Our first gig at the Sunset Club in Sierra Madre, CA was on an odd night of the week, a Wednesday, but whenever you start performing at a new club that’s the way it worked. You started on the off nights. That way the manager, owner and whomever could size you up and see if you fit the vibe and find out how many hard core fans you had (because only the hard core ones are gonna’ stay out late on a Wednesday night to watch you play).
The Sunset Club had a cool vibe. It wasn’t a “pay-to-play” club and was well off the beaten path of the glitzy, money oriented West Hollywood and Los Angles rock venues. It featured local bands and national acts of all kinds from Jazz to Rock but we realized pretty quickly that it wasn’t going too get much better for us at this place in spite of the fact they had live music five nights a week.
The Sunset Club was closed on Sundays; Monday night was reserved for Sports TV and live bands performed on stage Tuesday- Saturday only. All Saturday’s were reserved for the house band, “The Trip”. Fridays were for national acts. Oh, and ‘The Trip’ played all the specialty nights like Halloween and New Years Eve.
Yikes, we knew that besides wowing them musically, we would have a long wait for a prime spot as an opening act on a Friday considering the number of bands already in line.
Robert created another one of his incredible art-flyers for this gig advertising our show at the Sunset Club and our previous shows at Club 88, The Whiskey, and U.C.L.A. Cooperage Hall. You could stare at the thing for hours… I’m staring at it right now. Make it stop… HELP!
The club had a nice stage and we played well, but we didn’t get much of a crowd. Most of our friends lived in Hollywood or West of that. But seeing how as we were out in Sierra Madre and near Lola’s house (Lola my ex-girlfriend), I knew I could count on her to bring in a few people and she did. She came through better than expected and saved the night. The band even dedicated our new song to her; a cover of Elton John’s, “Dirty Little Girl” Hey, after-all, Lola was the one who broke up with me.
Notice that on November 19th, Spencer Davis is appearing at the Sunset. You may recognize the name from the 1960’s, and the Spencer Davis group who were very popular in the U.K. Their big hit was “Gimme Some Lovin’”. Steve Winwood played in that band until 1967 and then left to start “Traffic.
After the Spencer Davis group broke up in 1969, Davis moved to California and recorded an acoustic album with Peter Jameson, It’s Been So Long for MediArts in mid-1971. He followed it up with a solo album Mousetrap for United Artists, produced by and featuring ‘Sneaky Pete’ Kleinow. Neither album sold. Soon after, he moved back to the U.K. and formed a new Spencer Davis Group and signed with Vertigo Records.
‘Gimme Some Lovin’ by Spencer Davis Group
Another band of note performing on Friday, November 4, is “Jack, Mack and the Heart Attack” featuring Max Carl Gronenthal, the current lead singer of the classic rock band Grand Funk Railroad.
Max spent several years as the keyboardist and lead singer for the southern rock band 38 Special. In 1982 he formed a 60s R&B cover band, which was eventually named Jack Mack and the Heart Attack. Featuring a four piece horn section, this project played classic R&B, Soul and also incorporated some Max Carl-penned original R&B-styled songs into their repertoire, including the semi-classic “Cardiac Party.” Their Thursday night residency at the Club Lingerie in Hollywood was legendary.
Another long-term music veteran on the calendar is Billy Vera (born William Patrick McCord, a singer and songwriter since the 1960s, his most successful record coming with “At This Moment“, a US number 1 hit in 1987. He continues to perform with his group Billy Vera & the Beaters. Vera was born in Riverside, California, and is the son of the radio and television announcer Bill McCord. His mother, singer Ann Ryan, was a member of the Ray Charles Singers backing Perry Como on his TV show and his hit records.
Other notable acts at the Sunset club: