SCV NEWSMAKERS OF THE WEEK:
Duane Harte & Alan Wykoff
Santa Clarita Parade Committee
Manager, L.A. Carpool Music
Interview by Leon Worden
Signal Multimedia Editor
Tuesday, June 25, 2006
(Television interview conducted June 15, 2006)
"Newsmaker of the Week" is presented by the SCV Press Club and Comcast, and hosted by Signal Multimedia Editor Leon Worden. The program premieres every Wednesday at 9:30 p.m. on SCVTV Channel 20, repeating Sundays at 8:30 a.m.* * *
This week's newsmakers are Vice Chairman Duane Harte and Lineup Captain Alan Wykoff of the Santa Clarita Parade Committee, together with Jack Gold, creator-manager of L.A. Carpool. Questions are paraphrased and answers may be abbreviated for length.
Signal: What can people expect to see in this year's Fourth of July Parade?
Harte: People! Every year we have about 2,000 people who are actually participating in the parade, and we'll have maybe a million people out there oh that's the wrong parade, that's the January one about 25,000 people out on the parade route watching everybody go by and cheering and having a great time.
Wykoff: Kids, horses, music. All kinds of good stuff. Car clubs. Everything comes out.
Signal: When is this parade?
Wykoff: Tuesday, the 4th of July. Parade kickoff will be at 9:45 a.m. Staging will start as early as 7 a.m. when people start coming in there and getting set up.
Signal: Where do people go to see the parade?
Harte: The parade route this year will be the same as it has been the last couple of years. It starts at the corner of San Fernando Road and Newhall Avenue, right by Hart Park, and proceeds down San Fernando Road, turns left on Lyons, going west. When it gets to Orchard Village, it hangs a right and goes north. It goes down to 16th Street, turns right again, and that will be the end of the parade. So people can line up anywhere they can find shade along the parade route and watch.
Signal: How do you get there? Where do people park?
Wykoff: That's a good question.
Harte: It's been done every year for who knows how long, and people always do seem to find places to park. Most people just come walking from their homes in the nearby neighborhoods to get there, so there seems to be enough room for everybody.
Signal: Can anyone sign up to be in the parade?
Wykoff: Anybody can be in it. The best way to do it is to get a parade entry form, which you can now get at scvparade.com. You'll get the rules, all the information necessary; send us your money and come on out and have fun.
Signal: What does it cost to be in the parade?
Wykoff: If you're a commercial entry, it's $100, and if you're a nonprofit, like a car club or Boy Scout troop, it's a ($30) entry fee. Just come out, sign a waiver, come out and have fun.
Signal: Is there a deadline to sign up?
Wykoff: There is a deadline (of) June 27.
Signal: How long have you guys been involved with the parade?
Harte: Well, personally, I've been doing it for nine years now, 10 years, something like that. I just happened to fall into it one day and got involved, and haven't been able to get out of it since.
Signal: Now what about you, Alan? You're with the Greater SCV Optimist Club; that doesn't mean there's a Lesser SCV Optimist Club out there somewhere, is there?
Wykoff: No, it doesn't. But there is more than one Optimist club in our valley, so we chose that name. We combined a few clubs together and made that.
Signal: What do the Optimists do for the parade?
Wykoff: As much as we possibly can. We get volunteers; we're there during the set-up of the parade, all of the meetings that we try to get to. We provide insurance for the parade; we talk about the rules for the parade; we do the staging, we do the line-up, and that's about it.
Signal: What are some of the do's and don'ts if you're in the parade?
Wykoff: One of the biggest "don'ts" there is, I think, is not throwing things from a moving vehicle.
Wykoff: Anything. Worst-case scenario is if you throw out candy and some kid wants his piece of candy and he runs out in front of a moving vehicle. That's just a scenario we don't want to consider. I'd rather have do's than don'ts; do come out and have fun.
Signal: Duane, what do you do on parade day?
Harte: Well, besides being the parade vice-chair, on parade day, I basically handle all the VIPs, from the City Council to the congressman ... I furnish the cars and go out and find drivers and cars ... and put everything together and make sure that they get on the route in time.
Signal: Old cars? New cars?
Harte: I've come up with a gamut. I try to make things a little bit different each year if I can. Sometimes I'll come up with vintage cars, sometimes I'll come up with brand-new cars from the various car lots, especially one of them on Auto Row has always helped me out, it's Chrysler. But I think my most favorite one of all was a few years back when I got the Flintstone car for the City Council. That one brings back a lot of memories.
