Brian Ballentine: Midtown’s Spaghetti Western Music & Knucklehead Tell UBO Their Story

By Aaris A. Schroeder

Imagine cowboys kicking up dust and women dressed in tight bodices and full-shaped skirts all set in a hot western desert.  This is the image of Blvd. Park, Brian Ballentine’s new band under his own label, Ballentine Records that can be seen and heard at venues such as Shady Lady, Marylin’s and Pyramid. 

Blvd. Park is made up of Jared Mason [bass], Guinness Harley [violin/vocals], Beau Brown [drums], Mick Stevenson [banjo, fiddle and mandolin], The Mean Reds, made up of vocalists Tekla Waterfield and Elise Suttie and, of course Brian Ballentine on lead vocals. 

Photo By Kendaru Photography
Photo By Kendaru Photography

“[It is] ‘spaghetti western music;’ kick-back style music.  The sound is light with snares and high hats,” says Ballentine.  “[Our] music is for the ‘work-horse’ crowd.  This music helps us to forget about life’s problems, you know?”

Ballentine lives a happy life in midtown with his dog, Knucklehead.  The story goes that Ballentine saw a guy messing with Knucklehead as a four-month-old puppy behind Old Ironsides and he took the dog home with him. 

“His birthday is on April 1,” believes Ballentine, “he told me.”

Knucklehead, who according to Ballentine is half parakeet and half human has had a few adventures himself, he has gone to doggie jail AKA the pound nine times and has been kidnapped at least twice.  Once Ballentine found Knucklehead clear out in Citrus Heights – he disappeared on a Second Saturday.  Another time, he was located in Oak Park.  Ballentine figures people think he looks like a nice dog so they take him home but he escapes.

Knucklehead has gone on tour with the guys to Seattle, WA but Ballentine says that it is hard to get a dog over the border to another country. 

Formed four months ago and releasing their album, “Just the Beginning: The Bell Towers” fall ’09, Blvd. Park; soothing as iced lemon aid on a hot summer day originally went by the name of Brian Ballentine and the Conroy Brothers.  They consisted of Ballentine and Kevin and Timmy Conroy.  Yet when Harley joined the band, they changed the name to Blvd. Park.

Ballentine’s other band, Nevada Backwards, who sold out of albums in one year is a combination of Rodg [bass], Stevensen [guitar], Matt [drums], Harley [fiddle] and Ballentine [vocals].

“[We] sound like ‘Desert Slam Glass’ or ‘Happy Go Luck Cactus Rock,’”  says Ballentine who has been able to tour Canada, all over CA; except for L.A., The Great Lakes, Chicago, Crescent City and Denver, CO. 

“I like Sacramento, it just needs something.  It takes artists, musicians and people like your self to make it happen.  I think that people are fed up with what is on the radio – the kids have the internet now,” says Ballentine to UBO Magazine.

Brian believes that in the future, Blvd Park will be able to pick up gigs submitting songs to Western Films for soundtracks.  His goal for the band is to perform at dinner theaters and high end lounges.

“I feel that I am being creative again,” explains Ballentine.

When Ballentine isn’t making music, recording a western music video or traveling around the world he hosts themed parties at his house, such as his sangria party, summer ’08 or the carwash fundraiser of ’07. 

“I would wear really short shorts and that is it.  Well and flip-flops – Birkenstocks,” Ballentine reveals his themed outfit for his next party.

The next party Ballentine wants to throw will be a ‘60s themed party.  His party will most likely offer some type of food to munch on; Ballentine’s favorites to cook are beef tacos because “beef is cheaper” and Spaghetti and Bolognese.  Spaghetti seems to be the theme of a lot of things, whether Ballentine is cooking it or creating a new genre of music. The themed drink would be pomegranate sangria.

“When I was younger, I would pretend that I was eating brains,” says Ballentine about pomegranate seeds.

When it all comes down to it, music is fun but Ballentine takes his business seriously and has advice for young people coming into the local music scene, “A year ago, I [finally] claimed that I was a musician and have been working really hard at it.  [My advice is] don’t have a kid at a young age or get married or have girlfriends that will bring you down.  It will come later when you can bang all of the slutty ass celebrities.  Having a dog helps a lot.  Maybe a fuck-buddy once in a while.”

Photo By Kendaru Photography
Photo By Kendaru Photography
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