by Otis Tyrone
The Shys Alex Kweskin used to ride in the little motorized train in the Fiesta Parade when he was three. His mother bought his little red Keds at Sam’s Shoes and a variety of everything at the Coronet “Five and Dime” Store. She got pencils and pens at Russell’s Stationary. She shopped “Avenida Del Mar” on a regular basis.
On August 12, 2007, he and his local bandmates in the Warner Brothers ISire recording group, The Shys, will be playing on the main stage directly in front of where the old Coronet store once stood across the street from the extant Russell’s.
Riley Stephenson and Tony Cupito have similar stories to tell. The keyboardist and drummer were born and raised in town just like the bass guitarist, Kweskin. Stephenson and Kweskin literally grew up together an extended family. They are bracketed by older siblings of exactly the same age, Briana and Ben respectively 3 years older and Lexi and Sophie 3 years younger - all born and raised in the Village by the Sea. They shared Christmas and Thanksgiving dinners and lazy days at the beach all summer. Their relationship is the essence of what San Clemente is and has been as a small coastal community. Hopefully, it continues to be that way.
Riley Stephenson played varsity basketball at San Clemente High School while Tony Cupito entertained the crowd at half time in the Triton gym during the games. Riley could often be seen looking wistfully over at the jazz band. A dream he finally fulfilled at the University of California at Santa Barbara when he joined their jazz band during his recently completed studies.
From Sam’s shoes, to the old Coronet; from the high school gym to the intersection of Ole Vista and Del Mar, the local boys love to give it back to the community that has meant so much to them for all of their lives. With their second appearance as the frontliners of the Fiesta celebration on Del Mar, they gladly help the Chamber of Commerce put on one of the signature events in the community.
With guitarist Chris Wulff and singer Kyle Krone, (both longtime residents and local graduates of elementary, junior high and high school) The Shys play a brand of popular music. Influenced by a diverse set of muses from John Lee Hooker to Junior Wells, Bob Dylan, the Rolling Stones, the Beatles and Neil Young, it makes for an infectious brand of music that gets people moving and grooving.
Their first album “Astoria” came out about a year ago and met with critical acclaim and a solid and loyal fan base. Since they write all their own songs (although they perform some crowd pleasing “covers” during club and concert appearances), the process of producing the second album is being very carefully considered. It is about the music and resonating with the audience.
Local club dates showcase the old and new sounds of this up and coming group. Redefining music with originality and honesty is their commitment and their audiences seem to get the message.
Playing the legendary rock venues like the Roxie and the Troubador in Los Angeles, the South by Southwest Festival in Austin Texas, and touring back and forth across America and Canada may be great for a recording career on a major label. But Messrs Kweskin, Stephenson, and Cupito know that playing the Fiesta for the Chamber is what their lives have been about and they want to give it back with gratitude and appreciation.
Alex Kweskin can’t fit into that little train going down Del Mar anymore, but he can drive that Rock and Roll train with Riley and Tony down that Main Street on August 12. Be there and enjoy the trip. b