18 Feb 1994
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24 Mar 1994
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6 May 1994
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15 July 1994
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18 Aug 1994
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11 Nov 1994
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17 Nov 1994
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16 Dec 1994
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10 Mar 1996
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1994​ show dates feb 18 — spike's, san francisco ca mar 24 — ace cafe, san francisco ca jul 15 — ace cafe, san francisco ca aug 18 — ace cafe, san francisco ca nov 11 — purple onion, san francisco ca nov 17 — ace cafe, san francisco ca dec 12 — ajax lounge, san jose ca

1996 show dates mar 2 — bruno's, san francisco ca mar 10 — hotel utah, san francisco ca apr 13 — hotel utah, san francisco ca may 19 — 42 degrees, san francisco ca may 29 — cat's grill & alley club, san francisco ca jun 26 — hotel utah, san francisco ca aug 7 — bruno's, san francisco ca oct 30 — julie's supper club, san francisco ca nov 13 — bruno's, san francisco ca nov 27 — julie's supper club, san francisco ca nov 30 — julie's supper club, san francisco ca dec 6 — hi-ball lounge, san francisco ca dec 11 — julie's supper club, san francisco ca dec 17 — mick's lounge, san francisco ca dec 18 — cafe du nord, san francisco ca

1997 show dates jan 3 — 11 ristorante, san francisco ca jan 4 — demarco's 23 club, brisbane ca jan 8 — julie's supper club, san francisco ca jan 15 — julie's supper club, san francisco ca feb 1 — hi-ball lounge, san francisco ca feb 12 — julie's supper club, san francisco ca feb 23 — dna lounge, san francisco ca feb 26 — julie's supper club, san francisco ca feb 27 — blues, san francisco ca mar 5 — julie's supper club, san francisco ca mar 19 — julie's supper club, san francisco ca mar 27 — cafe du nord, san francisco ca apr 9 — julie's supper club, san francisco ca apr 23 — julie's supper club, san francisco ca apr 27 — kkup, cupertino ca  may 1 — starry plough, berkeley ca may 7 — julie's supper club, san francisco ca may 15 — hi-ball lounge, san francisco ca may 21 — julie's supper club, san francisco ca jun 9 — bruno's, san francisco ca jun 11 — julie's supper club, san francisco ca jun 22 — bottom of the hill, san francisco ca jun 23 — bruno's, san francisco ca jun 25 — julie's supper club, san francisco ca jun 30 — bruno's, san francisco ca jul 4 — bottom of the hill, san francisco ca jul 4 — demarco's 23 club, brisbane ca jul 9 — 330 ritch, san francisco ca jul 12 — demarco's 23 club, brisbane ca jul 16 — julie's supper club, san francisco ca jul 21 — bruno's, san francisco ca jul 26 — demarco's 23 club, brisbane ca jul 28 — bruno's, san francisco ca jul 30 — julie's supper club, san francisco ca aug 2 — hi-ball lounge, san francisco ca aug 4— bruno's, san francisco ca aug 11 — bruno's, san francisco ca aug 14 — blues, san francisco ca aug 16 — demarco's 23 club, brisbane ca aug 18 — bruno's, san francisco ca aug 23 — demarco's 23 club, brisbane ca aug 25 — bruno's, san francisco ca aug 27 — julie's supper club, san francisco ca sep 1 — bottom of the hill, san francisco ca sep 4 — cafe du nord, san francisco ca sep 8 — bruno's, san francisco ca sep 15 — bruno's, san francisco ca sep 20 — demarco's 23 club, brisbane ca sep 22 — bruno's, san francisco ca sep 29 — bruno's, san francisco ca oct 4 — brisbane festival, brisbane ca oct 4 — demarco's 23 club, brisbane ca oct 11 — slim's, san francisco ca oct 14 — cw saloon, san francisco ca nov 9 — demarco's 23 club, brisbane ca nov 15 — demarco's 23 club, brisbane ca nov 16 — club deluxe, san francisco ca nov 23 — club deluxe, san francisco ca nov 30— club deluxe, san francisco ca dec 7 — club deluxe, san francisco ca dec 13 — demarco's 23 club, brisbane ca dec 14 — club deluxe, san francisco ca dec 21 — club deluxe, san francisco ca dec 28 — club deluxe, san francisco ca dec 31 — cafe rouge, berkeley ca

