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The Highlight Zone


Missing in action: Grateful Dead keyboardist Vince Welnick (left) now heads the group Missing Man Formation.

New TV show to showcase depth of local music talent

By Zack Stentz

IT'S A FRIDAY night, after a long week at work. It'd be really nice to spend an evening out, listening to a great band. But it's so darned difficult to know which venues will have great music and which ones will be a waste of a cover charge. And besides, it's so very hard to get up off the sofa. Oh well. Wonder what Scully and Mulder are up to on X-Files tonight?

So goes the thought process of many a local adult (myself included), trying to rationalize staying at home to warm ourselves by the cathode-ray fire while the Sonoma County live music scene withers on the vine. "Because of all the pressures in their lives, people aren't going out to see music played," says Frank Hayhurst, the key player in the local music scene who runs the Zone Music & Recording studio in Cotati. "It's tough to go out when you've been working all day and there's laundry to do at home."

Still, Hayhurst maintains his St. Augustine-like commitment to spreading the gospel of live music to the couch potatoes of Sonoma County. And if the audience won't come to the music, Hayhurst is willing to bring music to the audience, via television. Hence the genesis of Zone TV, a new half-hour program devoted to the north-of-the­Golden Gate music scene, which debuts of KFTY Channel 50 July 26. Zone TV joins KRCB Channel 22's Music Tonight program in celebrating the diversity of local music talent. "What people are doing is watching TV, so it makes sense that the way to reach them is through a television program," says Hayhurst. "Our ultimate purpose is to celebrate local musicians whom people aren't paying enough attention to and introduce them to potential listeners. There are a lot of great bands out there who don't have the following of a Hangman's Daughter, for example, and really deserve to be exposed to a wider audience.

"We want the North Bay to be more like Santa Cruz, where there are 20 or so places to hear live music on a Wednesday or Thursday night. There's a comparable amount of musical talent in both areas, but there isn't the audience up here for live music."

Hayhurst's goal is shared by local technical wizard Ken Eberhard, who himself runs Studio E, a local music and video recording studio. "Frank and I have been talking about this project for six years or so," says Eberhard. "And recently a number of things came together to make it possible."

These factors include KFTY's cooperation, interest among local music figures, and Studio E's acquisition of an AVID video editing system, a high-tech piece of equipment that brought down the price of editing video considerably. Zone TV segments are both edited and shot in Studio E's Sebastopol facility. "We've got everything we need here," says Eberhard. "A performance area, three cameras, lighting equipment, editing decks."

Airing the last Friday of every month and hosted by Hayhurst, Zone TV will feature performance clips, profiles, and interviews with local and locally connected music figures like Joanne Rand, Danny Sorentino, Harvey Mandel, and 8-year-old guitar wizard Julian Lage. One prominent local figure to be featured is former Grateful Dead keyboardist and Forestville resident Vince Welnick, who will use the show to introduce local audiences to his new group, Missing Man Formation (a reference to the military's flying pattern in honor of a dead comrade and to Grateful Dead guitarist Jerry Garcia's untimely passing). "I think the program is a cool thing," Welnick says. "The television program and the musicians have formed a symbiotic relationship to reach local audiences."

With musicians like Welnick ready and eager to appear on Zone TV, the show's producers have no shortage of artistic talent to draw upon. In fact, they're hoping to expand the program if things go well. "We could easily make it an hour each month," says Eberhard. "And ideally, I'd like to see it eventually become a half-hour weekly program. It's an important tool to jazz up the community response to live music."

Hayhurst concurs, saying: "If we succeed, then events will be better attended, and we can rebloom the local music scene. Even if we can get 20 more people to attend a particular event, that could make the difference between financial success and failure for that event."

Zone TV will air July 26 and Aug. 30 at 11:30 p.m. on KFTY Channel 50.

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From the July 25-31, 1996 issue of the Sonoma Independent

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