Monterey County stages are filled with locals from fledgling musicians to veterans, and the vets keep the music standards on course. Great jazz, symphonies, folk, rock – there are strong sets to be found. But there seems to be a line new country has difficulty crossing.
A new collaboration of experienced players wants to fix that. Monterey County Line has over 100 years of collective experience. And while their sets include familiar classic rock covers, they weave in modern country and Nashville-crafted original material.
Chris Olsen is a country music industry veteran. Prominent in Nashville’s publishing and recording industries, he’s performed as a guitarist with an impressive list of pop and alt country stars. Olsen and bass player Jon McClean formed Monterey County Line from “I know a guy” networking and online resources. The Line features heartfelt lead vocals from Lisa Kincaid, backed by dynamic rhythms from drummer Jack Aiello. The band is rounded out by the addition of energetic keyboardist Ed Brady.
Noting influences from country chart-toppers Little Big Town, Miranda Lambert and Carrie Underwood, and from classics like Neil Young, Linda Ronstadt, Stevie Nicks and even Willie Nelson, they’re curating an expansive set. Their material can sound familiar, yet it comes from a place all their own. When they turn to covers, however, they like to honor the songs.
“Some songs you don’t want to screw around with,” says McClean, referring to how they approach performing covers. “If you take too much away from the original, people won’t like it.”
With so much musicianship in one band, however, it’s hard not to put their own twist on the classics.
“We hear it differently than the original artist does,” McClean says.
This band is considerate of the songs Kincaid sings, taking note of each selection for her voice, while still rounding up hits people want to hear. For instance, when covering Lynyrd Skynard’s “Simple Man,” the chorus lyrics are changed to “simple woman.”
Catch them in the courtyard at Portobello’s while you can. They’ve got their sights set on the bigger stages in the area – think festivals, events and private parties – and have a professional sound to fill them.
MONTEREY COUNTY LINE 6pm Saturday, Nov. 2. Portobello’s, 150 Main St. #116, Salinas. No cover. 753-0797, montereycountyline.com.