Bands

This page is undergoing revision as of October 2017.

Bands are listed by the first letter of their name unless the name begins with “The.”
For example, look for Mitch Polzak and the Royal Deuces under “M” rather than “P” or “R,”
or The Better Haves under “B.”

Bands Alphabetical
B-Stars
Bachelors
Bitter Diamonds
Blue Diamond Fillups
Blithedale Canyon
Brothers Comatose
Buck Nickels and Loose Change
Bum Wagler
Carolyn Sills Band
Connie Champagne and the Sparkling Wynettes
Country Casanovas
Crying Time
The Dangaleros
Don Burnham and the Bolos
Frankie Boots and the County Line
Gayle Lynn and the Hired Hands
Hophead
Hi-Ball Hot Shots
Jinx Jones and the Kingtones
Joe Goldmark and the Seducers
The Jones Gang
The Jukebox Charlies
Laura Benitez and the Heartache
Lonestar Retrobates
Los High Tops
Los Trainwreck
Lester T. Raww’s Graveside Quartet
Lost Weekend
Maurice Tani & 77 el Deora
Mike Hellman
Misisipi Mike
Miss Lonely Hearts
Mitch Polzak and the Royal Deuces
Moonshine Maybelline
The Muddy Roses
Nashville Honeymoon
Pine Box Boys
Polka Cowboys
Porkchop Express
Possum and Lester
Red Meat
RevTones
The Saddle Cats
The Sam Chase
Shelby Lanterman
Shut-Ins
The Triple Shots
Urban Outlaws
The Vivants
Whisky Pills Fiasco
Shout Outs for Other Bands 

The B-Stars are a five-piece band that offers a mix of honky-tonkin’ covers and original songs.  The band’s status, however, is tentative because the economics of gigs to support a quintet playing locally are limited. Founding members Greg Yanito and Eric Reedy carry on as a trio in the Hi-Ball Hot Shots.   Click on “Watch” for a video of the full band playins “Chicken Fried,” shot at the Verdi Club in San Francisco with Eric Reedy on vocal.  (Scroll down to “H” for more on the Hi-Ball Hot Shots.)

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The BachelorsThe Bachelors are San Francisco’s go-to gig for a Monday at The Saloon in North Beach where they’ve been playing vintage rock and rockabilly ever since God was a teenager.  Brent Byers leads the band, sings and plays bass, Mitch Polzak sings and plays lead guitar, and Randy Odell beats the traps. Their self-promotion is rock bottom: no videos, no CDs, no posters, no email list, no merch, no website which, when you think about it, is kind of cool in the Digital Age.  If ya wanna  hear ’em, ya just gotta go see ’em.


Charles VerlinThe Bitter Diamonds consider themselves “old school country for modern times.”  That may mean something, but like a Seinfeld episode, meaning is optional.  They bring a strong country sound in sets of original music with a cover song here and there for good measure.  “Everybody’s Country,” which can be heard by following the “Listen” link, has been a favorite at Hicks with Sticks for poking fun at mall-store cowboys and cowgirls who crack open a PBR and jump on the country bandwagon.

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Larry and ClaudiaBlithdale Canyon is a country quartet named after the route into Mill Valley where the band’s founders, Larry Carlin and Claudia Hampe live.  They play “safe and sane” country covers like “Wagon Wheel,” “Someday Soon” and, of course, “Folsom Prison Blues” (which you can “Watch” in case you haven’t heard it before.”)  Built as B.C. is more for the living room than the bar room, Carlin and Hempe, often perform as a duo in locations that combine food service with occasional music.

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Blue Diamond Fill-UpsBlue Diamond Fillups are a rockabilly trio that features Jonnie Zaentz on vox and lead guitar.  The band was active as a quartet in the early 2010’s, then scaled back to a trio, but the untimely passing of their manager took some steam out of the band.  Their gigs are rare, but when active, they’re usually in rockabilly mode as on “Playboy” which can be heard by checking on “Watch” below, or they can take a breather with songs like Elvis’s “This Magic Moment” here in the “Listen” link.

