It seems like a lifetime ago, but in its heyday, Jerry's Pizza was a legitimate, world-famous, all-ages music venue. Catering mainly to punk, emo, screamo, post-hardcore and indie bands, the output at Jerry's was consistent and relentless; their day-glo colored, ransom note-style show fliers were unavoidable. For the better part of any week between 1995 and 2005, you could catch the established (Weezer), the eventual (Panic! at the Disco, Paramore) and the promising (pretty much everyone else) along with about a half-dozen opening bands sweating it out in that black, bricked dungeon of a stage.
Nate Berg, as the outside music promoter for Jerry's during that time, made Jerry's Pizza what it was: the bedrock of alternative music for the all-ages crowd in Bakersfield. He was also a firsthand witness to the birth of our local alternative music scene, which sprung from Bam Bam's — the dark, neon-lit downtown music venue owned by John Bentley in the 1990s.
The now Toronto-based Berg, along with co-director Chris Pankratz, has decided to chronicle the birth of our beautifully eclectic music contingent in their upcoming documentary, "Bones of Brundage."
Over the last few weeks, Berg, 46, and Pankratz, 42, filmed interviews of several people sharing their thoughts and stories about that time as well as older country musicians, such as Tommy Hays, tying all of Bakersfield's sounds together.
At the time of this writing, the movie won't be concentrating solely on the superstar bands like Korn that originated here, but on the peripheral bands that helped shepherd them and the others into the mainstream. The movie focuses on the musicians and bands that flirted with fame, or stayed — for the most part — in their garages, and the few that eventually got their due through tenacity and quiet ambition.
"I'm very, very interested in the stories of the people who stayed because everybody has a different story to bring to the table," Berg said.
The film will be split into three main segments. The first will cover the 1980s, with its cruising-on-Chester culture, the lengths bands had to take to play shows, and the stories of early local alt-music pioneers, such as Moe Adame and the late Rory Todd Thompson. The second segment will cover the Bam Bam's era, and the third, the fiery and furious reign of Jerry's Pizza.
Principal shooting ends this weekend, and in celebration of it, Berg is putting together a wrap party not unlike the kind of shows he used to put together: five bands this Saturday night at Jerry’s Pizza, representing the old, the current and what’s to come.
The most intriguing band on the bill is the reunion of the punk band JFUK who haven't performed in 25 years. Also performing will be Moya, The 08 Orchestra, The Withdrawals and The Iron Outlaws (disclosure: I will be playing with The Iron Outlaws and was also interviewed for the film), proving that there's still life to those old Brundage bones.
Audience members, beware: This event will be partly filmed, so wear your best, prepare for the worst, and party like it's 1999. Again.
Bones of Brundage Wrap Party, all-ages show with The Iron Outlaws, JFUK 25-year anniversary, Moya, The 08 Orchestra, and The Withdrawals, 6 p.m. Saturday at Jerry's Pizza, 1817 Chester Ave. $10; full bar with ID.
"Buddy — The Buddy Holly Story," 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Rabobank Theater, 1001 Truxtun Ave. $35-$55, available at axs.com.
Cults & Classics: ”American Graffiti," 7 p.m. Monday, Fox Theater, 2001 H St. $5.
Four years before filmmaker George Lucas introduced us all to that galaxy far, far away in "Star Wars," the director revisited his own youth as a teenager growing up in Modesto. He ended up helming one of the best coming-of-age movies ever made: "American Graffiti." The film is seeing its 45th anniversary this year and will be shown at the Fox Theater this Monday
The PG-rated movie harkens back to the days of poodle skirts, rock 'n' roll, and hot rods and was the precursor to the hit TV show "Happy Days." (The film even has its own drive-in, Mel's Diner!)
The year depicted here might be 1962, but the stories of looking for love (in this case, quite literally), and of dealing with growing up and going away, are timeless. It even stars a young Harrison Ford as a cowboy hat-wearing antagonist. Well, somewhat.
"American Graffiti" earned an Oscar nomination for best picture (losing to "The Sting) and its 41-track soundtrack is a must-have for any fan of early rock 'n' roll. Take your teenage (or about-to-be) kids to it, and if you lived through it, invite that kid too.
Bakersfield's blast back to the '60s really kicks off Thursday at Rabobank Theater with the exhilarating ”Buddy — The Buddy Holly Story." This long-running show (29 years this October) is a journey through the life of one of the greatest and most tragic figures in rock 'n' roll history: Charles Hardin Holly, aka “Buddy.”
After all of these years, all of this music hasn't lost any of its power, emotion or energy. Proving that whether it's a bespectacled boy from Lubbock, Texas, a director from Modesto, or any of those aforementioned bones of Brundage — any street of Bakersfield, really — each come with their own ghosts. And, thankfully, they aren’t fading away.