D.A. & the Hitmen

Paul Alvarado: Guitar (acoustic), Guitar (electric) | Jaime Luna: Drums | Lance Dieckmann: Harmonica, Vocals | Bob Prater: Bass guitar

Genre: Blues & Soul, Jazz, Rock

RIYL: Walter Trout, Roomful of Blues, Charlie Musselwhite, NRBQ, the Paladins

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Inception: San Diego, 2001

Influences: Paul Butterfield, the Fabulous Thunderbirds, Roomful of Blues, Stevie Ray Vaughan and Double Trouble, Johnny Winter, Walter Trout


Homegrown blues guitarist Paul Alvarado, 49, says he has been playing music for over 30 years. In 2003, he thought his band D.A. & the Hitmen could use a career jump start. He hired a Phoenix-area company called Talent 2K. He later said he wished he hadn't. "I just want other bands to know they should stay away from Talent 2K, period," he said.

"I came across their ad three years ago in a magazine. It said, 'Let us shop your demo.' " Alvarado sent in his demo, and he got a letter back from Talent 2K president Carlo K. Oddo that reads, "We receive over 100 demos per week, and we only select a limited amount of new clients a month. You have been accepted and pass all of our screening procedures.... If you are serious about making it in the music industry, call me as soon as possible."

Alvarado says, "We picked program number 2. For $450 they say they contact 15 record labels and five management firms. If you pay $995, which was the most expensive, they contact 35 record companies and 20 managers."

Alvarado said he signed up with Talent 2K because of a written promise that said, "If we do not get you an offer within 240 days, we will refund your money in full, no questions asked."

Alvarado has a signed agreement with Talent 2K dated February 5, 2003. He said no managers or record companies have called. He said he even ponied up an additional $200 in June of last year.

"They sent me a letter saying they were real close to getting a deal and that they wanted to send our demo to another 35 companies, but they needed another $200. I figured what do I have to lose but another $200."

But there were no record deals. No bites from managers.

"The 240 days were over by November." But the money-back refund did not appear.

"There was no communication. We called and left messages. We wrote e-mails. They ceased to have any contact with me. There was also a letter sent from my lawyer that they never responded to."

Oddo returned a call to me saying he would have no comment on the record.

Alvarado said that, on the advice of his attorney, he plans to go to Arizona to file a small-claims-court suit against Oddo and Talent 2K.

D.A. & the Hitmen's CD Looking Past the Blues was nominated at the 2003 San Diego Music Awards for "Best Blues CD."

-- "Blurt,'' 11-11-04

Lance Dieckmann -- lead & background vocals and harmonica: Born and raised in San Diego, Lance is a respected vocalist and blues harp player. Lance began his musical career as a power rock vocalist with bands such as Archer, Alley Rat, and Gridlock, where he opened for national acts such as Blue Oyster Cult, Pat Travers and Fog Hat, and others. He sings with power and deep conviction with a formidable range.

Paul Alvarado -- lead and rhythm guitar: An Encinitas native, Paul leans toward the heavier electric side of the blues. Strongly influenced by Johnny Winter, Jimi Hendrix, and Carlos Santana, Paul started playing guitar at age 8 and joined his first band at age 15. Paul has played in many San Diego and North County bands, including the Bluesmatics, Santa Fe Blues Line, and the Blue Ravens.

Jaime Luna -- drums: Hailing from North County, Jaime has been playing out for almost 20 years. He is known as a well-rounded drummer as shown through his versatile style and his ability to play all types of music. He’s played simultaneously with a variety of bands like the Rudies and Groove Lab. Jaime has also played with Phat Beat Squad, the Michael Bliss Band, Latin Express, and the Blue Ravens.

Bob Prater -- bass: Bob Prater has been making music for most of his life. Playing upright and electric bass in surf and rock bands in the '60s; blues, country, and swing bands in the '70s; rock and Top-40 bands in the '80s; blues, jazz, and swing in the '90s, Bob has become a versatile player capable of producing many styles.


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