by Scott Tuchman
The “Skull and Roses” Road to Ventura pre-festival shows chomped its way into a packed Ventura Music Hall Friday night (01-19) as The Alligators w/ special guests (16 year old phenom) Bella Rayne and Ashton Slater filling in for Stevie Ravioli, local favorites Shaky Feelin w/ badass special guest Katie Skene and UCSB’s own Dead Set 805 set the musical temperature on scorching hot!
Opening the show and straight out of UC Santa Barbara, Dead Set 805 is the headiest college band around. They’re ushering in a new generation of Deadheads and that was evident by their following with one of the largest turnouts of under 30 fans who danced and cheered as the music of the Grateful Dead filled the hall. It was exhilarating to see that the music never stops, no matter how young you are!
The Alligators pay homage to Ron “Pigpen” McKernan with lead singer Pete Carona delivering the high-octane, whiskey-soaked vocals of the often-neglected Pigpen songs that are the bedrock foundation of the Grateful Dead. Undoubtedly the highlight of the set was Bella Rayne, the Northern California 16-year-old phenom, on the guitar. Her musical chops and stage presence are years beyond her age and was a clear standout of the night.
Shaky Feelin, an original Skull and Roses band from Ventura, continued the heat with their blistering take on Grateful Dead tunes mixed with originals that kept the party going. It’s impossible not to dance and have fun watching Shaky’s front man Mark Masson, he explodes with musical joy. When fan favorite Katie Skene came on stage with her swampy blues, jam-band psychedelic sound to play with Mark, it was impossible not to be groovin’ to the music; and a night of awesome music it was!
The Skull and Roses Festival is April 19-21, 2024
The Alligator’s Pigpen: Pete Carona-vocals • J.J. Gator – bass • Steven “The Kimchee Warrior” Kim – lead guitar • Richard “Le Chomp” Kaylor – drums • Michael “Berkey Gator” Berkey – keyboards with guests Ashton Slater – rhythm guitar • Bella Rayne – guitar
Shaky Feelin: Mark Masson – vocals/lead guitar • Jeff Hiller – bass • Paul Menchaca – drums • Cameron Probst – percussion • Michael Berkey – keyboards with guest Katie Skeene – guitar/vocals
DEAD SET 805: Aidan Kockler – bass • Cassidy Fragakis – vocals, guitar • Ethan Slaman – drums, percussion • Gavin Mentz – drums • Harrison Arakawa – trombone • Jack Corliss – keys • Jordan Russo – guitar, vocals • Justin Memenas – guitar, vocals • Nico Johnson – percussion, drums