If you've still got cabin fever after all the rain, you'll find plenty of chances to kick up your heels this week--starting tonight at the Crazy Bull in Camarillo.
Acousticat fiddler Phil Salazar and Acadiana offer a gumbo of delightful Cajun and zydeco music at 8 p.m. They'll even throw in some Cajun dance lessons to boot.
Then Friday and Saturday, Heartbreak Kid makes its third appearance at the Bull. I caught the local group last month at the club's six-band jamboree and liked what I heard. Frontman/rhythm guitarist Darren Mitchell has a wide vocal range and clear tenor that handled the Orbison-style songs easily. The other fellas also take a turn at center mike, including bass player Russ Meadows, whose own songs are in the sets.
Mitchell described their style as "up-tempo modern country with heavy vocal harmonies, a heavy back beat and screaming guitars--like Travis Tritt, Little Texas or The Mavericks."
Purists might put down the band for playing cover tunes a bit faster than the original versions. But the dancers don't seem to mind. In fact, I thought Dave Duncan's hot lead guitar licks and Mike Herrington's rolling drumbeat on "Third Rate Romance" breathed new life into the cowboy cha-cha.
"We do most of our songs with an edge. That's because our drummer and lead guitarist come from rock 'n' roll backgrounds," Mitchell said.
Mitchell formed the band after moving 18 months ago to Newbury Park from Peoria, Ill. After coming off the Midwestern fair circuit, Mitchell said it was strange adapting to clubs again because bands are asked to call the dances for each song.
"So far we don't call 'em and I prefer not to," he said.
Mitchell doesn't like line dancers who take up room on the dance floor and don't spend enough money in the club. "Back home, line dancing went through its phase; now they're more into heavy Texas-style two-step and swing," he said. "Within the last three years, I would say 50% of the clubs I played in Chicago, Indiana and Illinois won't allow line dancing. They even hang up signs that say 'No line dancing.' "
Any day now, Cousin's will officially convert to its new name, the Silver Dollar Saloon. But owners of this Simi Valley club have done much more than a name change. When I was there a couple weekends ago, the newly enlarged and refinished dance floor reminded me of a miniature Western Connection with its crowd of couples and bobbing cowboy hats. And I was amazed at the difference that a raised ceiling, smoke eaters and upholstered booths made to the atmosphere and comfort of the patrons.
This week's prize for most original instrument goes to spoon player Chris Talbot of Ventura, who sat in with Darlene O'Connell & the Dixie Flyers recently at the Bull. These are not just any spoons, mind you. These are large soup or serving spoons she carries everywhere for just such impromptu jams. And Talbot's train beat made that Ten-Step a special hit with the crowd.
Finalists in the Borderline's Amateur Country Singers Talent Contest will compete for big prizes and their 15 minutes of fame at 9 p.m. Wednesday at the Thousand Oaks night spot.
Local aspiring songwriters, age 18 and older, should be aware of the April 1 entry deadline for the second annual national Country Music Songwriting Contest. It is one of several events to be held in conjunction with Fanfest '95, a huge country music event May 5 to 7 at the Los Angeles County Fair and Exposition Complex in Pomona. Prizes include cash, trips and a shot at publishing contracts. Entries must not be previously recorded.
To enter, send an audiocassette along with a typed or handwritten lyrics sheet, the name of your favorite country radio station, a stamped self-addressed envelope and check for $20 payable to Fanfest Songwriting Contest, 8601 Wilshire Blvd., Suite 1103, Beverly Hills 90211. For more information, call (310) 358-0900. Winners will be notified by mail after April 15.
* WHO: Heartbreak Kid.
* WHEN: Friday and Saturday, 8:45 p.m.
* WHERE: Crazy Bull Steakhouse & Saloon, 4426 Central Ave., Camarillo.
* HOW MUCH: $5.
* CALL: 988-4209.
* FYI: The line dance lesson at 7:30 p.m. on Friday will be Hop Switch Boogie; on Saturday, Bar Room Romeo.