Lovers & Strangers make their last stand.
Thursday, July 27, 2000
In recent history, say about 10 to 15 years ago, there was a boom of popular local groups who changed the shape and face of Monterey''s popular scenes. The effect of this music still simmers on the grimy surfaces that this music scene sits upon. It brought us singular members like Sean Michael White and Randy Baldwin in the rock scene; and licks of The Broadway Blues Band and John "Broadway" Tucker for the rock ''n'' soul crowd.
But maybe the band that had the greatest affect on the MoCo music scene in the last decade was Lovers & Strangers. They opened here for performers like Chris Isaak and filled bars with gluttonous/insatiable fans. They were responsible for putting on a show at the old Cancun where their fans drank the bar dry and the owners ended up begging the band to stop. Recently, after going into and then coming out of "retirement" to play a few gigs last year, it seemed as if the group was hard pressed to make up their minds about ending it all. However, this final show tonight is really final, and it''s pretty damned important to anyone who values this scene for what it has been and what it could be.
The singer for Lovers & Strangers, Ray Bertolino, is leaving. He has been an important local asset both in the amount of energy he has brought to the scene with Lovers & Strangers, and in his innumerable side projects which forged whatever shred of hope local bands may have for a blistering scene. Sitting around at the Long Bar before a practice, Ray and the band shared their feelings about the local scene and shed some light on the genesis of problems and promises for newer bands trying to make their mark.
"I don''t blame the bands, necessarily. I blame the people who sit around and bitch about not having a music scene and then never show up to a gig," Bertolino mused.
He and the band also gave kudos to some of the newer bands, one of which, Red Light Nightmare, shoved headliner Shapeshifter into an opening slot last week, after it became clear that a large portion of the crowd would follow RLN out the door at the end of their set.
Is it cynicism coming out of Bertolino as he looks back at 15 years and thinks "what the hell did I do?" or is it the wisdom of a man who has been in this scene for that long and now thinks to himself "What the hell, I did it."
Lovers & Strangers, tonight, Long Bar, 9pm, no cover. 372-2244.
If you''re still alive and well tomorrow you may want to see some fresh young bands compete for the Ultimate Band Competition. Local groups Vera, InBalance and Euforia (a Latin rock group from Salinas), and San Luis Obispo rock group RAGG will compete in the race to win a spot at the Monterey County Fair, a thousand bucks, and some studio time. The first session of rock competition was held last week, and Wyld Type Hybrid and Brother Gumption were pleasing enough to the judges'' palates to move into the second round, where they will square off at the Fairgrounds in August.
Ultimate Band Competition (rock), Friday, Blue Fin Billiards, 9pm, no cover. 375-7000.
Tony Miles will be performing his one-man dance/reggae show at Characters on Wednesday. Anyone who hasn''t yet taken the opportunity to see Miles should, even if it is to stare at him while your brain tries to figure out just what hell he''s doing and how the hell he''s doing it. It''s a great show if you like to get up and shake yourself around. Traditional reggae fans might want to stick to Jonah & the Whalewatchers, but Tony Miles is on to something good. Check ''im out, mon.
Tony Miles, Wednesday, Characters Sports Bar, 9pm. No cover.