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Photo courtesy of Homegrown Longboards

Some of the participants from the Homegrown Longboard Fun Run and Push Race pose near the Beach Park skate park on March 16.

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Photo by Quintin Grant

Members of Homegrown Longboards and Southern California's Left Coast Longboards enjoyed a post-race barbecue and concert at The Hub on March 16.

Despite some last-minute setbacks, last Saturday's Homegrown Longboard River Ride and Push Race rolled on to major success.

With 46 contestants from across Bakersfield, Los Angeles, Morro Bay, and even as far away as Colorado, the bustling scene during 9 a.m. registration at The HUB in Old Town Kern was anything but still.

This was the first official event from Bakersfield's Homegrown Longboards, which co-organized the race out of his garage workshop with help from close friends and family.

Homegrown Longboards owner Jonathan "J.J." Gomez, 26, recalled heading into the event with high hopes only to have them dashed when one of the original sponsors pulled out a few days before.

Organizers discovered they hadn't followed protocol in lining up a section of the Kern River Parkway Path, their original venue for the race.

"Everybody assumes the bike path is for public use, which it is, but you still have to get the proper permits for these types of events. When we went over to look into things, the staff was cool with us, and offered to help us out and point us in the right direction."

Within a few hours of getting their applications paid for and approved on Friday, Gomez and crew notified those who had made their reservations for the race.

"The response was more than I expected," he said. "We weren't about to call things off."

An hour after Saturday morning registration, participants gathered at the starting point. Along the way, spectators could be found cheering the riders to the finish line at Beach Park.

"Some groups of cyclists pulled over and watched us race, and some others followed along, having some fun with this," said Gomez. "There's something about seeing that many longboards all together in one place. It's pretty inspiring."

Everyone was given rousing applause after crossing the finish line

Riders with energy left to expel joined in a caravan down 18th Street, through downtown, all the way to The HUB. There they were greeted by local bands Dub Seeds, Woodrow, Leksure, Chase Steele and Reyes, who performed for a barbecue and awards ceremony.

Winners presented with their handcrafted award plaques included: Nathan Hokit, 5; Jack Smith, 56; Breanna Martinez, 17; and Daniel Engel, 22.

"We have our core group of followers, but this was our debut event and we wanted to make it great for everyone involved. We had some parents come up to us with their kids who said they read our story in the paper and brought the family out. That's awesome."

While the overwhelming response was exciting, Gomez was most proud of the teamwork that went into making the event a success.

"Anticipating the kind of reception we were going to get was the hardest, most nerve-wracking part, and basically getting it into my head that anything you want can sometimes be a phone call or email away. I'm glad things turned out the way they did. We learned a lot."

Gomez said longboard enthusiasts can expect more events this summer, but for now, its back to the workshop for him and his Homegrown Longboard mates.

"I'm still trying to catch my breath from this event," Gomez laughed. "We have so many plans."

For more information on Homegrown Longboards, visit facebook.com/LongboardBako.

Amestoy's Chili Verde Cook-Off

Spring is about to get spicy with the return of Amestoy's Chili Verde Cook-Off on Sunday.

I've been pleased to be a judge at both events in the past, and though my stomach might protest, I have agreed to return to the judging table again this year. My secret: Watch the tortillas.

Everyone has their favorite spice blends for the delicacy, traditionally made with chunks of pork shoulder meat and slow cooked in a green chili sauce of tomatillos, garlic, and jalapenos. From the salty to the bland, tongue-dissolving to the delicate, each combination of ingredients makes for an interesting Alka-Seltzer-relieving afternoon food adventure at the historic east Bakersfield bar and eatery.

As of Wednesday, all spots for the competition were filled; however, there will be plenty of room to enjoy all the spicy festivities, including live music from Bakersfield reggae trio Dub Seeds.

If you plan on attending, I recommend arriving early.

There's no rain in the forecast as they've had in the past, which will most likely pump up attendance.

Sunday's event kicks off at 11:30 a.m. Admission is $10 and includes drink ticket and food samples. Parking is available on site and throughout the surrounding neighborhood. Amestoy's is located at 2303 River Blvd.

For more information, call 871-2303.

Matt's picks

El Tri at La Movida, 212 E. 21st St., 9 p.m., Friday, $40, 578-9772.

Known as los "Rolling Stones" de Mexico, El Tri head into their 45th year of non-stop roc en Espanol with fans so rabidly enthusiastic, even the Hell's Angels at Altamont would be powerless against them. Guitarist and vocalist Alex Lora, 60, the self-proclaimed "Esclavo del rock and roll" (rock and roll slave), writes deeply personal songs with topics ranging from politics to poverty, and he takes fan requests for new material. Want a song written about the Pope, soccer, or even the plight of prostitution? Lora will deliver it live in a Mexican minute.

What's Eating Gilbert? At Jerry's Pizza, 1817 Chester Ave., Saturday, $12, 633-1000. Not to be confused with the Johnny Depp film, New Found Glory guitarist Chad Gilbert steps up to center stage with his solo project, What's Eating Gilbert?, which hits the spring tour circuit after a rousing appearance at Austin's SXSW festival.

This endeavor joins a long list of creative detours for the 32-year-old musician, who has worked with everyone from pop rockers Fall Out Boy to hardcore misfits Shai Hulud, and has produced a number of alternative rock acts like H20. To the envy of fanboys everywhere, Gilbert is dating Paramore's lead vocalist, Hayley Williams, since 2008, who has been known to make an occasional surprise onstage appearance with her man. Also appearing are Allison Weiss, Pentimento, Candy Hearts, Grant My Wishes.

MURS at B Ryder's, 7401 White Lane, 8 p.m., Tuesday, $15, 397-7304.

The cult of MURS is something to see. Keeping it real for underground hip-hop fans, even after signing to a major label in 2008, rapper Nick Carter, aka MURS, loves his fans as much as they love him. During a previous Bakersfield visit, he gave fans all the hits, plus a Sublime cover of "Date Rape" that threw the audience into complete pandemonium. Go to YouTube.com and put in the search words "MURS Bakersfield" to see. Tuesday's show also marks a stop on the latest "Road to Paid Dues" hip-hop tour that ends on March 30 in San Bernardino, the site of this year's massive Paid Dues festival. Also appearing are rappers Prof and Fashawn. Highly recommended.