The Swing Shift Band started out in 1991 as an oldies band in Lompoc, CA. Band leader Bernie Espinoza had just moved up from the LA area. His musical vision at that time was to put together a band that would honor the music from this genre. The band became quite adept at playing anything from Motown oldies to classic rock.

As time went on, with changes in personnel, and an ever- growing demand for a musical variety, the Swing Shift Band has enhanced its repertoire. Aside from the oldies and classic rock, the band also plays old school/R&B funk, Latin, blues, as well as a sprinkling of country and swing music, thus resulting in a party that thrives on a non-stop dancing, toe-tapping, finger-popping groove; a recipe for a real good time. The band is all about having fun and making new friends.

Based on the Central Coast, these musicians that form the Swing Shift Band come from diverse musical backgrounds:

Espinoza is the founder, lead singer and harmonica player of the band. He started singing in bands when he was 11 years old growing up in San Pedro, CA. At 18 years of age he taught himself how to play the harmonica, playing along to blues tunes, music by WAR, as well as to Mexican ranchera and bolero music.  He continued to sing throughout the LA and San Diego club scene, playing with salsa, Mexican and rock bands. He has had the pleasure of playing with Los Lobos in San Diego in 1978. Bernie’s musical influences are Carlos Santana, Joe Cocker, Los Lobos, Flaco Jimenez, The Temptations, George Harrison and Lee Oskar. Bernie now resides in Port Hueneme, CA.

Adding the “bottom” to the SSB sound is Bob Goff on bass and vocals. Starting out in Ventura, CA, Bob has played guitar or bass in various groups featuring bluegrass, country, folk, rock, and contemporary Christian music. Bob’s musical influences started with his father (who played country and bluegrass guitar), The Rolling Stones, The Doors, Steppenwolf, Crosby, Stills & Nash and The Eagles. Bob and Jerry Watson both play on their church’s Worship Team. He resides in Nipomo, CA.

Keeping the Swing Shift sound tight. Jerry Watson has been playing drums since he was 10 years old. Jerry grew up in Santa Maria learning his craft from noted session drummer Curt Bisquera (who tours with Elton John as a percussionist). Jerry has been with Swing Shift for 14 years, but before he joined the band, he was playing drums for a heavy metal band for several years. He has also been in quite a few R&B bands, as well. He loves to play Latin music and is not afraid to explore other musical styles. Because of this diversity, Jerry’s style fits quite well with Swing Shift. Jerry’s musical influences are Herb Alpert & the Tijuana Brass, Chicago, Earth, Wind & Fire and The Isley Brothers. He resides in Santa Maria, CA.

On guitar we have Tom Bennett (who also plays the drums). Tom is a noted local musician who has toured extensively throughout the US including Alaska. He also plays with the Bennett Bros. Band which includes both his brother and his son. Tom is noted for playing the classic rock and country/western sound, however, when given the opportunity, Tom can lay down the funk with the best of them. Tom’s musical influences are the Eagles, Charlie Daniels and Herb Alpert & the Tijuana Brass. Tom resides in Santa Maria, CA.

In the 27 years of being in existence, The Swing Shift Band has played many venues throughout Northern and Southern California, from San Francisco to the LA area. Notable venues include: The Chumash Casino & Resort in Santa Ynez, CA; Table Mountain Casino in Fresno, CA; The Historic Union Hotel in Los Alamos, CA; The Elks Lodges in Santa Maria, Oceano, Lompoc and San Luis Obispo, CA; not to mention numerous county fairs and festivals, charity benefits, private functions such as weddings and parties; as well as many nightclubs. The Swing Shift Band has also shared the stage with noted acts as classic R&B legend J.J. Jackson (“But It’s Alright”), Terry Lawless (keyboardist for U2) and noted LA salsa legend, pianist Octavio Figueroa.

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