Going the Whole Hog at Boulevard Music

(Photo by Aurelio Ocampo)

Whole Hog performs at Boulevard Music for the first time on Saturday, with a set that will “pushe the boundaries of bluegrass, Irish, swing, country and old time music.” Banjo player Keith Frankel, who also teaches at Boulevard, told the News about what they have in store for Culver City…

When did you start playing and performing? 

This Ventura-based string band consists of Seth Andrey Oster (guitar), Keith Frankel (banjo), Charletta Erb (fiddle) and Corey Highberg (standup bass). Keith, Charletta, and Seth initially met at a Ventura bluegrass jam. During COVID, the three began to truly dial in their sound—practicing masked-up in the backyard. Once the world reopened, Corey joined on bass and the rest is history. For the Boulevard show, they will be joined by the imitable Mike Mullins on mandolin. Mike has been a fixture on the California acoustic music scene for over 40 years. In 1984 he began a 30-year musical alliance with renowned fiddler Phil Salazar, and in 1990 co-founded the Acousticats.

Describe your sound…

Whole Hog blends traditional bluegrass repertoire with Irish, vintage jazz, yodeling, country, western swing, honky tonk, as well as unique original compositions. Lush vocal harmonies, instrumental mastery and fresh arrangements are at the forefront of their fresh sound. 

What are your career highlights so far?

The band had a busy 2023 highlighted with a 22 show stint as the featured bluegrass band in the musical Dark of the Moon at Ventura’s Rubicon Theatre. Whole Hog has also performed at notable festivals including Huck Finn Jubilee and the Father’s Day Bluegrass Festival. They have also been regular performers at Gilley’s Saloon at Treasure Island, Las Vegas.

What recorded music is available — particularly the most recent?
This fall we recorded 3 tracks at Castaway 7 Studios, Ventura. Hear them here: https://www.wholehogband.com/audio

Have you performed at Boulevard Music before? Any memories? 

No, this is our first time. Keith is the banjo instructor at Boulevard Music, so we are especially excited for this show! If you like what you hear, sign up for a banjo lesson after the show.

What can the audience expect from the set this time?

We have an evening of acoustic music planned, drawing from our usual catalog (see description below). We will also perform several original vocal and instrumental compositions planned.

What else do you have coming up?

Whole Hog is looking forward to a busy spring/summer including a performance at the Good Old Fashioned Bluegrass Festival, San Benito County Historical Park (August 10-11). 

Whole Hog with Mike Mullens perform at 8 p.m. on Saturday, March 23 at Boulevard Music. Go to boulevardmusic.com for more information about the show. 

Elsewhere this week

The Culver Hotel will be hosting the likes of Sylvia & the Rhythm Boys, and Scotty Bramer. Go to culverhotel.com for more info.

There’s a full program of music at the Cinema Bar this week, as usual. The Hot Club of Los Angeles plays every Monday, and Wednesdays are singer/songwriter and open mic night. Other artists performing this week include Hard Rooster, Ginger Merkin, Tone Slingers, Tom Gramlich, Luba Dvorak, and more. Go to thecinemabar.com for more info.