The End of the WitZend

Westside live music scene loses an anchor with popular venue’s sudden demise

By Michael Aushenker

The Blue Dolphins’ Saturday-night set was the final act for the WitZend

The Blue Dolphins’ Saturday-night set was the final act for the WitZend

With Malibu pop-rock duo The Blue Dolphins topping a bill that included Santa Monica-based groove band Vinyl Part, L.A. singer-songwriter Drew Brandmeier and local pop-folk act Only On Tuesdays, May 16 could have been any Saturday night at the WitZend in Venice.

Instead it was the Lincoln Boulevard venue’s last, shutting a door that was opened to local musicians in 2012.

With the preceding closures of The Talking Stick in Venice and The Good Hurt in Mar Vista late last year, the RG club in renovation ad infinitum and Hal’s Bar and Grill on Abbot Kinney Boulevard out of commission for the time being, venues dedicated primarily to hosting original live music have become an endangered species west of the 405 between LAX and Santa Monica.

Operators of the venue and its landlord could not be reached, but according to several WitZend staffers on duty for its final last call, the WitZend closed with only 10 days’ notice to employees. It’s not clear what the historic brick building, which hosted live music in the 1960s as the 4-H Club, will become.

WitZend did not appear to lack patrons, however. At around 10 p.m. Saturday, upward of 100 people gathered inside to hear Vinyl Party’s hybrid of rap, ska and New Orleans funk.

“I don’t think it’s really hit us yet that it’s gone,” said Vinyl Party vocalist J. Whiting. “We left it all out on the stage and hoped that we were able to give WitZend a fraction of what it was able to give us — and that’s a life’s worth of incredible memories and a safe haven for established and fledgling artists alike to do their thing.

Whiting estimates that Vinyl Party played the WitZend nearly 20 times.

The WitZend was also one of the few Westside venues to welcome hip-hop artists to the stage. Wilfredo Williams, a Venice rapper who goes by the name Crown, performed there more than a dozen times since last summer, including Friday.

“The energy that night was probably the best ever,” he said. “It was kind of sad to see them go, but we pretty much blew the roof off.”

Danielle Carter, who worked the WitZend’s door for the past year, described the mood at the club as difficult throughout the week.

“I was just really sad. We’re all dealing with it in a different way,” Carter, whose band Illegal Download Collection took the stage in April 2014, said as an overflow crowd spilled out onto Lincoln Boulevard near the end of the evening.

Matt Lucey of The Battlefield, which performed at WitZend in January 2014, said the venue initially ran into trouble following original owner Jeb Milne’s death in September 2013. Milne, who was 39 according to the venue’s website, had originally moved an animation company into the building in 2006 before returning it to a live music venue.

“I think they were just struggling to manage and operate the place after the original owner had passed away suddenly,” Lucey said.

Santa Monica singer-songwriter Rebecca Pidgeon, who had a gig scheduled for June 17, remembers the venue fondly.

“It had a very devoted clientele and was a much loved little joint. Jeb kept it busy and humming,” she said.

Lucey praised the venue for its unique live video recording setup and creating an environment in which artists could easily connect with audiences.

“The only other place in L.A. that has that same atmosphere of respect and intimate connection to what’s happening on the stage is Hotel Café [in Hollywood],” Lucey said.

“It’s like you were having an intimate conversation with the fans,” Crown said.

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Review Fix Exclusive: The Blue Dolphins Talk 'Walking in the Sun' EP and More

Review Fix chats with The Blue Dolphins: Alfonso Rodenas and Victoria Scott who discuss their new EP, “Walking in the Sun,” as well as their influences and goals for the future. Inspired by acts the likes of Carole King, Crosby Stills, Nash and Young, and Paul Simon, their sound is rich in nostalgia but trendy enough to grace the radio soon enough.

Review Fix: What did you learn from the first album and how did it affect this EP?

Alfonso Rodenas: We realized that we have something that people can relate to, a sort of a naked honesty, a sincere voice without premeditation. People seemed to dig that and the universal appeal of the songs. We have tried to preserve that in this fully produced recording.

Review Fix: What musicians influence you guys the most?

Victoria Scott: Songwriters Carole King, Crosby Stills, Nash and Young, Paul Simon, The Doors, Everything but theGirl. We make our own sound out of these and the melting of our cultural heritages (UK and Spain), and the musical decades we have lived through. I listened to a lot of Prince, Nina Simone, Astrid Gilberto, Acid Jazz,The Doors and Bob Dylan.

