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By Gina Valencia

Photo by Monique Kuhlman

The first of two storms had passed the day before, and this So Cal crowd needed their outdoor weekend fix. Red paper lanterns adorned the outside eating area of the Garden Grove SteelCraft food court, bundled up kids played a large Connect 4 game on the artificial lawn, and the delicious scents of burgers and fries wafted through the air. Meanwhile, the members of the trio OK Boomer were setting up on the stage in front of a large screen showing college basketball games.

“We’ve played in front of TV screens during Dodger play-offs games,” smiles Greg Paxton, bass player for OK Boomer. “We take the cheering personally.”

Soon enough, the opening guitar riff of Badfinger’s “No Matter What” gets the crowd’s attention, and the weekend officially starts.

Musically Inclined

Each member of the band studied music at Cal State Long Beach and have an incredible amount of musical talent. Although they only play guitars in OK Boomer, outside of the band they play everything from piano, to saxophone, to drums. What makes this band an especially unique Long Beach gem is their vocal harmonies that draws a fan base wherever they play.

Long Beach resident Jonner (“Just Jonner”) came with friends to hear them play. “They’re great musicians in their own way,” he said. “I love the softer sounds of the 70s and 80s music they play.”

Besides Greg on bass guitar, Ann Louise Thaiss plays acoustic guitar, and Penny Watson is on electric guitar. They’re all heavily involved in the community, sharing their talent with children. Greg is a freelance drummer and steel drummer, as well as a music coach at Renaissance High School for the Arts; Penny is a roving art and music teacher for the district; and Ann is working on her teaching credential at Cal State to further her musical influence with school children and is in another group called the Honey Whiskey Trio.

What’s in a Name?

“[OK Boomer] was a catchphrase that spoke to us because of the age that Greg and I are, and the kind of music we play,” said Penny. “And the fact that we don’t take ourselves too seriously.”

Ann Louise is the millennial, but “an honorary boomer because she knows all the same music from that era. It was a great fit.”

They were all working at The Lesson Lab in Long Beach around 2015, a private lesson studio that Penny owned, when occasionally, they’d stay after hours to jam together. Eventually they realized how much they enjoyed the same folksy, classic rock genre and how well they got along. 

Musical Harmonies

From The Beatles to Bowie, to Jazz and Joni Mitchell, OK Boomer loves all spectrums of music, but their harmony is their forte.

“There doesn’t seem to be a lot of groups that are focusing on three-part harmony like we do,” said Ann. “It feels special.”

And it shows. When Ann began singing Fleetwood Mac’s “Dreams,” you could have closed your eyes and sworn it was Stevie Nicks at SteelCraft. In fact, her voice is so distinct that those who know her from Honey Whiskey Trio recognized her voice when she was playing with OK Boomer one evening at Syncopated Brewing and became fans of this trio.

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