All The Music That Has Made The LA Beach Cities Such A Longtime Fun Party Place
When people think of live music in the Los Angeles area, the Sunset Strip with its legendary bands and clubs immediately comes to mind.
And for good reason, but there is another part of the vast city that has long been a hotbed of bands and musicians. It is the South Bay Beach Cities of Hermosa Beach, Manhattan Beach and Redondo Beach.
And with the success of the most iconic bars of the South Bay article, I thought I would also look at the most iconic bands and musicians of the South Bay.
These are bands and musicians that are (or were) located in the South Bay or regularly play (or played) in the South Bay. This is why some bands – most notably the Beach Boys – are not on this list. Sure, they are the most iconic band in the history of the area but they made their mark on the national stage rather than on Beach Cities stages. There are, as you will see, more than 10 of them listed here.
The bands here are not listed as a ranking, but rather in alphabetical order.
With one exception, that is, and that is because this band is so iconic and was such a fixture at the bars and house parties in the South Bay’s social heyday that it has earned this special honor.
The Best All-Time South Bay Band – Joe’s Band
The all-time king of the local party bands, Joe’s Band was everywhere whenever there was, well, a party. A big party.
From Harry O’s to H20, 12th Street and Orville & Wilbers to the Standing Room and nearly every other bar and house party in the roarin’ 90s thru today, Joe’s Band is as much of a fixture on the South Bay nightlife scene as single people hitting on each other at bar or party.
With its signature cover tunes of “Hot, Hot, Hot,” Paul Simon’s “You Can Call Me Al” (with the “be my bodyguard lyrics”) and dozens of other party covers played with congas and a Caribbean beat, Joe’s Band was the instigator of the insanity.
For more than a decade it was THE band in the Beach Cities and you knew if Joe’s Band was playing, it would be the “drop everything” destination because everyone knew there would be a lot of single girls and guys at the show.
There are and have been many other good and fun bands in the history of the South Bay, but none can match what Joe’s Band provided for so long to so many.
Best All-Time South Bay Bands
• Barley. A cool mix of folk and reggae, Barley is the only band to play on the same stage as Jimmy Buffett. That was during Kaboo in San Diego prior to the troubadour of TropRock taking the stage. You can see Barley – or the individual musicians in it – play regularly at the Project Barley Brewery in Lomita and several festivals in the South Bay. It recently had a regular every-other-Friday gig at the Lighthouse and has frequently played at Standing Room and other local live music venues.
• Cubensis. This Grateful Dead tribute band has also played at the Lighthouse as well as bars and festivals all over the West Coast. It has been around for more than 30 years. Website: www.cubensis.com
• Day Of Daze. The Pancho’s house band has stood the test of time, and although trying to guess the band members on any given night is like trying to figure out if you want to have a beer or go for the Dirty Maggie. That’s because someone may be out on the road touring with a major rock band – Fleetwood Mac, Styx, even Alice Cooper – but no matter who is on stage it’s a rockin’ great time. The band is held together by Jim Wheeler, the tall and long-haired sax player who, quite frankly, should be regularly performing on a much bigger stage.
• Jeremy Buck & The Bang. The man with the spiked hair and way-cool videos plays a super up-tempo series of original songs that is a unique mix of high-paced rock ‘n ‘n roll, a touch of punk and even the soft touch of a ballad. When you see this guy perform – alone or with the band – it’s entertainment as lively as his hair. His “Turn My Ship Around” video, filmed in Venice Beach, has nearly 800,000 views. Website: jeremybuck.com
• John Brown Band. This local bar band played Sunday afternoons at the Blue Moon Saloon “back in the day” and can still be seen at the Redondo Beach Lobsterfest and the Seaside Lagoon 4th of July fireworks event.
• Feed The Kitty. This band plays almost all the local festivals and well as big-time LA bars like the Whiskey-A-Go-Go with airplay on the iconic Southern California rock station KLOS. A mix of country and rock ‘n roll, the badd describes its music as a “bounty of neo-retro Southern California sounds” according to its website. The South Bay locals love them to the point that when they hear the band is at a local festival they say to friends, “I’m going – Feed The Kitty is playing!” For fun, the band has a cat scratching tree and the tip jar is a cat’s food bowl. Website: feedthekitty.com
• Liquid Blue. This band played at the old Red Onion (where Shade Hotel now stands) on Harbor Drive in Redondo. The Red Onion – known as the “Spread Onion” for its reputation as a pick-up bar – was the precursor to Sharkeez, and Liquid Blue often provided the background music that lead to many a nights of wild romance.
• Pennywise. This is a Hermosa Beach band that made it not just big but huge. As such, they rarely play South Bay venues, but they are indeed a local band. Website: pennywisdom.com
• Shari Puorto Band. A combination of a sensational singer with incredible musicians, the Shari Puorto Band (I call her Shari “El” Puorto in a nod to that section of Manhattan Beach) is a rock/blues band that has played all the South Bay venues and events. Too good to be confined to “the South Bay bubble,” it also tours all over the Western USA playing at bars and festivals. Shari has a raspy, Janice Joplin-type of voice that is the perfect compliment to the super-talented blues musicians in the band. The band plays covers but also has enough original tunes to mesmerize a crowd, including the awesome “Six Months Sober” which is not about abstaining from alcohol but is about being “sober” from a former boyfriend. It’s an awesome tune (watch the video). Website: www.sharipuorto.com
• Soul Shaker. The all-time king of South Bay promoters, Berry Bly, had this band that brought in crowds to the Red Onion, Sundays at Harry O’s on Sunday nights (which to singles was known as the “Last Chance Saloon”), Harbor Drive, H2O, Upper Manhattan, Saint Rocke an Standing Room. This band stood the test of time, which is not easy in the competitive Beach Cities.
