To live in Southern California is to enjoy the Blues. Unlike other nationally
known blues hot beds limited to one area, Southern California is huge.
It is not unusual to travel to Los Angeles, Orange County, or the San Fernando
or San Gabriel Valleys, to enjoy your favorite blues band on any
given night. Along with the size of Southern California, you also get a hot
bed of rich culture and diversity. Consider the CD by Pork Chop Tom and
Nighttrain that you're about to insert into your CD player for the first spin
> (and I can assure you there will be many more) and you will truly start to
hear the many musical styles that Southern California is known for. There's
the driving West Coast jump blues sound that the band nails time and time
again, along with the sweet sounding South Central slow blues. If that's not
enough, how about the Tex Mex & Ranchero styles that they bring to their
In 1998 this San Gabriel Valley band stepped out and tried their luck in
what was, already at the time, a very competitive L.A. blues scene. The
band was, and continues to be, led by "Pork Chop" Tom Gonzales (vocals &-
harmonica) and his right hand man from the beginning, Joe Conde (guitar).
With an unstable rhythm section, and while still trying to find their musical
niche, the pair saw their share of ups and downs during their first year. The
year 2000 brought them their third full time band mate, Norm Gonzales
(bass). As Nighttrain's popularity continued to grow, it seemed their only
problem was finding a full time drummer to sit on the throne.
Right around this time two things happened that took them to the next
level. The first was that their Lynwood Slim produced first release (Big Fat
Mama) began selling at their shows direct from the bandstand, and soon
after showed up in the "Blues Picks" section at the Virgin Megastore. A tour
of record stores in Ontario, California and Las Vegas, evada soon followed
-- pretty cool for a little known blues band from the San Gabriel Valley. The
other significant item was that the throne was now being filled by some of
the best drummers on the circuit. Just to name a few: Bob "Pacemaker'
Newman, Donny Gruendler, Steve Mugalian, and their current skin man
As a matter of fact, a who's who of Southern California's circuit has embraced
this band (Just check out the guest players on this CD). Word has
also reached Northern California with R.I. Mischa sitting in on the last cut.
The fun thing about Nighttrain is that their bandstand is full of surprises and
you never know who you will see in the crowd. It brings me back to a night
of blues in a smoky dive bar called The Wheel (one ofNighttrain's haunts).
The boys were in the zone, and in the audience that evening were the likes
of Bob "Pacemaker" Newman, R.I. Mischo, Johnny Dyer and Gene Taylor.
In closing, with this music we call the blues, let's face it, a blues band either
has what it takes or doesn't. Nighttrain has what it takes, and it's garnered
them the respect of the most respected p layers on the scene. So if you have a
night out in Southern California, search this band out. For now, sit down,
relax and let Pork Chop Tom & Nighttrain take you for a ride.
Host of Southern California
Blues Radio Program
Straight Up Blues