For the Benefit of the Victims of Las Vegas: Irie Roots Jam

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The month of October started on a very tragic note as 58 people lost their lives in yet another mass shooting. The Route 91 Harvest Country Music Festivals was, like all other music events, meant to be a night for music lovers to get together and experience a sense of community and bond through music. In the wake of this mass shooting, people are doing everything they can to support and aid the victims. On Saturday, October 7th, Irie Roots Extracts hosted the Irie Roots Jam at Gators 3 in Apple Valley. Originally intended to be a promotion for Irie Roots Extracts’ products as well as a show for reggae lovers and more, the event quickly turned into a charity event in response to the tragic shooting is Las Vegas.

Featuring Fortunate Youth along with local acts The Twenty Dollar Prophets, Dubious Distinction, Dubsiders, Swift Sonorous, Rain Brings WeatherThe Rezinators, and the Muppet Hunters, the show was a great mix of reggae, hip-hop, and hard rock. It was a solid lineup of bands that created a mellow (and smoky) atmosphere that was slightly tainted by the cause it was now promoting. Singer Chris Gonzales of the Twenty Dollar Prophets assured me that once cost were covered, all the proceeds would go to the victims of Las Vegas, “Events cost money to put on and you know, once we surpass our cost, then one hundred percent of the profits is gonna go to the victims of Las Vegas.”

Gonzales felt very somber when talking about the events in Las Vegas. Mass shootings are becoming more common place in the United States (if you look up “mass shooting” on Wikipedia, the U.S. has so many notable mass shootings that they are categorized by years dating back to 1929, the Saint Valentine’s Day Massacre). Needless to say, hearing someone was shot and killed isn’t that far out of the norm as Gonzales pointed out, “People get killed every day in the streets, you know what I mean. You come to the High Desert, man, I could tell you a friend of the friend lost somebody last night.”

His point, however, wasn’t to diminish to tragic event, but to put an emphasis on where it took place and how that affects him as a musician, “it’s not even just this tragedy, but the fact that, you know, that fact that it happened at a music concert hurts me because… it just goes against everything that music symbolizes, which is unity and people coming together for one reason, you know what I mean. They didn’t go there for that, so my heart is out to those families.”

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Josh Jordan of the Muppet Hunters called the whole thing “senseless” as he elaborated the shrewd politics that were becoming involved in the media rhetoric, “the media wants to tag it like they were Trump supporters, but who knows who voted for who in that crowd. They were innocent bystanders there for the love of music… … they came to an awesome concert and might have left scarred for life and that’s just not right.”

Certainly, if you were compare a concertgoer from Route 91 Harvest to one of the individuals that attended the Irie Roots Jam, you might encounter two people with radically different backgrounds, upbringings and political views, but what they have in common is a love for music. Yes, reggae and country music are two very different genres, but none of that mattered on Saturday night. The Irie Roots Jam ceased to be just a concert for fans of reggae and became a charity event to raise money for those who were affected by this tragedy. It also served as a message to anyone who has now developed a fear of public events like this.

“Music events are supposed to be positive and awesome,” Travis of Fortunate Youth said, “Every time I’ve been to an event, it’s like you’re just stoked to go and now it’s like, I was down in my hometown fair, down in Manhattan Beach, walking around with a bunch of- hundreds of people, very close quarters and I was like, ‘woo, you never know like who could be, or what could happen’ or anything like that.”

Fear of public, outdoor events that may turn into a spot for mass shooters was something that, 15 years ago, only the most paranoid would be afraid of, but it’s becoming a very real fear. Travis made sure to emphasize that we shouldn’t be afraid, though, “this is our lifestyle… …it’s sad, I just hope people can really realize that it’s gonna be a lot better to come together than fight each other.”

The profits of the night aren’t the only money that is going to the victims of Las Vegas. Adam, one of the owners of Irie Roots Extracts, stated that he is having his vendors, both local and outside the High Desert, keep track of the sales of their cartridges, “they’re gonna track sales through the month of October and for each cartridge sold, they’re gonna report back to us and we’re gonna donate some of the proceeds from the cartridges as well to the victims of Vegas.”

