Steeped in pure, whisky-soaked honky-tonk, the Palominos bring to the stage an era that’s long gone but far from forgotten. You could have seen the foursome in the 1960s, pouring out a toe-tapping sound alongside Buck Owens in a roadside nightclub named after the revered golden horse.
The San Diego band formed in early 2006 fronted by the nearest thing to the real deal: singing cowboy Mark Merrell, a ranch foreman by trade who once played with San Diego band the Neverly Brothers. Punk-rocker-turned-rockabilly Marc Balanky, who played with Funeral March and the Scramblers, soon joined the band on drums. But it was brothers Thomas and James Zurek (on guitar and bass) who brought this little pony into the world after more than a decade of talking, dreaming and letting life get in the way. Thomas played short stints with the Grazers and the Barnyard Ballers, all the while working to master his twangin’ telecaster that is front and center at every show and forms the bedrock of the Palominos sound. James, besides picking on his guitar and banjo, spent years building up a sizeable collection of vintage country records which in turn provides the audio blueprint for the band. These two, with Merrell and Balanky at their side, turned a 1960s Bakersfield sound into a living, breathing original.
Donning vintage-inspired western wear and playing on period instruments, the Palominos boys bring an old-time sound to a modern-day crowd that hits the dance floor as quick as you can say, "Here I am, I’m drunk again."
Is it a classic cover or a Palominos original? You won’t be able to tell, though the band increasingly performs its own work.The Palominos have shared a stage with touring artists Deke Dickerson and Big Sandy and His Fly-Rite Boys, as well as San Diego’s own Cash’d Out, to name a few. When the guitar starts to twang and the drums start their shuffle, you’ll feel the pull of the dance floor.
At a Palominos show, if you’re not dancing, you’re not living.