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Photograph by Feather Lochlear

Train of Thought: The Feathers headline the next South Bay Unsigned on Wednesday (July 2).

Turn It Up

Live original music does exist in San Jose, thanks to two local band showcases: South Bay Unsigned and Rockstars and Bitches


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SIMULTANEOUSLY in flux and in jeopardy, the local music community is no stranger to adversity. Though it's been a struggle to get through the dark times, things are starting to look brighter these days with a number of downtown clubs hosting live rock bands on a regular basis. To add to that and bring even more music culture to downtown San Jose, the Voodoo Lounge has started hosting a once-a-month showcase titled South Bay Unsigned (full disclosure: sponsored by Metro).

The idea is to give the scene a little extra boost without competing with other live music clubs. Metro's Jon Wolles helps book the showcases and says Voodoo was chosen as a location because it's "a venue that was set up for live music, but they have not had many bands play there in recent years, and the Voodoo is the right size place for a showcase like this."

He and Voodoo manager Jason Rye pick the bands and plan to logically coordinate the showcases by offering rock, pop, punk, pop, electronic and rockabilly nights. Wolles says the goal is simply to help promote local music by offering another place for local bands to play.

The inaugural night took place on April 23 with Prime Selector DJs, Dopesick, the Cliftons and Bad Brains tribute band the Regulator, which features members of Insolence and Skinlab. Response was good for a Wednesday night as rockers infiltrated the stylish club, which is known primarily as a dance zone.

Sadly, Dopesick bassist Jason Taggert was killed in a motorcycle accident just last week and consequently Dopesick is taking a break. But during happier times, following their April performance, Dopesick guitarist Adam Albright expressed his approval of the new event. "The concept is cool because you play a nice club with big names sponsoring, so the bands gain respect and get exposure to a new crowd."

Adam Albright, guitarist for Dopesick, approves: "The concept is cool because you play a nice club with big names sponsoring, so the bands gain respect and get exposure to a new crowd."

Insolence guitarist Mike Rowan, who moonlights in the Regulator, agrees. "It was a good punk-rock evening, I thought," he says. "Once a month is good for promotion, [and] Wednesday nights are good because there's nothing going on."

The Cliftons' punk-rock frontman Billy Bob Clifton was glad to participate but wasn't completely sold on the new event: "I think it's great that someone is doing something for the local bands. Anything is better than nothing, and I truly appreciate the effort." Still, he has mixed feelings about the South Bay Unsigned showcases because they're not open to kids. "Music is fueled by the youth and new ideas," he says. "If it's at a 21 and over venue, you eliminate a lot of good prospects as well as a larger audience."

Clifton isn't alone. Many rock bands do prefer all-ages venues because of the enthusiastic youth factor. Still, there are plenty of adult fans that want to see live local bands in a club setting without having to worry about the potential complications of an underage environment. That's what 21-plus venues like Voodoo offer.

Bands who want to participate in the showcase can send their recordings to South Bay Unsigned, c/o Voodoo Lounge, 14 S. Second St., San Jose 95113.

Transmission: SECURITY frontman Adam Bannister sings with intensity.

Who You Calling a Bitch?

"What we don't need around here is a bunch of rock stars and bitches." Dave Gary, drummer for the band SECURITY, can't remember who originally said that, but he knew right away he had a perfect moniker for a free Monday-night live rock music series: Rockstars and Bitches. Gary and some friends organized the series.

"When the Cactus Club closed," Gary explains, "a community of bands got together and figured we needed to get something happening on our own. We were coming up with a bunch of names for the series, and we actually sat back and asked ourselves, What don't we want here?"

Since what they didn't want was a bunch of rock stars and bitches hanging around, that name became the perfect title for the series, which found a home at Kleidon's Lounge last summer. After Kleidon's closed down, the series moved two blocks down the street to Waves Smokehouse and Saloon.

The success behind the series is that it's run by the bands themselves--that is, no ruthless promoters, booking agents, crew sluts, big egos or any hideous aspects of the rock & roll experience. "It's a night for musicians and by musicians," Gary explains. "When you go by on a Monday night, at least one or two people from every top local band are hanging out for the show."

But it's not just for locals. Bands from as far away as Portland, Seattle, Las Vegas, New Mexico, New York and even Alaska have appeared.

"By 10:30pm, the place is usually packed," says Gigi Bautista of the band Hippie Aggression, which has performed at Rockstars and Bitches five times. "It's great for the local businesses around that decide to stay open. It's just a great time. I've never been there and had a bad vibe from anybody. I can't believe the way it's taken off the way it has, especially for a Monday night. For not having any media coverage, the response has been tremendous."

And above all else, it's free.

South Bay Unsigned with the Feathers, the Odd Numbers and DJ Capn'T happens Wednesday (July 2) at the Voodoo Lounge, 14 S. Second St., San Jose (408.286.8636). Rockstars and Bitches with Another Day Disappears, the Venting Machine, SECURITY, Borderwars and a special guest happens Monday (June 30) at Waves Smokehouse and Saloon, 65 Post St, San Jose (408.885.WAVES).

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From the June 26-July 2, 2003 issue of Metro, Silicon Valley's Weekly Newspaper.

Copyright © Metro Publishing Inc. Metroactive is affiliated with the Boulevards Network.

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