The Red Light District isn’t your grandmother’s band—unless, of course, your grandmother happened to see The Doors perform at the Whisky A Go Go in Los Angeles in 1966. The local four-piece’s rock music swirls with a grinding groove and is punctuated by lead singer Steve Sam’s poetic lyricism, guttural cries and leather pants. Sam and lead guitarist Galdino Guijosa (aka Nano) went to high school together in Salinas, but the two didn’t dream of forming a band until they found themselves living together years later in Monterey. According to the wild-haired Sam, the move to Santa Cruz a few years ago was inevitable.
“We decided to move to a place where people pay attention to music,” he says. With the goal of crafting a sound that encompassed the 1960s rock and funk that Sam and Guijosa fell in love with as kids, the group grew to include Dan Leitner on keys and Jaime Sanchez on drums. But, the friends quickly learned that being in a band isn’t always easy. “The biggest detriment to the local scene is how focused the cops are on breaking up college parties,” says Sam. “We were doing a Halloween party, had rented mariachi costumes and were about to hit our first note when the show was busted.” Undeterred, The Red Light District has continued playing shows around the Bay Area and has developed quite a fan base. Frontman Sam has a very Jim Morrison-like take on music. “Live music is a very communal experience,” he says. “People lose themselves in the moment into a greater identity. Humankind has used music and theater and usually some kind of mind-altering substance to achieve group spirituality since the beginning of society. Our show is the modern day version of that.” Fans can look forward to the band’s second EP, Dirty Magazine, set for release in the spring.
INFO: 9 p.m. Friday, Feb. 28. Blue Lagoon, 923 Pacific Ave., Santa Cruz. $5. 423-7117.