– b. d. ponce

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An Evening Of Expression

 

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Odd Bridges returned to the Hilltop Tavern Saturday night, July 22nd, with special guest Mirk Beniah, Swift Sonorous, Kings Trio, Kryptic Moons and Just Say’N, as well as a special appearance from Dewey B. Weather of Rain Brings Weather. It’s been about a month and a half since Odd Bridges and the Hilltop played host to OddFest, a festival celebrating the growing talent and music scene in the High Desert. Odd Bridges and crew were all present at the festival, with Kings Trio being the exception, and returned this evening to continue tearing up stages left and right.

Kicking off the evening was Kryptic Moons, a group that reflects the attitude and style of hard rock from the 70’s and 80’s. With covers like “Strutter” from Kiss’s first album and originals like “Blue”, “To the Wire” and “Dirty Looks”, Kryptic Moons are still looking strong despite a recent lineup change. I spoke with singer and guitarist Melody Del Real about the direction of the band moving forward, “we’re trying to settle back, definitely more groove rather than speed and technicality, just more groove… …That’s my ultimate aim, is to create something that is approachable but is also interesting, but not technical, not trying to show off.”

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When talking about why she started the group and what it means to her, Melody emphasized her desire for self-expression, “I wanted my own thing. Seeing all these other people being recruited, like being drafted into those bands as a session musician and I didn’t [want that]. I was like, ‘I want to write my own stuff.’ ”

With a new bass player in tow, Kryptic Moons are looking to hit the studio later this year. “We’re recording this fall,” said Del Real, “Our drummer is gonna track in about two months and then the rest of the band will go in about October. We still need to arrange everything, see when everyone is free, but I already got the guy.” Hopefully, we’ll be able to hear some new and old tracks crisply recorded into an album soon, or EP; either way, I’m anxious to hear more.

Following them was Kings Trio, who recently played a set at the 12th Annual Battle for Warped Tour on July 16th. Whether they make it or not, it doesn’t seem to deter King’s Trio moving forward. However, when I sat down with them, I decided to take a look back at the history of Kings Trio. Guitarist James and bassist Jesse Gonzalez are brothers and actually share a lot of influences. “I would say, my biggest inspiration, what really got me playing a lot was Nirvana, “said James, “When that grunge scene came out, dude, I was all into that, dude. Before that, I was listening to a lot of N.W.A and stuff like that, so I was thinking ‘fuck the police’ and getting all crazy and then Nirvana came out and dude, that was it for me.”

Jesse continued with a little more of their background, “Us growing up together, we had the same inspiration. Even oldies, because our parents we’re in a band when they were kids and they passed it on to us. Like, our dad showed us how to play. Oldies, but goodies and the Beatles were their favorites. They showed us all that, so that’s what they had us playing first.”

Drummer Matt Christiensen adds some more diversity with his influences, “I wanted to be Joey Jordison, who is formerly of Slipknot. Started getting schooled in music and fell in love with Jazz… …Lately, I’ve been watching a lot of Chad Smith and Nicko McBrain.”

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Indeed, like all the bands that were present, Kings Trio has a tremendous love for music and preforming, by in part because of the energy the crowd brings, “We love the crowd, man,” said Jesse, “so we actually try to get involved the crowd as much as possible.”

“That’s probably the best part,” added James, “Everyone is here and everyone is getting involved. It’s just we feed off of it and likewise, everyone that’s listening to our music and feeds off of it and everything is super fun.”

Following Kings Trio was the host of the evening, Odd Bridges, who brought their eclectic brand of alternative rock that the group has become known for. Tracks like “Medicate” and “Be My Friend” are loads of fun to listen too, especially when the latter features Dewey B. Weather, of Rain Brings Weather, jumping up on stage to sing along with singer Derek Beck and guitarist Michael Eberhardt. When they’re not preforming, Eberhardt and company are hard at work making sure everything is going well for the other bands during their sets. I didn’t hound them for an interview because I’ve already bugged them enough in the last month and there were other voices I needed to hear.

