One woman's fight to bring new, young talent to Hermosa Beach has resulted in a music showcase at Suzy's on Aviation Boulevard.
"The point is to get good, original music out in the South Bay," said Genie Davis of the management company Real Talent and orchestrator of the Real Talent Showcase.
Davis considers herself an artists' advocate and so the $7 cover charge paid by the slow trickle of patrons at Suzy's on Sunday went straight to the musicians' pockets. Davis explained that in Los Angeles, for example, "it's basically pay to play at most of the venues," but she wants emerging talent to benefit financially, as well as artistically, from her shows. And though Sunday's crowd was small, Davis said the showcase is growing.
Kellie Lee, a Texan now based in Orange County, was the first artist to hit the stage with her acoustic guitar and Brittany Brdecka on backup acoustic and electric guitar. Lee mirrored Alanis Morissette in style, but had a more upbeat tone.
Melissa Trinchere, who has performed throughout the Inland Empire and Los Angeles, changed the vibe with a keyboard set. Her jazzy voice proved very versatile. As a gifted storyteller, Trinchere's music demanded attention, like the darkly atmospheric "She Always Gets What She Wants."
Nicole Davis, a Redondo Beach native, covered Hank Williams' "Your Cheatin' Heart," but her song "Damaged Goods" was the most touching and provocative as her voice gained a power not heard in the rest of her performance.
The Steel Toed Slippers, an offbeat trio reminiscent of the Red Hot Chili Peppers, stole the show in a grand finale. Will Nicoll on lead vocals and guitar, Bobby Amirkhan on bass and vocals, and Matt Moss on drums completely changed the energy in the room with their full, funky sound.
Engaging with the audience, the band kept a goofy and carefree attitude on stage. Its cover of Jimi Hendrix's "Hey Joe" included a seemingly impromptu musical interlude. Even the origin of the band's name is organic: Nicoll said that he suffered a foot injury from a dropped amplifier and that inspired the moniker.
As the final triumphant act of the summer's first showcase, Steel Toed Slippers embodied homegrown, independent music--the kind of music that Davis wants to save.
The house wasn't packed, but the musicians were committed to the showcase cause. As for Davis, she said she hopes more musicians will get involved. The Real Talent Showcase continues on the first Sunday of each month, with no show July 4. In addition to the Suzy shows, the showcase will also be held at The Shore on June 21, July 19 and Aug. 23.