Dogs Have Their Day
James E. Fowler
Times Staff Writer
people rub each other the wrong way. And sometimes
it's not their fault.
jobs naturally come with an inherent adversarial
tension with another vocation - actors versus
directors, pitchers versus batters, editors versus
writers and musicians versus club
Benson, owner of Coffee Junction, a coffeehouse in
Tarzana, is also the lead singer, violinist, and
guitarist for Soul Dogs, an acoustic rock band that's
giving two live performances in the Valley this
on both sides of the fence gives Benson a different
definitely makes a difference when a musician is
running the show," Benson says. "Being a club owner, I
have expectations about the artists who perform here -
mainly to be on time and to care about what they're
being a performer, I know what I would want
from a club owner."
has been involved in many musical projects in the
nearly 10 years she and partner Linda Sherlin have
owned Coffee Junction. But none has been more
gratifying to her than her current group. Besides
Benson, the Soul Dogs are bassist Lewis Wolfe,
keyboardist-percussionist Chris Colquhoun and drummer
Robert "Wayno" Switzer.
band's first CD, "Journey," is due for release this
summer, and a song from the CD, "Love Yourself," made
its national television debut on Feb. 22 on Fox-TV's
"Party of Five."
- "It was
incredible to have our music recognized," Benson says.
"To make on prime-time television was a major
Soul Dogs original music is both acoustic and
percussive - extremely rhythmic tunes with Benson's
violin and smoky contralto way out in
Voodoo," set to an infectious conga beat, and "Deep
Inside of Me," a haunting love ballad, are other
standout tracks from the new album.
Soul Dogs will perform twice this weekend in the
valley, but not at Coffee Junction. In fact, the
band's gig Saturday night at the Riverbottom Cafe in
Burbank is a rarity because the group does few club
dates. Instead, Benson and company prefer the
atmosphere of festivals and benefit
at Coffee Junction is hard for me because I have so
many other things to think about," Benson
- As for
the other clubs, she says, "For me, I would rather
give our music to a worthy cause."
the last couple of years, the Soul Dogs' calendar has
included gigs at the American Breast Cancer ride, L.A.
Pride '99, the Carpenteria Avocado Festival, Children
of the Night benefits and the Pershing Square
lunchtime concert series.
Soul Dogs perform Sunday in Woodland Hills at Mandi
Martin's Pinball Marathon, a fund-raiser for
charities, including Musicares, a music industry
charitable foundation that helps musicians and other
musical professionals in need.
into a musical family, Benson began playing violin at
age 8. She started playing in bands soon after
graduating from Grant High School in Van Nuys. Among
her musical influences were singer-guitarist Bonnie
Raitt and violinists Papa John Creech and Stephane
- In the
late 1970s, Benson left her day job in the medical
field to work in the film industry, both as an actress
and behind the camera. You might have seen her as one
of the girls in the gym class in "Carrie." But music
remained her first love.
has always been what I wanted to do," she says. "I've
been harmonizing with the radio since I was
frequent patron of the old Bla Bla Cafe in North
Hollywood, she also dreamed of owning her own music
club. That dream came true in September 1990 when she
and Sherlin bought Coffee Junction.
met Wolfe several years later when he produced a CD by
her former band, Token Angel. They soon discovered
they were musical soul mates.
think alike," Benson says. "It's like a double-brain
thing going on."
stage drummer Switzer and bassist Wolfe provide a
solid rhythmic foundation for the improvisational
talents of violinist Benson and pianist
always secretly wanted to be a female version of Jerry
Garcia," admits Benson, "because he really knew how to
jam and he was always willing to give it
Angeles Times "Valley Life" - March 3,
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