Tuesday, June 25, 2019     Volume: 20, Issue: 16

Santa Maria Sun / Music

The following article was posted on October 11th, 2018, in the Santa Maria Sun - Volume 19, Issue 32 [ Submit a Story ]
The following articles were printed from Santa Maria Sun [santamariasun.com] - Volume 19, Issue 32

Places to play: Local blue-collar acoustic groups see more chances to perform in the Santa Maria Valley

By Joe Payne

For the musician who makes the leap from studying their instrument and playing in jam circles to actually starting a group and getting paid to perform, that milestone can be a formative one.

Local classic rock trio WaveBreakers performs across the Central Coast, but their home-away-from-home is the Moxie Cafe in Santa Maria, where they play regularly.

But for local singer and banjo player Wendy Stockton, starting a band didn't begin in high school for her, like for so many musicians, but just a few years before she retired. Stockton began studying banjo in 2004 in hopes of playing music with her husband, Tom Bringle, and just a few years later they had started a bluegrass group together.

Now, the couple heads a trio called the WaveBreakers, which performs regularly in Santa Maria at the Moxie Cafe and other venues. Their next show at Moxie is in the evening of Oct. 12.

Stockton said the venue was "a wonderful place to play," and she and her husband have enjoyed returning there to perform.

"There's a place that they have set for musicians right near their fireplace, and people who want to listen can come and be right with the band, and they have other areas if you want to have a more quiet conversation," she said.

The WaveBreakers performs a wide swath of classic rock and popular music with some amplification, mostly for their voices and Bringle's guitar. Their bassist, Stephen Hughes, is amplified as well.

Stockton plays her banjo acoustically, while the rest of the band amps up, she explained.

"The banjo does not need amplification, according to the rest of the world," she laughed. "Me, I wouldn't care if it was breaking windows."

The Santa Maria Valley has seen an increase in friendly venues just since she began performing, Stockton said, whether it's for jam circles, open mic events, or paying shows.

Local singer-songwriter Jim Lambertson has performed with bands his whole life, including his most recent project the Clark St. Flyers, an acoustic trio he began to perform originals and cover songs.

For local performers like Jim Lambertson, who performs a range of cover songs and originals with his trio, the Clark St. Flyers, live shows are nothing new. He's performed with rock bands since his teens, but he recently put the acoustic project together to play the winery and brewery scene on the Central Coast.

The acoustic sound makes more sense, he said, especially after years of playing in amplified rock bands. Playing toned down is easier on the ears, he said, but Lambertson also approaches gigging with a different attitude.

"I've kind of scaled down; it's more of a causal structure these days," Lambertson told the Sun. "I'm not out pounding the pavement looking for gigs like I used to."

But the growth of Santa Maria and Orcutt's music scene has made it easier to find those gigs, Lambertson said, as well as bandmates.

He met the rest of the Clark St. Flyers at a popular Orcutt jam meetup, where bassist Bob Walling is a regular fixture. Percussionist Larry Foster is a part of the group as well, Lambertson explained, but is currently on hiatus. Guest drummer Chad Hinkle is currently filling in for the group.

After playing regularly at jam sessions in Orcutt, the trio naturally found more venues interested in having them perform, Lambertson explained. The group enjoys a regular "second Sunday" performance at Foxen Winery, including an afternoon show on Oct. 14.

"I like the winery scene and the casualness of that," Lambertson said, "so we're trying to angle to that."

Like Stockton, Lambertson was raised on the classic rock from the '50s through the '80s, which is most of what he performs at shows. He also pulls from around 70 original songs he penned over the years, many of which have a "reggae/funk/tropical vibe" that Lambertson enjoys.

"It's more of an eclectic mix," he said. "I like to play obscure cover songs instead of playing 'Sweet Home Alabama' for the thousandth time."

Relax and listen
The WaveBreakers perform live on Oct. 12 from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. at the Moxie Cafe, 1317 W. McCoy Lane, Santa Maria. Free. More info: (805) 361-2900 or moxiecafe.com. The Clark St. Flyers will perform a live set on Oct. 14 from 12:30 to 3:30 p.m. at Foxen Canyon Winery, 7200 Foxen Canyon Road, Santa Maria. The performance is part of the group’s second Sunday concerts at Foxen Canyon. More info: (805) 937-4251 or foxenvineyard.com.

Both the WaveBreakers' and the Clark St. Flyers' regular gigs represent a growth in the valley's music scene over the past few years.

As wine country has consistently hired local musicians, opportunities have also grown in Orcutt and elsewhere as breweries and tasting rooms have began hosting more live music. It's a shift musicians like Stockton are happy to see after so many years of limited choices for performers and audiences.

"Santa Maria doesn't have a whole lot of entertainment," she said. "There are places that have tried, but not too many."

Repeated shows like those the WaveBreaker's enjoy at Moxie allow groups to form a bond with audiences, she said. Stockton and her husband have gained a loyal following of locals who want live music with their food and drink, she said, and never miss a show.

"They hear us, they sing our songs, and they're so joyful," she said. 


Managing Editor Joe Payne is happy to see more live music in Santa Maria. Contact him at jpayne@santamariasun.com.

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