1998 show dates jan 4 — club deluxe, san francisco ca jan 10 — pat o'shea's, san francisco ca jan 11 — club deluxe, san francisco ca jan 17 — demarco's 23 club, brisbane ca jan 18 — club deluxe, san francisco jan 25 — club deluxe, san francisco feb 21 — ivy room, albany ca feb 28 — demarco's 23 club, brisbane ca mar 7 — slim's, san francisco ca mar 10 — bimbo's, san francisco ca apr 3 — starry plough, berkeley ca apr 11 — pat o'shea's, san francisco ca apr 18 —santa nella ca  apr 24 — ivy room, albany ca apr 25 — demarco's 23 club, brisbane ca may 13 — red devil lounge, san francisco ca may 21 —buffalo joe's, san diego ca may 22 — jack's sugar shack, hollywood ca may 23 — the casbah, san diego ca may 24 — the dixie bell, downey ca jun 12 — pat o'shea's, san francisco ca jun 13 — demarco's 23 club, brisbane ca jun 17 — velvet lounge, san francisco ca jun 20 — dylan's, san francisco ca jun 22 — elbo room, san francisco ca jun 27 — ivy room, albany ca jul 4 — club deluxe, san francisco ca jul 25 — transmission, san francisco ca aug 2 — fuel 44, san jose ca aug 8— horseman's club, la honda ca aug 15 — demarco's 23 club, brisbane ca aug 20 — linda's doll hut, anaheim ca aug 21 — the dixie bell, downey ca aug 22 — the dixie bell, downey ca aug 23 — blue cafe, long beach ca sep 11 — pat o'shea's, san francisco ca sep 12 — demarco's 23 club, brisbane ca sep 19 — ivy room, albany ca sep 20 — bruno's, san francisco ca sep 15 — bruno's, san francisco ca sep 20 — club deluxe, san francisco ca sep 26 — 330 ritch, san francisco ca ​ sep 22 — bruno's, san francisco ca sep 29 — bruno's, san francisco ca oct 4 — brisbane festival, brisbane ca oct 4 — demarco's 23 club, brisbane ca oct 11 — slim's, san francisco ca oct 14 — cw saloon, san francisco ca nov 9 — demarco's 23 club, brisbane ca nov 15 — demarco's 23 club, brisbane ca nov 16 — club deluxe, san francisco ca nov 23 — club deluxe, san francisco ca nov 30— club deluxe, san francisco ca dec 7 — club deluxe, san francisco ca dec 13 — demarco's 23 club, brisbane ca dec 14 — club deluxe, san francisco ca dec 21 — club deluxe, san francisco ca dec 28 — club deluxe, san francisco ca dec 31 — cafe rouge, berkeley ca

1999 show dates jan 16 — starry plough, berkeley ca jan 23 — demarco's 23 club, brisbane ca jan 24 — club deluxe, san francisco ca feb 6 — el rio, san francisco ca feb 14 — demarco's 23 club, brisbane ca feb 19 — ivy room, albany ca feb 20 — demarco's 23 club, brisbane ca feb 21 — club deluxe, san francisco ca feb 25 — the starline, fresno ca feb 26 — the foothill, long beach ca feb 27 — the casbah, san diego ca feb 28 — culver city saloon, culver city ca mar 13 — demarco's 23 club, brisbane ca mar 14 — club deluxe, san francisco ca apr 2 — ivy room, albany ca apr 3 — club deluxe, san francisco ca apr 21 — cafe du nord, san francisco ca apr 24 — demarco's 23 club, brisbane ca apr 28 — agenda lounge, san jose ca apr 29 — culver city saloon, culver city ca apr 30 — jack's sugar shack, hollywood ca may 1 — tio leo's, san diego ca may 14 — demarco's 23 club, brisbane ca may 28 — bottom of the hill, san francisco ca may 29 — el rio, san francisco ca may 29 — demarco's 23 club, brisbane ca jun 9 — last day saloon, san francisco ca jun 25 — demarco's 23 club, brisbane ca jun 26 —  ivy room, albany ca jul 3 — club deluxe, san francisco ca jul 10 — demarco's 23 club, brisbane ca jul 15 — sf zoo, san francisco ca jul 16 — sf zoo, san francisco ca jul 24 — sf zoo, san francisco ca jul 31 — last day saloon, san francisco ca aug 5 — demarco's 23 club, brisbane ca aug 13 — discmakers, san francisco ca aug 20 — rancho nicasio, nicasio ca aug 27 — bottom of the hill, san francisco ca sep 10 — slim's, san francisco ca sep 11 — club deluxe, san francisco ca sep 18 — el rio, san francisco ca sep 24 — starry plough, berkeley ca oct 8 — demarco's 23 club, brisbane ca oct 16 — demarco's 23 club, brisbane ca

