Cuesta Drive
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Cuesta Drive

Band Rock Funk


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"Local Graduates Mellow Out With a Little Help From Their Friends"

You just can’t quite put your finger on Cuesta Drive’s CD, Where the Palm Trees Grow. It sounds so familiar, yet at the same time, peculiarly different. That’s probably because their vast range of extremely dissimilar influences can most often be heard on a bike ride down DP on any given afternoon.

This comes as no surprise, considering three of the members that make up Cuesta Drive cut their musical teeth together at UCSB’s neighboring university, Cal Poly San Luis Obispo. While the three attended Cal Poly - where, like Santa Barbara, classic rock, reggae beats, funk and laid-back sounds are the typical student’s music of choice - they would regularly play at local parties for beer money (or just beer).

By the time the lead singer Dane Drewis graduated from Poly and moved back home to suburban Sacramento, bassist Tim Diedesch and percussion/rhythm guitar/vocals aficionado Mike Camilleri had also moved back to Sacramento to attend the local CSU. After the move, the group made the decision to start playing for more than just booze.

With the addition of Louisiana native and Army veteran Mike Marsh on the drums, the group saved up the cash to produce their second CD, Where the Palm Trees Grow.

Drewis and Camilleri wrote the lyrics in what Camilleri has dubbed a “Lennon-McCartney-esque arrangement.” Their playlist is as diverse as their influences. “Smooth It Out” plays like ’80s blues rhythms, while their cover song, “Where the Palm Trees Grow,” is reminiscent of the sounds of the locally loved Revolution. The darker lyrics of “Mary Anne,” - which was written by Drewis’s younger sister Deena, a sophomore at UCSB - give the album a pleasant contrast.

The band is currently working on their third album, while making extra cash filling bars everywhere from Santa Cruz to San Francisco and, as Camilleri noted, watching plenty of Giants’ games in the meantime. For more information and tour dates, visit - UCSB Daily Nexus

"Cuesta Drive to play La Salles"

"...former Cal Poly Students turned Rock Gods" - CSU Chico Orion

"Evolution of Media Album Review-WTPTG"

I've never been one to be labeled as "sophisticated". I fear I eat far too much fast food, watch cartoons too frequently, and don't drink enough cocktails with little umbrellas in them for that. However after listening to Cuesta Drive's Where the Palm Trees Grow that all changed. In eight tracks style and class had all been thrust upon me, and I was loving every minute of it.

What is perhaps most impressive about Cuesta Drive's songs is that they are clearly drawing inspiration from outside their genre, yet manage to maintain a catchy pop feel. In most songs, such as "Pasatiempo", "Mary Anne" and "Smooth it Out" pop melodies are infused with smooth jazz, creating a refreshing and even daring new sound. The melodies are original and unexpected, unlike anything else on the airwaves these days. Other songs, such as "Where the Palm Trees Grow" (a personal favorite) have a laid-back, reggae-inspired sound. It establishes a mischievously sexy ambiance, practically forcing the listener to slowly swing their hips to its seductive beat. Still other tracks, such as "All Along", are reminiscent of show tunes, but certainly not the sort of show tunes your Grandma sang to you as a child. Keeping consistent with the band's theme, these would be by far the most flirtatious show tunes I've ever heard. No matter what type of music they seem to so effortlessly blend with their already captivating pop melodies, Cuesta Drive maintains a suave sort of sophistication, leaving the listener to feel ten times more in vogue then they did prior to listening to the album.

Cuesta Drive manages to achieve what so few people are ever able to achieve in both art and life: balance. They so successfully combine a broad appealing pop sound with more obscure and adventurous genres, creating an absolutely dynamite combination. Whether you’re a fan of pop, blues, jazz, show tunes, world music or funk, Cuesta Drive's Where the Palm Trees Grow is guaranteed to appeal to you.

Written By: Cassandra Brown -


Download. Listen. Repeat.
We spent our summer vacation making mix CDs of the best local music for driving, partying and making out

By Matthew Craggs

On the road again ... and again ... and again

SN&R's driving mix

1. “Different View” by Two Sheds (
2. “Ocean Drive” by Six White Horses (
3. “Mary Anne” by Cuesta Drive (
4. “The Man Outside” by 2Me (
5. “Slipping Outside of Myself” by Scott McChane (
6. “Long Distance Friend” by Justin Farren (
7. “Those Things” by Be Brave Bold Robot (
8. “Indigo” by Apt 12 (
9. “Seaweed” by Bonfire (
10. “Freeway” by Out of Place (

Something about the open road inspires grandiose dreams. Desert visions of coyotes crooning at the moon, an infinite oceanic expanse and mellow plains invite the mind to imagine the possibilities of existence. Alone with a radio and the soundtrack in your head, the crawling asphalt can induce introspection.

