By Andrew Gilhooley / 411
Rockabilly music is still alive and kicking in California, and this Saturday The Paladins will be in Santa Cruz to prove it.
Based in San Diego, The Paladins is on the verge of celebrating its 20th anniversary and has toured both nationally and internationally with Los Lobos and the late Stevie Ray Vaughan, to name but two.
The word “rockabilly” may instantly conjure up nostalgic imges of ’50s styles, classic cars and teenagers in love, but what exactly is rockabilly music? American Music magazine defines rockabilly as the music from the mid-’50s where country music met the blues, eventually to evolve into rock ‘n’ roll. With its distinctive twangy guitar licks, slap upright bass and snare-heavy beat, rockabilly is, in short, pure good-time music.
The Paladins’ sound combines traditional rockabilly with blues and country to produce music that has earned it the description of “one of the most powerful roots rocking groups in the nation” by the Los Angeles Times.
The band was founded by guitarist Dave Gonzalez, who has been a devotee of ’50s music since an early age. His grandmother gave him his first B.B. King record when he was in eighth grade, and from then on he harbored an ambition “to play an old guitar through an old amp and drive an old pickup truck.”
In The Paladins, he gets to demonstrate the full range of his guitar style, drawing on not only rockabilly but also jazz and blues influences to help form the band’s characteristic sound. He says, “we are constantly searching out old records for ideas and inspiration; this is a lot of the sound production and arrangements The Paladins are famous for.”
The rhythm section of The Paladins is drummer Brian Fahey and upright bass player Joe Jazdewski. Originally from New York, Fahey studied under jazz legend Pat Dama, and cut his professional teeth with a Version of Bill Ha1ey’s Comets. He had already toured nationally with artists such as Chuck Berry and Bo Diddley when in 1989 he was asked to join The Paladins.
Jazdewski began playing upright bass at age 7, standing on a chair so he could reach the instrument. A long time fan of The Paladins, one of Jazdewski’s biggest influences is the band’s original bass player, Tom Yearsley. In 1997, Jazdewski broke his wrist and had to take a few months off from touring with the James Harman Band. By coincidence, Yearsley left The Paladins at this time and Jazdewski received a phone call from Gonzalez asking him to be his replacement.
He says, “I never dreamed that one day I might be able to play in The Paladins!”
The Paladins has built its career on three principles: quality; integrity and tradition. In the words of Fahey “The Paladins is about a lifestyle and deep affection and appreciation of American roots music, culture and style. The music we play and the songs we write are the way we live every day” ‘
First published in “411”, The Salinas Californian, September 19, 2002
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