Friday Night Done Right

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Summer weather has taken over the high desert as the sweltering days give way to cool evenings that make for the best conditions for a night of cold beer, hot food and good music. Johnny Fingers, off of 7th avenue and Lorene drive, was this exact place to be on June 23rd, where the Twenty Dollar Prophets and company took over the bar for a night of rock, hip-hop and reggae. Featuring some of the best performing artist floating around the high desert scene (all of whom were present at Oddfest earlier this month, check out the article here), the show made for a smooth and pleasant evening of great live music. Unfortunately, it didn’t start out that way.

The original lineup of bands was set to feature Twenty Dollar Prophets, Odd Bridges, Mirk Beniah and Swift Sonorous,  The Muppet Hunters and The Rezinators, but unfortunately The Rezinators and Muppet Hunters were unable to make it (special shout-out to them anyways). In their place, Rain Brings Weather swung in at the last minute to serve as our evening’s opening band. Dewey and crew delivered a powerful set of alternative rock filled with emotion, which is the driving element of Rain Brings Weather’s sound. “I don’t even worry about the sound or what genre our songs are, I want the fucking emotion. I want the passion. I want to express what I have to say,” said Dewey B. Weather.

“And that’s a common ground in all of us, you know,” guitarist Bigs added, “If we weren’t great musicians, at least we put our heart into it.

“For sure, I’m probably the worst guitar player at most of the shows we play, you know what I mean.”

“And I’m the second worst.”

Following Rain Brings Weather was Odd Bridges, another band whose genre is difficult to define for similar reasons. Mike Eberhardt took some time to explain his process when it comes to writing music, “I don’t try to write songs. I’ll just sit down and I’ll just start strumming, I’ll get a chord pattern and we just kind of make up these songs on the fly… … I don’t try to say ‘I’m gonna make a song that sounds like Elton John’ or ‘a song that sounds like Prince’ or whatever, it just comes out like that.”

Listening to Odd Bridges, you can hear the roots of other bands and nuance that I’ve seen in other artist, but it’s hard to exactly say, ‘Odd Bridges sounds like ___’. This sentiment is shared by Mike, who is confused by some of the comparison’s he’s gotten, “A lot of people, like years ago, used to say my stuff sounded like Tom Petty. I never got that… … How can people say we sound like The Melvins or Mudvayne or whatever when I don’t hear any of that.”

Tom Petty and the Melvins is certainly an odd combination, but it’s the right kind of unusual that I would devour. Regardless of how you want to define them, Odd Bridges is an alt-rock delight. Following them was Mirk Beniah with Swift Sonorous. The two of them teamed up to bring fiery hot energy to Johnny Fingers. In my interview with Mirk, I found out that he has been active since 2009, but took a break for a little while. He is now back at it and ready to prove he is not going anywhere, “U.G.A. (UnderGround Anthems) is still here, we’re just revamping things. We got the Royal Dynasty, Sorry Not Sorry, Swift Sonorous, Royalhighnessz, Chris Effects, Malibu Sprinkles. Shout out to Karen Denise and Swift and The old dynasty, you know, much love.”

Mirk was one of two artists I was not able to get a one on one interview with at Oddfest, so when I asked about his feelings about the festival and the state of music in the high desert, he had nothing but positive things to say, “I’m loving the energy, man, you know what I mean. Michael, from Odd Bridges, you know, he was the one that made it possible, bringing me out… …It was a beautiful thing, man, being able to rock out there. We jammed out real good. It was dope.”

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When I asked what the future had in store for him, all he had to say was “Big things. We got big things going all the time, so any time we’re in the building, there’s gonna be something big. As you see, we brought out Malibu Sprinkles, we opening up for the Twenty Dollar Prophets; they’re the most popular band out here in the desert. Shout out to Rain Brings Weather, Odd Bridges, all the bands, man. Muppet Hunters, the Rezinators, and U.G.A!”

As for me, I had the host of the evening, the Twenty Dollar Prophets, to look forward to for my immediate future. The group, locally located right here in Victorville, is making big waves in the scene with their mix of hard rock and reggae. The group wanted to give a shout-out to their sponsors Vape Out and Irie Roots Extract, the latter of which had a free wax sample for me (which in no way affects the personal bias of this article or viewpoint of this blog).

That being said, Twenty Dollar Prophets was amazing. The best band in my life.

REMEMBER KIDS, JUST SAY ‘NO’ TO BIASED JOURNALISM

I spoke with front man Chris immediately after the set and got his feelings of his performance, “I feel love and energy from the crowd and I could never replace the feeling of entertaining people for as long as we did without them getting bored.”

Twenty Dollar Prophets has been active for two years and the guys have kept themselves busy in that time, “in that [two years] we’ve produced five music videos, two albums, and played hundreds, I’d say probably close to two hundred shows already. You know what I mean, because that’s all we do, every weekend. This weekend, for instance, we have three shows and next weekend, we have one show and the weekend after we have two shows.”

With another album and video on the way, Twenty Dollar Prophets don’t look to be slowing down anytime soon. All the bands and artist share that same kind of passion and devotion for performing and making music, which is why these kinds of shows are popping up more and more. When two of the opening bands pulled out at the last minute, Chris and crew held the event together and still managed to pull off a successful evening by in part because of friendship these bands share. The growth of this musically community over the last two years in the high desert is a result of these musicians coming together and building camaraderie among one another.

