|L.A. Times, Ventura County Edition: Friday, January 28, 2000
One For the Books
A blues band whose members are old pros welcomes a chance to play at Borders.
Blues in Thousand Oaks? Yep, some real blues will come to Borders on Saturday night when Steve White & the Barstool Pigeons make their Conejo Valley debut. The Oxnard band has a brand new album "What's a Man to Do?"--featuring a dozen originals--that will be available at the show.
The Barstool Pigeons is the latest in a series of bands with funny names featuring most of the same players. There have been the Reverbs, the Convertibles, Garage-a-saurus Rex, the Elmo Nails Band and the Ordinaires. The Pigeons are Steve White (vocals, sax, keyboards and harmonica), Mike Fishell (guitars and vocals), Bernie Travers (bass and vocals) and Kelvin Ammons (drums and vocals). The Pigeons, led by White, who gets top billing, and Fishell, the guitarist, have been flying for a couple of years.
White has a great blues voice, but he can also do Jackie Wilson and, better yet, pull it off. Fishell is one of the area's best players, and as a teacher usually has around 50 students--all with Eric-Clapton dreams. One of his notable former students is Scotty Morris of Big Bad Voodoo Daddy.
Fishell said he and White met at a party when they were in high school. "We ended up standing by the stereo talking about music. Steve was playing harmonica and I was playing guitar to the stereo. Since then, we've played hundreds of gigs a year for a million years, and now we know how to do it."
White agrees. "There's a lot of telepathy with this band--it's the Oxnard sound. I've known Mike forever and I've been playing with Bernie for about 25 years and Kelvin for probably 20 years--I guess, he's the new guy."
While they were in all these bands, these guys played just about everywhere imaginable. But White said the band is looking forward to its first adventure at the great big bookstore. "There's not a lot of places to play anymore, but there's still a few," White said. "The Hi Cee's [in Ventura] is fun in the summer, and I think this Borders gig will be good because the bulk of our listeners do know how to read, plus it's great playing music without the neighbors complaining."
Not only is their new CD professional music by a bunch of old pros, but band members did everything themselves from recording to cover art. More important, the songs have been tested on real blues fans. Plus, "What's A Man To Do?" is on their own label, Sugar Beat Records. Fishell, for one, likes it a lot, but he may be prejudiced.
"The songwriting is just great--all the songs are good and the lyrics are really good, too. It's a funky sound with lots of guitar solos, and the songs are all barroom tested. When you play originals, you know right away whether the people like them or not . .If you can get away with playing a dozen originals, then you're in there."
The Pigeons are, indeed, in there. Here, too: Feb. 5 at Calypso's Bar & Grill in Ojai with the official CD release party set for Feb. 26 at Hi Cees at the Ventura Harbor.