Two Sheds’ folk-rock song “Different View” opens the CD with the desire to “get far away from here / to a place with a different view.” Six White Horses follow up with the escape plan: Freedom from home lies out on the road. The spontaneous road trip is given a motive in Cuesta Drive’s “Mary Anne,” about a troubled girl from Reno. By the time this track rolls around, you should be well on your way out of town and releasing a sigh of relaxation, giving you ample lung power to belt out the rock lyrics.

Two Sheds’ search for perspective culminates in “The Man Outside” by 2Me. Pulsing lyrics push 2Me’s indie-rock track to a climax of released emotion, allowing Scott McChane to slide over from the passenger seat and take the wheel in his acoustic hands. The metaphorical out-of-body perspective in McChane’s “Slipping Outside of Myself” makes it safe to examine the reason you left home in the first place, whether you’re running to the girl in Justin Farren’s “Long Distance Friend” or running from Be Brave Bold Robot’s false love interest.

But let’s not forget why the open road beckoned from the beginning: the freedom. The final three tracks by Apt 12, Bonfire and Out Of Place seem to have been written with the rush of wind and a beautiful view in mind. The jazz in Apt 12’s “Indigo” belongs in a stroll down a back road of a small Southern town, and Bonfire’s “Seaweed” could match the force of ocean waves with its acoustic strumming. “Freeway” by Out of Place is the inevitable conclusion to any road trip; every journey needs a final destination.

Let the lyrics in these 10 songs inspire your thoughts to roam the highways of America--even if you never leave the city limits. This is everything you’ll ever need to get away.

But now, without an object of your affection, what are you to do? Examine your life closely, grow from the experience and become a better person? Didn’t think so. Instead, throw the Evening Episode’s “New Love” on and jump into another relationship way too quickly--and don’t forget to ruin it by still being hung up on your ex.


"PALM TREES GROW AT SAC STATE AT NOON - Band's music mix of funk, blues, Latin rock"

NOONER: Band’s music mix of funk, blues, Latin rock
Karen Balmes
The State Hornet

September 27, 2006

For one Sacramento band, the music of the past is not to be forgotten. The foundations of rock and R&B are of theutmost importance in everything it creates. That band is Cuesta Drive, and it will play its style of a “new take on classic rock” at noon today at Serna Plaza.
The members’ love of music is as impassioned as their critiques of it.

“Everything we play is something that we would listen to —music that we like and that is not around right now,” Mike Camilleri, 24, the band’s rhythm guitarist and percussionist, said. “The music from the ‘60s and ‘70s —classic rock and R&B —that’s real music. It takes a lot of talent to do and it’s great to listen to. And now it’s just (about) what you look like or you’re trying to reach specific people.”

Their main critique of modern rock revolves around the current trend of dressing up, costuming the music and making more of a fashion statement. “We’re definitely strong opponents to the whole emo craze,” Camilleri said.

“We’re about the music, man,” bassist Tim Diedesch, 23, said.

The band’s sound reflects its own influences, ranging from Santana, Stevie Wonder and Led Zeppelin. The resulting sound is an amalgamation of classic rock, funk, blues, Latin rock and reggae.

Formed in 2005, Cuesta Drive consists of Camilleri, Diedesch and Dane Drewis on vocals and lead guitar. All three jammed together while going to Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo. They named the band after the street that Drewis lived on while in San Luis Obispo, where the band practiced in Drewis’ garage.

All three moved back to their hometown of Sacramento after Drewis had graduated from Cal Poly and Camilleri and Diedesch decided to transfer to Sac State.

Going through a changing lineup of drummers, the band is currently performing with Keith Dailey, a drummer who answered the band’s ad on Craigslist and is still in a “long-term audition.”

“I’ve been with them for a week and I’m amazed,” Dailey said. Their last drummer quit a month ago.

The band usually plays gigs around the Sacramento area, including Powerhouse Pub, Marilyn’s and Crawdads River Cantina. The members frequent their old college town of San Luis Obispo as well as in San Francisco, Chico and Lake Tahoe.

Cuesta Drive’s biggest performance was at radio station KZZO 100.5 FM, The Zone’s Exotic Ball at Cal Expo, a booking that the band received as a prize after winning a Battle of the Bands contest last year.

Most of the sets feature plenty of cover songs. The band’s favorites include Santana’s “Black Magic Woman,” Guns & Roses’ “Sweet Child of Mine” and Billy Idol’s “Rebel Yell.” While these covers are enjoyable and attract an audience of a wide age range, Cuesta Drive is not a cover band. The 2005 album, “Where the Palm Trees Grow,” features eight original tracks that are implemented into the band’s shows.

The album provides a dynamic sound of smooth vocals, textured guitar riffs and a rhythm section that gives the music a jazz or funk edge. The band is not afraid to explore the soundscape with lengthy solos such as with the song “Smooth it out,” featuring a jazzy saxophone number.

