■ By Rusty Strait / Senior Reporter
The Diamond Valley Arts Center (DVAC), located in midtown Hemet in the Harvard District, can always be counted on to bring great entertainment to the stage on any given night. Saturday, March 3, was no exception. Eva and the Vagabonds turned out to be both musical and comedic as the occasion required, which it certainly did throughout the first half of their show.
The performance opened with a couple of guitar solos from a blonde-headed young man named Nathan JKRock. I’m sure he will find his way in the musical world; he is only 16, a high school student. His knowledge of the instrument he has chosen might well have been that of a young student at a music academy.
One minor distraction during the first half—static from connections to Jake Phlum’s drums and Al Arteaga’s Base competed with Eva’s lovely voice and, trust me, she has the vocal chords of a Broadway musical canary.
Eva appeared in a simple black and white plaid dress. Her manner and poise as she battled the sound problems reminded me of a 1940s actress and sort of down-home singer Joan Davis.
When the whole sound system seemed beyond correction, Eva, like a “break a leg” showgirl, stashed her guitar and took to the piano where she sang, played, and joked her way along while stagehands tried to correct the sound defects. A constant banter was exchanged with her musical friends. She and Al had obviously been down this road before and so they kept a dialogue about mishaps of the past. The audience seemed to understand and went right along without any disparaging remarks.
With all good fortune, there were no electrical or other distractions during the second half of the show where we had a chance to see and hear the talents of these young entertainers.
Angel Baby, an original 1960 hit song by Rosie and the Originals, was the highlight of the night for me. Eva departed the musicale voice, bringing a sentimental love message to her rendition. I noticed a couple of tear drops on several cheeks in the audience which, unfortunately, was less populated than a full house.
Both Al and Jake had their turns with solos. Jake subbed on the accordion for a number since Jasmine was unable to join the group for this gig.
Eva, too, might easily pass for 16. Her youthful persona is that of someone you simply might want to adopt for your own private musical concert.
During my interview with her, I discovered that she is an immigrant from Russia, brought to the United States by her mother at the age of 5 or 6. “I am like first generation American, although my children will be actual first generation American citizens,” she said.
Music comes naturally to her since her mother is an accomplished pianist and graduate from a Russian music academy.
“My grandmother is also musical,” she said. “She is like a choir conductor.”
Where has she and her group performed?
“Kind of like all over. We’ve been to Hemet before, sort of a regular here at DVAC. We’ve also appeared at The Derby on the west side of Hemet.”
“We are currently working on a new album with Charles Newman, a producer in New York. Right now it is nice to be back in Riverside County, having just returned from a tour.”
They may be heading for New York, but it was easy to see that their hearts are as one and will always belong to the Riverside area.
The group was well-received, despite the full house they so properly deserved. Like I always say, Hemet: Support your entertainers! They’re good and they’re local.