Rain in Blue
When truck driver Tom Kauffman adopted "Tango Kilo" as his CB radio handle, little did he know that he was naming one of the Los Angeles club scene's hottest rock bands. In CB lingo, Tango is for "T" and Kilo is for "K," and the band Tango Kilo is riding the catchy name to the stages of the Good Hurt Club, the Viper Room, and the famous Whiskey-A-Go-Go, where there unique sound, described as a little alternative and a little retro rock, has found many new fans. The band is touring through Oregon in July, with the release of their debut CD, "Dry Dock Cantina," in June. The band frontman is Dave Mancha, who plays guitar, is the lead singer and songwriter. Tango Kilo plays all original songs, with a few covers mixed in their stage show. Mancha, 31, of Victorville, Calif., launched the band five years ago with drummer and lifelong friend Randy Jordan. Mancha and Jordan, 32, are public school teachers by day and rockers by night. Mancha's vocal, described by many as having a "Southern Rock feel," accents the band's sound. Jordan is an accomplished drummer - "Ludwig, of course, since I was weaned by my dad on The Beatles," Jordan said. The other two band mates are Robbie Kauffman, 29, lead guitarist (whose father coined the phrase Tango Kilo) and bassist Jeremy Lacey, 25. Kauffman is considered one of the top guitarists on the L.A. club scene. "Watching Robbie Kauffman play his riffs live is worth the price of admission alone," said Mike Norton, record producer for Intrigue Sound Labs in San Diego, Calif., where Tango Kilo recorded it's new album. "Robbie is a huge talent. "It's hard to believe the band is unsigned," Norton added, "but that won't be for long. They are one of the hottest bands on the L.A. club scene. They really give the clubs a different sound, alternative rock but not too heavy, not too much beat sound, and not too raw. Their songs are tight, with retro-type riffs and melody. Most of the lyrics have deep meanings, about life, love and loss. Really good stuff." Kauffman, who along with Mancha and Jordan has a B.A. in education, remembers the day he met Mancha and joined the band. "We were both working as cooks at a steakhouse while going to college. "I played the piano and drums and was just getting good with the guitar. We didn't have a place to play so we set up in the parking lot of a church down the street. It was really random. There was no one around. The moment I played with Dave and Randy I knew this was it." Kauffman says, for him, the band is all about the music. "It's about playing - anywhere, any time - it doesn't matter. What we try to do with our sound and style is build upon the history of rock and roll, but still be true to it's roots. We try to build on everything that has come before, and add our little contribution. We will never stop playing, whether in a garage some where, or at a concert, it doesn't matter where." Lacey, the youngster in the band, joined in 2005. "We've had a few bass players over the years, but Jeremy is a Tango Kilo kind of guy," says Mancha. "He's solid and has a good mind for arranging, which helps us out as we develop our songs." Mancha also credits drummer Jordan for helping with the melodies for their original songs and, "like Ringo with the Beatles, he comes up with these one-liners that just go perfect into certain songs." The band's new CD features 11 original songs. "Flatlands," a catchy tune with pleading vocals, laments the loneliness of the breakup of a relationship, accented these words: "I walk the Flatlands as a broken-hearted man. I searched out corners I could mend." The song has received considerable play this spring on College Radio. The band's concert opener, "Flesh and Blood Attack," is an in-your-face rocker that reminds us that we're all human, flesh and blood, and all subject to the attacks that the world brings our way. On "Outlaws and Rogues," the band slows it down and, with harmonica and mandolin, creates a rock-country ballad. Mancha says the song, about the down and out and homeless, was inspired by the music of Gram Parsons, but it also has a Neil Young feel. To keep up on the band, log on to Tangokilo.com, where concert dates and other information is updated every day.