Moonlighting rock stars enjoy regional success

For local rock and roll cover band The Shockwaves, it started with an ad. An ad placed in this very newspaper.

Attorney John Farmer came home late from work one night about 10 years ago. His family asleep, he made dinner and began reading the Del Mar Times, which was lying on the kitchen table.

"I don't usually read the classifieds but as I was turning the page, the word 'drummer' caught my eye," Farmer said, a longtime Carmel Valley resident.

The ad read something like this: Drummer looking to put together a garage band, no pressure.

Farmer, a guitarist who played in bands through high school, replied. Turns out the drummer was another dad Farmer knew from their daughters participating in Indian Princesses. The two practiced together a couple times, Farmer pulled in other musically-inclined professionals - a front man he met on a fishing trip, a plastic surgeon who played bass, a real estate agent, guitarist Robert Hughes, host of "Robert in the Late Afternoon" on KPRI 102.1 - and the no-pressure cover band Left4Dead (later renamed The Shockwaves) was born.

"Our mission in life was to get good enough to play a few backyard parties and have fun," Farmer said.

Their first show was the 1999 Indian Princesses Father-Daughter Dance, and after a few more garden parties, the band realized they were quickly upgrading from no-pressure garage band to serious local performers.

Playing rock classics from the 1960s to today, the group catapulted from sharing the finish-line stage at the Rock and Roll Marathon to having it to themselves, from the Coors Amphitheater side stage to opening for Ozomatli. They've played some of their favorite songs with original band members and performed Rocket Man with Jason Mraz at a local charity concert.

There may be more skilled bands in town, Farmer said, "but our level of commitment, organization and ability to network allows us to have a lot of success."

The group now schedules up to seven shows a month, including private parties, charity events, and local venues like the 4th and B, Humphrey's and the Belly Up Tavern. The group has become regulars at local summer concert series including Carmel Valley Summer Serenades and the Del Mar Twilight Summer Concert Series at Powerhouse Park.

Band members have come and gone over the years, leaving Farmer and Hughes as the two remaining founding members.

The band, recently renamed The Shockwaves to appease the wedding and bar mitzvah crowd, now includes front man Brian Prusinski, lead female vocalist April Mosebrook, bassist Steve Jewel, keyboardist Andy Shorenstein, longtime saxophonist Jim Mason, drummer Rich Muhr, Farmer on guitar and Hughes on rhythm guitar.

As businessmen, professionals and parents, balancing the demands of work, family, and twice-a-week rehearsals is tough, Farmer said.

But that didn't stop them from recently forming a Rolling Stones tribute band, The Midnight Ramblers.

"As Left4Dead, we saw playing the Stones always gets people all fired up," Farmer said.

Out of the band's repertoire from AC/DC to Van Morrison, numerous Stones songs were their personal favorites as well. Hughes suggested playing an all-Stones show, which was met with some resistance.

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