By Andrew Gilhooley / 411
This Saturday, a Salinas-based band with the unlikely name of Bodacious Wah Wah will be playing at the Moss Landing Inn. There’s nothing strange about their music, however; in fact the band guarantees that you’ll hear at least one of your favorite songs during the performance. With a song list that spans five decades, several genres and dozens of artists, their claim seems quite justified.
The three members of Bodacious Wah Wah, John Noble (guitar), Pat Steele (bass) and Gilbert Rosas (drums), have all been friends since school days; Noble and Steele met in second grade at Los Padres Elementary School. The fact that the band is only a trio makes their tackling of material by much larger bands like Steely Dan and Santana all the more impressive. According to Noble, the band tries to get back to the musical ethos of the 1970s, “when the members of bands could really play their instruments well; when musicianship was really important.”
Curiously enough, all three members of the band began their musical careers as drummers while at grade school. The incident which decided which of them would eventually take up permanent residence on the band’s drum stool came when they were all in 7th grade. One afternoon, the three were in Steele’s family’s garage, when they hit upon the idea of combining Rosas’ and Steele’s drum kit into one big, double-bass-drum kit like the big rock bands played. When Rosas sat down to play, the other two watched him and thought, “Hey, man… we better pick up some different instruments because Gilbert is tearing it UP!”
Although Noble, Steele and Rosas remained close friends through high school (all attended Alisal High), they never played in a serious band together. Rosas and Steele both played drums in various local bands, whereas Noble had by this time switched to guitar. The three would occasionally get together at weekends to jam, and on a couple of occasions played gigs as the Free Radical Institute, with Steele on bass. However, nothing serious happened until around April 2004 when, according to Noble, “our musical skills had all caught up with each other, and at the same time all our other individual projects went dormant.”
The three began practicing in earnest, drawing material from the music they had grown up with. “We all grew up in the 70s and 80s,” said Noble, “and listened to all kinds of music; not just the music of the time but older stuff too, like Hendrix. This is the music we play at our shows because it’s what people remember, what really entertains them.” Gradually the band built up a repertoire of songs and started to book gigs. The name of the band came from Rosas who, every time Noble prepared to take a solo during rehearsals, would say “Let me hear that bodacious wah-wah!”
The band is currently looking to expand in two directions. Firstly, says Noble, they are looking for new places to play, especially somewhere in Salinas, where there is little live music at present. In the near future too, the band is hoping to record a CD, possibly with some original material. In the meantime, check them out at Moss Landing this Saturday. Bodacious Wah Wah is not a name you’re likely to forget in a hurry, and it looks like it will also be one you will be hearing a lot more of in the months to come.
First published in “411”, The Salinas Californian, July 22, 2004
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