When ex-Paladin Dave Gonzalez plays a CD-release show at the Casbah Friday night with his new “Texas funk” band the Stone River Boys, he will in effect be honoring his San Diego roots by performing at one of the venues that was significant to the start of his career.
In 1982, rock promoter Tim Mays was the Paladins’ first manager. Mays’s connections in L.A. and abroad helped launch the band on a trajectory that would culminate in more than one million miles spent on the road over the next two decades.
“We played a lot of gigs for Tim Mays. He did [shows at the] Adams Avenue Theater, and he went on to open up the Casbah. He was the main guy in San Diego.”
The Paladins were a year or so ahead of the rockabilly revival. In step with L.A. roots act the Blasters, the Paladins emerged during an era that also produced X, Los Lobos, and San Diego’s Beat Farmers. It was 1982. The Stray Cats hadn’t yet hit, and the Paladins, with their Link Wray meets Carl Perkins vibe, were still something of a novelty in area venues such as the Skeleton Club on Market Street near downtown and Bodie’s on University Avenue.
Jim McInnes remembers the first time he saw the Paladins. “I said, these guys have really got this thing. They played rockabilly. They really got it.” McInnes, a local rock jock at then-powerhouse KGB-FM, played Paladins records on his radio show and invited them to perform at the station’s Tuesday night Homegrown shows at My Rich Uncle’s near SDSU.
“You didn’t need a rhythm guitar player,” says McInnes, “because Dave Gonzalez did the work of two guys.” Gonzalez would eventually rank in Guitar Player magazine’s Top 101 Unsung Guitar Heroes in 2007.
But Gonzalez says that it was only through a chance meeting with a like-minded North County musician that the Paladins came to be in the first place. “I met Thomas Yearsley back when we were both seniors in high school.” In 1978, Gonzalez’s parents moved to Encinitas from East L.A.; he graduated from San Dieguito High School.
“Then I met Whit Broadly.” Broadly, a local, joined the band and gave them their name, taken from a popular television western of the 1960s. “He knew Tim Mays, he knew Dan McLain, and he knew all these other cats, and they took us under their wings and the next thing you know, we were playing roots music."