Episode 52: Skyline Drive
Air date: 8.29.12
Topanga Canyon is a slice of rugged wildness carved out of the dry Santa Monica mountains just miles from Los Angeles' expansive sprawl. The canyon is one of the only undammed watersheds in the area and that sense of unchecked natural beauty has permeated the culture of the area and fostered an exceedingly rich musical tradition. Current Topanga resident Derek Thomas uses the moniker 'Skyline Drive' for his newest project, and the collection of dusty songs on the upcoming record "Topanga Ranch Motel" - due out in October 2012 - fits right in with the numerous musicians and creative types who have called Topanga home. And this puts Thomas and Skyline Drive in a hallowed category that also includes revered artists like Woody Guthrie, Neil Young, Gram Parsons, Jim Morrison, Little Feat, Van Morrison, Billy Preston, Stephen Stills, Joni Mitchell and actor Will Geer. Thomas is up to the task, and his songs amply hold the weight of such famous and talented predecessors. The songs on Topanga Ranch Motel reside in that fertile sweet spot where raspy vocals, bittersweet lyrics and mature and earthy arrangements make the music sound timeless.