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VALLEY WEEKEND : Larry Dean a Maverick on the Country Scene : He and his Shooters perform many originals and a few oldies, which makes them stand out in the club-playing crowd.

TIMES STAFF WRITER

Larry Dean, who’s performing at the Cinnamon Cinder in Burbank for the next two weekends, is a rarity.

He and his band, the Shooters, are one of the top acts on the local country music club circuit, but what sets him apart is that 90% of his repertoire is original material.

In band parlance, non-original songs are called covers. The term originated in the old Tin Pan Alley days of music publishing.

Generally, club owners are notorious for requiring bands to stay current with the latest Top 40 hits, so that other 10% of Dean’s repertoire must be very up to date, right?

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Wrong.

“We don’t stay very current,” Dean admits. Instead, his covers include classic country tunes by people such as Hank Williams Sr., Merle Haggard, Webb Pierce and others. Old stuff.

So, how does Dean do it? He says his experience with the Victorville club the Cocky Bull is typical.

“When we first were there, they asked us for more covers,” Dean says. “But after they saw that the crowd responded to our songs and they were making money, they’ve booked us six times for the coming year.”

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In fact, they like the band so much now that Dean and the Shooters recorded a live album at the Cocky Bull titled, appropriately enough, “Completely Live.” Dean describes the recording as down and dirty, direct to digital audio tape, with no overdubs or studio sweetening--just what happened live on the stage of the club.

“If there’s a wrong note there, it’s there,” Dean says.

The Shooters feature Dean on rhythm guitar and lead vocals, Dan Cifalia on lead guitar, Mickey Wells on pedal steel, Ed Domer on drums and David Sprowl on bass.

* Larry Dean and the Shooters perform Friday and Saturday, and Jan. 12 and 13, at Cinnamon Cinder, 4311 W. Magnolia Blvd., Burbank. Call (818) 845-1121.

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Who is Whom?

Members of Whom, playing at the Coffee Junction on Friday, describe themselves as a percussive beatnik dance-rock quartet. Whom morphed from another group, DigaJiga, which was a popular local club act for about four years until its demise one year ago.

“It was four years of working in the trenches,” says Whom leader Ric Sarabia. “We were like a married couple. Now we’re a much tighter dance machine.”

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The band features Sarabia on vocals and djembe, an African drum; David Jenkins on guitar and vocals; Robert Bartholme on drums; and Ruben X on bass. All except X were members of DigaJiga.

Sarabia says his new ensemble is funny, tight and twisted. The band is currently working on a cassette album of its original material that will be available sometime in March. Sarabia says the album will be titled “Coffeehouse Hero.” Besides the title track, other song titles include “He Used to Be a Dandy,” “Mailman” and “Brain Lust.”

* Whom performs percussive, beatnik dance rock Friday at the Coffee Junction, 19221 Ventura Blvd., Tarzana. No cover. Call (818) 342-3405.

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As the new year gets underway, it’s interesting to see what’s old, what’s the same and what’s new in the Valley’s ever-changing club landscape.

1995 saw the closing of the Palomino in North Hollywood, Pelican’s Retreat in Calabasas and the Jungle in Granada Hills.

For over 30 years, the Palomino was the center of the Los Angeles country-western music scene. In its heyday, it was the place for local and touring artists and record company people to gather. The list of musicians and performers who graced the stage included Bob Dylan, George Harrison, Johnny Cash, Linda Ronstadt, Jerry Lee Lewis, Merle Haggard, Hank Williams Sr., Bo Diddley, Dave Alvin, Dwight Yoakam and many, many others.

Unlike the Palomino, Pelican’s Retreat and the Jungle were both local clubs that did not have a fabled history but were longtime popular nightspots.

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What continues is FM Station in North Hollywood. That property has operated almost continuously--as the Rag Doll in the 1960s, Hag’s Place in the 1970s, Filthy McNasty’s in the 1980s and FM Station in the 1990s. Under many different names, it’s always been a place where young people could go to dance to live music.

New this new year are a major remodeling of Mancini’s in Canoga Park and a new blues club, Smokin’ Johnnie’s, in Studio City. And each year brings a fresh crop of young musicians willing to sacrifice their livers and work in these places for practically nothing, grasping at the elusive butterfly of fame.

The Palomino, in some form, will probably be back. The club was launched in 1952 by the Thomas brothers, but the building itself dates to 1924. It’s withstood the Great Depression, three major wars, several economic downturns, a few earthquakes and a whole lot of drunken Valley cowboys.

It’s only a matter of time.

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