Local Gigs from Blues to Punk

By Joanne A Calitri   |   May 2, 2019
Bringing blues music to new highs are Morganfield Burnett, Chas Thompson, and John Marx at the Little Door Restaurant

On April 13, the evening before Tax Day, three musicians’ musicians packed the house, literally a house turned French restaurant, called the Little Door. The restaurant decided to have a popup menu with Full of Life Flatbread’s Chef Clark Staub, former Capitol Records Marketing VP. The trio was “Morganfield Burnett” (Larry Edwards) on harmonica, Chas Thompson on bass, and John Marx on guitar.

Blues baby Burnett started in music at age four following a Louis Armstrong concert. Originally from Dallas by way of East Texas near the Louisiana border, his career includes R&B, funk and hip-hop bands, sessions with Big John and Kim Wilson (The Fabulous Thunderbirds) and Kid Andersen. His band, Morganfield Burnett & da Blues, plays Santa Barbara gigs mostly at the Red Piano Bar on State Street, in Isla Vista at Jeffrey’s Jazz Coffeehouse set up by Dr. Jeffrey Stewart (UCSB Black Studies Department) to revive Isla Vista with intelligent arts and culture, and in Los Angeles at Joe’s Great American Bar & Grill. The man is constantly booked, with some rumored projects. Perhaps if you really know the blues legends, you’ll get that Larry got his stage name by combining the last names of McKinley Morganfield a.k.a. Muddy Waters and Chester Burnett a.k.a. Howlin’ Wolf.

Thompson, a guitarist turned bassist, was born in NYC, studied at MIT in Boston and threw it aside to be a musician in Los Angeles, working in Christopher Cross’s band and others. On lead guitar and vocals from Ojai was John Marx,a Baltimore born drummer turned guitarist at 14. Marx got to San Diego via the Navy, started a few bands, landed a gig with Captain & Tennille in Los Angeles and broke out on his own path. He has played with Larry Davis, Earl King, Floyd Dixon, Albert Collins, Lowell Fulson, and Lightning Hopkins.

The trio set up in front of the black gloss upright piano by the bar, just barely enough space to get some respect. Morganfield’s gig bag has no less than 12 harmonicas in well-worn leather and velvet cases, each one a different lover for a different key. The group did beyond excellent renditions of the blues trads including “Hoochie Coochie Man,” “I Just Want to Make Love to You,” and “I’m Ready” by Willie Dixon, and possibly Larry’s harp rendition of “Killing Floor” and “Spoonful.”

Santa Barbara’s top punk band, The Sanderlings, launching new songs

Seen at the gig from Montecito were Laurie Deans and husband, Canadian film producer Joe Medjuck, with friends Pam and jazz drummer David Grossman, Alison and Gunhill Road’s Glenn Leopold, Suzanne Austin (Motown Mondays at SOhO), Judy Bruton, and director Andy Davis. The restaurant crew was dancing to the downbeat as they waited on the tables. Music by these blues veterans made everyone’s evening.

On April 10, four punk rock bands hit “The Hard to Find Showcase,” a music supported venue operated by the Jubilee Christian Church Goleta; major thanks to booking agent Tim Eymann, with volunteers Josh Eymann and Vince Kosek at the door. The church generously gives all the proceeds to the bands, no need to belong to the church or play a specific genre of music. Using the punk genre to message the world, all four bands have something to say, and did so sharing a stripped down drum kit, basic amplification, and pedals.

Headliner was our local favorite back after a U.S.-sort-of tour, the Sanderlings with Woody Locke, a talented guitarist, composer and music teacher; Marvin Oceguera on rhythm guitar; bassist Anthony Claremont; and Adam Jahnke on drums. They played a seven-song set list of all new material, notably, “Good Enough,” “We Could Rise,” and “Nothing to Lose.” So hey, when is the release date? Marvin is moving to Portland, Oregon May 1, so catch him at a gig or managing Instrumental Music on State before he leaves.

From San Diego, dual member bands Tina Fake and South Beacons stop in Santa Barbara on their way back home from tour
Two-member punk band Ghost Galley testing local waters

Ghost Galley from Santa Barbara are, hard to believe, only two guys, Ryan Yale Gracey onguitar, keys, and lead vocals, with Casey Black on drums. The band uses reliably a funk beat in their song, “Putting on the Ritz,” a throwback from the early Mumps band meets Queen at a “Bohemian Rhapsody.” While “Plague in This City” begins with a waltz beat, it takes off into the key signature and tonal shadows of The Doors musically and lyrically, but abruptly returns to their punk shouts and key change in the chorus. In sum, they are definitely heavily influenced by the California Laurel Canyon ‘70s music scene interlaced with carnival, waltzes, and higher-toned vocal harmonies.

Tina Fake just released their five song EP April 2, 2019 titled Secondary Inspection. They are Garrison Zoutendyk on guitar and vocals, Noah Irving on bass, and Felipe Pezzoli on drums. Their song “New Flower” calls up bare threads of Stone Temple Pilots screaming and is derived from a very long Earnest Hemmingway quote, “When a child first catches adults out… And the child’s world is never quite whole again. It is an aching kind of growing.” There are tonal key threads of Nirvana on “Last Call,” but they shake it up with vocal twisting by Felipe.

South Beacons, an Indie Rock band, takes both Pezzoli and Zoutendyk from Tina Fake,and adds Eric Gudmundson on guitar. They played from their seven-song EP Floaters. Top single off the EP is “Afterglow,” a hard driving punk song ala The Seeds with heavy driven rhythm guitar. Taking a piece of Johnny Ramone meets Patti Smith on “Erosion Explosion” and mixing with early surfer hard-driven guitar. So the difference in this three-some is a bit less experimental and more predictable than Tina Fake. Still newbies, both South Beacons and Tina Fake are not ready to hang ten solo, I suggest: add Gudmundson to Tina Fake and find out where the music goes.


Morganfield Burnett: 805-962-4066
Sanderlings – www.sanderlings.bandcamp.com
Ghost Galley – www.reverbnation.com/ghostgalley 
Tina Fake – www.tinafake.bandcamp.com
South Beacons – www.soundcloud.com/southbeacons


You might also be interested in...