20th Anniversary -- Gimme 20
The 20 most memorable bands from the last 20 years on the county’s club scene.
Thursday, October 9, 2008
Though they called it quits just months after the Weekly began, The Medflys’ musical influence loomed large during this paper’s early years. Led by vocalist Carl Christ, The Medflys were often compared to the ’70s and ’80s rock band The Tubes. They also created a super sweet Western-style video for their song “Don’t Mess with the Mayor,” a tune about Clint Eastwood becoming mayor of Carmel.
The Young Presidents were such a popular local rock band in the late ’80s that they had a slew of nicknames including the Numb Presidents and the Scum Residents. The rockers, who included harp player John Mirani along with guitarists Jason Slate and Mike Lent, did classics like The Doors’ “Roadhouse Blues” and ’80s material including Power Station’s version of “Bang a Gong.”
Lovers and Strangers
Possibly the most talked-about rock band in Monterey County’s history, Lovers and Strangers, which featured songwriters Steve Sippel and Ray Bertolini, performed to packed local clubs from 1986 to 2000. In the summer of 2007, Lovers and Strangers reunited for a sold-out show at Monterey Live.
Back in the day– the day being the late ’70s to 1995 specifically– Cheeky Spanks was Monterey’s “go to” party band for upbeat takes on Janis Joplin and The Doors songs. Reuniting in 2002, the group now adds originals like the bubbly “Paris Hilton” to their repertoire.
The Broadway Blues Band
Leaders of Monterey County’s blues explosion in the late ’80s, The Broadway Blues Band, which now goes by bandleader John “Broadway” Tucker’s name, has graced the stages of long-gone clubs like The Fogbank and performed on the Monterey Bay Blues Festival’s Main Stage. In 2006, Tucker joined the ranks of blues icons including Etta James and Charlie Musselwhite when he was awarded the prestigious Monterey Bay Blues Festival Artist of the Year Award.
Red Beans and Rice
Led by guitarist Gil Rubio, Red Beans and Rice are a local blues phenomenon that have won 12 of the Weekly’s Best Local Band awards over the past 13 years.
Long-time party favorites the Cachagua Playboys combine New Orleans music with West Coast rock.
The Roger Eddy Band
Local saxophonist Roger Eddy helmed a great jazz-fusion band that included bassist Dennis Murphy, who is still one of the most popular musicians in town, and Michael Lent, the guitarist in Barry Manilow’s group.
An easy character to spot walking around town, Alligator is known for his Southwestern shirts, black hat adorned with fake coyote bones and gregarious disposition. Though he doesn’t play around as much as he used to, Alligator used to perform regularly at Sly McFly’s and the now-defunct Monterey Brewing Company.
Jonah and the Whalewatchers
Monterey’s premier reggae band has stood the test of time since 1990. Led by bassist and vocalist Alex Shirley, the group took home the Weekly’s Best Local Band award in 2007.
One of the Amazon Mollies’ many claims to fame was that the female rock band opened for seminal act Bikini Kill at a Pacific Grove High School show. A constant member of the group, Antonette Goroch kept the Amazon Mollies based in Monterey until 2002, when she moved to the Bay Area.
Monterey-born guitarslinger Tom Ayres has been in loads of local bands, from the Cowboy Satellites to Free Ears. Ayres, now based in the Bay Area, has created an impressive level of success with his latest alt-rock act, Persephone’s Bees, by winning the SF Weekly award for Best Pop Band in 2001 and releasing their 2006 CD Notes From the Underworld on Columbia Records.
Nectar of the Gods
One of Monterey County’s rock bands that almost made it big, Nectar of the Gods fell apart in 1995 before embarking on a national tour. Featuring guitarist Sean Michael White, Nectar of the Gods frequently packed venues including Viva’s and the old Doc Rickett’s Lab on Cannery Row.
The winner of the Weekly’s Best Folk Musician Award for four years in a row, local singer/songwriter Alisa Fineman also won the 1999 Kerrville Folk Festival’s New Folk Showcase with the songs “One Lone Bird” and “I Could Not Ask For More.” She performs frequently with regional multi-instrumentalist Kimball Hurd.
Local rocker Karma used to get her songs, including “Superwoman,” played on area radio during her heyday. Her MySpace page says she now lives in L.A.
Rising from Sand City’s eclectic Sand Jams concerts in the ’90s, this rowdy garage rock band left for San Francisco in 1997. Now, guitarists Nicolas Dobbratz and Phillip Minnig man the popular Bay Area dance band Sugar and Gold.
Red Light Nightmare
In the early ’00s, Red Light Nightmare always seemed to deliver a raucous live show of choice covers (Black Sabbath’s “Snowblind”), blinding strobe lights, go-go dancers and unexpected stage theatrics courtesy of vocalist L.T. Three-quarters of the group still play together in the local rock outfit Serpico.
Even though they dipped heavily into old timey music, the Darktown Rounders sounded like something completely new and different when they burst on the local music scene after a 2000 performance at the now-defunct Dream Theater. While the band lost guitarist Adam Roach when the outfit moved to Austin, a new incarnation of the group, Sex Farm, still plays around town after resettling here.
A blast of creativity that began in 1995, Vermillion Lies– a band composed of sisters Kim and Zoe Vermillion– proved you could make (really good) music out of anything, including typewriters and puppets. Currently based in the Bay Area, the group frequently returns to Monterey between tours of Russia and shows opening for the Dresden Dolls.
Manic cellist Rushad Eggleston is one of the only local musicians who’s been nominated for a Grammy. While his past local outfits include Palo Colorado and the Wild Band of Snee, his latest is the pop-rocking, club-filling Tornado Rider.