Music of the Night


So happy New Year. You just survived Christmas, which seemed to arrive minutes after Thanksgiving, and it's time to party again.

For most people, New Year's Eve is a time of intoxication, introspection and celebration of being another year older and deeper in debt. For the boys in blue, it's all about intoxication, interception and incarceration. Thus, don't drink and drive--someone might get hurt and the county can get by without financial help from you.

For whatever reason, the last night of the year seems to bring out the dancing fool in many of us. So here's a list of places from the east to the west county offering live music. Most of these venues have no cover or a nominal cover charge, but some are downright expensive. So, here we go:

If everybody hates disco so much, then why won't it go away? The Boogie Knights, the brain (dead?) child of now-tycoon Jamie Brown, started doing live disco shows a few years ago. Now there are at least 10 of these live bands, shaking bootie almost any night, almost anywhere.

One such outfit, Disco Inferno, will resurrect polyester and hopefully pack the dance floor at the Hyatt Westlake Plaza. This time warp tour ain't a cheap date, however. It's $55 per person or, for the $195 package rate, it's two tickets and a room in which to fall over later.

Also in Thousand Oaks, the Goebel Senior Center will hold a New Year's Eve ballroom dance for those 50 and over. The music will be provided by the Windsors. Meanwhile, in the basement of the Hungry Hunter, where the blues usually rules, it will be Sonny Mone, a singer-songwriter.


In Simi Valley, one of the high-priced events of the evening will be transacted at the Radisson Hotel. The Jim Adle Group will do that big-band thing for big bucks--$159 per couple, which, thoughtfully, includes a six-course meal.

Not far away, at one of the few rock venues in town, Hung Jury will play at the MVP Sports Bar, the place with a zillion televisions. Down the road apiece at Schooner Time, look for the best band in Simi Valley, April's Motel Room, doing alternative rock as well as anyone. (But be sure to call ahead on this one, since it was not absolutely set at press time).

It's New Year's Eve, so even Camarillo rocks. The Wannabees will do classic rock tunes at The Clubhouse, while across the parking lot (more or less) Le Freak, another of those Disco Knights bands, will play The Stage, just as they do every Friday night.

Up the freeway, Hit City will play at the Oxnard Hilton. At Channel Islands Harbor at the Lobster Trap Restaurant, the Shepherd Band, which is pretty much the house band, will play classic rock. Soulfage will do R & B dance music at the local sports bar, Champs. Bobby & Lee, with a vast repertoire of covers, will play Mandalay Beach Resort.

Not far away, at The Shores, a cool little neighborhood bar with a giant dead fish on the wall, it's Teresa Russell. Just a girl, a guitar and a bunch of machines, Russell is a one-woman band. Russell has a repertoire in the hundreds, including country, rock and blues.

Over in Ventura, big-voiced Cynthia Manley will do her classic rock and blues numbers at the Keynote Lounge, while just a block from the County Jail, the Kenny Dixon Trio--doing blues and rock--will be at O'Leary's Side Bar.

Within staggering distance of the convict condo is Victoria Pub, site of a weird double bill. For music, the pub has rockin' reggae from Conscious Souls, but combines that with Scottish bagpipers and dancers. I wonder if the Scots know "Get Up Stand Up"?

Down near Ventura Harbor at Alexander's, Papa-Nata, fronted by keyboard whiz Guy Jeans, will do reggae-flavored dance music. Their theme song, "Beer in My Hand," should prove appropriate. About a mile down Harbor Boulevard at the Doubletree, P.Y.N. (that's Poor, Young and Nasty) do R & B-flavored dance music. Also on hand will be the Bob Moore Trio doing blues and jazz.


One of the big events of the evening is B.B. King doing two shows (7 and 11 p.m.) at Ventura Theatre. King, along with John Lee Hooker, is about the most famous living blues man. The 71-year-old King has recorded more than 50 albums, won five Grammys and has been inducted into the Blues Foundation Hall of Fame as well as the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

The first show is $29.50. In order to bond with King when the witching hour comes around, it'll set you back $65, enough to give most people the blues.

No surprise at the Bombay Bar & Grill--it's the Ska Daddyz, pretty much the house band at this popular dance club. The Silver Strand party boys will get it going with dance songs such as "She Likes to Party" and "Ranking Full Stop." In the front bar, it's Code 3.

Around a couple of corners at Nicholby's, it's the guy who co-wrote "Ranking Full Stop," Dave Wakeling, formerly of the English Beat, the greatest ska band of all time. He's a Californian now, although he hasn't lost his accent, and is still doing all those great beat songs such as "Mirror in the Bathroom," "Two Swords" and "Doors of My Heart." Opening will be Mummer, a very tight pop rock band from Thousand Oaks.

At Cafe Voltaire, home to great food, bone-jangling coffee and a zillion kinds of beer, it will be an evening of acoustic country and folk music featuring Jimmy Adams & Friends, J. Peter Boles and Dan and Mary Wilson. The cost is $25 per person or $40 per couple in advance. The price includes all the food you can eat, all the beer you can drink and, if needed, a free ride home.

Down the street at the resurrected Joe Daddy's, it will be Randy Rich & the Ravens. He's the best darn blues guitarist in the 805 area code. Don't bother to make a request, Rich does all originals--and he rocks, too.

Heading up Highway 33, Sequoia will do classic rock at Maxie's in Oak View, where there is plenty of dance space as well as a bunch of pool tables. At Deer Lodge in Meiners Oaks, Rick Reeves also does classic rock, and lots more. Not only does he know more than 500 covers, but the band has 1 1/2 hours of originals.


At the Ojai Valley Inn, it's Jack Mack and the Heart Attack. The price tag of $135 per person is liable to make your chest (or at least your wallet) explode. But it does include dinner. What it does not include is a room for the night or getting Jack and the boys to come over to cook dinner and do the dishes at your house.

And remember, New Year's Eve, the official end to the holidays, remains merely a prelude to all those football games we don't care about on New Year's Day. Don't you wish that just once it would snow in California on Jan. 1, at least in Pasadena?

Every time they show that Rose Parade on TV and the weather is nice, the next thing you know you're stuck in traffic, surrounded by cars with out-of-state plates. Don't you hate when that happens?

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