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Dogged Determination

TIMES STAFF WRITER

One of the more popular bands in Ventura County is coming to Common Grounds in Northridge on Friday, trying to expand its fan-base horizons.

The band, majority DOG, was the first local rock group to perform at the fancy-schmancy Thousand Oaks Civic Arts Plaza two years ago. But pulling off that coup took some chutzpah.

Taking a chance, the group paid the $875 rental fee out of its own pocket and booked the 400-seat Forum Theatre. And proving that their business acumen is at least on a par with their musical abilities, they sold out the place and managed to turn a small profit from the sale of T-shirts and other merchandise.

Musically, the group plays a wide variety of styles, which is something that can be very satisfying creatively, but can also frighten corporate marketing execs at record companies.

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“We’ve been doing this for years, but we have no idea what the next song’s going to sound like,” says lead singer Brian Wurschum. “But we’re getting closer to what our sound really is.”

If you don’t like this band, you might call them unfocused. If you do like them, you might say they’re eclectic. While certainly not all of the tunes on their second CD, “Nevada,” are winners, they’re eclectic.

Besides Wurschum, the band consists of two sisters--singer April Hoffman and singer-keyboardist Laurel Hoffman--plus bassist Scott Swanson and drummer Kevin Kirk. All these twentysomethings hail from the musical mecca of Newbury Park. Their first CD, “Mister Night,” was released in 1995.

“Nevada” was released last April and has been getting some airplay on radio stations including Los Angeles FM stations KLOS (95.5) and KSCA (101.9). Wurschum says the record has been selling really well. So well that the band has just started to record its third CD, “The Waiting Room.”

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Vocals are the strong suit for this band. They remind me of the early Bee Gees, before they started playing disco.

At the moment majority DOG is still on the hunt for a major league recording deal.

“You have to really love music to continue doing this,” Wurschum said. “Everybody has an opinion [as to what we’re doing wrong].

“We let things bounce off us all the time. Luckily, we’re still full of our youthful energy.”

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Melody Man

Meanwhile tonight at Common Grounds, singer-songwriter Chris Laterzo takes the stage.

Laterzo, who came to Los Angeles about five years ago to pursue the elusive butterfly of musical fame, works a day gig as a substitute high school teacher and performs solo in coffeehouses at night. Last year, he self-produced his first CD, “American River.”

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Laterzo’s music easily reveals its roots in the California acoustic rock of the 1970s--artists such as Jackson Browne, Neil Young and the Eagles.

“If you can remember the melody, it’s something I’m usually happy with,” he said. “That’s what was great about the old bands--the Beatles, the Rolling Stones--that’s why people still listen to them. Their songwriting is so strong.”

BE THERE

Majority DOG plays Fri. night at Common Grounds, 9250 Reseda Blvd., Northridge. No cover. (818) 882-3666.

Chris Laterzo plays tonight at Common Grounds, 9250 Reseda Blvd., Northridge. No cover. (818) 882-3666.


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