Signal: Was it pedal-powered? Did the council have to push it?
Harte: No, actually, they could keep their feet inside. It had a motor. ... It had rock wheels. The car was made out of cement with rock wheels, and from what I understand, the ride wasn't very good, but they sure looked great in it. Everybody loved it.
Signal: Obviously the city helps with the parade, but the city doesn't actually run it. What is the group that organizes the parade?
Harte: It's absolutely a separate group from anybody. The (Santa Clarita) Parade Committee consists of whoever wants to volunteer to be on the committee. (We) make sure that they get things done and we try to find the funding, whether it be through entry fees or asking the city to help us out with it, as they always do, and sometimes even various vendors and companies that want to come in and perhaps advertise.
Signal: The city closes the streets and the Sheriff's Department helps out
Harte: Absolutely. The sheriffs are always out there, and we have at least one (deputy) sheriff on the committee who tries to be there so that he can coordinate what our needs are going to be as far as closing off the streets, and he gathers the personnel to be there on July 4.
Signal: Alan, what stands out in your mind from past parades?
Wykoff: I like the equestrian units. I love to see the horses come out the horses and buggies; the sheriff's posse comes out with their flags; I think that's what really stands out in my mind to come out and actually be able to go up and see the horses beforehand and watch and see what goes on.
The other thing that really stands out was, a few years back, the Fire Department came through and a Fire Department helicopter came across our parade route at about 300 feet above the parade and we thought that was really cool until we found out it was headed to a fire, and they wanted the Fire Department to follow them. Other than the fact they were in a parade, they had to wait.
Signal: So you let the Fire Department go out first now.
Wykoff: We try to get them out first so they can go back and take care of all of us.
Signal: What are some of the other things that happen on July 4 in Santa Clarita?
Harte: Well certainly once we have the parade and the after-parade trophy handouts and concert in the park which this year is going to be much bigger than we've ever done, and is something else that's being put on by our committee there are typically fireworks in various parts of the city. The city will put on a fireworks show at the (Westfield Valencia Town Center) mall, so you can gather on the streets surrounding the mall to watch those. There's a fireworks show in Stevenson Ranch; there's another one up at Castaic Lake, and probably one or two on various streets in the city.
Signal: Illegal ones. There's one at Magic Mountain every night in summer
Harte: Magic Mountain is like clockwork. You're sitting in your living room watching TV, about 9:40 p.m. you hear it: Boom! Boom!
Signal: People usually start their July 4 morning, with a pancake breakfast; who does that?
Wykoff: Rotary Club. It (is) at the Roger Dunn Golf Shop (on San Fernando Road).
Harte: Prior to the parade, the (5-K) run starts over on 16th Street and winds around, comes down Lyons Avenue, goes back up and they try to keep all the runners right ahead of the parade so they don't get in the way.
Signal: What else do people need to know about the parade?
Harte: We send out the applications every year for the parade and now it's online, so you can sign up for it, and we've already got numerous people who have done so. ... What people have to remember, every year we have people trying to sign up on June 28, July 1, July 3; it does not give us time to get them in the lineup, get the streets marked off, get the script written. That's why we have to have a deadline on parade entries.
Signal: It sounds like a bigger job than people might realize.
Wykoff: It is. Some of the things that we see (on) the entry forms is, they will tell us, "Oh yeah, I just have just a Cub Scout pack and a pickup truck." OK, so we figure a Cub pack and a pickup truck, a pickup truck's about 30 feet, the Cub pack's maybe another 15 to 30 feet. So we'll give them 60 feet of space (in the staging area). And they'll show up with a tractor trailer which is 80 feet long, and they'll show up with two pickups; "Oh, you know what, we forgot to tell you. I'm sorry."
Signal: Or a boat or a plane
Wykoff: We've had a few boats out there, actually. Duane takes care of those at the VIP registration area. We've had pontoon boats show up when they weren't expected. We've had all kinds of interesting things show up.
Signal: Launch your boat in the Santa Clarita Fourth of July Parade. What's the weather going to be like?
Wykoff: Hopefully it's going to be really cool and overcast, but we all know better. So what we pray for is one thing; what we get is something else. Bring out sunscreen, bring out water, bring out something to eat and something to sit on and get comfortable.
Signal: Bring out your Silly String?
Wykoff: No. ... I believe the Sheriff's Department frowns on that particular item. ... There is an ordinance: No Silly String allowed at the parade ... It is not exactly the funnest thing to watch a horse get hit in the face with Silly String. They get very upset and very quickly, like anybody else would. The big squirt guns Super Soakers those aren't allowed at the parade.