-b.d. ponce

Book a show or grab a brew @ Johnny Fingers Bar and Grill

The Muppet Hunters’ Facebook

The Rezinators’ Facebook

Rain Brings Weather’s Facebook

Odd Bridges’ Facebook

Mirk Beniah’s Facebook

Swift Sonorous’ Facebook

Twenty Dollar Prophets’ Facebook

A Tribute to Cover Bands

Cover bands. Artist dedicated to the careers of others. These are two words that can either illicit feelings of excitement over the potential of hearing a good live performance of “Immigrant Song”, or dread after your co-worker’s third Facebook invitation to see his Insane Clown Posse tribute band. Whenever you see “cover band” on a marquee, you take a gamble and hope for the best. This is the unfortunate stigma for tribute acts, but it doesn’t stop bands like Circle of Black, Crazy Diamond or newcomers Physical Graffiti from throwing a tribute show to the best of the 1970’s at Frogee’s Cocktail on April 21st.

While sitting in the dive bar on Highway 18, I thought about the prospect of cover bands. Most of them are born from boredom, but then most music is for that matter. Cover acts have served as a platform for many bands to preform and discover their own musical identities. Most original music is created from that approach, but many cover bands choose not to go that route. Many prefer the label “tribute” to cover band, as it does creates an important distinction. While many cover bands will reinterpret music in their own way, often with an underlying theme that ties into the persona of the band (think Me First and the Gimme Gimmes), tribute bands preform with little variation, sticking as closely to the original song, and identity of the band, as possible.

The first act of the evening was Crazy Diamond, a tribute to Pink Floyd. Wielding a set-list comprised of well-known songs like “Time”, “Money, and “Comfortably Numb”, the band started the evening off on a more somber note. Given that the two following bands were going to tributes to Led Zeppelin and Black Sabbath, it was safe to assume this was probably the mellowest this evening would get as the crowd stubbornly refused to clap along with the band during a song, but “Another Brick in the Wall Pt. 2” still managed to get the whole bar to sing, “We don’t need no education”. This is the power and influence of Pink Floyd, and the magic that bands like Crazy Diamond try to recreate.

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Following them was our Led Zeppelin tribute band, Physical Graffiti, making their debut. Zeppelin is a fun band to cover musically, but tricky when it comes to vocals. This is mostly due to Robert Plant’s wide range and crisp high-pitch singing, but singer Johnnie Garcia performed admirably, taking on tracks like “Immigrant Song” and “Communication Breakdown” with ease. Another highlight from the set is the band stepping off stage during “Moby Dick”, leaving drummer Ron Davis to channel his inner John Bonham. All of this ended on “Stairway to Heaven”, which I was a little disheartened to hear, not because I don’t like the song, but because I had a great Wayne’s World reference that I can’t use now. Oh well, another time.

Capping off the evening was Circle of Black, a Black Sabbath tribute band that, according to their Facebook, also will hammer out some of Ozzy’s and Dio’s solo work as a way to celebrate not just the music of Black Sabbath, but the careers that started in its wake. Honestly, any excuse to play “Crazy Train” and “Holy Diver” is good enough for me. While we didn’t hear either of those tracks, it was nice to hear the Dio era of Black Sabbath get some appreciation for once.

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Friday was not a night for originality, but for appreciation of an ear of rock now resting fifty years in the past. This year saw Black Sabbath bid farewell to their fans in March, so the prospect of seeing any of this music performed live is going to be through a tribute band. Some purist would look down on that idea, not willing to accept anyone else on the mic except Robert Plant or Ozzy Osbourne. While it is true that no one can ever suppress the talent or presence of bands like Pink Floyd, Black Sabbath or Led Zeppelin, that is not the point of tribute bands. Tribute bands, if anything, serve to remind us why these songs are timeless and still need to be played, even if it’s not by the person who wrote it.

-b. ponce

Facebook pages

Crazy Diamond’s Facebook

Physical Graffiti’s Facebook

Circle of Black’s Facebook

Twenty $ Dollar Prophets new music video “Shadows”

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On March 25th 2017, SoCal Urban Reggae band Twenty $ Dollar Prophets hosted an event at Gators in Apple Valley to announced the release of their new music video “Shadows.”

It was a packed venue with Epic! Radio in the house to MC the event. Supporting bands who performed were Dubious Distinction, The Lillies, Muppet Hunters, Dubsiders and The Rezinators. The sounds were a good mixture of Reggae, rock and rap. Patrons danced, mingled and chilled as they sipped their drinks while one of high desert’s favorite bartenders, Skylar, served up the drinks. It was a puff of a good time.

Here’s a video clip from that night:

The “Shadows” music video is a contrast between night and day.  The daytime and exterior of a building appears to representing a current, brighter situation, while the dark interior of the building along with the haunting characters appear to represent a haunting past of one that is lurking in the “Shadows.”

Watch the video below and let us know your thoughts!

Like the Twenty $ Dollar Profits Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/TwentyDollarProphets

And keep updated on what’s happening at Gators Apple Valley at https://www.facebook.com/gators.applevalley

Check out Epic! Radio http://epicradio2.wixsite.com/epic-radio

 

-Mo