Strange Vine's popularity expands beyond Fresno

The Fresno BeeFebruary 19, 2014 

Strange Vine is the trifecta for promoters or talent buyers.

First, the Fresno rock duo puts on one heck of an engaging live show. As a two-piece band, guitarist Toby Cordova and drummer/organist Ian Blesse put out sounds that would make three and four-piece bands jealous.

Second, they work hard and are professionals in all aspects of the business — like making sure people actually show up to watch them play.

"Plus, they're the nicest dudes," says Aaron Gomes, the promoter behind Visalia's Sound N Vision Foundation. Gomes booked the band to headline a show 9:30 p.m. Friday at the Cellar Door.

That combination is getting Strange Vine noticed in spots outside the Central Valley, too.

That includes San Francisco, where the band will headline a venue at this year's Noise Pop Festival, which runs Tuesday to March 2 in 22 spots throughout the city. The band plays Wednesday at the Bottom of the Hill with French Cassettes, Dante Elephante and Irontom.

David Rodrick is a talent buyer with the festival and has seen Strange Vine's popularity grow within San Francisco's music scene over the past couple of years.

"I started noticing that the San Francisco crowds were equally loving these guys as much as the local bands," Rodrick says.

That, coupled with their work ethic and personalities, gave him trust in Strange Vine's ability to headline a slot at this year's festival. He trusts them so much he's trying to rally a few record label types to the show and hopes to have Noise Pop's organizers there. The same group books talent for Treasure Island and other big festivals in the city.

Rodrick thinks Strange Vine could make an impression that will open doors.

While the extra attention is a net positive for the band, it's a bit of a double-edged sword, Blesse says. Especially since it's just the two of them doing all the work.

Blesse is the band's booking agent. The pair haul their own gear on and off stage and trade off selling merchandise at the shows, unless they're playing, and then it goes unsold.

They'd love to take another person out on the road, but they have as much gear as a three-piece band and there just isn't any space in the car, Blesse says. It's a small car.

"There's not a seat open."

That's the kind of economy (and schedule) the band works under. It's not for lack of trying that Strange Vine hasn't released any new music since its debut EP "Ghosts" came out in 2010.

"We've just always stayed busy," Blesse says. "We'll play and try to get enough money, so we can get back in the studio," he says.

They've been working with Nino Moschello at Bird and Egg Studios in Richmond for close to a year. They have 11 tracks recorded and are looking to finish up in the next few months. A proper album should be out by summer, Blesse says.

But the duo is mindful about putting the songs together, making sure the end result is worth the wait.

"The scary part of this is waiting four years and coming out with something that is kind of 'eh,' " Blesse says.

Show information

Strange Vine, 9:30 p.m. Friday at the Cellar Door, 101 W. Main St. in Visalia. Chad and the Meatbodies and Evelyn open.Tickets are $7. Details: (559) 636-9463,


This reporter can be reached at (559) 441-6479, or @joshuatehee on Twitter and Instagram.

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