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Paul Mann: Chris Shiflett Returns Home for CD Release Party

He plays a smooth set at Velvet Jones with his band, Dead Peasants

Chris Shiflett is most well known as being the lead guitar player for the past decade for one of America’s most popular contemporary rock bands, Foo Fighters. But his show July 13 at Velvet Jones was a homecoming of sorts, to debut his new CD, Chris Shiflett and the Dead Peasants.

The recording features a new path for the formidable ax man into the honky-tonk world of pedal steel guitars and rockabilly roots of his self-described mentors, such as Johnny Cash, Gene Vincent and Eddie Cochran.

The CD actually has more in common with his stint in the American punk band No Use for a Name than the polished pop hits of Foo Fighters. While showcasing his songwriting and versatile guitar skills, the recording also features a wealth of contributions from legendary performers including Davey Faragher (Elvis Costello and The Imposters, Jenny Lewis and John Hiatt) on bass, Greg Leisz (Wilco, Lucinda Williams and Whiskeytown) on pedal steel, Stevie Blacke (Beck, Weezer and Colbie Caillat) on violin and mandolin, Eddie Perez (Dwight Yoakam) on guitar, and Audra Mae on backing vocals.

The current touring band includes Santa Barbara local Luke Tierney on bass, Eric Skodis on drums and Derek Silverman on keyboards. Silverman was also central to the new CD recording project.

Shiflett began performing in high school with the Santa Barbara glam rock band Lost Kittenz. That band, a staple in the glory days of the local music scene, also spawned the hit band Sugarcult. Much of the audience at the Velvet Jones show was a who’s who of successful musicians from decades of locally spawned rock acts.

In typical low-key Santa Barbara style, they mingled anonymously in the crowd with local music fans. The band played a strong versatile set, composed of tracks from their self-titled CD, including a cover of an obscure Joe Strummer classic, “Burning Lights.” Click here to hear a free stream of the new album.

Santa Ynez resident Wil Ridge played a smoking opening set, with his own brand of American roots rock music. The impressive singer and songwriter showcased his talents with his tight touring band. His gritty style sometimes brings to mind a bluesy Bruce Springsteen, while at others a more Blasters-like rockabilly sound seems to surface.

In addition to Ridge playing guitar and harmonica, the band includes Ray Fortune on lead guitar, Graham Palmer on bass and Todd Rosenberg on drums.

— L. Paul Mann is a Noozhawk contributor.

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