Dip your comb into some pomade, shine your wing tips, and don’t forget the Ray-Bans when you come out to a Drive-In Romeos show. The Santa Maria-based four-piece R&B rock group is dedicated to providing an old-school sound for local rock, beat, rockabilly, and soul fans.
“I think we’re more R&B based, like from the ’40s, which was more jump-rhythm and blues,” lead singer and guitarist Don “DJ” Gonzalez Jr. said. “We are a combination of that with some San Fernando rock ’n’ roll, but we all grew up in the ’80s, so there is some of that too.”
Whatever the mixed cocktail of music is, it’s got people excited. The Drive-In Romeos absolutely packed the Santa Maria Inn’s taproom on their first night in what is to be a featured spot once a month for the next few months. The crowd was excited, but respectful, upright bassist Mark Garza explained.
“When we play, we have so many people who show up in classic cars, dressed up old school, like from the ’50s,” he said. “But they dress like that every day!”
A Drive-In Romeos show usually becomes an impromptu car show, including shiny classic cars with a “kustom” style. It’s not a mystery why West Coast Kustoms asked the group to be the entertainment for the annual “Cruisin’ Nationals” cancer fundraiser car show and cruise. The Romeos will be jammin’ on Reflection’s Photography Studio’s porch while the celebrated cruise event takes place. They will also be performing during the car show the next day, and then again that night in the Tap Room again.
“What we are basically about is just a celebration of life with good times and good music,” Gonzalez said. “We try to portray that in our songs.”
For now, though, the group—which includes DJ Gonzales singing and playing the Fender Strat, Garza on the upright bass, Mike Gonzales (DJ’s brother) on drums, and Ray Williams blowing the sax and singing backup—is preparing for the Viva Las Vegas Rockabilly Weekender event in Las Vegas. But, once back in town, they are booked solid with local gigs.
“When we get back after that, we are playing Trailpaloosa to help raise money for Santa Maria Valley Open Space,” Garza said. “We are also playing the ‘Born to Run’ event, our buddy Luis [Escobar] invited us out to do those shows.”
Wherever the Romeos, go they make friends, connecting over a respect and love for rock ’n’ roll, classic style (in clothes and cars), and having a good time. They also make sure that wherever they play, they show up in style.
“We all sat down and talked and said that we wanted a style that matched what we play,” Garza said. “Most of the clothes we wear are vintage—vintage suits and ties—and the instruments, too.”
The band enjoys performing, from backyard parties to more community-based performances like Trailpaloosa or “Cruisin’ Nationals,” and can still be found at late-night gigs like the Tap Room. Wherever they go, the Romeos always set out to bring a good time with them.
“We’ve all been playing music for years, but with this band, it has taken us to the next level where it is appreciated,” Garza said, “and it’s nice that people like to say ‘hi’ to us around town.”
The Drive-In Romeos can be seen all around Santa Barbara and SLO counties, and an album is in the works. The group invites any and all to follow them on Instagram, Facebook, or Youtube, and check out their website at driveinromeos.com.
Relive the disco age
The Chumash Casino Resort presents the Bee Gees tribute “Stayin’ Alive” in concert on April 17 at 8 p.m. at the Chumash Casino Resort, 2400 E. Highway 246, Santa Ynez. Cost is $20. More info: 1-800-CHUMASH or chumashcasino.com.
Ukulele Virtuoso Ben Ahn will be performing live at the Hideout Café on April 19 at 7 p.m.,
388 Tefft St., Suite B, Nipomo. Cost is $20.
More info: 878-6793 or santamariahula.org.
DeVille at Standing Sun
Standing Sun Winery features the Standing Sun Concert Series, including Ivory DeVille on April 19 from 7 to 10 p.m. at Standing Sun Wines, 92 2nd St., Buellton. More info: 904-8072 or standingsunwines.com.
Get in the groove
The Radisson Hotel offers live music Fridays and Saturdays, including Calo performing April 18 and 19 from 6 to 10 p.m. at the Radisson Hotel, 3455 Skyway Drive, Santa Maria.
More info: 928-8000.
Fresh squeezed music
The D’Vine Wine Bar and Bistro features Jerry Stickell live on April 17, Mike Shelton on April 19, Tony Botello on April 22, and Kyle Reilly on April 23, with shows starting at 7:30 p.m. at the wine bar and bistro, 107 W. Ocean Ave., Lompoc. More info: 430-8356 or facebook.com.
In the flow
Creative Juices Lounge presents live music, including Vance from Resination on April 18 and Wet Stone on April 19 performing from 7 to 10 p.m. at the lounge, 874 Guadalupe St., Guadalupe. More info: 219-0518 or creativejuiceslounge.com.
Get to Grevino
Ca’ Del Grevino Café and Wine Bar features live music in the tasting room and café on Wednesdays, including Manny Mestas on April 23 from 6 to 9 p.m. at Ca’ Del GreVino Café and Wine Bar is located at 400 E. Clark Ave., Suite A, Orcutt. More info: 937-6400,
[email protected], or grevino.com.
The Maverick Saloon offers live entertainment, including The Carolyn Mescher Band on April 18 at 8 p.m. “Concert on the Deck” featuring Brett Pejsa is April 19 at 3 p.m., followed by The Carolyn Mescher Band performing once again at 8 p.m. and “LateNight” with DJ Totem at 11:30 p.m. “Suds, Song, and Sandwiches” will feature Blues Bob and the Loopy Blues Band on April 20 at 3 p.m. at the saloon, 3687 Sagunto St., Santa Ynez. More information: 686-4785 or [email protected].
Contact Arts Editor Joe Payne at [email protected].