Former Big Sur resident Stan Russell likes to stack his bands with lots of veteran musicians. In the former version of his band, the Stanimals, the singer/songwriter/guitarist had Stevie Heger, who played drums with the Beach Boys, and also Bill Laymon, a bassist who has been a member of the New Riders of the Purple Sage and the Dave Nelson Band.
With Heger and Laymon unable to commit to the Stanimals due to busy schedules, Russell has found another batch of talented musicians to fill the void. Taking over duties on bass guitar is Keith Graves, a session musician who was a member of Folkin’ A, a group featuring David Lowery of Cracker and Camper Van Beethoven fame. Meanwhile, guitarist/vocalist/mandolin player Jim Lewin, who just toured with bluegrass mandolin player Frank Wakefield, is performing in the latest incarnation of the Stanimals.
The band will be playing songs by David Lindley, The Grateful Dead and Bob Dylan, along with a bluegrass version of Don Henley’s “The End of the Innocence.” In addition, the group will be performing originals including “What About You,” a reggae-ish number with plenty of searing guitar solos.
About a year ago, Russell moved from the wilds of Big Sur to Santa Cruz, but now the musician is excited to be able to return to his former home, where he will perform at the Fernwood Bar with a rocking new band. “I love Fernwood,” he says. “It’s one of my favorite places to play.”