Overall, the album’s sound positions the band in a time warp. It employs classic rock and funk styles but infuses them with modern-themed lyrics. The title track has the vocal and lyrical stylings of the Red Hot Chili Peppers, but has a searing guitar solo reminiscent of Santana.

The songs on “Where the Palm Trees Grow” revolve mainly around topics like women and being young — evolving from life experiences.

“We don’t have that whole Bob Dylan social responsibility,” Diedesch said. “Yeah, we haven’t got politically active yet,” Drewis said, laughing.

There is only one dark-tinged track on the album dealing with a girl’s depressing behavior, a song contributed by Drewis’ sister.

The songwriting process begins with either Drewis or Camilleri coming up with a guitar part and then adding lyrics.

“(Camilleri) definitely helps a lot with lyrics,” Drewis said.

The band acknowledges the work of the Beatles in formulating its songs and musical arrangement. When writing, Drewis said he often thinks, “If I were Lennon or McCartney, what would I do?”

But while they look to Lennon and McCartney for inspiration, Drewis and Camilleri do not claim to operate like the famous songwriting partnership.

“I don’t think we’re worthy of that moniker,” Camilleri said. “We strive to be; we would love to be one day.”

The members of Cuesta Drive, though passionate about their music, have withheld from concentrating solely on that part of their lives.

“I still have some reservations about taking it to the highest level,” Diedesch said. Camilleri agreed. “It’s definitely all of our dreams to do something with music, but it’s kind of hard to put all of your eggs in that basket,” Camilleri said.

In the meantime, all three of the founding members work at Strings Italian Café on 65th Street and Folsom Boulevard, and Diedesch and Camilleri are working on their geology and English degrees at Sac State, respectively.

However, the hope for success still lingers for this unsigned band. Camilleri said financial stability is the key to choosing music over everything else.

“If there was a sure-fire way to be successful and support a family on music, I would drop everything,” Camilleri said.

“If we did get a break, I’d be ready to go,” Drewis said.

Karen Balmes can be reached at

- Sacramento State Hornet

"INK 19 Album Review"

At first listen I thought this was a crossover Latin Rock disc, particularly with the band originating in the central valley of California. Hispanic influence lurks under these mature yet macho rock songs, and if nothing else it shows multiculturalism can work. "Pasatiempo" open the record with an arrangement recalling Carlos Santana -- stellar guitar solos and brass over a galloping drum and rhythm section. The clever arrangements and lyrics that alternate between sexy and lonely are a perfect set up for the centerpiece of the album, "Where the Palm Trees Grow." The singer (Dane Drewis) gives us a ballad of a trip to Mexico, with a sexy hitchhiker that ends up as an idyllic love story. This is a clear contender for an Easy Rock Station hot rotation, and does best what a good pop song should -- take an emotion, and amplify it. Cuesta Drive is a real gem; get over to you local hipster record shop and demand they order it for you.

Cuesta Drive:
Carl F Gauze - - Carl Gauze


"Distractions: - Full-Length Release on Spade Productions, 2009.

"Where the Palm Trees Grow"-
Debut CD, Spade Productions, 2005.

Distraction's Debut Single "Everything" is currently getting steady airplay on Sacramento''s 100.5 the zone, KWOD 106.5 and 98 Rock.



Born in the college venues and dive bars of northern California, Cuesta Drive is a laid back, genre-shifting band, attacking the West coast with their visceral live shows, and cool, calculated albums.

Yielding comparisons to The Red Hot Chili Peppers, The Police, and Santana, Cuesta Drive’s sound is tough to categorize, but undeniably infectious. Tag-team vocalists Dane Drewis and Mike Camilleri, easily leapfrog between soaring rock vibrato, sweet soul harmonies, and whiskey-tinged blues phrasing within the same set (if not the same song) while Tim Diedesch’s uncompromising bass playing bridges the gap between 70s Funk and Jack-hammering rock . When combined with dual guitars, searing solos, and an unmatched rhythm section, the overall sound of a Cuesta Drive show is impressive to say the least. Drewis (Lead Guitar, Vocals), Camilleri (Rhythm Guitar, Percussion, Vocals), and Diedesch (Bass, Vocals) are joined on-stage by a constantly changing parade of musicians ranging from the “Drivettes“on backup vocals and full horn sections, to live DJs and Emcees, making each performance a brand new experience.

In early 2009, Cuesta Drive released their sophomore album, Distractions, to a riotous acclaim. The album release shows broke attendance records, and garnered staggering reviews. Distractions’ first single, Everything, is getting airplay on top mainstream and alternative radio stations, while receiving plaudits from listeners old and young alike. With a loyal and steadily expanding fan base, a pending West coast tour, and work beginning on a follow-up album, Cuesta Drive proves to be one of California’s hardest working, most compelling, up-and coming bands.