Local coastal ‘Hillbillies’ ready to stomp

Surfside, Sunset residents are part of Art Festival music lineup

In addition to classic country, Hillbilly Crutch will play some bluegrass and rockabilly songs.

Among the bands performing at the Sunset Beach Art Festival this weekend, is a country group that was formed by Sunset Beach and Surfside locals. “Hillbilly Crutch” is known among the locals, but the little band is branching out and playing more gigs away from Sunset.

The group was formed by Surfside resident and bass player Randy Cochran, who was playing with other bands, but found himself not having as much fun as he’d like. He thought playing with friends would be more fun. He collaborated with Sunset Beach’s Dean Archer, along with his son Ryan and the making of the “Crutch” was born.

Hillbilly Crutch is a slang term for a capo guitar, or other string instruments, that is modified for easier play. They don’t actually use one, but they knock out familiar hits from the likes of Waylon Jennings, Merle Haggard and the Jennings boys; Hank, Junior and The Third. They have also produced some of their own originals.

“Our sound would be best described as alternative country,” Cochran said.

In addition to classic country, they will play some bluegrass and rockabilly songs. The three original members reached out to some local professionals they knew and were soon joined by Dave Tabone, Gary Riley and Dale Anderson. Tabone, of Long Beach, is the drummer and main tech guru for the band. Anderson plays electric guitar as does Riley. Riley also handles lap-steel guitar and mandolin when needed. The Archers both play mainly acoustic guitar and along with Cochran, they handle most of the lead vocals.

While Cochran is having more fun playing with his buddies, he noted that they still pushed themselves to improve as a band and he said they have begun to find their best rhythm and are branching out. They’ve booked more shows, including famed Cook’s Corner in Trabuco Canyon. But their home base is the Sunset Beach area and they will always enjoy joining local events such as the Art Festival.

“We love it, we love this town,” Cochran said.

Entertainment will be at the community center and Firehouse Gallery, on 12th Street, where the juried art exhibit will also be held.

The Sunset Beach Art Festival returns on Aug. 14-15, from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Saturday and 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Sunday. Local artists and artisans will be displaying their work and selling their wares, amid the usual atmosphere of food, fun and music.

The juried art show will be held in the Firehouse Gallery, where works will be show in multiple mediums, including oil paint, watercolor, photography and sculpture, just to name a few. The judge for the art contest will be artist and educator Rick Blake, of Huntington Beach. 

With a Fine Arts degree and Art Education teaching credential, Blake has taught art in middle school for 14 years. The famous Las Damas Quilt is being raffled off and the winning ticket will be drawn on Sunday at 4:45 p.m. For more on the festival, visit, sunsetbeachartfestival.net.

Musical Lineup

Saturday, Aug. 14

1 p.m. – Long Beach Leftovers

3 p m. – Hillbilly Crutch

5 p.m. – Burning Daisy

Sunday, Aug. 15

11 a.m. – Phunkle

1 p.m. – Cowboy and Indian

3 p.m. – Hamapple