Harte: We want people to have fun, but we don't want their fun to ruin it for everybody else. There are a few rules that they have to follow.
Another thing people might want to know is, there are going to be (seven) different announcing stations along the parade route. So when people go down to the parade route, they can look for the tables that are set up for the announcers. If they stay close to those, then they can actually hear the script and what's going on.
Signal: Aren't there some better places to be along the parade route?
Harte: Well, any place where there's shade, of course, is the best place to be. I think one of our most populated places is the corner of Orchard Village and Lyons because there is shade in parts of it and people gather around not only on the center median, but (also) on the sidewalks. We have an announcer station there, too. So it's a pretty good place to be.
Signal: People can come out and see cops and firefighters and horses
Wykoff: You can see the CHP come out and do their thing on their motorcycles; you can watch the Sheriff's Posse go by, and their motorcycles come by, and that's kind of fun. They'll do wheelies and have a blast out there. The Job's Daughters are coming out with their own float; you'll see the SCV car club come out; you'll see pretty much anything you can possibly think of.
Signal: Some people really go all-out with their parade floats, don't they?
Harte: That's one of the things that has amazed me in the last few years, especially, is the amount of work that some of the groups put into their floats. It's incredible. Certainly we aren't a Rose Parade, but for a small-town parade that's probably one of the biggest in who-knows-where, as far as the people we have and the floats that we have, people really do get involved in it. They get out and they put these things together and it's incredible as to the ideas that they come up with.
The Santa Clarita Fourth of July Parade starts at 9:45 a.m. in front of Hart Park and ends near Newhall Park, where the band, L.A. Carpool, will perform from noon to 2 p.m.
Signal: What kind of a name is "L.A. Carpool" for a band?
Gold: "L.A. Carpool" is the feeling of the band, because we're in L.A. and we have traffic jams and we have carpools and carpool lanes.
What we do is we take some of the members and we switch them around occasionally. ... Jump on for a ride and get off. You see (from) some of our DVDs and videos that we change personnel. There are about five people who are permanent, and the rest are all interchangeable.
Signal: Now many people will be performing at Newhall Park?
Gold: Twelve. You're going to have the whole complement.
Signal: That's a lot of sound.
Gold: It's going to be a very lot of sound. There'll be a horn section, trumpet, sax, trombone; there'll be piano, bass, drums, timbales, congas, guitar great guitar player.
Signal: Is this jazz or rock or what?
Gold: We're pigeonholed as a Latin band, except that the lyrics are in English. The background vocals are in Spanish, so we also have an extra background vocal singer. The music itself is salsa. It's a mix.
Signal: But it works.
Gold: It works specifically because so many people years ago loved the sounds of Cal Tjader and Willie Bobo and Mongo Santamaria and all the Latin jazz greats, but it never crossed over to the mainstream. We've taken it to the mainstream.
Signal: Is it like Carlos Santana?
Gold: It's very close, and been compared to Carlos Santana. He can come and join our Carpool any day and play with us any day. He'd love it.
Signal: Do you have a following? Who likes it English speakers? Spanish speakers?
Gold: We've had downloads (from the Internet) throughout the world, which I find amazing.
We started about four years ago. There was a new grassroots movement called the Internet. The record companies laughed at us. Some of them said, "You guys are Latin; we don't know how to promote you." Other people said, "You're pop" the Latin companies did "So you're not Latin." Except that the population growing up around us is bilingual. All the kids are speaking Spanish and English, and the adults are speaking Spanish and English, and we're speaking Spanish and English.
And then a little company started up, called MP3.com. A lot of people might remember, that was the very first pioneer. We went on there, and before we knew it, we had over a million and some-odd downloads.
Signal: You gave everything away on the Internet?
Gold: Well we were getting paid by this company. And he paid all the musicians and it was a great deal, except that the owner decided he was going to allow people to put their own music, such as The Eagles or what have you, in their own personal locker and keep it.
I saw it coming. I said, "Uh-oh, they're going to get sued." And the next thing you know, if you wanted to put, say, "Hotel California" I say that because we're going to play that. We did a Latin version of it. He says, "Well, they have Hotel California. We don't need to let them upload it themselves; we'll just copy it off the CD." And then, boom. They got sued.
But the record companies saw their sales starting to drop, and slowly but surely, the places like Yahoo! and so forth started offering individual downloads for sale. Then along came Apple, and it was all over. Last year, $4.5 billion worth of music was sold over the Internet.
