Left: Concert goers enjoyed a panorama of tunes ranging from a knockout rendition of “The Thrill is Gone,” performed by “John and the Love Handles” to the classy stringed traditional beat by “Los Perros” - Big X (Xavier Montes) and Los Morazas. The sweet sounds of Latin, jazz, rock, rhythm and blues, music to fall in love by, flowed through the crowd. Right: The displays bring back memories of a time when stylish men and women frequented early Santa Paula dance halls and clubs to enjoy good times and great music. Santa Paula’s Melody Hall may be gone, but the music lives on.
Melody Hall fascinating new
exhibit at the California Oil Museum
May 07, 2014
Santa Paula News
Santa Paula returned to Melody Hall Saturday with a magical concert showcasing the fascinating new exhibit at the California Oil Museum on Main Street. The performances were as varied as the notes on a scale, and as similar as the memories they inspired. The afternoon created new memories, as well, as the large crowd listened, danced, clapped and cheered for the extraordinary talent on stage.
Melody Hall: A Tribute to the Musicians of Santa Paula is the culmination of a year of research, writing and organizing. Retired Santa Paula High School History and Government Educator Ed Arguelles documented the stories of talented Santa Paula musicians and the city’s rich musical heritage.
“This is a personal love for me,” Ed Arguelles said. “Music is a major part of all our lives and we wanted the story of the musicians of Santa Paula to be seen and heard.” Melody Hall was once a popular nightclub on Main Street. “Melody Hall was the spot in Santa Paula in the 1910s and 20s,” Arguelles said. “That’s where all the cats used to go and jam. You didn’t have to leave Santa Paula to hear some really good music.”
Saturday, April 26, Melody Hall, the concert, was once again the place to be, with performers like legendary saxophone player Henry Nava, and Gil Valencia with Valencia and Friends, and also with Us Guys. “Us Guys was the hippest band in Santa Paula in the 1960s,” Arguelles said. “They haven’t played together in 47 years. This is a historic moment for us in Santa Paula.”H
Concert goers enjoyed a panorama of tunes ranging from a knockout rendition of “The Thrill is Gone,” performed by “John and the Love Handles” to the classy stringed traditional beat by “Los Perros” - Big X (Xavier Montes) and Los Morazas. The sweet sounds of Latin, jazz, rock, rhythm and blues, music to fall in love by, flowed through the crowd.
The music is still playing inside the Museum where music fans can see the stories of hard work, study, perseverance and sheer talent that compose a musician. The exhibit showcases the amazing history of Santa Paula’s musical success stories with glittering costumes, instruments, photographs, records and text. And the stories are just too good to miss.
Prolific songwriter Daniel Moore’s career is highlighted, and some of his hit records are on display. He has written hundreds of songs in his remarkable career. Moore wrote the multi-platinum hit “Shambala” and co-wrote “My Maria,” which also went platinum.
Stuart Duncan grew up in Santa Paula, and is a four-time Grammy award winner. Master of the bluegrass fiddle, banjo, guitar, and mandolin, his music is heard in films like “O Brother, Where Art Thou,” and recordings with Emmylou Harris, Elvis Costello, Yo-Yo Ma, and many others. He has found great success in many musical genres: classic, pop, and of course, country and western.
Danny Flores, who also performed as Chuck Rio, wrote the hit “Tequila.” “In five weeks it went to number one” said Ed Arguelles. In 1958 Tequila became the first rhythm and blues record to be awarded a Grammy. Flores’ group, The Champs, later counted Glen Campbell, Jimmy Seals and Dash Crofts as members.
Authentic costumes worn by the Chuck Rio band are on display at the California Oil Museum in Santa Paula, along with memorabilia of many Santa Paula Musicians. “These are all original instruments from some of Santa Paula’s greatest musicians,” Ed Arguelles said.
The displays bring back memories of a time when stylish men and women frequented early Santa Paula dance halls and clubs to enjoy good times and great music. Santa Paula’s Melody Hall may be gone, but the music lives on.
The Santa Paula Historical Society sponsored the project. The SPHS Agriculture Academy and Human Services Department assisted, with students helping work on the exhibit. The exhibit is dedicated to two music teachers: Lou Lingo and Ed Roina. The California Oil Museum is located at 1001 E. Main Street, and the Melody Hall exhibit runs from April 26 to September 7. Museum hours are 10 am - 4 pm Wednesday - Sunday.