Monday, December 6, 2010

Judge Jackson harnesses the simplicity of rock, plays Mentone

Judge Jackson harnesses the simplicity of rock, plays Mentone


The Press-Enterprise

Los Angeles-based rock bands that regularly perform in the Inland region are rarer than 1980s Sunset Strip bands that still have their original members.

But sometimes, bands will brave the freeways and venture to the area, like the fellows in Judge Jackson, who have dates booked in Mentone and Big Bear Lake this weekend as well as future dates in Murrieta and Yucaipa.

"We like to rock you guys out there, and you like to rock back," singer Todd McTavish said.

The straightforward philosophy frames Judge Jackson's straight-up rock.

"We're a simple band, we write simple songs," McTavish said. "We just write about life."

The band will be at Mill Creek Cattle Co. in Mentone tonight and at Snow Summit Resort in Big Bear on Saturday.

McTavish came to the United States from Canada in 1995 and linked up with guitarist Lee Jackson. The quartet is rounded out by drummer J.J. Garcia and bassist Brian James.

The group is set to release a new album, "Drive," on Aug. 3. The release features songs about the road, hearing your music on the radio and the simple pleasure of being home.

"You gotta be honest, which can be daunting and a little intimidating," McTavish said.

The singer said he constantly writes songs, workings things out on an acoustic guitar. He's also worked with Motley Crue's Mick Mars on songwriting projects.

"Good melody is addictive," McTavish said.

One of the rules he follows in penning tunes goes back to the simplicity dogma of the band -- if you can't play it with one finger on the piano, it's not a great song.

While McTavish loves the songwriting process, he doesn't think of himself as the star on stage.

"I think Lee is the real entertainer in the band," he said of Jackson.

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