In a time when popular music has been stripped and deprived of any real passion, one of the purest and honest of all genres, soul music, has been seemingly forgotten about. Now a footnote to music history, and long ago left for dead commercially, what was once the music of the working class has longed for a new champion. Now an unlikely band in an unlikely place has taken on the cause and is ready, “to bring soul music back to the people”.
Jeff Hershey was born in the early 1980s and raised in Oxnard, California and has long been a staple of the Ventura County music scene. From his roots in metal and punk with the bands, Black Opal and Hybrid Moments, to his time in the ground breaking punk rock band, No Motiv, who toured the country and released several albums on Vagrant Records, Hershey always gravitated to music that was passionate and energetic, regardless the genre.
It wasn’t until No Motiv went on an extended hiatus in 2005 that Hershey turned his secret passion for soul music into his main priority and released a single, “Baby Please (Don’t Let Me Go)” b/w “When Our Eyes First Met” in 2008. Though he played all the instruments and handled vocal duties on the 2 song vinyl release, he knew that to properly bring soul music back to the people, he’d need a red hot band that was up to the challenge.
He then went on a Blues Brothers worthy quest to find the perfect players and in the process assembled a who’s who of Ventura County’s finest. Bassist, Sam Bolle, who also plays with surf guitar master, Dick Dale and punk legends, Fear and Agent Orange, drummer, Tony Cicero who played drums with punk pioneers, Saccharine Trust, sought after session and live guitarist, Joe Baugh, and a horn section of Kyle O’Donnell and Ashley Jarmack, became the Heartbeats and Hershey’s vision of a classic soul band reincarnated in present day had become a reality.
Once together, the band proceeded to take the local music scene by storm with their raucous live performances that found crowds packing venues dancing and singing along to the impassioned front man who summons the ghosts of Sam Cooke and James Brown with just a touch of his punk rock roots in the mix. A Jeff Hershey and the Heartbeats show quickly gained the reputation as the place to be and the VC Reporter hailed the band as “simply one of the best live bands to ever come from the area”.
Now in 2011, after overwhelming demand, Hershey and company are set to release their debut album, Soul Music Volume 1. Recorded at the legendary Pow Wow Fun Room in Los Angeles with Pete Curry of Los Straightjackets manning the board and using only vintage recording equipment recorded onto analog tape while the musicians played live using no headphones, the record sounds as if it was recorded decades ago and recently unearthed as a lost treasure from a bygone era.
Whether it be feel good anthems like the hook filled grooves of “Good Times” and “Push On Through” to the rip roaring intensity of “Wearing Me Out” and “Knock You Down” or the hauntingly gorgeous ballad, “Honesty Road”, it’s a 10 song journey back in time and encompasses all the heart and passion that Hershey has been pouring into the project for the past 5 years and his whole career as a musician.
“Soul music is the people’s music”, explains Hershey. “All we’re trying to do is bring it back to the people, one song, one show, one record, one tour at a time. We made our bones on our live show and it was important to us to capture that raw intensity and also the sonic integrity of those classic soul records. No gimmicks, no tricks. We’re happy that the response has been so positive. This is the music I was born to play and the band I’ve always wanted to front.”
With the record already receiving glowing reviews, it seems that the world will soon know what Ventura County has been lucky enough to know already, that if Jeff Hershey and the Heartbeats have any say in the matter, soul music isn’t going out with a fight.
Soul Music Vol. 1 (2011) Siren Records
"This is the most honest records I’ve heard in a long time."
"This is the most honest records I’ve heard in a long time." -- Dick Dale
“A great album made by great people. Perfect for all ages, fitting all genres, and most of all perfect for dancin’!”
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“A great album made by great people. Perfect for all ages, fitting all genres, and most of all perfe...“A great album made by great people. Perfect for all ages, fitting all genres, and most of all perfect for dancin’!” ---Brent Harding (Social Distortion, Deke Dickerson)
“Hershey is probably one of the HARDEST WORKING members of our scene."
“Hershey is probably one of the HARDEST WORKING members of our scene." --Ventura Breeze
bestnewbands.com Band of The Week
Interview with Jeff Hershey (featured artist of the week)
Preview of Soul Music Vol.1 release show
There are no upcoming dates at this time.