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Ward Dotson's Golden Sombrero: A joke band that is no joke

For Ward Dotson's Golden Sombrero, something old is something new.

August 30, 2013|By Jonny Whiteside
  • Ward Dotson (left) pictured with his former Liquor Giants bandmates Lisa Jenio and Matt Simon at Simon's home in Fullerton. Dotson returns with from his nearly 10-year music hiatus with his new band Golden Sombrero, which will appear at Viva Cantina in Burbank on Sept. 6, 2013.
Ward Dotson (left) pictured with his former Liquor Giants… (File Photo )

Ward Dotson, the brilliantly understated guitarist whose atmospheric style was a critical component of early ’80s Hollywood underground rock legends the Gun Club, is definitely an odd one. Widely recognized as one of the post-punk era’s most engagingly progressive musicians, Dotson is a dry, droll cat with a mile-wide streak of ingenuous, self-deprecating humor and, for an artist with his singular, significant cachet, a refreshingly disarming lack of ego.

In fact, Dotson, who went on to lead the Pontiac Brothers and the Liquor Giants in the 1990s, has been missing in action since the century’s turn, but with his new ’60s-pop-fixated Golden Sombrero, all that is changing.

“I hadn’t done any music, seriously, in about 10 years,” Dotson said. “We did two shows last year. There were eight people at the first one, and even less at the second, so we really got off to a real whiz-bang start.”

Golden Sombrero, which will appear at Viva Cantina in Burbank on Sept. 6, is perhaps the last thing Gun Club fans would expect. The latter’s stark, dark, punk-blues was the complete opposite of Golden Sombrero’s lush, sunny, classic pop approach. With a set list that includes numbers from Burt Bacharach, Dusty Springfield and Glen Campbell, it seems like an unlikely stretch, but that doesn’t bother Dotson.


“It’s all about great songs. Other people’s songwriting matters,” Dotson said. “I don’t care if people want to hear it or not, we just want to play them. Even that novelty band, Gun Club, that I was in a hundred years ago did a lot of cover songs. And Jeff [as in Jeffrey Lee Pierce, Gun Club’s infamously volatile frontman] and I met way, way back and both of us were always really into songwriters. In fact, it was Jeff who told me that Burt Bacharach was the one who wrote the theme song to ‘The Blob.’”

Golden Sombrero’s somewhat ignominious debut soon gave way to a high-voltage word of mouth, and the band’s increasingly well-attended performances are uniformly fascinating, swinging models of dog-eared grace and admirably rough-and-ready musicality.

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