After working the L.A. club scene for all its worth the last three years, Choking Ghost looks like a band that's ready to move to the next level.
The band, which is performing at an AIDS benefit concert this Saturday at Warner Park in Woodland Hills, has had its music featured on radio stations KLOS-FM and KSCA-FM. And they were selected as one of the 100 Hottest Unsigned Acts of 1996 by Music Connection magazine, an L.A. trade publication for musicians and other music biz types.
Plus Choking Ghost won Jaegermeister's 1996 Southern California Rock Hunt, beating out more than 300 other bands in the state and earning a promotional deal with the makers of that liquor.
Choking Ghost features John Stack on lead guitar and vocals, brother Tim Stack on drums and Ted Mooney on bass guitar and vocals. All three originally hail from Upstate New York near Albany.
So, what's the music scene like north of the Big Apple?
"There's a cool music scene up there," says John Stack. "A lot of good bands, lots of good players."
While his brother and Mooney earned their advanced degrees in rock 'n' roll by working the Upstate New York club circuit for almost eight years, John Stack took a more formal route, studying guitar at Boston's Berklee College of Music.
"It was great," Stack says. "I'm heavily in debt because of it, but I wouldn't trade it for anything."
Tim Stack and Mooney made their way to the City of the Angels in 1992. John Stack arrived in 1994 and Choking Ghost materialized. The band is currently recording its first full-length CD, and there have been feelers from some major labels.
Some local critics have described the band as a heavy metal act, maybe because their first six-song CD, "Leveled," was produced by Max Norman, who previously worked with the likes of Ozzy Osbourne and Megadeth. Choking Ghost's music is more melodic than most, but it still has a hard-rock feel.
"We wanted to do something that had a little more groove and was a little more rockin' than most alternative stuff," Stack says. "We realize that we're not the flavor of the moment right now."
* AIDS Benefit Concert featuring music and comedy Sat., 11 a.m.-7 p.m. at Warner Park, 5800 Topanga Canyon Blvd., Woodland Hills. Choking Ghost is scheduled to perform at 5 p.m. (818) 734-9338. Free. Choking Ghost will also perform Sept. 25 at the Opium Den in Hollywood.
Mancini's Last Dance: Club owner Dennis Mancini has apparently tired of the daily hassles of running a rock club. Dealing with would-be rock stars, disgruntled patrons and others could get the best of almost anyone after a while.
So Mancini is selling his Canoga Park place to take an extended hiatus. He doesn't rule out the possibility of opening a new club sometime in the future.
While this probably does not rank in cultural significance with the sale of the Dodgers, Mancini's, nevertheless, has been a fixture in the Valley since 1971. Originally an Italian restaurant, Mancini's has been a rock/dance club since the mid-1980s.
Mancini's and The Rock in Woodland Hills are the only large clubs left in the Valley for those who like their rock with a decidedly harder edge.
The new owners, whom Mancini describes as the owners of several local Latin music clubs, plan to continue the club's current music policy, at least for the foreseeable future.
Dennis Mancini's going-away party is set for Sept. 27 at the club. This Friday, the progressive rock band Ten Jinn is slated to perform.
* Mancini's, 20923 Roscoe Blvd., Canoga Park. (818) 341-8503.
Surrogate Partridge Family: Tribute bands are very popular right now in local rock clubs.
But Sound Magazine, a tribute to the music of the Partridge Family, is taking its act out of the clubs and into the Ventura Court Theatre in Studio City.
Sound Magazine producer and guitarist Howard Pattow says the band is more like the Partridge Family TV Show than ever before. Not only are the band members playing the music of the show, but Pattow says they now perform "in character . . . with the aid of makeup and wigs. "
"It's like the television show come to life," says Pattow.
And who plays Reuben Kincaid?
* Sound Magazine is the Partridge Family at 8 and 10:30 p.m. Friday at Ventura Court Theatre, 12417 Ventura Court, Studio City. (818) 752-8658. $12.50-$15.