Signal: And you got a little chunk of that.
Gold: Oh, we got a nice chunk of it, and we keep getting it.
Signal: You've got a string of titles after your name, in relation to L.A. Carpool manager, producer, creator. You created the L.A. Carpool sound?
Gold: I created the sound, along with Frank Garcia, who plays guitar and sings. Then we brought in a fellow named Rick Ryan, who wrote a platinum-selling song for Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young, many years ago. He writes almost all of the English lyrics, and Frank writes all of the background vocals.
Then we started pulling some other people in, and now we have some additional writers guys who worked in the business, like Richie "Gajate" Garcia, who is Drummerworld's Hand Percussionist of the Year, and plays with Diana Ross and goes with Patti LaBelle and was John Denver's percussionist, and his whole family plays in the band now, the Garcias. So we have a song called, "Oye Garcia," and it's Richie who is a teacher, as well, and he has a son, Roland, playing timbales; his other son, Tristan, playing the trombone; of course Rick's always there, and Rick writes all those interesting lyrics you hear.
The song, "Mi Guajira," was the first song we did. I got the idea from a Willie Bobo song, I have to admit that. I said, "I wonder how this would be with English lyrics." So Frank and I started to put it together. Frank wrote the music in his studio three of the guys have their own studios and it came together real well, I have to say. It was really sounding good, and I said, "OK, now we're going to put live musicians on, but the lyrics aren't exactly right." So we got Rick in there, and Rick came up with lines like, "The palm trees sway and the congas play," and stuff like that, and before we knew it, it was the No. 1 song on MP3.com.
It's being played on a jukebox in the movie "Narc" with Ray Liotta, and these are the kind of movies you want to be in. I'd rather be in one of those, because they play all over the world on cable.
Signal: Do the people in the band spend most of their time on the road?
Gold: They spend their time around town. Richie Garcia spends his time on the road. He also spends his time doing clinics all over the world. He's a spokesman for LP (Latin Percussion) Congas and for Roland Keyboards. In fact, he just showed me a new set of drums that Roland made. Barely have to touch them and they're off. They're electronic. We're going to put those on "Hotel California," which we have almost done.
Signal: Are you in the band, too?
Gold: I started out being in the band. I still play a few songs each time just because I want to. But realistically, I put myself through law school years ago, and there was this period of time about 20 years I really didn't play. And now you've got all these young musicians playing Latin music who read and they play every single percussion instrument, which I don't. And their chops are incredible. In fact, we played in Huntington Park for Telemundo, and we had a kid from Argentina playing who was awesome. Realistically, I'm not up to par with some of these (musicians).
Signal: There are probably teenagers in this town who know you not from L.A. Carpool, but by visiting your courtroom. You're a juvenile court judge in Sylmar.
Gold: Yes. I was afraid you'd say that.
Signal: So L.A. Carpool isn't something you do full-time, but the musicians in the band are
Gold: The musicians in the band are full-time musicians. And Enzo, who is one of the folks who are going drive people nuts at the concert, because we added a song that now has some Reggaet§n are you familiar with that term?
Signal: Well, sort of.
Gold: It's a rap, but it's in Spanish. He did it in Huntington Park on Telemundo extreme sports; they wouldn't let him off the stage. It was amazing. So it's a song about L.A. called "L.A. Loco." The whole CD is about L.A. and how crazy it is and it is crazy.
Signal: So you're mixing Spanish rap with English lyrics and you've got horns and congas and everything else going on tell us about your lead singer, Gloria.
Gold: Gloria is half Colombian and half Irish. Her real name is Gloria Timmons. Now, I didn't feel that that would go over real well, so we call her Gloria T. She's fluent in Spanish and she's fluent in English; she wrote one of the songs (on L.A. Carpool's newest CD), another popular song on the Latin stations, No. 10 on the CD, "Nuyorican Blues." Wrote it on the spot. Well, we had a beer, and then she wrote it on the spot. And she sings it all in Spanish.
Signal: Newhall Park right after the Fourth of July Parade, noon to 2 p.m., L.A. Carpool live. What can people expect?
Gold: They can expect to stand back and get blown away. I guarantee they've never heard anything like this. We'll have them dancing in the park.
See this interview in its entirety today at 8:30 a.m., and watch for another "Newsmaker of the Week" on Wednesday at 9:30 p.m. on SCVTV Channel 20, available to Comcast and Time Warner Cable subscribers throughout the Santa Clarita Valley.