Ozomatli's appearance at Fishlips two years ago was a dance party, the likes of which have rarely been seen in Bakersfield. I still recall the group's midweek appearance in front of a packed, sweaty club anxiously waiting for the first note to drop.
The band launched into a non-stop 90-minute desmadre (chaotic) mix of funky Latin cumbia hip-hop music that eventually made its way from the stage into the crowd. The band marched around the room, handing out shakers and cowbells for a rendition of the "hokey pokey" before hanging out with fans until the lights signaled it was time to leave. They return to B Ryder's on Sunday for an all-ages show that promises to be every bit as wild.
I've been to many Ozomatli concerts over the years, dating back to their early appearances at a few of the Bakersfield reggae fests and their infamous Bakersfield High School concert in the '90s. That one is a little faint, but I do recall a rap battle between former rapper Charles "Chali 2na" Stewart and a number of brave local emcees. On the turntables, original Ozomatli deejay Lucas "Cut Chemist" MacFadden spun and even broke out into some break-dance moves. (Fast forwarding a few years, MacFadden had a cameo in the 2007 film "Juno," in an obvious role: a chemistry teacher.)
Those Bakersfield visits came at the beginning of their career, when they were sprouting forth from the East Los Angeles garage scene. For the next two decades, the band has scored some of the best tour slots anyone could wish for, opening for everyone from Santana to Dave Matthews Band and appearing on the Coachella festival main stage. Try dropping your finger on a remote part of your desktop globe. Chances are Ozomatli has performed there on a mission of unifying musical goodwill. That's something that's always been a part of the group's lasting popularity.
The band's latest project, a collection of original children's music titled "Ozokids," features a 14-track lesson in multicultural rhythms and playtime for the casa.
With songs about staying fit ("Exercise") and staying clean, ("Germs") it's a hoot and breath of fresh air for parents looking for something tolerable to listen and sing a long with during those long drives from Grandma's house. One of my favorites is "Changuito" ("Little Monkey"), the closing track written in a Dominican merengue-style. My kids are too cool and grown to jump around the room with dad now, but if you have little ones, this gets my highest rating. Bravo, Ozo.
Also appearing is Southern California dread-locked songstress Naia Kete, who appeared on season two of NBC's "The Voice." Her latest single, "Crazy Glue," is a sugary-sweet pop number you can check out at her official website naiakete.com. It's the perfect show to ease your post-election week hangover.
Sunday's showtime is 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $24. B Ryder's is located at 7401 White Lane; 397-7304 or vallitix.com.
Patrick Contreras with Jay Smith group at On the Rocks, 1517 18th St., Friday, $5, 10 p.m. Patrick Contreras has infused his unique style of violin playing with influences of blues, rock, and hip-hop to become one of the valley's most unique and sought after studio cats. His live shows mix original music along with explosive interpretations of classics by Jimi Hendrix and Led Zeppelin. His most recent artistic foray includes exploring the electro music craze. The result is as eclectic as it sounds and doesn't come off as some bizarre New Age music project. Backing Contreras is Bakersfield keyboardist Jay Smith, bassist Fernando Montoya and drummer Jonathan Weinmann.
Nappy Roots at The Dome, 2201 V St., 6 p.m., Monday, $15, 327-0190. Hailing from Bowling Green, Ken., The Nappy Roots' 2002 debut "Watermelon, Chicken & Gritz" had one of the best jams of the year with "Po' Folks." After a follow-up release, they all but disappeared into the shadows of the "dirty-dirty" South. Now the group is back with a new CD, "Nappy Dot Org," and is ready to rejuvenate the state of the genre, joining acts such as the reunited Bone Thugs-N-Harmony to jump back into the ring after years on the sidelines. Also appearing: Bakersfield rap duo Dirthead, Truth tha Brainchild, and the brilliantly named Garage Island.