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The Brothers Comatose are a 5-piece band Brothers Comatoseplaying a DIY style of driving acoustic Americana influenced by Wilco, the Rolling Stones, bluegrass, the Southwest and the California dream.  Founded by brothers Ben and Alex Morrison, this band has attracted fans from across the Americana spectrum and tours all over the world.  Clicking on “Watch” will bring up a their version of the Rolling Stones’ “Dead Flowers” which was recorded at the Hardly-Strictly Bluegrass Festival.

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Buck Nickels and Loose Change play Sonoma County wine-soaked country per their KALX radio hit “Makin’ Wine in the Valley of the Moon,” which can be heard and seen via the “Watch” link below.  The “Listen” link leads to the band’s home page with “Musician’s Lament,” a song about what being in a band is really like.   From their website, with tongue planted firmly in cheek, “While driving his grandpa’s 1930s sixteen-cylinder Cadillac across the ranch, Buck heard Bob Wills on the radio and he knew he was destined to be a country star.”

Buck Nickles and Loose Change Site     Facebook     Watch     Listen

Bum Wagler released a CD of original material backed by other musicians, though lately he’s played solo shows.  He’s  owing to the challenges of and played mainly, though not exclusively, solo shows.  Hopefully there’ll be enough momentum to form a regular band to develop this talent.

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The Carolyn Sills Combo 

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Connie Champagne and the Sparkling Wynettes are really just getting started.  They’ve been working it out at Mike Dingle‘s semi-invitational gig at the Bay View Boat Club in SF and, finding they’ve got a good thing going, are ready to move out and up.

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norn collins CDCountry Casanovas started with, and continue to play, ’50s-’60s country covers but Norm Collins, who fronts the band, released a solo CD in 2016 which was rooted in Americana, though not particularly country.  Nevertheless, it’s songs are quite good and now they are woven into Country Casanovas’ sets, a move that has broadened the band’s appeal.  2017 has seen a change in personnel and a name change along the line of Norm Collins and the [fill in the blank] is expected to take place soon.   It’s all part of the plan to increase social media activity and build a new identity.

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Crying Time


Don BurnhamDon Burnham and the Bolos are a six-piece country and western band. Burnham is known for leading Lost Weekend, a western swing big band which has had several of its members, including him, inducted into the Western Swing Hall of Fame.  Lately, he has been writing more of his own material, and the economics of live music require that he travel faster and lighter.  Click “Watch” to hear the Bolos featuring Sara Burnham singing “Honky Tonk Merry-Go-Round.”

Don Burnham Site    Don Burnham and the Bolos on Facebook     Watch

 


Frankie Boots and the County Line has moved to Nashville.  Good luck, Frankie!

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Gayle Lynn &t Hired HandsGayle Lynn & the Hired Hands started as a outlet for music teacher Gayle Lynn Schmitt’s songwriting and singing, and has developed into a band that conveys the energy that it’s members draw from their enjoyment of playing together. She also has a children’s music band, the Toodala Ramblers, and can be found every December adding to the festivities at Shut-Ins Xmas shows. As for country weepers, she’s got ’em. The sadness comes out even in an up-tempo number like”Twist.”

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Hi-Ball Hot Shots

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Jinx Jones &t KingtonesJinx Jones & the KingTones is a rockabilly/honky tonk trio. The guitar is the key to understanding this band as Jones, a.k.a., The Professor, can really deliver the goods on the ol’ six-string. Whisky Pills plays bass and Jamie Lease plays drums. Here he is, though with different players at a one-off live radio show performing “Honky Tonk Playgirl.”

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Joe Goldmark &t SeducersJoe Goldmark & the Seducers is a vintage honky-tonking quartet that plays every third Sunday at the Riptide in SF. Joe Goldmark’s pedal steel defines the band, which doesn’t phase guitarist Hank Manniger or anyone else on lead vocals, including the band’s many friends, who might show up any time. Here is a version of the Seducers with Brandi Shearer on lead vocals performing CSN&Y’s “Helpless.”

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The Jones Gang

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The Jukebox Charlies

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Laura Benitez and the Heartache

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Lonestar RetrobatesThe Lonestar Retrobates are an 8-piece western swing band headed by Mylos “Boogie” Sonka (vocals, guitar, pedal steel, fiddle) and featuring trumpeter Ray “Idaho Slim” Green and Emily Bonn on vocals. They play cowjazz, honky-tonk, bop, swing and whatever else they can get away with as long as people are hittin’ the dance floor. “Bottle Baby Boogie” finds that the announcement of another baby on the way isn’t always good news.