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One of those was a quick interview with Swift Sonorous, who performed that evening alongside Mirk Beniah after Odd Bridges’ set. The last time I spoke with Beniah, I got a little taste of the background of the Royal Dynasty and Swift was able to add to that with his and Beniah’s history together, “we’ve been artist for a while and I think in 2009 or 2010, we just linked up. He seen me at a show and ever since then we’ve been doing music together. That show, at Johnny Fingers, we were supposed to have our own separate performance, right? It just happens to be that when me and Mirk Beniah preform together, it’s just way better. So, instead of preforming separately, we’ve been just doing our own shows and performing together.”

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When talking what drives him as an artist and performer, Sonorous said, “I just want my fans to hear my growth in my music, to say, ‘oh, man I heard your first stuff and it was cool, but bro, your new stuff is dope. I can’t wait to hear what’s coming up next’. That what I’m all about, cuz I’ve been doing this for seven years now. I just want my fans to hear my growth, you know what I mean and I’m not going to let them down.”

Swift has a lot to look forward to next month, as he will be preforming at the Mega-Sesh festival at the NOS center in San Bernardino, “They say they want me to play on the main stage on August 19th, so I’m bringing my boy Mirk Beniah with me and you know, the royal dynasty is going down.”

Capping off our evening was Just Say’N, a group that has been working hard and playing as many shows that can come their way. Another trio of musicians, Just Say’N is a group of very likeminded and dedicated friends. Digging into their past, I found it was singer and guitarist Paul McDonald’s best friend from adolescence who showed him how to play guitar, “He was awesome, you know, we did everything together, he was my road dog. We got split up and [he] moved to Arizona and I started listening to lots of Blink 182 and Bullet for My Valentine. I know it’s an odd mix, but yeah, Tom DeLonge’s my man. My voice, my guitar playing, everything is based around him.”

“If he could, he would marry him,” said Bassist Jorge Arias.

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Photo by Katherine Allen

Drummer Art Fernandez talked about the excitement of going from just one drum to a whole set, “You know, in high school, I tried to join the drum line over at Serrano High School and I ended up doing it for, like, a couple months or so, but I had to get out of it. But, as an inspiration, I was just on a snare drum and going onto a six… it’s pretty fun cause like when your rumbling on those things, you pick up different sounds. It’s inspiring what you can mix in.”

When I asked Arias what drove him as musician, his response was my favorite of all I heard that day, “it’s a form of expression because I’ve never been a good drawer or storywriter or anything like that, but I picked up the guitar after Paul right here showed me a couple of instructions on how to play the guitar the right way, and from there, man, it’s making music. I like it, you can express yourself and you don’t even need words in some songs, you can just pick and play. That’s why I love playing here at these free shows, because it’s just for having fun and expressing ourselves and everybody enjoys it.”

That seems to be the ultimate goal of many of the bands I’ve come across in the desert. Very few have grand dreams of rock star level success, so many settle for the joy of expression. While some of the music I’ve come across may not seem the most original or very good at all, but the level sincerity these artist are putting into their music is very refreshing. I’ll be honest, if I had a dime for every shitty demo I got back in my early twenties, I would have been able to pay for my college education a lot sooner. Exaggerations aside, these are musicians who play for the love of music, not for fame or money (although a little money wouldn’t hurt…) and to me, that seems worth a lot more.

-b.d. ponce

Odd Bridges’ Facebook

Kryptic Moons’ Facebook

Soundcloud for Kryptic Moons

Kings Trio’s Facebook

Kings Trio’s Website

Mirk Beniah’s Facebook

Mirk Beniah’s Website

Swift Sonorous’ Facebook

Swift’s Website

Just Say’N’s facebook

BTS of The Rezinators music video “Get Me Down”

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This past Easter Sunday, SoCal hip-hop group The Rezinators announced the release of their new music video and song “Get Me Down.”  I was fortunate enough to be invited to the making of the music video.

The music video was Produced by Apollo V and Directed by Cannanvision. It was a small cast and crew and definitely a group effort. Despite a few hiccups, the production went well. A plus was that no one was hit by a car during the production (see BTS video).  The song itself has kind of a Warren G feel to it. So if you’re a fan of Warren G, you’ll probably be a fan of The Rezinators too. I personally dig this song. Check out the BTS and full music video below.

BTS Photos

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BTS Video

Full “Get Me Down” music video Produced by Apollo V and Directed by Cannanvision

To keep up to date about The Rezinators, please visit their Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/theRezinators760

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-Mo