Here's the thing about Los Angeles: Everyone you meet there is in "the business," says musician Rich McCulley.
True story: McCulley goes to see an apartment and the guy showing it happens to work in movies and television. He asks what McCulley does, and one thing leads to another and the guy leaves with a CD. A week later, he calls to say McCulley has a song in a film.
For someone who left Fresno looking for opportunities, L.A. was the place to go.
"As much as I loved many parts of growing up in the Valley, I think it's the best thing I've ever done," say McCulley, a Fresno native and singer-songwriter who moved to L.A. five years ago. He was in San Francisco for 10 years before that.
He's in town tonight with his band at Fulton 55.
The last time McCulley was officially in Fresno, he was playing in the band Sparklejet, touring around the West Coast in a '70s Dodge Van.
He hasn't played in town with a full band for almost 15 years.
So he's excited about the collection of songs and the group of musicians he's bringing to town. The rhythm section of his band is made up of the Guilty Men, who played back up for L.A. roots-rock legend Dave Alvin.
McCulley is a fan.
"I play with these guys, I used to buy their albums," McCulley says. He sounds slightly amazed. He's also played with X drummer D.J. Bonebrake and just did a session with Tom Petty's keyboard player.
That's what happens in L.A.
This isn't the life he thought he'd have back in his early 20s, when he thought for sure he'd be a rock star. It was understandable. Sweet Vine, the band he was in at the time, did have a major record deal.
That didn't quite work out, and these days it's enough to just make a living doing what he loves. McCulley has had music featured on TV shows, such as FX's "The League," HBO's "Cathouse" and ABC's "Grey's Anatomy." He's also recorded six solo albums, including "The Grand Design," which will be released on Tuesday.
The album is different from his previous work. It was recorded with his current band, essentially live in McCulley's Red Hill Recording studios.
"We'd just play the songs until they sounded right," he says. Sometimes, that meant letting the tunes morph from his typical country-roots style. "Let You Go," for example, came out as more of a Memphis soul tune.
"The Grand Design" takes a different tone as well. His last album came from a dark place, written after an ex-girlfriend committed suicide and a good friend died of cancer.
This time around, McCulley is embracing a new beginning and a new life with his wife, Anna Maria Rosales, and their son, Jarvis. The album reflects that. Having a son wasn't something McCulley had ever envisioned and it changed his life completely -- in a good way.
"All of the people who say those goofy things? All of it is true," he says. "Turns out it's the best thing."
The reporter can be reached at (559) 441-6759, firstname.lastname@example.org
or@JoshuaTehee on Twitter. Read his blog at fresnobeehive.com