Thursday, July 20, 2006
This is the story of a couple of local players who made it in the highly competitive music industry of Los Angeles. This is the story of a man inspiring a young musician to follow his dreams. This is the story of Michael Lent and David Marotta.
Back when Lent was just an 18-year-old busting onto the Monterey Peninsula music scene, he spent his Sunday afternoons at Cannery Row’s Old Row Café. There, Lent, a Pacific High School graduate who attended Boston’s revered Berklee College of Music, would while away the day playing jazz on a high stage in the narrow establishment. In addition to being impressed by owner Joe Rombie’s calamari dish, the young guitarist was inspired by a fellow player named David Marotta.
Marotta was a few years older than Lent and had recently started dipping his toes into Los Angeles’ mammoth music scene. As a young guitarist hoping to make it in the fickle industry, Lent saw Marotta as a role model.
“David was someone who always had a great idea of what it was to be a professional musician,” Lent recalls. “Almost everything David said was advice to me.”
Marotta changed Lent’s life primarily by motivating the young player to move to Los Angeles.
“He really knew there was a world outside the area,” Lent says.
By the time Lent moved down to the Southern California metropolis, Marotta had already established himself in LA’s music scene. After moving south, Marotta scored a gig as a touring member of the Mark Almond Band, a jazzy splinter group off the great blues-rock act John Mayall’s Bluesbreakers.
Later successes included a stint with soft rock artist Gino Vannelli, and a four-year job as a member of the legendary songwriter Burt Bacharach’s touring band.
When Lent started coming down to LA, Marotta introduced him to a handful of musicians, including guitarist Tim Torrance. Lent’s connection to Torrance helped him secure studio work in the early days of his relocation from Pacific Grove.
Eventually, Lent’s career started to take off. He became a member of R&B vocalist Jeffrey Osborne’s band. The guitarist also did a lot of session work for TV show soundtracks, including the soap opera General Hospital. Due to his work on the program’s score, Lent got to appear on the show as a member of Ricky Martin’s band. (At the time, Martin portrayed musician Miguel Morez on the soap.)
But Lent’s biggest accomplishment came when he secured a position in Barry Manilow’s band in 1997.
“I’d done a lot of things at this point, but this was different,” Lent says. “It was huge.”
Currently, Lent splits his time between LA, Pacific Grove and Las Vegas, where he performs in Manilow’s Vegas show 30 weeks a year. During Lent’s sojourns to Monterey County, he will perform originals and cover jazz numbers at Monterey Live once a month with a revolving cast of LA musicians and local players, like Roger Eddy and Lori Hofer.
“It’s not so much a jam session, but a few select people who have a history with me,” he says.
These days, Lent is not the only LA transplant returning to the area for gigs at Monterey Live. Marotta has been playing at the venue about once every two months as a solo act, or accompanied by his talented musical family.
Just one month ago, Lent and Marotta got to share the stage again at Monterey Live’s One Year Anniversary Party. Marotta says he had a blast playing with his pal. “[Lent] sounded amazing as usual,” Marotta says. “It was just great to see him.”
MICHAEL LENT AND FRIENDS play Monterey Live, 414 Alvarado St. in Monterey, Friday and Saturday at 9pm. $5. 375-5483.