With live music venues moving in and out of Downtown Santa Ana, the area has seen some adversity when it comes to nightlife. Venues like La Santa have taken a notice to this shift, becoming an ever changing space open to all types of events and music. On Wednesdays and Thursdays, the recently opened sports bar La Santa becomes The Cavern. This weekly rockabilly and roots music night is where it’s at for local Santa Ana bands like Pope Paul and the Illegals.
Front man Paul Bouyear is no stranger to some of the limitations surrounding OC’s music scene. “I have songs complaining about how people don’t have too many options in Orange County or how it can be hard to get people out to a show on a weeknight,” he recalls. “Thankfully with some great promoters we’ve had some really nice weeknight surprises with Americana shows.”
The last time we caught up with Pope Paul, they were looking forward to a Summer of touring away from the West Coast. While in Mississippi they recorded their first LP, When the Stars Come Hurtling Down. Producers Matt Patton and Bronson Tew of Dial Back Sound asked Pope Paul and the Illegals to join their label after recording with them on previous ventures. The pairing is a perfect match, encouraging the high energy and eclectic style of the band, while opening the door to collaboration with rockabilly legends.
“It’s half compilation and half new; since Dial Back Sound is producing, they’re going through everything and picking their favorites from all of our sessions. Anything from our first album has been remix and remastered for vinyl specifically,” Bouyear says. “Bronson and Matt are brilliant. They really helped us get some awesome players on the album, like all the Squirrel Nut Zippers guys.” Jimbo Mathus of The Squirrel Nut Zippers worked with the band musically and even created cover art for the new album.
Now that they’re back performing all over OC, Pope Paul and the Illegals are looking forward to fans enjoying all the work and creativity that has gone into the making of When the Stars Come Hurtling Down. Bouyear explained that there are a few tracks they had been sitting on, which they’re now eager for everyone to hear. A few of those songs will be heard when they play in their hometown of Santa Ana on January 23rd at The Cavern. This comes a month before they go back on tour through March, assuring me they’ll be back in time for St. Patrick’s day. “It’s been a dream of mine,”Bouyear says. “I have a record store and I’ve always been buying records. We’re just so honored for it to be happening like this.”