The following articles were printed from Santa Maria Sun [santamariasun.com] – Volume 19, Issue 25
Ghost story: Local group Ghost/Monster explores generations of rock music across the Central Coast
By Joe Payne
Local musicians Nataly Lola and Jaxon Camaero have more in common than their love for American guitar rock–they’re also into some weird stuff.
Lola grew up in a household that loved horror movies and Steven King, she told the Sun, so she has an affinity for anything supernatural. Camaero on the other hand loves mythology and cryptozoology, with Bigfoot serving as the prime example.
“Horror is probably my biggest hobby outside of music and dance and performing,” Lola said. “We do a lot of horror conventions and stuff like that, and I study a lot of paranormal type stuff.”
The two, who will perform together at Bottlest Bar & Bistro in Buellton on Aug. 24, are both lifelong musicians. Lola has performed on the Central Coast, where she grew up, for more than a decade and performs solo all the time. Camaero is from the East Coast but transplanted to California years ago.
They connected musically about five years ago, Lola explained, and Camaero was able to hop into her extensive songbook with ripping lead guitar quickly. They also connected over their love for the weird and unexplained, which is where they got their name: Ghost/Monster.
“He was like, ‘No, we can’t do that because we’re going to sound like a metal band,'” Lola said. “And I was like, ‘Eh, let’s just do what we want.'”
The pair definitely does what it wants musically, performing covers from across decades of rock ‘n’ roll history and a few originals. Usually Lola plays acoustic and Camaero is on lead electric guitar, but they also hop around to different instruments like ukulele.
Lola lives in Santa Maria and Camaero in San Luis Obispo, so they perform across both Santa Barbara and SLO counties’ wine regions and local breweries, and at private events like weddings. They also try to play what their audience wants from the wide range of music they love. They do everything from 1950s rock to contemporary/alternative, Lola said, or classic country like Hank Williams or Patsy Cline to chart toppers of the 1980s.
The duo is definitely versatile, from their cover songs to the originals they’ve penned together. The music is jumpy, fun, and great up front and center or in the background of a more intimate venue. They’re also engaging, with Lola’s dynamic voice and also instrumentally, which comes from the raport they’ve built together over countless shows.
“Jaxon over the years has become like my brother,” Lola said. “I think what I like most about Jaxon is he’s the only band member I’ve ever had where I feel like I can completely be myself with him. I think he feels the same way; we’ve always said we’re like siblings.”
When they need a fuller sound, the pair calls on the talents of drummer Dale Moon and bassist James Yerkes. The fuller group is perfect for outdoor venues like wineries and weddings, Lola said.
But they can add or subtract depending on the venue, like they’ll do for the more intimate Bottlest.
“We’ve played there quite a bit,” Lola said. “Our four-piece band has played there several times, but it was kind of loud with everybody in there so we decided to play as a duo and bring in our percussionist. Dale Moon does like a cajon set with different shakers and things just to make the volume not so loud since it is a restaurant and people can talk.
“We always joke around and call it ‘polite rock ‘n’ roll,’ so we don’t blow you out of the water,” she laughed.
Both experienced performers, Lola and Camaero always try to feel out the crowd and play to their tastes. Lola is also a dance instructor and likes to play songs that keep audiences on the dance floor.
You never know which song will get somebody up and dancing, or who exactly might get up to dance. One recent show included a guest who lined up with Lola’s obsession with everything horror, she explained.
“The last time we played and there was a bridal party, and those girls were dancing all night long,” she said. “Actually, one of the girls was from The Walking Dead. She played Amy in the first season, Andrea’s sister, and she died and there was that intense death scene.
“In fact, it meant a lot to me because I just lost my sister about three years ago, and that scene happened right around the time when she died,” she added. “We talked about that, and she said she appreciated that and that she’d lost family too. So yeah, we had a full-on moment there.”
Whether they perform for a pack of traveling tourists or local fans, the Central Coast is “home” for her, Lola said. She’s lived elsewhere and said it’s a great place for performers, which is why she’s been able to support herself full time as a musician, either performing solo or with Ghost/Monster.
“One of the things about this area, the reality is that there is a budget for music. … The wineries treat us really well here,” she said. “They just don’t treat musicians the same in other areas; people are always so competitive. We’re all friends out here.”
Managing Editor Joe Payne is a fan of The Walking Dead, too. Contact him at [email protected]