By Waleed Rashidi
MEMBERS & INSTRUMENTS:
Mark Valdez (drums); Mike McWilliams (bass, vocals); Ron Little (rhythm guitar, vocals); Kimo Lehoven (lead guitar, vocals).
CITIES OF ORIGIN:
Riverside, Glen Avon, San Bernardino, Garden Grove.
Rolling Stones, The Doors, Classics IV, Johnny Rivers, Johnny Cash, Johnny Fortune, David Bowie, Elvis Presley (and there’s gotta be a few more Johnnys in this list here somewhere, right?!).
Cover bands seem as omnipresent as tract housing in the Inland Empire—they’re generally similar, you know what you’re going to get and there are certainly plenty around. So what makes a cover band stand out on a block of mildly green lawns, earth-tone paint and 2.5 baths?
That’s a question best answered with The Magnutz, a classic rock act with definite points of interest. The first is that The Magnutz isn’t just a cover band, as the foursome’s been steadily working on originals. For example, there’s bassist Mike McWilliams’ track “Into the Night,” which is self-described as having an ’80s rock feel, plus a couple cuts from rhythm guitarist Ron Little’s singer/songwriter days back in the ’90s.
“We are recording all our cover songs too, so the originals will keep popping up with that,” says Little. “We will probably have an EP’s worth of material in six months’ time. We don’t want to force anything.”
Another noteworthy aspect is drummer Mark Valdez. According to Little, Valdez was diagnosed with a cancerous tumor in his forearm and in an effort to save his life, Valdez had to have his right forearm removed. While such a turn of events might’ve dissuaded some drummers from ever wanting to pick up the sticks again, Valdez triumphed through his treatments, making his return behind the kit with The Magnutz. It’s a remarkable and inspirational achievement, to say the least.
The Magnutz have played a number of gigs in the region (they’ll be at Riverside’s University Village for their first time this Thursday), including one memorable date at a Día de los Muertos/Halloween backyard party located next to the Mt. View Cemetery in San Bernardino.
“Everybody had great costumes and danced and partied like they were with the long departed, along with all the souls contained behind the cemetery walls,” says Little. “A cop showed up around 11 p.m., said he heard the music coming out of the cemetery from Waterman Ave[nue]. He said it’d be OK if we kept playing, no one had called yet. He just wanted to check out our party. Shoot, all the neighbors were already there, in and out of body!”
The Magnutz at University Village, 1201 University Ave., Riverside, (714) 956-3411; www.universityvillageriverside.com. Thurs, July 28, 6PM.