400 fans and played revered country venues including the Palamino in North Hollywood and the Crazy Horse in Santa Ana. Since March they opened separate shows for John Anderson and Chet Atkins at the Ventura Theatre. August took them on a three-state tour. And they have an album in the works. So catch ‘em while you can.


All danced out? Sit a spell while singer-songwriter Barbara Scott keeps you in stitches with her act, “Pasty Cline in a Padded Cell.”


“My act is 50% stand-up material and 50% original songs,” said Scott. “These are not parodies of country-Western songs. I write original lyrics and music that are a takeoff on country.”

Before turning to stand-up comedy, Scott sang professionally in coffeehouses in the Northeast. During summers she toured as harmonica soloist with the Westchester Concert Band. She now plays top comedy venues nationwide. And fully produced versions of her songs, including “I’ve Got My Face in the ‘Fridge Over You,” and “Pickle Jam” (“I’m in a pickle, I’m in a jam, ‘cuz I’m in bed with an awful man . . . “) are repeat requests on the nationally syndicated radio show “Dr. Demento.”

Scott will share her insights on relationships (and why cows explode if you don’t milk ‘em) at The Comedy Club Inside Hornblower’s, 1559 Spinnaker Drive, Ventura Harbor Village, Ventura, at 8 p.m. Friday and 8 and 10 p.m. Saturday; cover charge is $8. For information call 658-2202.


* WHERE & WHEN: Darlene O’Connell and the Dixie Flyers, 9 p.m. Friday and Saturday at Jay Bee’s Bar and Grill, 5050 Cornell Road, Agoura (Whizzin’s Center), (818) 706-2802. Cover charge of $5 after 7 p.m. without purchase of dinner.