The 1980s was a very vibrant era in Sacramento music scene history, as the city was filled with many more live music venues than there are today. Every night of the week there were places to see local music all over town. Many bands made their living playing popular cover songs throughout the week, but a handful of bands attracted followings by mixing in their own original songs that went along the new wave craze of the era. Some of those bands, The Features, Numonix and Mod Philo will be regrouping for a reunion show at Old Ironsides on Friday, August 9. SacTV.com is featuring videos of these performers throughout the week.
One of the top local bands of the early to mid 80s in Sacramento was The Features, who included members (guitarist Waylin Carpenter and bassist Vinnie Pantaleoni) of the nationally signed act Steel Breeze. Since they had the same manager, they played many shows together. The Features were regulars at some of the key new wave venues in town such as Fat Fonzie’s, Lord Beaverbooks and Oasis Ballroom. They came very close to getting a record deal with A&M Records after opening for several major acts that came through town, including R.E.M. Singer Johnny Pride of The Features was and remains friends with R.E.M. members, who he knew growing up in Georgia. Johnny currently lives in Atlanta, but comes to Sacramento every few years to reunite and perform with his bandmates.
The Features were played on "rock of the 80s" station KPOP in Sacramento, which helped them have a big selling album in town called Up Up Side Side, their only release. From there Johnny and other members moved to Los Angeles and became Pride In Peril. His friendship with actor Val Kilmer landed the band in the Oliver Stone movie The Doors. Pride In Peril performed the 60s hit "Eve of Destruction" as an opening act for The Doors in the film. These days The Features talk about possibly recording again in the future, but for now are happy just playing live again. Their current line-up includes original members except for drummer Jim Otto. Current drummer Curtis Blankenship played with both The Features and Pride In Peril back in the 80s. Curtis Hilliar remains on keyboards and shares vocals with Johnny Pride.
Numonix also developed a local following back in the 80s and was the first band in town to introduce electronic sampling at live shows. Harrison Price was the founder of the band and went on to have local radio hits on KWOD and FM 102. Harrison will be singing and playing guitar with Numonix at the Old Ironsides show, while KFBK radio host Kitty O’Neal and her husband Kurt Spataro will also be performing with the band.They were members of the band Secret Service back in the 80s. Other Numonix members include Maurice Fitzmaurice, Ben Harvey, Bob LoRusso and Jerry Pompei.
In addition to these nostaligic bands will be DJ Scott Bercier, also known as "The French Rocker." He was well known as a club DJ in the 80s and was heard on KWOD during its top 40 era in the 80s, doing live remote shows from night clubs. He will be spinning 80s dance classics throughout the night.
SacTV has been researching the history of the local scene and compiling video footage and interviews that cannot be found elsewhere. Part of the reason for this history project is that there just has not been enough Sacramento video documentation, especially of local music history, showing up on YouTube. The scene has only produced a handful of national acts over the years, but every city has its own deeper history of local and regional talent. The more Sacramento preserves its local history, the more its identity as a music city will become familiar to Sacramentans, which helps tell a fun cultural story and inspire more musical talent.