By LA Weekly
By Henry Rollins
By Weekly Photographers
By Shea Serrano
By Nate "Igor" Smith
By Dan Weiss
By Erica E. Phillips
By Kai Flanders
One of the most remarkable aspects of Shea's career is the fact that he's not only survived but managed to earn a living and raise a family with neither a day job nor the traditional country artists' other economic booster, the annual European tour. Country music is about as far from being a viable meal ticket as one can get in the music business, and for a frontline honky-tonk man like Shea, survival translates into ceaseless toil at a sometimes marginal pay scale. Not that he's without cachet; Shea frequently tours as a sideman with Americana flag-bearer Dave Alvin, a job that's taken him to the stage of Madison Square Garden (where Alvin opened on a recent Bob DylanJoni Mitchell tour). Back home, opportunities remain slim. Shea and Kearns' mainstay booking is at a Burbank Mexican restaurant, Viva Fresh, where they set up on the cantina floor and wow the tequila-happy patrons several times monthly.
"Viva's is like home base now," he says. "They treat us good, nobody has anything to say about what we do. It reminds me of some little place in Texas . . . There's nothing else like that around here anymore. I wish some other places would loosen up a little. There's a lot of talented people who'd come out to play just for fun. It is fun."
Shea represents one of a very few tenuous links to an almost lost art form, yet his blend of industrious commitment and pure enjoyment in his work keeps him not only focused but constantly improving himself: "That's what you have to do -- play these songs to stay familiar with them. I feel like I keep some sort of connection. Because if you get away from playing the songs for a while, then you're lost . . ."
Rick Shea appears at Viva Fresh, 900 Riverside Drive, Burbank, on Saturday, June 19. (818) 845-2425.