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Meez831 has it all – Monterey Herald

Monterey County-based rock band Meez is now called Meez831. So if the name Meez is confusing, at least you’ll know where his band members live and work. Founding member bassist/vocalist Rob Melendez says the band’s name is something he discovered while reading chef/journalist Anthony Bourdain’s book “Kitchen Confidential”. This is American slang for the French expression “mise en place”, translated as “things in place”. Its use in the culinary industry provides the descriptive roots of its use, referring to “the installation of a line cook, his neatly arranged supplies…”, etc.

“So I thought, let’s apply that to music,” Melendez said. “The lyrics, the songs, our musical sense, all those individual parts that go into creating something great, that’s Meez.”

Ah yes, the art of finding the right band name. You have to admit there are more confusing names. The good news is that there is a music scene thriving again here on the peninsula. The pandemic has taken its toll on venues and attendance at live music events, but it looks like things are settling back as we in the Monterey Bay Area, as well as across the country, navigate this new “living with the virus” thing. And while some people are still reluctant for various reasons, most people can go back to hanging out, listening to music and enjoying each other’s company in a public place.

“It’s nice to be able to go out and have something to practice with,” Melendez said in a brief interview the other day. “And it’s encouraging to know that there’s a new place in town, The Urban Lounge, so that’s great. A real concert hall with a stage and a sound system.

“These are encouraging times for us musicians, it seems. We just went through the pandemic and there has definitely been a drop in places to play.

Meez831 is scheduled to play Friday at Cuz’s Sportsman Club at Seaside (8 p.m., 594 Broadway Ave., no coverage) and next week Friday, March 18 at Urban Lounge (7 p.m. to 10 p.m., 1425 Munras Ave., Monterey, no coverage ). The quartet’s last concert was a CD release event for the first complete and original recording titled “Things in Place”. Initially, the 12-track disc was ready to roll in early 2020, but now wasn’t exactly the right time to do the usual release parties and play a lot live and build a strong local fanbase. The record made its way to several local radio stations and received airtime, but again, without the scenes to support the live broadcast, things stalled.

The band went ahead and planned a CD release party at Moe’s Alley in Santa Cruz in December 2021. I went up to hear them play and it was a fun night. Although it was sparsely attended, mainly because no one in the Cruz knew the band, it was a first step back in sharing their songs with audiences outside of private parties. Starting Friday, it’s safe to say that Meez831 will no longer be available to hear live. The music is a mix of classic rock inspired, melodic with high energy rock, with grunge and power pop leanings. The three songwriters, Melendez, guitarist Jason Slate and keyboardist Donnie Dickman, share lead vocals and with all three vocals, the harmonies are a treat.

“Jason and I had been playing together on and off for several years,” Melendez said. “I think we really merged about four years ago. We would get together and jam, show each other our own songs. We were kind of looking for an extra player; we didn’t just want a bassist and a guitarist. Once we found Donny and his keyboards, it not only broadened our sound, but it also brought in an additional vocalist and songwriter.

Melendez began playing bass as a teenager in 1979, learning from a local family friend in Salinas. He earned a music degree from UC San Diego 10 years later, while singing and playing with the San Diego Cardiff Reefers. As a young musician he was influenced by Paul McCartney, Jaco Pastorius and Graham Maby (Joe Jackson band). He has played with countless bands over the years, most recently with Militia of Love.

Slate, a teenager in the Los Angeles area, started playing guitar in 1972. When his family moved to Monterey County, he formed a band, Canyon, with his brothers in Big Sur. They played locally throughout the 80s. Heavily influenced by guitarists like Tommy Bolin and Jimi Hendrix, bands like Allman Brothers and Led Zeppelin, Jason began writing songs and developing a style that was both melodic and progressive. . He is best known locally for his work with young presidents, which spanned 14 years.

Dickman is a lifelong keyboardist, singer and musician who has played in bands with infamous players like George Lynch (Dokken, Lynch Mob), Benny Rietveld (Santana, Miles Davis) and Jerry Martini (Sly And The Family Stone) . He started playing music in elementary school, and in high school he was influenced by Billy Powell (Lynyrd Skynyrd), and later by Jan Hammer. He’s written and performed on albums that reached Top 20 on the Billboard charts in 2014 and 2015. Whenever guitar genius Tom Ayres is in town, he sits down with the band. He is also a member of Haley Jane and you will see him in many local bands.

Drummer Michael Kobrinsky brings his professional skills to the mix, along with an ear and a keen sense for music. He is known locally for his stints with local party/dance group The Money Band and also currently performs with Hayley Jane. His musical approach to drums takes Meez831’s level of musicality to an even higher level.

Among our many talented musicians on the peninsula, this band is worth listening to if you are a fan of original rock music with interesting lyrics. The songs tackle hot topics such as environmental change and navigating the trappings of relationships in the age of social media. There are also direct personal songs that speak of love for one’s partner as well as love for our circle of humanity. The “Things in Place” CDs will be available at the next concerts.

Let’s all get out there and support our local music venues. It would be cool to see the scene grow stronger again and become a place where all musicians, young and old, could earn a living and share their talents. And on that note, here are some smaller local events to consider. But first, for the big names at the Golden State Theater this week, ukulele virtuoso Jake Shimabukuro (Friday) and blues/rock guitarist/singer Kenny Wayne Shepherd (Wednesday), please visit www.goldenstatetheatre.com.

As we approach St. Patrick’s Day (next Thursday), there is a concert Sunday afternoon at 3 p.m. at St. Mary’s Episcopal Church by-the-Sea, presented by St. Mary’s Celtic Concert Series and the Celtic Society entitled “Passing Traditions: The Weeds and Stuart Mason Live in Concert” at St. Mary’s, 146 12th St. Pacific Grove. Two members of West Coast Celtic band Molly’s Revenge and a young prodigy play Celtic and Norse fiddle tunes, old-world mountain and American songs and original Californian compositions. Tickets are $25 adv/$28 door and for children $15 adv/$18 door, available at www.celticsociety.org. Proof of full vaccination and masks required, subject to change.

The Urban Lounge has The Next Blues Band this Friday, 7-10 p.m., no coverage. Bill Bouchard’s classic Chicago blues sound isn’t often heard around town, but hopefully that will change as venues increase bookings.

At Sly McFly’s on Cannery Row, there’s a nice run of great local bands this week, starting Thursday with Brad Wilson and the Rollin’ Thunder, blues/rock, 8:30pm; Friday, The Money Band, rock ‘n’ roll cover/dance tunes, 9 p.m.; Saturday, The Joint Chiefs, funk/acid jazz/classic R&B, 9 p.m.; Wednesday, 5Star Band, rock and soul classics, 8:30 p.m. Sly’s is known for its dance floor action, full bar and restaurant.

You might also want to check out Deja Blue, 500 Broadway Ave., Seaside where there’s R&B/rock music on Saturday afternoons (3-6pm) with Don Caruth, Anthony Cannon and Anthony King. Wednesday Jazz at Deja Blue (5-8 p.m.) features Tiffany Austin, Tammy Hall, Dan Robbins and Leon Joyce. There’s soul food, a full bar, and no cover.