FREE SHOW! A Tribute to Bruce Springsteen featuring Races, Brian Whelan, The Shivers,  Wires In The Walls, Rod Melancon, Lots of Love, Owl Fly South, The LA River Bend and more special guests TBA


RACES exists as a result of artistic rebirth and personal rediscovery, but it all starts at a point in Wade Ryff’s life where motivation was at its most scarce. Disillusioned with music, beset with the bitter ending of a relationship with a real life witch and faced with the overwhelming stagnation of being a 23-year old in the sleepy suburban outpost of Van Nuys, during that time, Ryff wrote the pleading lyrics of “Big Broom” in the bathroom of his parents house. He explains the song’s message as “accepting that every ending is a new beginning, and even if we may have no control over when things are given or taken from us, we can always choose how to respond.”

Whether he realized it or not at the time, it would serve as a mission statement for a handful of musicians in the area who were also idling through their 20’s and desperate for a new beginning. Breanna Wood, Lucas Ventura, Devon Lee and Oliver Hild knew each other prior to RACES’ first show, played in bands together, and oh yeah, either had dated or were currently dating each other. Still, nothing could anticipate it all coming together for Year Of The Witch, a life-affirming document forged from the pain of a time when life feels most uncertain and coming out of it renewed.

In regards to their evocative band name, Ryff explains: “I relate to the name in the sense that it seems like there is always something to be up against, and strong desire to overcome whatever it is.” Ryff had been quietly working on solo material, and in 2009, a friend asked him to open for a show he was booking. And he was up against the daunting task of stepping out of the sidelines as a bass player and putting his own untrained vocals to the fore. More than any singer, Ryff found his inspiration as a lyricist in the works of early 20th-century authors. But his musical heroes that were well-chosen too: Leonard Cohen’s Death of a Ladies Man for its integration of Brill Building sophistication and as a template for RACES’ use of backup singers and keyboards; Television for Ryff and Herberg’s ingenious, yet subtle guitar interplay which permeates Year Of The Witch.

In a mad dash, Ryff and Herberg got in touch with some of their old friends and bandmates and assembled a “dream team,” five additional musicians from around the area he admired, including Hild on bass, Herberg on guitar, Wood on keyboards, and Lee on vocals and percussion. Ventura would play drums for the second RACES show and they’d lose a backup vocalist who went to focus on her solo project (Ryff empathizes), but otherwise, RACES has remained exactly the same since that very first gig.

What sunk in was the effortlessness of it all: RACES never had to hustle to book their own shows despite living in Van Nuys, a twenty minute drive from Los Angeles that often feels hours removed from it all. Above all else was a chemistry that just couldn’t be faked or brainstormed during “band business meetings.” They attribute their work ethic to their humble surroundings, spending entire days honing their material in a Chatsworth studio because, well, what else are you supposed to do in the Valley? For the most part, RACES didn’t even see themselves as a “serious band” until local boutique imprint JAXART felt their demos were simply too good for a limited release, and label interest spread rapidly. The fit with New York’s venerated Frenchkiss Records was perfect – indeed, with RACES’ ability to derive such resonant and instantly ingratiating pop out of the relatable emotional turmoil of your mid-20’s, it’s no wonder the same label that houses Passion Pit, Dodos and Antlers were such ardent supporters.

At its core, there are plenty of sad songs and waltzes – “The Knife,” “Walk Through The Fire” and “All For You” all have a melodic and lyrical directness befitting their origins as Ryff’s solo work. But as Ryff admits, “I didn’t want to play music that’s just a sappy guy on an acoustic guitar,” and RACES flesh them out to swoon with dramatic grandeur and earthen rusticity behind Ryff’s plaintive words. It’s a startling show of sophistication from a band who has only been together for less than two years. The ornate orchestration and vocal arrangements on the female-led counterpoint “Don’t Be Cruel” in particular owe their origins to Herberg’s background as a composer – he’s the one who brings Ryff’s Leonard Cohen fantasies to fruition. Quoth Ryff, “he’s our Brian Jones.”

But even with the speed at which RACES are going forward, they haven’t gotten complacent in the slightest – they’re already working out new material for their next album, which they hope will integrate more of the electronic textures they’ve been experimenting with and won’t be so much “about a girl,” as Ryff jokes. But their goals are still modest – maybe playing the Bowery Ballroom in New York, getting better as musicians, the sort of things deemed worthy to a band that isn’t looking to piggyback on any sort of hype cycle. But what do they hope for most of all? Ryff puts it best: “I’d rather get dropped and start back at the beginning than not have fun with these guys.” It’s a fitting mission statement for a band for whom every show feels as exciting as that very first one.