• South Bay Legend. This band was a South Bay legend as it was playing first at Pancho’s on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Fridays in the early to mid-80s. It was also the Sunday band at Beach Bum Burt’s, itself a legendary watering hole (and prominent pick-up place). Led my super saxophonist Chuck Schumacker, South Bay Legend was the first rock ‘n roll band to play at Pancho’s. Today, Chuck is still wailing away on the sax in the Nashville area with the Beaker Street Blues Band.
• Tomorrow’s Bad Seeds. This reggae and rock band with a dose of punk has played all the major LA venues (Roxy, House of Blues, Vault 350, Knitting Factory, Key Club) and toured in Hawaii and was also part of the inaugural year of the BeachLife Music Festival, the Coachella of the South Bay. Website: www.labadseeds.com
• Wais. This one-man band cemented his local legacy with his “Hermosa Beach song.” He made Sunday late afternoons/early evenings fun at Patrick Molloy’s. Website: waismusictoday.com
• Yachtly Crew. This is one of the few bands on this list that is not actually in the South Bay, but it has played there often enough to make it part of the party community. With boat party music as its sound, members dress as crew on the Love Boat and give out captain’s hats to girls in the crowd. Yachtly Crew is kind of a modern-day Joe’s Band. It’s rendition of the pina colada song is a must-hear!
Best All-Time South Bay Musicians
• Barclay Roach. Barclay plays in several bands, including Barley, and organized the weekly South Bay Jam events, a musical showcase at Standing Room in Hermosa until that live music venue recently closed. He is also an organizer of the Sunset Deck Sessions, which air on Facebook.
• Carey Carloff. A mainstay at Pancho’s before Day of Daze, “Red Shoes” as a friend of PubClub.com nicknamed him after one performance, would wear red shoes, light the keyboard of his little piano on fire and swing from a rope hanging from the ceiling. He was a one-man band one-of-a-kind performer and is a lasting icon at Pancho’s.
• Evyn Charles. A multi-talented singer and songwriter, Evyn can play everything from relaxed beach music to country to classical. He is a regular performer at Old Tony’s where he plays the perfect music to go with those sunset Fire Chiefs. His career highlight – to date – is writing and singing “The PubClub song.” Link: www.yelp.com
• Mitch Perry. He did not play long enough – but was certainly loud enough – at the Standing Room to really earn the iconic status of the other musicians in this article, but his power in the music industry shows the powerful draw of the South Bay to Los Angeles musicians. He was in the band Quiet Riot (in which Legends band member Paul Shortino was the lead singer) and has toured or recorded with several rock music legends including Michael Schenker, Edgar Winter, Lita Ford, Sweet, Asia, Cher, Graham Nash and Aerosmith. He and his musical friends brought their ear-piercing hard rock sound to Standing Room on Sunday evenings for more than a year in a super hard rock jam session. Website: www.mitchperry.com
• “Panchos” Jimmy. A mind-blowing guitar player, “Pancho’s” Jimmy (also know as Little Jimmy; his real name is James Garrison) is the Jimi Hendrix of the Beach Cities. He can rip it and does so with such an emotional face that you think someone dropped a speaker on his foot. He has been in and out of the Day of Daze band that plays at Pancho’s in Manhattan Beach. Website: facebook.com/LtlJimmy
• Tatiana Erse. The Brazilian Bombshell often teams with another female Brazilian beauty to form the Sister Knot. She is also breaking out on her own as a national recording artist. She even has her own line of merchandise! Website: www.tatianaerse.com
More Popular South Bay Bands & Musicians
Here are other popular bands that either are from or play in the South Bay: Angry Donkey, Addy Lane (beautiful Amanda, who was an OB’s waitress with the great voice), Brent George (Portofino in Redondo; website is www.brentgeorgelive.com), Doralee Angelo (instagram.com/doraleemusic), Retrofit (plays at R10 in Redondo Beach on Sundays, facebook.com/Retrofitmusic/), Kevin Sousa (he’s played at just about every venue in the Beach Cities for several years and pretty much everyone knows him and his music; website: www.reverbnation.com/kevinsousa), The Lucky Ones (the singer used to be a bartender at Strand House), Veronica Torres (the Hollow Legs and the incredible Dead Marionette Theatre floor show, www.facebook.com/veronicatorresmusic), Wade Preston (the one-man band at the old and small Hennessey’s Hermosa in the 80s and early 90s and was often hired to play at South Bay’ers weddings) House Party (the Sunday night band at H2O in the 90s; the lead singer, Henry, dated Heather Locklear in her Melrose Place days) and the Pine Mountain Logs and the M-80s, both of whom played in the party heydays of Harry O’s.
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