Bakersfield is being soundly represented at the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival in Indio -- which enters its final weekend Friday -- with the eclectic sounds of Alex Rodriguez, aka DJ Moustache, who was offered the chance of a lifetime.
"I'm friends with some of the people at Goldenvoice (promoters of the festival) and I've been helping out the Glasshouse Record store in Pomona, which also has some affiliation," said Rodriguez, 33, who lives his life immersed in vintage vinyl as collector, dealer and working deejay. "I got a text message that said 'Hey, do you want to deejay at Coachella?' My answer was 'Ummmmm ... YES!'"
Now in its 12th year, Coachella draws 80,000-plus music fans to the Empire Polo Club in Indio on two consecutive weekends for three days of non-stop music. Performing this year are Red Hot Chili Peppers, rappers Wu-Tang Clan, Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Vampire Weekend, Violent Femmes, The Selecter, Social Distortion, Metric and 169 other acts from the worlds of electro, rock, punk and whatever the latest noise on the minds of the hip and happening is. Split among two outdoor stages and three massive tents, it has to be experienced to be believed.
Rodriguez, who's attended the festival twice, was careful to keep his expectations in check when he was offered the gig.
"Originally, I was told I would be spinning in the campgrounds after the bands were done playing. I had no idea they were going to throw me on the Gobi tent. I got a text from the campground DJ manager that said 'check the lineup.' I checked it out and saw that it said 'Moustache.' I replied back to him with 'Why does it say Moustache?' He replied with 'That's you, son!' That's when I started hyperventilating, got crazy nervous and wanted to hide."
Listed on the official Coachella schedule, Rodriguez's stage name is printed in the opening 11:30 a.m. Gobi tent opening slot alongside reggae icon Lee "Scratch" Perry, Odd Future's Earl Sweatshirt and others.
"Last week I played '60s and '70s funk and soul 45s," Rodriguez said of the festival's first weekend. "I wanted to give them something they weren't going to hear much of the rest of the weekend. The campgrounds were an eclectic mix. They applauded me when I was done. I had people come up to me all through the weekend saying that they liked my set and that it blew their mind that I was spinning 45s. I even had a couple people want to take a picture with me, which felt so weird. I'm just a dude playing records. It's not like I'm making great music."
Speaking of celebrities, the side-stage crowd mix provided a show of its own.
"I was more excited over seeing musicians I admired than celebrities. I stood next to Blake Anderson from the show 'Workaholics' during the Descendents set, saw Lindsay Lohan, stood next to Chloe Sevigny during Dinosaur Jr., hung out with Bryan Migdol, the original drummer of Black Flag, and I got to meet Ian MacKaye from Fugazi to talk about music and records."
Rodriguez heads back to Coachella today to kick off another weekend of spinning, starting in the festival's campground area. I'll be there too, getting my groove on, preparing for the oncoming weekend heat with my girlfriend and 17,000 other brave camping friends.
"Take lots of sunscreen, allergy medicine, a dust mask, scarf or bandanna to cover your face if the wind kicks up," Rodriguez recommends for those making the trek for the first time. "Bring clothes for warm and cold weather. Also, drink lots of water. Duh?"
You can catch Rodriguez back in Bako when he resumes his Beat Surrender and Wax On deejay dance night residency the second and third Friday of every month at Sandrini's.
I'll be back with my annual Coachella review next week. Catch a streaming webcast of performances at Coachella.com during the festival beginning Friday afternoon.
Record Store Day
Saturday is Record Store Day, which celebrates the art of music and the spirit of the independent music store. Since its inception six years ago, Record Store Day has become a global phenomenon for music fans hoping to fatten their collections with rarities and limited special-edition releases produced just for the occasion.
Among last year's hot picks was the Buck Owens coloring book and multicolor flexi-disc set that featured Buck Owens and the Buckaroos live at the White House in 1968. This year's highlights include long-out-of-print vinyl releases from David Bowie, Aerosmith and others.
According to Bakersfield World Records employee Bruce Jones, trying to secure these limited releases for customers is often a matter of chance, with rabid collectors vying for many of the same items.
"It's always a question mark as far as what we can get due to the demand of the limited pressings," he said. "We had a customer come in to order the Dave Matthews Band live four-LP box set, but our distributor was only able to get a hold of 40 copies. They'd already had over 200 requests."
World Records owner Pat Evans said once the year's list is released a few weeks leading up to Record Store Day, orders begin to fly.
"We sent our list two weeks ago and anticipate being able to get 90 percent of the orders filled. For the store I go down the list to find items that may be of interest to our customers who come in that morning. It's an event really steered toward vinyl."
If the store comes up short on special orders, Evans added he can usually fill them a few weeks later through customer cancelations in other cities.
"Compared to the first year, the list has really grown. We'll always take a crack at getting the most in-demand releases."
World Records has also scheduled live music from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday. Featured bands are the Flying Arvizu Brothers, the Fruit Tramps, Divided Highway and more.
World Records is located at 2815 F St. For more information call 831-3100.
The Intimate Downtown at Going Underground Records has planned a full day of activity from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m., also on Saturday.
"Our store has tripled the amount of product from last year," said Going Underground Records owner Ronald Ramirez. "I don't normally do special orders, but I pretty much know what my clientele is looking for. I got nine boxes coming in the rest of the week. A lot of punk indie, metal, psych, modern soul."
In addition to Record Store Day exclusives, Ramirez has printed up a special batch of commemorative T-shirts for sale and will be running extreme discounts on the store's massive in-house used vinyl collection. There will also be a sidewalk sale and live spinning from local deejay collective Drftrs all day long.
Going Underground Records is located at 18221 G St. For more information, call 633-0111 or visit recordstoreday.com.
Lucky Ned Pepper at Buck Owens' Crystal Palace, 2800 Buck Owens Blvd., 7 p.m. today, $14 to $20, 328-7560.
Former Smokin' Armadillo members Rick Russell and guitarist Josh Graham -- now known as Lucky Ned Pepper -- turned a lot of heads following the release of last year's lone Bakersfield country music release, "Get Lucky." The duo have since been taking the fine-tuned Nashville-style production of radio-worthy gems through the back roads of the industry, stirring up interest on their own terms. The hometown crowd should be out in full force, and if you're wondering if Graham can still kick out the hick-hop jams on the Armadillo favorite, "I'm a Cowboy," you'll be in for a surprise. The kid's still got it.
Senses Fail at Jerry's Pizza, 1817 Chester Ave., Friday, 7 p.m., $18, all ages, 633-1000.
Still able to riff, scream and growl, these post-hardcore heroes and Vans Warped tour headliners are sure to put on a show that lives up to the hype. The band's latest release, "Renacer," has a number of fresh new approaches that deserve to be heard. Also Appearing: Such Gold, Real Friends, Major League.
Phantom Stranger Inc Presents at On the Rocks, 1517 18th St., Friday, 9 p.m., $5, 327-7625.
Bakersfield's Relay for Life always brings out the charitable side of our local music scene and when it comes to wrangling in the troops for a night of mayhem with a cause, local promoter Phantom Stranger never disappoints. The lineup features alternative rock and classic punk with Bako bands Stockz & Blondz, Crooked Folk, The Cretins' "Ramones Tribute," the Aviators, plus an art exhibition featuring local artists Jaime Contreras, Erwin Ledford and Carlos Fierros. All funds raised will benefit Bakersfield Relay for Life.