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Loretta LynchLoretta Lynch doesn’t play much owing to its members’ commitments to jobs, parenthood and the other distractions of life. This alt-country collective — Heather Davison, Val Esway and Ari Fellows-Mannion — at the right of the picture make up the band’s front line and deliver aware and clever songs, most of which they write.  Here’s their jaunty murder ballad called “Missin’ Kissin’.”
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Los High TopsLos High Tops play high-octane sets of rockabilly or surf songs, and unlike “surfabilly” bands, Los High Tops play one style or the other and aren’t into mash the two styles into the same tune.  They’re a South Bay Band, and at this point are the only band playing the Santa Cruz to Gilroy circuit playing any rockabilly.  They have music videos, but for something different, check out their contribution to low budget rockabilly capitalism.
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Los Train WreckLos Train Wreck play a special type of Americana show every second Tuesday at El Rio in SF. This all-pro group hosts a monthly live band karaoke night that that welcomes just plain folks with a song to sing, musicians who are trying out new material, and members of working bands often doing songs that don’t fit with their regular groups. Kathi Kamen Goldmark, ran it until her untimely passing in 2012, but it has been popular for so long that it continues with musical director David Phillips keeping the musical order, and bassist Paul Olguin managing the batting order. Is your name on the sign-up sheet?

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Lost WeekendLost Weekend boasts a line-up that varies between 7-15 members plus who knows how many friends of bandleader Don Burnham that show up to play. Along with Burnham, Pam Branden (Belle Monroe & her Brewglass Boys) sings Cindy Williams and beyond in their mix of cow jazz/bop/swing tunes. Here they are ripping into “Six Pack to Go.”

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77 el DeoraMaurice Tani and 77 el Deora features an urban alt-country sound powered by the songwriting and telecaster of band leader Maurice Tani.  Their style of alt-country ranges from rockin’ and country to acoustic and sultry.  A downsized edition of the band plays as a duo with Mike Anderson on bass. This “Bad Boy” video represents their up-tempo side.
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Mike Hellman

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Misisipi MikeMisisipi Mike & the Players to Be Named Later is not the name of Mike Wolf’s latest band. Hicks with Sticks just made that up because it’s difficult to follow the variations and permutations that his music has taken since the demise of the successful run of Misisipi Rider.  Band scrambles aside, his in playing and songwriting are top notch.  Meanwhile, this “Ballad of Cree and Me,” pays tribute to Misisipi Rider.

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Miss Lonely HeartsMiss Lonely Hearts is fronted by Wyatt Hesemeyer who writes difficult to categorize California country songs. The band itself is like a cross between the Brothers Comatose and Devil Makes Three. They describe themselves as, “Five dudes, copious liquor, and a fine shoe collection. The stuff dreams are made of,” and here, for a better understanding, is their video of “Pretty Polly.”

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Royal DeucesMitch Polzak and the Royal Deuces are the rockabilly incarnation of the versatile Mitch Polzack. He also plays in bluegrass, Cajun/zydeco, swing and country, but is careful to keep each style to its own band rather than working them into a mash-up. His rockabilly trio features a mix of rockin’ covers and originals with a country-ish track or two just to mix things up. Here’s a medley of tunes from Viva Las Vegas 2010.

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Moonshine Maybelline

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The Muddy RosesThe Muddy Roses, a four-piece fronted by Rebecca Ainsworth and Elizabeth Lewis, finds influences that cross folk, country, blues and good ol’ rock and roll.
Muddy Roses on Facebook
Muddy Roses on Reverbnation
VIDEO: Muddy Roses at Dolly Parton Tribute

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Pine Box BoysPine Box Boys songs are about someone dying, someone who did die, or someone who will die. Sometimes they kill off several people in the same song. Well, what else would you expect from a band named after a cheap coffin?  Lester T. Raww fronts the group along with his soul mate Possum Carvidi. The entire concept might sound like a one trick pony, but their best trick has been to rise above all that through strong playing. The front line also takes the stage as Possum & Lester (also listed on this page). Here’s “Mr. Skeleton.”