Rodenas: We listen to all types of music, but there is always this unstoppable attraction to the roots and the sound of the bands that established the principles of modern popular music in the late sixties till the mid seventies.

Review Fix: How would you describe your sound to someone who has never heard you before?

Rodenas: Our sound is a rich and complex mixture of roots, eclectic and singer song/writerpop rock oriented. I have tons of influences from the last 40 years of music history, it’s very timeless and far away from calculated authenticity with very powerful, clean and brilliant sonic aesthetics.

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The Blue Dolphins Duo Victoria & Alfonso Walk in the Sun


Pop rock electric go getters The Blue Dolphins are a Los Angeles, California-based songwriting duo composed of singer/songwriter Victoria C. Scott and two-time Grammy Award-winning producer/engineer Alfonso G. Rodenas. They have been hard at work writing and recording for their new EP release "Walking In the Sun" as well as preparing for upcoming shows and touring and much more that the duo themselves took the time to discuss these said plans.

VS - Victoria Scott
AR - Alfonso G.Rodenas

1. You guys are from sunny California so then your name, The Blue Dolphins must refer to the ocean life that is California or you have a thing for Dolphins?

AR: You are right! The name reflects the goodness and the laid back charm of the way of life in Southern California but also our affinity with this beautiful ocean creature that for us represents all that is good and kind in creation.

VS: The name came up before we had formed the band. We really liked the sound of it but we didn't realize its significance till we started living and creating with it.

2. So does this mean that your band mascot is the obvious a Dolphin? "The Blue Dolphin"?

AR: Yes, why not? The dolphins represent for us mother Earth, our connection with her. It is so joyful and exciting for everybody who’s watching when they jump out of the water and you see them surfing the waves. It is a Universal positive feeling.

VS: LOL… we’ll stay away from the literal mascot as a visual for a logo, but the dolphins are definitely the totem animal of the band.

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ARTISTS you should know: The Blue Dolphins

The eclectic, Los Angeles based pop-rock duo, The Blue Dolphins, are releasing an EP, Walking In the Sun. The EP is a prelude for the band’s upcoming sophomore full-length album, Come On, which is expected to be released in the fall.

The Blue Dolphins are comprised of Alfonso Rodenas, a two-time Grammy Award winner engineer and the lead vocalist, Victoria Scott. The duo are filled with talent and exude a certain charm that is bound to captivate you. Since Rodenas and Scott formed the band in 2010, The Blue Dolphins debuted their first full-length album, My Favorite Word is Today and went on gigs over the next two years in their hometown, California and throughout Western Europe; gaining them a dedicated fan base in the U.S., U.K. and Spain.

Their debut, My Favorite Word is Today was a more intimate album with a stripped down production of acoustic instruments and emotionally honest vocals. It was an expressive blend of eclectic, pop and folk with exotic sounds such as Bossa Nova and many other genres. They continued to showcase their ability to write warm melodies and heartfelt lyrics with energetic, upbeat vocal harmonies that brought their songs and songwriting to new life with their 2013 EP, In Between. This EP was a stepping stone that delivered just a hint of what to expect from Walking In the Sun and Come On.

Walking in the Sun EP will give you the California feels. The songs express an imagery of the scenery with memorable melodies, complex guitar solos, amazing vocal harmonies and uplifting lyrics. The EP embraces a variety of genres including folk, pop and roots-rock with the duo’s optimistic, charming ways. This album exhibits a growth within the band; the sound and lyrics are richer in this album than their previous albums.

The first song of the album, “Walking in the Sun” is a fun, catchy summer love tune. It is infectious and will make you even more eager for the summer to come. The Blue Dolphins give off this summer love vibe as they sing,

“I'm walking on the beach with my baby
Everybody is having a good time
Sipping on a rose margarita
Watching las amigas passing by
I love to be with you all the summer
Swimming in the light of your eyes” – ‘Walking in the Sun’ lyrics

With beautiful melodies and an uplifting mood, The Blue Dolphins have provided us with original, splendid, quality music we can relate to. To learn more and stay up to date on the charismatic band, The Blue Dolphins, you can visit them on their websites: and/or Facebook.

Ashleyan Lopez, AXS Contributor. 

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Playing our Home Town

We are playing our home town, Malibu, this evening for 'Songwriters Night' at Casa Escobar.

Songwriter and KBU DJ Michael O'Neill hosts the night.

Songwriters Michael Ann Azoulai, Storme Rhodes and Craig Ferguson will also play sets.

Thursday, June 25th, 2015. 8 pm til Midnight.

See you there!

Casa Escobar

22969, Pacific Coast Highway

Malibu, CA




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