DOONSAYER: “King City,” the newest single from S.B. retro rockers Bonny Doon, aims to capture the fading-away quality of that drifty pit stop center along the 101. “The place feels like it’s always on the verge of blowing away into dust,” said lead singer and band main-brain Daniel Hopkins.
Bonny Doon, who recently played SOhO Restaurant & Music Club with Motopony and Wild Coast, dig deep into the dustier corners of music eras. Though all twenty-somethings, their sound has an out-of-time quality to it, grounded more in the sounds of the 1960s and ’70s than in anything contemporary. In fact, if he could, Hopkins would beam himself back not just to the ’60s, but the 1860s, where he could try his hand at a cannon — and, surely, pen pining war ballads of heartache and homesickness. In our present day, he and band make country-rock to befit wide horizons, sparse expanses, and contemplative road trips.
“I’m obsessed with everything Motown and Phil Spector, so naturally they’re going to bleed into my songs; Gram Parsons is my patron saint,” said Hopkins, who also credits soul and funk greats like Sly Stone, Otis Redding, Etta James, Marvin Gaye, and Curtis Mayfield among his holiest music gurus. But it’s more “(Sittin’ On) The Dock of the Bay” than “Everybody Is a Star,” more soul-searching than party-starting. This is rock for reckoning days.
Though endowed with movie-star charisma, the introverted Hopkins is often hindered by his own humility. A guitarist and songwriter since his early teens, Hopkins hasn’t always had the friendliest relationship to his own music, admitting to “completely debilitating” bouts of self-doubt. “There have been many times where I’ve tried to swear off music, declaring that I’ll never play again, because what’s the point? No one seems to care, and the odds are against me at every turn,” he said. “But of course that’s impossible. Usually the next day I’ll be playing again.”
Fortunately for us, he’s sticking with it for now. The band is working on new material and promises a new single out in the next few weeks. Keep your ears open for upcoming gigs and for Bandcamp singles in the interim, and revel in the rocking reflection.
ALY, ALY OXEN FREE: For those who ever wondered what became of my esteemed and lovable predecessor, Aly Comingore, look no further than the newest video from Santa Barbara synth duo Gardens & Villa, “Fixations.” Aly is there, sunglassed and fabulous, hiding in plain sight betwixt the selfie sticks and e-cigs. The video is a veritable Where’s Waldo of S.B.-via-L.A. connectivity: Also featured are Foxygen frontman Sam France as a Warholian party host, and Dante Elephante leader and area impresario (and onetime Bonny Doon drummer, it turns out) Ruben Zarate. For those who don’t know these folks, the video is a fun self-mockery of millennial mores; for those who do, it’s a true delight. The “Fixations” video also serves as a tasty appetizer for Gardens & Villa’s upcoming album, Music for Dogs, out August 21 on Secretly Canadian. Santa Barbara may be a small town, but on the world stage, it’s emerging as a burgeoning musical metropolis. Congrats to Gardens & Villa for continuing to carry the flag.
ROCK WALLS: If you’ve ever wanted a vintage photo of a rock god upon your wall, consider perusing SOhO’s selection of portraits from renowned photographer Norman Seeff. In black-and-white, Seeff captured some of the most memorable and iconic images of greats like Michael Jackson, The Rolling Stones, Frank Zappa, and Andy Warhol, as well as actors like Steve Martin and Jodie Foster. You may simply enjoy them as they are there, or even better, take one home — 25 percent of the profits go toward fundraising for SOhO, which needs some extra financial TLC in the wake of its new venue improvements. Help a club out, and make your walls rock.