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TPolka Cowboyshe Polka Cowboys are well-established at the most unlikely hillbilly music venue in the Bay Area, and possibly the world. Find them at Champa Thai, which does have a nice stage, PA and dance floor, and is located in an El Sobrante strip-mall, just up the road from Richmond. Thai food, dancing and hillbilly music — y’gotta love the Bay Area for treasures like this.

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Possum & LesterContrary to its name, Possum & Lester isn’t a duo; it’s a band fronted by Possum Carvidi and Lester T. Raww of the Pine Box Boys. The Pine Box Boys are dedicated to murder songs, so they needed a Possum & Lester band in order to perform their songs about drinkin’, druggin’, and wenchin’. Who says these boys can’t grow? Here’s their wench-friendly “Tattooed Lady.”
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Porkchop ExpressPorkchop Express started out as a few pals kicking back and drinking beer at frontman Collin Conoley’s place. The next thing they knew they were an alt-country band playing gigs and making CDs. The rumor that they had been kidnapped by Muslim extremists for being the Great Satan’s pork band, and that upon receiving the ransom demand, their families responded, “Keep ’em!” is false, according to Conoley who was returned safely. Here’s a brief video medley of tunes from their “Fault Lines & Good Times.”

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Red MeatRed Meat, which has been together for well over a decade, plays high-cholesterol honky-tonk. Scott Young writes most of the songs with Jill Olson adding a few of her own. Both sing and both have turned songs over to frontman Smelley Kelley for the “Smelley Touch” (not available in any store). Here, Jill sings lead on “Thriftstore Cowgirl.”

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Saddle CatsThe Saddle Cats are four western swing pros. Band leader Richard Chon swings one of the meanest fiddles around. Bobby Black is in the Steel Guitar Hall of Fame for a good reason. Their line-up also features Bing Nathan, who has played stand-up bass with everyone from The Saddlecats to famed conductor/composer Igor Stravinski. “Moanin’ Blues” captures the ’Cats western swing stylings.

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Shut-InsWherefore the Shut-Ins? Mike Roper and John Poultney are the ring-leaders of America’s finest hulabilly band, but other priorities have made band sightings rare, so when a show appears on the HWS calendar, go or wait until Xmas. Their regular Christmas shows at The Riptide and Bazaar Cafe put the ‘risk’ back in Chriskmas. To be enjoyed by all, these are also the antidote for people who are tired of same-old, same-old Xmas songs, as in this bottle-in-a-brown-paper-bag version of “Baby It’s Cold Outside.”

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Texas Steve is set to tear it up after having moved to SoCal, and now back in the Bay Area. Texas Steve & the Tornadoes is an older and wiser evolution of 2000s-era Texas Steve and the Git Gome Trio. The rockabilly roots remain and have been broadened in honky-tonk and vintage rock directions, and propelled by a mix of originals, covers and energy. “I’ve Got It Bad

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 Emily Bonn &t VivantsThe Vivants resist classification by drawing on music from across the Americana spectrum. They are at home sharing stages with singer-songwriters, country or bluegrass bands. This acoustic quartet features guitar, accordion, fiddle, stand-up bass and occasional clarinet. Emily Bonn writes most of the songs, including this Cajun-flavored number,”Riot at the Rite Spot,” which celebrates a well-liked SF dive bar at 17th & Folsom.

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Whisky Pills Fiasco

Whisky Pills Fiasco is a trio influenced by rockabilly, alt-country, punk and a few other Americana styles in between.  Whisky Pills himself sings lead and slaps the doghouse. Johnny Fiasco is on drums, Danny Fiasco plays lead guitar, and this trio, like many others grows in size when they get into a studio.  They can also get soulful, as they do here on Bob Dylan’s “You’ve Got to Serve Somebody

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Shout Outs for Visiting Bands and Other Bay Area Bands

The GoldDiggers (Rockin’ Roots), The Jenny Kerr Band (Rockin’ Roots & Blues), Houston Jones (Homegrown Americana), The Good Luck Thrift Store Outfit (Oakdale’s finest), Big Sandy and the Fly-Rite Boys (SoCal), Deke Dickerson and the Ecco-Phonics (SoCal), Dave Alvin (Downey), Dave Gleason (Ventura), JonEmery & the Dry County Drinkers (Sacramento), Nickle Slots (Sacramento), Gal Holiday and the Honky Tonk Revue (New Orleans), Lucky Tubb and the Modern Day Troubadours (Texas)