San Francisco, California David Perry photo 1997

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Club Deluxe, San Francisco, California Charlene Chamberlain photo 1998

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San Francisco, California David Perry photo 1999

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San Francisco, California David Perry photo 1997

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jeff bright & the sunshine boys

san francisco ca 1994-1999

As 1993 faded, the quartet's restless nature again surfaced. Late in the year, bassist Green announced he wanted to pull out as a regular player — he had more lucrative gigs developing — but would continue as a hired hand. Coincidentally, and to explain Green's departure, as well as yet another identity shift for the band, as San Francisco's first tech bubble rapdily filled with superheated air, a revivalist swing scene exploded in the city's music venues. Any night of the week presented a boon for the working musician, but only if said musician had the style and chops to swing it right for a fresh set of nattily attired neo-Lindy Hoppers. The City was drunk with money, and the new swing scene offered the perfect, dressed up opportunity to spend it.

 

The lure of reasonably paying gigs was a strong one and the band eventually found themselves entering the fray from the side door.

 

Taking a pendulum path away from MaLT's confrontational, surrealist rock back toward the rustic stylings they employed in earlier incarnations, Bright, Schulz, Fisher, Green and a handful of capable string bass substitutes, took most of 1994 to retool their sound. Ever the multi-instrumentalist, Schulz quickly picked up the lap steel guitar, Green concentrated mainly on string bass and Bright went back to acoustic guitar. As the year progressed, a twangy blue, countrypolitan/cocktail country vibe began to emerge from Green and Schulz's Minna Street flat, where the band also rehearsed.​ So dramatic was the change from MaLT's sonic barrage to a swanky downbeat approach that upstairs neighbor and longtime friend, artist Scott Alexander, suggested jokingly that the band rename themselves The Sunshine Boys. And so they did. In February of 1994, Jeff Bright & the Sunshine Boys introduced themselves to San Francisco in a show at Spike's Cafe, which had become performing home base for the band. 

 

The new-look band's first promotional bio led with a quote from Bright: "Most anyone born in America after 1962 has an inherent sense of irony and an appreciation for the darkly comic. Maybe it's an evolution necessary for survival." And on it continued...

 

Given this perspective, you might begin to understand why Bright would call the latest incarnation of his musical combo The Sunshine Boys, a name that brings to mind an old-time bluegrass band or group of cowboys yodeling on the Wyoming range some 50 years ago. But, you see, tongue meets cheek in any association of this band with anything resembling cheery golden rays of sunshine. For a recent show, the Ace Cafe in San Francisco billed the band as "western noir," a lable the 'Boys say might fit as well as any they've heard yet. The songs are typically moody, mid-temp numbers chock-full of earthy nuance. Bright's lyrics are a recital of the basic C&W tenets of love, loss and yearning, while the band backs him up with a liberal dose of vibrato, slide and shuffle. The effect is a smooth vintage sound that often renders the haunting feel of the open road, or as one reviewer put it: "...the catchy simplicity of traditional country and western with the cool, casual aura of a cocktail revival meeting."

 

Bright and the 'Boys gigged sporadically through 1994, with and without bassist Green, who by end of the year had developed medical issues and left the band for good. After five years, the quartet's musical collaboration had come to an end. 1995, then, would prove to be yet another turning point.

 

Without a permanent bassist, the trio of Bright, Schulz and Fisher continued rehearsals but did not perform. However, the year did see the release of two recordings. In 1995, the band landed a cut on Pushing the Norton, a Heyday Records compilation CD representative of the scene at Ace Cafe, a hotbed for performers in the neo-swing movement at the time, and released a single on 7" vinyl with Waggletone Records, an independent label in North Carolina. On the single, "I'm Still Missing You" occupied the A-side and "Let's Get Drunk and Talk about Marriage" — called by one follower "the saddest song ever written" — occupied the B-side, in addition to being the band's contribution to the Heyday release. 

