The Rogers-Dalhausser Dominance

Two years ago, parity was the theme on the men’s AVP beach volleyball tour, when several different two-man teams took home championships among the 14 tournaments and a whole lot more felt they could have won.

No more.

Last year, just two partnerships dominated the vast majority of events, and in the current season, that’s down to one: Todd Rogers and Phil Dalhausser.

The Santa Barbara-based team – Rogers was raised here and starred at San Marcos High and UCSB before moving to Santa Ynez a few years ago while Dalhausser moved here from Florida in 2004 – has won four of the first five events in 2007, and six of the last seven dating back to last year.

And last weekend in Hermosa Beach, Rogers-Dalhausser utterly destroyed their opponents, claming the crown without dropping a game in the 2-of-3, double-elimination format.

“You’ve got the best blocker (Dalhausser) and the best defensive player (Rogers) on the beach together – a nasty combination,” said Matt Olsen minutes after his team lost in the finals 21-17, 21-12. Nobody on the tour “has any clue how to beat these guys,” Olsen went on. “They’re just oozing with confidence.”

“You have to be flawless to have any chance,” added Olsen’s partner, Jason Ring.

Rogers-Dalhausser’s domination is so evident even the players themselves – who were previously unwilling to address the issue – are forced to admit their superiority.

“We’re confident that if we play at our best, we’ll win,” says Rogers. “We know that now.”

The team’s achievement makes it all the more shameful that the AVP decided to skip Santa Barbara, a slight which took on added insult when former Santa Barbara star Karch Kiraly announced that this would be his last season on the beach. At age 46, the wily veteran showed he still has the fire, finishing a year’s best fifth in Hermosa. Santa Barbara-connected players also placed third (Dax Holdren), ninth (George Roumain and Larry Witt), thirteenth (Anthony Medel and Nick Lucena) and seventeenth (Ben Koski and Jeff Minc).

AVP owner Leonard Amato professed a soft spot for local sands during a brief chat at Hermosa, saying, “I think it’s a great town that really loves the sport and we’d love to come back.” But, he said, the economics of the sport make it hard to schedule events in a smaller metro area that may not support sponsorships.

Meanwhile, the tour will return to Southern California July 19-22 for a tournament in Long Beach open and August 9-12 for the prestigious Manhattan Beach Open.

Durango Dreams

There are scores and scores of singer-songwriters in town, as indicated by the ever-changing roster of artists at area coffeehouses, music clubs, showcases and other venues. But only 15 of them, at best, have signed up for this weekend’s Durango Songwriters Expo Santa Barbara Wine Country.

The event, now in its fourth year as an offshoot of the better-known Expo in Colorado, isn’t cheap (registration for the weekend, which takes place at the Rancho Ynez Valley Marriott in Buellton, costs $250, plus accommodations if you want to stay on site).

But the Expo offers an unparalleled opportunity to get up close and personal with more than three dozen industry professionals, including record company executives, music supervisors, song placement experts, artist managers and Montecito’s own songwriter-producers Ben Margulies (Mariah Carey’s “Vision of Love”) and Barry DeVorzon.

Each attendee gets to participate in three “song listening” sessions, with up to 20 fellow budding songwriters and an industry expert will give them feedback on their compositions, plus songwriting workshops, panel discussions, song showcases and open mikes.

“It’s the only event in the country that has that kind of ratio of industry to attendees,” says Durango’s Jim Atterbury.

Get a sneak preview of the showcases at Dargan’s on Wednesday night, when Durango success story Alissa Moreno and others will take the stage, or visit www.Durango-Songwriters-Expo.com for all the details and a registration form.