By Jeff Gould
On Sunday March 8th, 2015, a large crowd flocked to “Belly Up Tavern” in Solana Beach for a night of great American folk rock and country music, and flawless entertainment. Gracing the stage with their enormous talent…Dead Rock West, an eclectic folk rock band featuring the beautifully orchestrated harmonies of Cindy Wasserman and Frank Lee Drennen, along with the extremely talented Dave Carpenter from Rodger Hodgson’s band on bass and DJ Bonerate of the band X on the drums. In a set that featured several tributes to the band’s biggest influence, the Everly Brothers, Dead Rock West proved that good old fashioned American talent can’t be beat when it comes to great music.
In anticipation of the band’s 3d album release, which will showcase the band’s Everly Brothers cover songs, the 11 song set list at Belly Up was filled with harmonious vocals, epic bass lines, and addictive drum beats. In the words of the band’s guitarist and vocalist, Frank, this band “changes the dynamic” of the traditional Everly Brothers style of music Americana, while still paying homage to “America’s most famous and influential duo in history.”
Set against the moonlit beaches of San Diego County, “Belly Up” is quite the venue. The wood-laden tavern, highlighting a beautifully arranged stage and incredible acoustics, set the stage for an exciting night of fun and musical memorization.
Dead Rock West’s set opened with the band’s slow-building, but heavily blues-influenced rock beat, “Ain’t No Grave”. Each member of the band had their moment to shine, but this is where Cindy Wasserman truly won over the crowd with her flawless vocal talent and her perfect onstage chemistry with Drennen on guitar and singing beside her. Dead Rock West showed that they know how to balance a show with proper pacing, and each song perfectly flowed and complimented the band’s gifted array of talented musicians. They followed their intro with “This is a Place”, and Everly Brothers’ hit “Gone Gone Gone”. The crowd really reacted well to the band’s unique take on the historic duo, spinning a different perspective in regards to lyrics, as the band’s male/female harmonies really do take the songs in a different level of emotion. With the band’s renditions of other Everly hits, like “Kathy’s Clown” and “I Used to Love You”, the crowd was hooked, and also got a taste of Dead Rock West’s original songs, such as “All I Know”, “More Love”, and “Like Strangers”. “The Price of Love”, which featuring an epic bass solo by the very gifted, Dave Carpenter, was the band’s highest moment in the show. Each member had a chance to shine and show off on the stage. Drummer, DJ Bonebrake showed off his talent in the band’s final song, “Burning House of Love”, while the crowd cheered and whistled.
So what’s the come for Dead Rock West? The band is set to release their Everly Brothers tribute album in mid-July. Featuring all-live recordings and special guest guitarist Elliot Easton of The Cars, the band is ready to debut a work in progress nearly 5 years in the making. Next, they will be spending the majority of their efforts touring the country and bringing their eclectic harmonies and raucous beats to audiences everywhere. For this band, it’s been a long evolution process. From Frank and Cindy’s first meeting and collaboration in 1998, the talent at the core of Dead Rock West has always remained, while their songwriting and stage presence has continued to evolve and grow in the years since. Drennen points out, “the sound that we had, we immediately resonated with, [and] it just felt really good.” Touring is their primary focus here on out. They’re ready to get to work, and get back to what the music is all about. Jokingly, lead singer Cindy Wasserman adds, “and make money!” Following a few chuckles, the band humbly points out that their main focus is in doing what they love: touring and bringing their music to the crowds that come to support them. Pointing out special thanks to DJ Bonebrake, Elliot Easton, Dave Alvin, Rob Wasserman, and countless others, the band notes that they wouldn’t be where they are without the support from the artists who have helped them along the way.
If you have the chance to catch Dead Rock West live in concert, I highly suggest you make the trip and see them in person. These guys have a great on-stage chemistry, and their passion for the music that they create flows throughout the room. You can catch the band’s new album, “It’s Every Time”, on July 17th. To find more info, such as show dates and band info, or to find more music from Dead Rock West go to www.deadrockwest.com.
Images – Brian Tierney