 

Performances resumed in 1996 as Green was replaced permanently by David Antony, an active musician at the time in the retro/rockabilly/swing scene, having made an impression with a short lived outfit called The Stardusters. Not long after Antony's induction, the band added Kevin Ink to play guitar opposite Shulz, who by this time had begun playing pedal steel and performing under the psuedonym Spanky Cobb. A recording engineer, studio owner, guitar maker and top-notch player, Ink brought a unique energy to The Sunshine Boys and the sound again shifted. Now, with Shulz/Cobb peeling off traditional honky tonk figures on the pedal steel and Ink countering with a unique brand of old school Kansas City rock-and-roll on his custom made, double neck "Widowmaker" — half classic Fender Telecaster, half six-string baritone — and all players dressed to the nines, the band was churning out a compelling blend of stylized rockabilly and western swing a la late 50's/early 60's era Ray Price, George Jones and Buck Owens — all with a sly, post-modern twist. And the dance floors filled with couples young and old, tattooed, pompadoured, pierced, and otherwise.

 

In 1997, encouraged by attendance and response at live performances, the band set up in Ink's The Studio That Time Forgot and, over the course of a few sessions, tracked 20 songs — 17 originals and covers of three C&W classics. Of the recordings, three were chosen and released by Bay Area independent label Star Tone Records (home to rockabilly act The Stillmen) on nicely packaged 7" vinyl. The single featured "There's a Nail in My Heart" and was backed with "Daylight Falls" and "Trouble, Trouble, Trouble" on the B-side.

 

Before anything fruitful would come of the remaining recordings, however, the revolving personnel door began spinning again. Late in the year, also dealing with medical issues, and in need of a clean break, Schulz/Cobb left the band and moved to Tennessee. Ink's participation would also begin to decrease as other performing commitments and opportunities arose. The core of the band was reduced to Fisher, Antony and Bright, the songwriting and rhythm components of the enterprise. 

 

Eventually, two new players were phased in: guitar slinger Max Butler and pedal steel whiz David Phillips. Both were pedigreed, highly skilled, working musicians and each immediately made a marked impact on the Sunshine sound. Notably, the band's level of technical musicianship jumped several notches, evidenced by more sophisticated arrangements.

 

By this time, with 1998 well under way, Jeff Bright & the Sunshine Boys had fully embraced their role as honky tonk and western swing revivalists — and, in turn, were heartily embraced by a growing family of followers as they plied the California retro swing circuit from the north state to San Diego. Their updated promotional one-pager read as follows:

 

Jeff Bright & the Sunshine Boys put a tear in your beer and a swing your step. "Our notion is to take the classic western sound and give it a little more go-juice," says front man Jeff Bright. And they do. With an aching tenor that could melt any cold, cold heart, Bright delivers tales of kissin', wishin', and the social ramble while the Sunshine Boys back him with a charge of reverb and twang. The effect is a cool, vintage sound equally at home on the sawdust or polished pine. Their songs range from swinging honky-tonk shuffles to rollicking roadhouse numbers with a few ballads and waltzes added for sweetening. Jeff and the 'Boys perform mostly original material, but do cover a number of tunes from honky-tonk's golden era. Bright's own songwriting reflects the time-honored western tradition but with a wry modern edge.

 

San Francisco independent label Red Rogue Records took note of the band's success and soon agreed to release a full length CD LP. For the new record, to represent the then-current lineup of Sunshine Boys, the basic tracks from the '97 sessions with Ink were retained and new lead tracks were added featuring Butler and Phillips. The set was mixed and deftly sculpted into a sound reminiscent of an early 1960's Nashville Columbia recording by Mike "Palm Tree" Johnson at The Apartment in San Francisco. In 1999, She's a Nail in My Heart, 15 songs plus a Ray Price-tribute intro track, was released. 

 

This could have been the launching point for a success story, but it was not to be. The death of Bright's father in August of 1998 appeared to take the wind from his sails. After 15 years of steady songwriting, preforming and promoting — with decidedly mixed results — and one cross-country move, in fall of 1999 Bright informed the band he would be taking a sabbatical. Citing the pull of other interests and other creative endeavors, he has yet to return to the stage. What remains is this archive.