Tonight, Nov. 7, The Cordovas will be making a return trip to Huntington to perform at the Black Sheep Stage venue. The band is touring in support of its latest album, “That Santa Fe Channel,” which features its unique hybrid of Americana, roots music and alt-rock grooves.
The show begins at 8 p.m. and is all ages. Tickets are $5. Black Sheep Stage is located at 279 9th St. in Huntington.
The members of The Cordovas include Joe Firstman on bass and vocals, Toby Weaver on guitar, Sevans Henderson on keyboards, James Lengel on drums and Lucca Soria on guitar.
Band leader Joe Firstman has experienced a rich history in the music business over the last 15 years or so. A native of Charlotte, North Carolina, and the son of an opera singer, Firstman eventually made the decision to travel to Los Angeles as a young man to have a go at that sprawling music scene. He soon found success, signing a recording deal with Atlantic Records and living the dream life. Unfortunately, he also watched as his success faded quickly within a few years, experiencing the ups and downs of the music business in real time. It is a music business tale often told.
For those who enjoy late night television, many will remember Firstman as the band leader of the NBC show “Last Call with Carson Daly.” Beginning in 2005, the show was done in-studio with a live audience with Firstman’s band holding court every night. The program’s format changed in 2009, however, and both the live audience and Firstman’s band were given the boot.
Firstman would bounce back, move to Nashville and create the now-successful band The Cordovas. But, those heady days in Hollywood were an experience Firstman would not soon forget.
“When I went to Los Angeles, I felt like I was a decent painter and I felt like I could be an actor and I was just going to try my hand at whatever came along,” said Firstman. “After I got there, my talents naturally led me to put a band together and my shows on the Sunset Strip began to sell a lot of tickets. It was the right time and I was the right age and I had a lot of energy. It all happened in a short period of time. It was after my signing with Atlantic Records and everything that went with that job that I was hired for ‘Last Call with Carson Daly.’ That TV gig kept me there in LA after most bozos like me would have been run out of town.”
Before joining the TV program, Firstman’s band opened concerts for Willie Nelson, Jewel and Sheryl Crow while holding down his own headlining shows back in LA. When the opportunity to create a band for “Last Call” came along, Firstman viewed it as a steady gig and a steady paycheck. The band also featured impressive musicians such as future jazz star Kamasi Washington, future Grammy Award winner Thundercat and drummer extraordinaire Kenny Aronoff.
“The TV show gig was $10,000 a week with a limo,” said Firstman. “Once I got the job, I rented a house for $3,000 a month on Manhattan Beach and I was walking down the street with my surf board under my arm one day thinking, ‘I wonder if this money is ever going to run out?’ At the time, I was really trying hard, spending $1,000 at the bar a night buying everybody drinks. My work ethic was good, but when the big money came it allowed me to go and do things that I thought I was supposed to be able to do, but it distracted me from my work and it was poison. I was 25 and drinking Patrón tequila and playing on national television. But I did meet some cool artists on that gig including Quincy Jones, who always talked to the boys in the band, seeing Snoop Dogg and how his operation worked, and Ben Harper was always gracious and looking you in the eye.”
After the bottom fell out of the LA scene for Firstman, he made the move to the South of his youth and set up camp in Nashville. There, he formed The Cordovas. After producing and releasing two albums on their own, the group signed with ATO Records and released The Santa Fe Channel recording. After this show in Huntington, The Cordovas will be back in the studio to finish their second album for the label.
Back in Nashville, Firstman also reunited with his childhood friend, multi-instrumentalist Toby Weaver, who is the newest member of the band.
“Toby and I grew up on the same street and we have known each other our whole life,” said Firstman. “My dad was a real music snob who could play the guitar really good and my mom is an opera singer, meaning there are some real musicians in my family. When we were kids, they kind of thought we were full of it because we were trying to play a tennis racket like a guitar. But, my dad was quick to point out that Toby had real talent. He could play music already by the time he was 10 or 11 years old.”
With the group fully intact and all in, The Cordovas are set to reach the next level.
“Somehow, this life has kept Toby and me close to each other and he came out and did a little solo tour with me after my Atlantic Records deal was falling apart and the TV show left me out there on the road,” said Firstman. “Then, after hearing the musical parts he was putting on everything; that is when we brought him into The Cordovas. Now, we are full on, dude. We are running around and touring and making music like a chicken with its head cut off.”
More information on the group can be found at www.cordovasband.com.