If you’ve ever wondered what red, red wine Neil Diamond was actually singing about all those years, you’re not alone. And reading that Adele and Lady Gaga demand bottles of wine backstage, we thought to ask some of L.A.’s local musical talents if they’ve switched from PBR and tequila shots to swirling, sniffing and sipping before a show. While we can’t confirm that wine has replaced all backstage buzz-drivers, the fact is, these bands definitely keep a corkscrew handy and like to enjoy a glass or two around town.
Band: Banta Band
About: We are a six piece indie-rock band and we all live in Echo Park, Los Angeles.
Favorite wine (from Sharaya Mikael, vocals and guitar): We all really like Apothic, particularly the Apothic Red by winemaker Debbie Juergenson (it’s a blend of Zinfandel, Syrah, Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon). We are all broke musicians so finding a good bottle for under $15 is a win.
Best place in L.A. to drink it or buy it: El Prado wine bar in Echo Park. You can run into us here more than a few nights a week. This is usually where we end up unwinding after rehearsals. The bartenders are great and it has that community vibe where, “Everybody knows your name, and you’re always glad you came,” and yes, we just sang that out loud.
Latest album/release: Our EP is available now on iTunes and Bandcamp. We are currently recording a new EP, which will be out in February 2015, coinciding with our Monday night residency at The Satellite.
Upcoming shows: We recently played the Echo, but are taking a writing/recording break until our February residency at The Satellite.
Band: Black Crystal Wolf Kids
About: Black Crystal Wolf Kids is the world’s first indie-rock tribute band—basically, we merge the party vibe of the best ’80s tribute bands with the best current-and-past indie rock, meaning we’ll throw a synchronized, interactive dance party to, say, “Pumped Up Kicks,” or have an audience shout-along to Arcade Fire’s “Wake Up.” Three of the members—guitarist/bandleader Jeff Miller, drummer Gregg Levinson, and bassist Marc Gasway—are lifelong Angelenos, and Gregg and Marc actually played hockey together in the valley as kids before reconnecting via the band!
Favorite wine: Guitarist Mark Pedante and keyboardist Valerie Taylor are the resident wine-people (wine-os? Oenophile just sounds too schmancy.) Some recs from them: David Arthur (“bomb ass Cab-Sauvs”), Far Niente (“maybe the best Chardonnay I’ve had”), Nickel & Nickel (“I have an ’07 Cab from Oakville!”), and Justin (“Isosceles = very yes”)
Best place in L.A. to drink it or buy it: When we’re going out to drink wine, Covell’s usually where we’ll end up on the Eastside: Matt Kaner is a friend of the band and we’ve had some great tastes there. For the westside, it’s all about Bodega, as much for the vibe as for the wines. And Valerie lives in the valley; she’s all about Flask, the wine bar/tasting room on Ventura. Look to K&L Wines in Hollywood, and our friend Etty also owns Plonk Wine Club — a delivery service that has amazing wines on the cheap (she’s got a killer palate, too: you can ask her for suggestions and she’ll hook it up.)
Latest album/release: Since we’re a cover band we don’t have anything available on record, but our YouTube page is updated occasionally with cool stuff from shows.
Band: Chrome Canyon
About: The music is some genre west of electro and east of prog rock, north of funk and south of krautrock—in translation: analog synth-heavy stuff that people describe as a soundtrack to a film that doesn’t exist, which I think is a perfect way of thinking about it. I think growing up in L.A.—being privy to the city’s relationship between nature and human manipulation—has definitely made an impression, which is present in my music. I also remember taking trips to downtown in my early years to places like the Bonaventure Hotel, with its glass elevators on the outside, and the Bradbury Building, where Blade Runner was shot. Those became places that I identified with, and I think have this retro-futurist vibe that is in a lot of what I do.
Favorite wine: I’ll try just about anything, but I like citrus and tropical fruit, mineral-driven, whites from California’s Central Coast—especially from Larry Tercero, he makes a killer Grenache Blanc and Viognier.
Best place in L.A. to drink it or buy it: Larry’s wines are at Lincoln Fine Wines in Venice or ya gotta head to his tasting room in Los Olivos, CA—totally worth a trip.
Latest album/release: Elemental Themes – on vinyl and digital (I’d recommend the vinyl).
Upcoming shows: Just finished a run of some shows but I’ll be doing some more soon.
Band: Dust Bowl Revival
About: We’re a Venice, California-based collective that merges old school bluegrass, gospel, pre-war blues and the hot swing of New Orleans. We love that this city has a lot of beauty and peace in it and L.A. has been very good to Dustbowl! We have a lot of loyal and enthusiastic fans here, making it a special environment to be able to record a live album in.
Favorite wine (from Liz Beebe, vocals, washboard): My absolute favorite grape is Tempranillo. I really love earthy, medium bodied, not-too-dry, Spanish and South American wines. Collectively, we try regional wines on tour whenever possible.
Best place in L.A. to drink it or buy it: Silverlake Wine! This shop is the best; they are so knowledgeable, passionate and unpretentious. As someone who’s still in the learning phase of how to ask for what I like, they can read through my intermediate jargon and get me something new, delicious and interesting.
Latest album/release: All our albums are available on our website as well as via iTunes—we have a new release coming in 2015.
Upcoming shows: A live album recording party at the Troubadour on December 4th—so come drink wine and get immortalized shouting along to the tunes.
About: I’m a Silver Lake-based singer/songwriter. LA Weekly, recently described my sound as a blend of “vintage Laurel Canyon aesthetic with a compellingly modern folk-rock sound, with plenty of witty vocal asides to boot.” I feel pretty free in California, I think moving here freed up my music. I feel rooted in nature, despite my urban lifestyle. The different terrains, and the wild architecture and landscaping is very inspiring to me. It’s a city that cared to please itself with design and beauty.
Favorite wine: I have been drinking a lot of Malbec. I also like dry reds from France, though I don’t think I repeat a bottle very often. I do, however, like The Prisoner.
Latest album/release: Automechanic on iTunes.
Upcoming shows: None at the moment, I am home writing now.