I’ve found two low-key venues to hear live music in the Conejo Valley area this year. One is actually over the hill (now don’t take that the wrong way) in Malibu – Ollie’s Duck and Dive. The setting is a little cramped: they lock the front door and stand the band up in the entry. The place is aptly name – long and narrow, with the front dominated by the bar, and most of the dinner seating actually in the enclosed patio outside. But on Saturday night the four-piece bands bring people in, and there’s a collection of steady regulars. The music is eclectic, and often loud, and dance-worthy even though they don’t play much in the way of cover music.
And – what can I say? – it’s Malibu. The people are classy, and beautiful in a self-conscious kind of way. If you sit at the bar, be sure and strike up a conversation with the tenders. They’re all good people.
The other venue is The Twisted Oak in Agoura Hills. The place has a checkered history, starting off as Moz Buddha Bar back around 2000. It was a hot pick-up joint for a while, with beautiful waitresses that would dance on the bar during the seasonal parties. The cover bands that came in drew great crowds, and the dance floor was always hopping. Unfortunately, the lead guy behind the bar seemed to have connections back in New Jersey, and the girls sometimes had morals that were a little shaky. When the joint stopped being trendy in 2005, they started Tuesday night jazz with small combos. While I wouldn’t miss it, the cultured music scene never took off.
The place was revived as a micro brewery and music club with a new investor. Roger is a great guy, and loves his brewing – everything from beer to smooth moonshine to wine. He also loves music, but it’s the dinner scene that pays the bills, and the bands on the large stage seemed to interfere with gatherings. So they knocked down the stage, opened up the bar with seating on both sides, and do something pretty much like what Ollie’s does: stand a couple of guys up in front of the brew vats. The music is eclectic, original, and really, really heart-felt. I can party at Ollie’s, but some of what goes on at The Twisted Oak can only be classified as a spiritual experience. If you want to take someone out for a light-hearted date, this is the spot on Friday nights.
Tonight they had a steel guitar and fiddle duo called Skin and Bones. While they packed up, I bought a CD out of the case, and Taylor came up to chat. Just a really classy young man with his lady-friend Stephanie. He let me rattle on about my sons, and took my compliments graciously before recommending that I come back out on September 11th to hear a couple of his friends play. I certainly look forward to it.