Standing Ground


There's not a lot going on in Somis, and the locals like it just fine. One can hang out at the post office, the hardware store or the Somis Market. Since they've been there and done that, Erik Richards, Chris Sherman and Dave Sperger expanded their horizons and started a band.

Overground, the greatest band in all of Somis, will open for former English Beat front-man Dave Wakeling, who will cause widespread dancing Friday evening at Nicholby's in Ventura. Also on the bill will be folkie Jason Luckett.

As the future of agriculture is being hotly debated throughout Ventura County, it's not hard to imagine which side rural Somis is on. If the SOAR (Save Our Agricultural Resources) people need a soundtrack for their farmland-saving efforts, Overground would probably qualify. According to bassist Richards, Overground's members have a definite blueprint for the future--and it's less of the same, much less.

"Basically, we want to keep Highway 118 a two-lane highway and we want to keep Somis from becoming a city, unlike what the developers and the powers that be seem to want."

Overground has put its music where their mouths are and recently hosted a Save the Farmland gig at the Victoria Pub in Ventura. Just before the November election, Overground has promised to stage a big SOAR fund-raiser. The twentysomething Richards, who lives on a flower ranch in Somis, recently attended the county's Agriculture Policy Working Group meeting in Camarillo.

Between efforts to save local agriculture, Overground's members are working on saving themselves from day jobs, and have released a CD they are trying to shop to L.A. labels. While awaiting a verdict, they practice diligently and perform several times a month, often outside the county, a familiar scenario with local music.

Richards and Sherman have been playing music and torturing their parents since the sixth grade. Richards was particularly annoying to the folks after a friend gave him a drum set, which Santa quickly replaced with a guitar. After stints in Bacchus and Whatever, Richards started writing songs with Sperger. In 1996, Overground was born.

"I think all these new songs will make it interesting for the audience. We're burned out on scenes, but we love the mystery of music," Richards said. "Bands like Led Zeppelin, Yes and U2--you never knew what their next album was going to be like. The mystery of music makes it."

As for Overground's music, they can do the straightforward rock thing, but they are also musically proficient enough to concoct some extended jams, not unlike Yes revisited.

"We have that light and shade thing going. We have this song side with all these nice little songs with vocal strengths," Richards said. "But then we have this other side, this shady side--this adventurous music thing. We try to look at the positive side of things."

* Dave Wakeling, Overground, Jason Luckett on Friday night at Nicholby's, 404 E. Main St., Ventura, 9 p.m. $7. (805) 653-2320.


Santa Barbara Sounds: Meanwhile, there are plenty of musical reasons to take an excursion to Santa Barbara this week. Tonight, it's party time at the place still looking for a capital H--SOhO--where the Nate Birkey Quintet will have a CD release party in honor of "Indelibly You." In addition to two cover songs, there are nine jazz-flavored originals on this one, penned by trumpeter-vocalist Birkey or guitarist Joe Woodard.

Birkey's first two albums were with his previous band, the Avant Gardeners. But people recognize Birkey as an original and current member of Spencer the Gardener, a dance band that will pack Yucatan Cantina on Saturday night.

The Sings Like Hell series continues Friday night at the Lobero Theatre with the critically acclaimed Laura Love Band. She'll be the one singing as she thumps that big red bass.

Love's band blends African and Celtic rock in a most unusual brew. Born in Lincoln, Neb., Love played her first gig at the Nebraska State Penitentiary, and later, a gig at Carnegie Hall landed her a major label deal with Mercury. Call 688-6915 to find out more.

The same night across town, S.B. locals Nerf Herder will return to live action with a gig at the Coach House. Who can forget such originals as "Nosering Girl," "Sorry" and "Van Halen" off their hilarious pop punk debut album? The funniest band in the 805 area code, Nerf Herder is now hard at work on another album, and this is their first local appearance of the year. Call (805) 962-8877 to find out more about this one.

The cultural landslide continues with an appearance by Lauren Wood on Saturday night at Borders. She's written hit songs such as "Fallen" from the "Pretty Woman" soundtrack, had numerous songs covered by famous rock stars, and introduced her own line of greeting cards, Cat Tricks, for feline fanciers. The singer/songwriter has a new self-titled album on her own Bad Art label. Chances are excellent this would account for this appearance at Borders. To find out more, call (805) 899-3668.

And finally, the Goleta Valley Community Center, the indestructible venue with the hardwood floors, will host a punk show Sunday featuring the Swinging Utters, U.S. Bombs, Morning Wood and Trigger. This 6 p.m. all-ages show will set mommy or daddy back six bucks.

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