Ken Leighton noon, Nov. 19
Like Dad, Like Daughter: Darius & Cleopatra Degher July 18 @Indigo
Darius Degher was a postmodern eclectic long before it was cool, fronting the psychedelic 1980s San Diego band Darius and the Magnets (“With those cool haircuts!”), who released an EP and then a single on Big Time Records of Australia.
The Magnets frequently showcased the sitar, a sound forever reminiscent of the sixties, thanks to George Harrison and his teacher, master player Ravi Shankar, a longtime Encinitas resident.
“After playing the Spirit club in 1983, we graffitied ‘Darius and the Magnets’ on the cement by the club entrance,” says former lead Magnet Darius Degher. “[Spirit operator] Jerry Herrera was so pissed, he banned us from the place until we got the paint off.”
Part of the west coast “paisley underground,” the haircut-heavy band promoted their drifty psychedelic sounds via gloriously goofy sitar-and-Stick drenched videos like “Saturday at 3:00 P.M.” and “Don’t You Feel Like Me,” both staples of stoner programming like MTV’s Basement Tapes and 120 Minutes.
Degher went on to play and record with Warren Zevon (Sentimental Hygiene, Bad Karma, etc), before embarking on a solo career and releasing several CDs, beginning with Cardboard Confessional (Gold Castle/Capitol Records).
Several of his CDs still feature the sitar. “I do still feel pretty good about those sitar parts,” says Degher, who once played the instrument on a Warren Zevon song. “It’s funny, I almost sold it when we first moved to Europe, but Ravi Shankar’s sitar tech talked me out of it, when I was trying to sell it to him. That’s one of three encounters that I’ve had with the great Ravi Shankar, without ever meeting him. It was also his son Shuba, now deceased, who taught me how to play, in a UCLA ethnomusicology class. And his daughter went to my old high school, San Dieguito High.”
The video for the Cardboard Confessional song “White Boy Raving” was aired on MTV’s 120 Minutes show, making Billboard Magazine’s Top Twenty Video List. His second solo CD, Garage Sale of the Soul, was released on F-Hole Records in 1997.
“In 1998, I moved to my wife’s native Sweden to raise our family,” says Degher. “I taught college creative writing, and continue to do so online, and I began writing poetry.” He was also the singer and songwriter in the alt-country-ish Burning Bridges, of Malmo, Sweden, whose CD Poor Man’s Vacation (and other Tales of the Wild and the Weary) was released in 2004.
Having recently relocated the whole family back to Leucadia, Degher says “I just missed home. Leucadia is my little paradise. After living and traveling in various other places in the world, I’ve come to see my old hometown as the shiniest jewel.”
Degher’s newest Magnet is his 20 year-old daughter Cleopatras Degher, who's about to release her own debut EP, Restrung. “She was raised in Sweden,” says Degher, “and went to a music high school, where she picked up a lot more of a rock and roll style…she was playing in a power trio for awhile.”
Says Cleopatra, “I called the record Restrung, because that’s how I felt when I got back to California. Just like a guitar with brand new strings.” Songs from the EP have already earned airplay on the KPRI Homegrown Hour.
Produced by her father Darius, mixed and mastered by Denis Degher (Donovan, Dusty Springfield, Brian Setzer), the EP features the drums of Phil Leavitt (7Horse and Dada) as well as the fiddle, mandolin, and lap steel of Don Teschner (late of Rod Stewart’s touring bands).
Darius Degher launched his new full-length The Coyote Cantos at the E Street Cafe in Encinitas on July 14, backed up on vocals and guitar by his daughter Cleopatra. His first full-length in around eight years, it was mostly recorded at Leucadia’s own Little Parthenon Studio.
Cleopatra Degher will perform songs from her new EP, backed by her dad Darius, for a Listen Local showcase at Hotel Indigo on July 18.