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Style Magazine

Clean Slate

Jun 30, 2008 05:00PM ● By Super Admin

Some of you Superfreaks can remember the good old days. You know, cruising in the Firebird, windows down, belting Earth Wind & Fire lyrics at the top of your lungs. I think Brian Adams said it was the “Summer of ‘69,” but fans of local cover band Clean Slate don’t even know that the years have passed.

Clean Slate, a “Rock Steady” collection of eleven musicians and vocalists, is keeping the “Boogie Oggie Oggie” alive at casinos and private parties around the region, and with set lists that include Stevie Wonder, Rick James and Kool and the Gang, it’s no wonder that their events are packed with “Fun fun fun.”

“I think it’s the entertainment as well as the energy (that makes Clean Slate so popular),” says lead male vocalist Collings Aki. “I think when people come out to see us and they actually see the band, first impressions are everything. We look sharp and we sound great.”

And just because you might not have been a “Bad Girl” tugging on a “Chain of Fools” back in the day, doesn’t mean the soulful sounds of Clean Slate won’t appeal to your modern senses. Clean Slate plays for audience members of all ages.

“Whatever crowd is in front of them, they know how to mold to the crowd,” says band manager Scott Mason. “They are one of those groups that just brings a dance party.”

The original dance party started a few years back – in 1973, actually – when bassist Mark Noriega was jamming to the day’s top hits and decided to form a high school band called Clean Slate. After school and its associated freedom ended, Noriega grew up and moved on…but not permanently.

“I guess it was my midlife crisis,” he says of starting up the band again. “Instead of buying a Harley Davidson, I started playing music and started a garage band. We all have day jobs, so we’ve been doing this as a hobby, but we do about 30 or 40 shows a year.”

But don’t mistake their humble beginnings as amateurish; Clean Slate’s members have some serious talent. Trumpeter Steve Russo has played for the United States Air Force Band, Ringling Brothers and Barnum and Bailey Circus and the Glen Miller Orchestra, to name a few, while Brooks Gregory, the band’s saxophonist, has been playing for more than 30 years and started his first band in 1971.

“I really do think that the lead singers are what drive the band,” touts Noriega. “Collings is of Hawaiian descent, and he’s got a phenomenal voice, as does Annie Park. It’s amazing how huge her voice is for how small she is; she really does have an Aretha Franklin-type voice.”

This summer, fans can hear the band at various venues throughout the area, including the Fourth of July Creek Walk in Vacaville, the Yuba County Fair, and Harvey's Rooftop Celebration in Tahoe, to name a few. Or, of course, if you want high class entertainment at your own event, they are available for private parties, and what a party it will be.

“I do this because I love music and I love being able to take people to a place, per se. If a person heard a certain song at a certain point in their life, I want to be able to play it close enough to the real thing,” says Aki. “Because you’re playing someone else’s song, you owe it to that artist to do it just like they did, if not better. We’ve got great musicians and great vocalists, and we just pride ourselves on having fun.”

To find out more about Clean Slate, their performance schedule, or to book a show, visit