On Friday, Nov. 8, local favorites Lovers and Strangers return to The Sportsman in Seaside to throw a party, make a video, and thank the hometown fans for supporting the band for 35 years – and to introduce a new generation to a musical catalog that’s only now being captured.
“We were mostly a live band,” says frontman Ray Bertolino about the band’s initial heyday in the ’80s and ’90s. “I hated recording back then.”
Lovers and Strangers were a mainstay in the Monterey scene with their edgy brand of pop rock. Bertolino and guitarist Steve Sippel penned more than 70 songs together. The group disbanded in 2000 and reunited again briefly in 2007. When Sippel passed away in 2017, Bertolino thought the band was over.
He continued making music with his new act, Ray and the Forget Me Nots. The guy who once hated recording went on to establish his own Vegas-based studio and label. It was there, recording a demo with Salinas native Dino Bozzo, that the new incarnation of Lovers and Strangers was born. Bozzo unexpectedly broke into one of Sippel’s iconic guitar lines. Hearing it brought tears to Bertolino’s eyes. A new goal took shape – to revive and record the music of Lovers and Strangers.
Along with Bozzo, they brought in original drummer Shane Tyler, and Forget Me Nots members Ace Davila and Carlos Guerrero rounded out the mix. The result was the first album since 1995, entitled Doughnut.
“The band has never sounded better,” Bertolino says.
For Friday’s show, they’ve arranged to empty all the furniture from the bar and serve food and drink in the parking lot, ensuring plenty of room inside the venue for dancing.
LOVERS AND STRANGERS with COLE PANTHER 8:30pm Friday, Nov. 8. The Sportsman, 594 Broadway, Seaside. No cover.