The East Los Angeles music scene has always been a barometer for roots music enthusiasts.
Acts like the late Ritchie Valens, Chicano story-teller Lalo Guerrero, Thee Midniters and Los Lobos helped to establish a sound associated with the predominantly Hispanic area. Today, that amalgamation of cultures continues to be a source of more fulfilling expression among much of East Los Angeles' youth with bands such as Ozomatli and Very Be Careful, which help bring the past to the present.
Another leading voice pulling up the roots is Las Cafeteras, who make their Bakersfield debut at On the Rocks on Friday. Originating from weekly Mexican son jarocho jam sessions at the Eastside Cafe in the city of El Sereno seven years ago, the multi-instrumental septet uses traditional instruments and incorporates folkloric-inspired dancing.
Band member Daniel French, who plays jarana guitar, said their music is part of the many influences beaming from the community's multi-ethnic surroundings. Son jarocho music, which hails from the Veracruz region of Mexico, is a festive folk storytelling style that has been performed since Spanish colonial times. A predominantly guitar-driven sound, its heavy Caribbean influence has seen a rise in popularity among community activists as well as clubs around Southern California.
"There's definitely a lot of bands pulling from relatives' traditions, but remaking it with modern styles right now," French said. "Mexican son jarocho on a surface level, you can participate without a whole lot of development as a musician.
They're mainly three-chord songs in the key of D, and it's more about the storytelling, a fandango, a jam session, where you can just join in. It's a style that's developed on participation and community celebration. With our group, you'll hear some hip-hop, Native American influence, some cumbia, ska, things that we grew up listening to here."
The band also features French's longtime friends Annette Torres, David Flores, Denise Carlos, Hector Flores, Jose Cano and Leah Rose Gallegos, all of whom share entertainment duties on stage.
Their latest CD, titled "It's Time," will be available at the show and for download online at the end of the month through their website lascafeteras.com. According to French, after the band's recent shows opening for singer Lila Downs, the CD sold out so fast they've already run through two pressings since its release in September.
"One of the things that we share onstage is this African proverb that says, 'If you can walk, you can dance, and if you can talk, you can sing.' And then we add, 'If you believe in yourself, you can do anything.' And I think we want people to take the spirit of that and really feel loved and love themselves. We want people to experience pride, to be proud of who they are and where they come from, feel inspired that they can be in a different space that's loving, interconnected, and able to take that home with them."
Friday's showtime is 9 p.m. Admission is $7. On the Rocks is located at 1517 18th St. 327-7625.
Munky comes home
Korn purists had mixed feelings about the band's risky foray into the electro world of dubstep music, which, had it not succeeded, would have been filed with some of rock history's most epic fails. Not quite at the comical level of Styx's robot opera, "Kilroy Was Here," but certainly enough to tarnish a well-aging discography.
Now that Korn has put the wraps on that project unscathed, the gates are open for two members to continue taking new musical roads: singer Jonathan Davis has been actively pursuing more DJ gigs, recording and performing as his EDM alter-ego "J Devil," while guitarist James "Munky" Shaffer has reassembled his experimental/industrial all-star band, Fear and the Nervous System, which appears Friday at B Ryder's.
Formed in 2008, the group also features Korn touring keyboardist Zac Baird, guitarist and vocalist Steve Krolikowski, bassist Tim Kelleher and drummer Elias Mallin, who, over the years, have collectively performed with 40 Seconds to Mars, Repeater, Hollywood Undead and Ke$ha, among others.
According to the band's official website fatns.com, their self-titled debut was originally released exclusively through digital outlets a year ago, but after clicking links to iTunes and Amazon.com, I found that they've since been removed. I also found an April news update stating physical copies would be available in the coming months. Until that happens, you can download their Korn-ish single, "Choking Victim," from their website for free and check out the accompanying creepy video at YouTube.
Opening the show is Gemini Syndrome, featuring former Otep guitarist Aaron Nordstrom and Nyceria, Bakersfield's hardest-working head bangers.
Friday's showtime is 8 p.m. Admission is $15. Show is all ages. B Ryder's is located at 7401 White Lane. 397-7304 or numbskullshows.com.
You might want to keep these shows on your radar in the coming months: Ozomatli at B Ryder's on Nov. 11, Steely Dan tribute show at Sandrini's on Nov. 17, the Original Wailers at Narducci's on Nov. 20, The English Beat on Nov. 24 at B Ryder's, the Dome's farewell festival on Nov. 25 and a classic punk tribute show at Sandrini's on Dec. 7.
Rusted Root at Narducci's, 621 E. 21st St., Wednesday, $20, 7 p.m.
Here's a blast from the blast. Pittsburgh hippie collective Rusted Root have been combining colorful jam band rhythms and world music since the '90s, selling millions of albums and scoring some pretty heavy touring slots alongside everyone from Dave Matthews Band, Robert Plant, and headlining their own cavalcades of tie-dyed dance-a-thons. Like their spiritual brethren the Grateful Dead, they even boast their own set-list collections website for die-hard fans. The group's biggest radio hit, "Send Me on My Way," has been heard in the movie "Ice Age" and used as the theme song for a popular Israeli TV sitcom. You'll sing, you'll dance, you'll raise spirits of the physical and supernatural kind. Also appearing: Lauren Mann and the Fairly Odd Folk, Amity Flow.
Pre-Halloween Bash at Riley's Pub, 1523 19th St., Wednesday, $5, 9 p.m.
This night marks one week until Halloween, and if you're unable to party on the big night because of treat-or-treat mayhem with the wee ones, this show is worth finding a sitter for. Phantom Stranger, Inc. promoter Pat Spurlock, whom I've gotten to know over the years as the manager of Ridgecrest's Bar Stool Saints, continues showing Bako a lot of indie love booking alternative rock acts, like the ones for Wednesday's show: The Nature, Stockz & Blondz, Crooked Folk, and The Cretins (Ramones tribute). They're all together for an evening of quality alternative rock at a very punk price: Free admission for those in costume.