It's always reassuring that just a few days into a new year my email inbox is already filled with good news.

I'm talking about new introductions, event reminders and a glimpse into what we can expect this year in Bakersfield's music scene. I have to admit, I'm still reeling by how we managed to end 2012 on such a high note, and when I sat down to write my first column of the year, my lingering New Year's glow had me stumped on where to begin.

So, the big question is: How in the world do we follow that up?

The answer: Stay busy.

Just because it's January, doesn't mean we should be sleeping on the job. Keep rehearsing, write new material, book shows, and make promoting your work beyond your comfort zones a priority. Think about expansion.

One of the things I've learned over the years is that the attention span of local music and art enthusiasts tends to be very short. If you're a veteran, you should already know this. If you're new to the scene, begin a checklist of short- and long-term monthly goals.

It's all easier said than done, but trust me, the benefits of having a plan will offer you the balance you need to stay in tune with your creative and business aspirations. You don't have to drive yourself to the brink of madness either. Find what works in every area of your daily to weekly operation in small doses between online social networking (Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, etc.) and the real world (fliers, posters, guerilla promotion and marketing.) The amount of technology today allows even the most impatient novice the chance to become a shining example of marketing.

I have no predictions, only enthusiasm. Let's have a great year, shall we?

Grant Langston at Trout's

When you're born and raised in a small town in Alabama, chances are you're fed on a strict diet of deep-fried turkey and country music.

So what do you do? Embrace it and strap your bulging belly into a tight pair of Wranglers, or do you get the heck out of Dodge to discover your inner vegan and rock 'n' roll?

Well, alt-country wildman Grant Langston may not have discovered the joys of soy, but he knew he loved a good power chord when he heard one, and headed out West to Los Angeles to make his name. And he did, becoming a driving force in the ever-growing Southern California country music scene.

Over the years, Langston has also been a frequent visitor to Bakersfield, traveling to absorb some local mojo with his band, the Supermodels, and make numerous live appearances, plus he also recorded a live CD, titled "Live In Bakersfield," at Fishlips six years ago.

He makes a return to Bako on Saturday, this time to raise a ruckus across the river at Trout's for a special concert filming for the local Rockwell Opry TV music show which airs weekly free on Bright House.

Langston's burning new release, "Working Until I Die," was produced by sound wizard Paul Q. Kolderie, who's worked with everyone from Radiohead to the Mighty Mighty Bosstones, and will most likely be musically represented after the first lick kicks in.

If you haven't seen Langston in action before, don't cheat yourself any longer.

Saturday's showtime is 6 p.m. Also appearing is Dakota Drummond and Trout's house pickers the Blackboard Playboys, who go on after Langston, playing until close. Trout's is located at 805 N. Chester Ave. Admission is $10. For more information, call 399-6700.

Upcoming shows

This year's live music schedule is already looking pretty impressive, so be sure to keep these shows on your radar in the coming months: He's My Brother She's My Sister and Jenny O at Elements Venue on Jan. 18; Expendables at B Ryder's on Jan. 20; Kyle Gass Band at Elements Venue on Feb. 2; Fat Tuesday Party at Buck Owens' Crystal Palace on Feb. 12; Iration at B Ryder's on Feb. 21; Reckless Kelly at Buck Owens' Crystal Palace on Feb. 23; Reverend Horton Heat at B Ryder's on March 9; St. Patty's Day Shamrock Shindig at On The Rocks on March 17; Murs at B Ryder's on March 26; and D.R.I at Jerry's Pizza on March 29.

Matt's picks

Phantom Stranger Showcase at B Ryder's, 7401 White Lane, 9:30 p.m. Friday. $5. 397-7304. This meeting of acts from our area's roots, rock and indie folk scenes offers a great way to get reacquainted with some familiar friends.

Starting off with Bakersfield's Crooked Folk who ended last year with a big bang and new CD, plus the return of Mama's Kitchin from Frazier Park, another fine jam-oriented outfit, whose latest disc "Wide Open" is still available and worthy of attention. Also on the bill is The Bird Channel, who, for most of last year, worked hard at focusing attention on finishing up some new recordings while also establishing a solid live presence at both all-ages venues and nightclubs. You can check out the group's newly released single, "She's Got The Keys," at their website

Dub Seeds at On The Rocks, 1517 18th St., 9 p.m. Saturday. $5. 327-7625. After taking a month off, Bakersfield reggae rock trio Dub Seeds is ready to get back to business with an irie vengeance. Still glowing from the well-deserved spotlight as The Californian's "Standout Band" of 2012, they've got an even bigger year ahead. If your New Year's party hangover has finally worn off, don't worry, you can start all over at this show.