Brian Whelan

To me, Brian Whelan will always be the Kid. When he first materialized several years ago at the Cinema Bar, that charmingly crowded, noisy little room in Culver City known as “The World’s Smallest Honky Tonk,” he was an alarmingly boyish presence. At first he stood out because he didn’t look old enough to legally consume the beer he was holding. But he soon distinguished himself as a young lion behind the roots-rock sages – Randy Weeks, Mike Stinson, Tony Gilkyson – whose shows packed out the tiny joint. It became quickly apparent that Brian could play just about anything, and brilliantly; his formidable chops later found him a primo spot in Dwight Yoakam’s band. But he displayed other musical dimensions: He also played in a tough little pop-rock band, known variously as the Brokedown and the Broken West, which recorded a couple of fine records before lamentably breaking up too soon. He fronted another rockin’ unit, Wheelhouse, as a prelude for the album you’re listening to now. It shows off splendidly the many things – singing, playing, writing -- that Brian does so exquisitely well. And it cuts across the broad swatch of stylistic turf that he occupies effortlessly, from the rootsy inventions of Gilkyson’s “Mojave High” and Stinson’s “Brand New Love Song” to a group of originals (two of them co-authored by Broken West cohort Ross Flournoy) that to my ears bear favorable comparison to the best of Nick Lowe or the Plimsouls.
Yeah, he’s still the Kid to me. But Brian Whelan’s work is thoroughly mature and emotionally wise, and many another grown-up musician will envy its excellence.
Chris Morris
Host, “Watusi Rodeo”/Scion Radio 17
Los Angeles, June 2012


The Shivers

Hailing from the New York borough of Queens, the Shivers, comprised of Keith Zarreillo and Joanne Schorikow, have made quite the impact on the underground indie rock scene. The duo usually records with a full band and is known for crafting melodic harmonies, which help sculpt some of the most haunting ballads on the market. The Shivers credit many of their songs to the omniscient forces of fast-paced life and loneliness, isolation and intolerable love, all of which frequent even the most content souls from time to time. Though the Shivers seem to take a remote look at life, they are no strangers to the social scene; Zarriello works as an actor, writer, and filmmaker when not in studio.

Wires In The Walls

"Each of the four songs on Wires in the Walls’ new EP “Leap, Timber, Leap” is a mini-epic, a snippet of musical cinema that, in between the twinkling guitars, serene melodies and lustrous production, conveys the timeless tug-of-war between melancholy and hope. It’s a refinement of pop-Americana the Los Angeles quintet of Warren Sroka, Denton Biety, Bryan King, Dave Irelan and Dave Sicher debuted on their fine 2011 album “New Symmetry.” The new EP was made with producer Scott Gilman (Black Francis, Airborne Toxic Event); somewhere amid the quaver of Sroka’s vocals and the guitar crescendos in “August Parades,” you might wish it were more than just four songs."

- Kevin Bronson, Buzzbands LA

Lots of Love

Lots of Love began in the summer of 2005, when singer/songwriter Jessica Fleischer wrote and recorded just a few songs on her four-track recorder. Following her heart and her dreams, she formed a band. Her influences include a wide range, from The Ronettes and The Shirelles, to Billie Holiday and Nina Simone, to Bob Dylan, ELO and The Beatles (to name a few). The songs are honest self expressions with little stories behind each one. The music is sung with a distinctive and mysterious voice. Since their first show in August 2006, Lots of Love has been performing regularly at various southland venues. Lots of Love has had many different band members over the last couple years, and continues to change and grow with each gain and loss. The one constant member being Jessica Fleischer, who continues to find those other steady pieces that fit perfectly into the puzzle. Additionally, two songs by Lots of Love have been featured on MTV's hit show "NEXT." Currently Lots of Love is working on new recordings.

Owl Fly South

Meet OWL FLY SOUTH. They are a rock and roll four-piece from UCLA who destroy brains and melt faces. Their blazing songs stare you straight in the face and don't look away until they come crashing to a close. One moment, they conjure up a storm of blistering garage rock fury. Soon after, you may find yourself floating suspended in waves of psychedelic ambient sound and noise. Moments later, you are bouncing to Beatles-esque pop fit for a summer sunset. Echoed vocals, sweet mellotrons, fuzzy guitars, and pummeling drums combine to create Owl Fly South's powerful rock and roll. In general, the music harkens back to the vintage vinyl sounds of the 60s and 70s, with the more free elements of modern music. These tunes are aimed skyward.


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