The Beach Reporter - July 31, 2014

Spellbound Comes To Suzy's - South Bay band continues after 20 years - (by michael hixon)

Bobby Moon and Paul “Pablo” Thomas started their musical friendship when they were students at Margate Intermediate School in Palos Verdes. In high school, wearing black eyeliner and donning spiked hair, they formed a band, Life After Death, inspired by punk rock coming out of Los Angeles in the 1980s.

“We had that teenage angst so we were really aggressive and I think it came out in the music,” said Thomas, who had musical training and was in a jazz band during high school. “It was really up tempo, very much of its time when we started in the 80s. We grew musically and sort of became our own independent sound.”

Moon and Thomas became fast friends based largely in part of their love for similar music. They were later inspired by jazz musician Victor Feldman who would become their “father figure.” Feldman, best known for playing piano and percussion, performed and recorded with an eclectic group of musicians, from Miles Davis and Benny Goodman to Steely Dan and Joni Mitchell.

“There was a huge independent streak of music,” said Moon about punk. “That was our influence as a teenager … but deep inside I think our foundation (came from Feldman).”

As their musicianship matured, they formed a new band, Spellbound. They released their first self-titled album in 1996. Eight more independent albums on their Selfish Recordings label have been released since then, which they call a “danceable fusion of Afro-Caribbean rhythms,funk, rock and beyond,” including their latest, “Illuminados.” They have also released solo albums, including last year’s “Raw & Rawkin” by Moon and Thomas’ “Escape Velocity.” They will be performing next at Suzy’s in Hermosa Beach on Saturday, Aug. 2, from 8 to 10 p.m. “Illuminados” was recorded at Moon’s home studio, which gave them more flexibility.

“You want to do the best you can but sometimes you have to cut corners because of budget,” Moon said. “This time we could put that aside and just look into the details.”

“Illuminados,” which features bilingual lyrics, means “illuminated one.”

“We felt that we were blessed … we felt that we had to do some illumination musically and we’re bringing something positive,” Moon said.

Thomas added, “(There is) light at the end of the tunnel … there were good times and bad times. We struggled sometimes to get through it, but we managed to get the album done.”

Spellbound has opened at the Hollywood Bowl with Eddie Palmieri and Hugh Masekela and have developed a “hardcore following” over the years. Now, they are teamed with Artie Webb (flute) and Candi Sosa (vocals and percussion), whom also performed on “Illuminados.”

Suzy’s is located at 1141 Aviation Blvd.

“We’re proud to play at Suzy’s because it’s a local venue that been really supportive,” Moon said.

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