I can always trust that our city’s better instincts kick in around this time of year; our collective benevolent nature shows up — especially when it comes to charity.

This Saturday, O’Hennings will be hosting their annual toy drive with a performance by The Byrom Brothers. Admission is free and the bar will be collecting unwrapped toys for Valley Baptist Church, which will give them away to kids. It’s great to see that little bar living up to its mission of being the friendly, neighborhood bar it aimed to be and giving back to the very community that supports it. I think its late co-owner and namesake, Mike Henning, would be proud. Grumpy, but proud.

On Sunday, the third annual Santa Cecila Music Festival will be held at the Eagles Lodge downtown. The event is a labor of love organized by local musician Marcos Reyes who is also the percussionist for the world-famous Latin-rock band War. The festival isn’t just to honor Santa Cecilia, the patron saint of musicians, but also acts as a fundraiser for St. Augustine Church in Lamont.

“It gets better every year,” Reyes said. “Looking forward to this one being a success as well.”

The headlining band is Marcos Reyes & Friends, a Latin-rock all-star supergroup featuring Reyes and Richard Bean, one of the original members of Malo and the singer and co-writer of their signature hit “Suavecito.” Other bands and artists will perform throughout the day (including my band Mento Buru), and Father John Schmoll from St. Augustine will be on hand to bless the musicians there — performing and otherwise — and their instruments.

The toy run at O’Hennings is 21-and-over but the Santa Cecilia Music Festival is open to all ages. Personally, it’s always a kick to see a bunch of kids running and dancing around to songs that are way older than they are. Their fun is contagious — especially to us older musicians.

The Byrom Brothers Toy Drive, 8 p.m. Saturday, O’Hennings Bar, 1312 Airport Drive. Free admission, but audience members are encouraged to bring an unwrapped toy to be given later to Valley Baptist Church.

Third annual Santa Cecilia Music Festival, 1 to 10 p.m. Sunday, Bakersfield Fraternal Order of Eagles Auxiliary #93, 1718 17th St. $15 in advance, $20 day of; tickets available at Marcos' Hair Salon, 1925 K St. 322-4681.

Album release parties on tap

How does one go from show promoter to record label owner? Well, for Pat Spurlock, owner of Phantom Stranger Records, the answer was simple: plan backwards; work forward.

“Back when I was first started working with (bands)," Spurlock, 36, said, "... my initial goal was to function more as a record label, producer and manager. As I began booking shows, I was realizing the opportunity in front of me and the promoting took the front seat. Now, years later, I'm getting to do what I originally set out to do.”

The label’s inaugural debut, “Taste Test,” is the first album by local band The Secret Sauce, and its CD release party will be held Friday at Riley’s Tavern. Recorded and mixed by band frontman Rusty Mustard, the album is a fuzzy jolt of scrappy punk rock with more substance under the surface than just tempo-changes and the occasional voyage into ska (the album’s opener, “Someday”) .

Mustard’s voice reminds me of Dead Boys' lead singer Stiv Bator’s and there’s a distinct Dead Boys-vibe to some of the songs. Justin Patience’s trumpet playing swirls in and out of the songs like a sort of sonic mosh pit, and adds some instrumental alchemy to the mix. My favorite track is the defiant “What I Mean,” and other songs like “Karaoke Night” and “Going Down to Mexico” (as well as its video) are sardonically humorous (or are they?) pieces of work. There is definitely depth here to be mined with repeated listens and hints at bigger things to come.

“My main goal is to take away the stress of releasing a record for some of these bands,” Spurlock said. “I’ve seen many projects run out of money and get frustrated to the point of the music never coming out. (The artists) are so fed up with the songs, by time the release happens they're already moving on and I’ve even seen some (groups) break up.”

“I want to give them the opportunity to hit the ground running with an album they are proud of, don’t have to stress over and have the product in hand ready to sell and spread to fans and potential new fans.”

Saturday night will have an album-release party of its own at Sandrini's Pub. The prog-post hardcore trio If It Kills You will be debuting their split 7-inch single “A Lifetime on the Phone” that they’re sharing with San Fransisco band Songs From Snakes to the local masses.

The song is a whiplash-inducing stunner in 10/8 that stems from a "love-hate relationship with social media and all the other operating norms imposed on a post internet band." That's how the band described it to New Noise Magazine, which had If It Kills You as a featured streaming artist back in November.

The show will see the group performing their single as well as material from their upcoming album. The single also acts as the last bit of real estate being sold off before the new house gets built, so to speak, as it was the last song recorded with previous drummer Matt Salkeld.

The band's current drummer, Cass Faulkenberry, was a member of the highly popular defunct band Choirs, along with guitarist and singer Justin Martin. If It Kills You's audience doesn't have the same fever pitch of Choirs' early shows, but they hum with the promise of a band with impassioned artistic integrity that's making the right intuitive choices and have each other's backs.

Also on the bill will be Songs From Snakes promoting their side of the 7-inch, "Cobalt Blue," and local act Niner Niner who are quietly and steadily becoming a formidable force of their own.

The Secret Sauce album release party with special guests Zoe Vox Fury and Me 2nd, 9 p.m. Friday, Riley’s Tavern, 1523 19th St. $5, $10 per CD.

If It Kills You split album release with Songs From Snakes, also featuring Niner Niner, 9 p.m. Saturday, Sandrini’s Public House, 1918 Eye St. $5.

Cesareo’s picks

Kevin Heffernan and Steve Lemme, 7 p.m. Thursday, Temblor Brewing Co., 3200 Buck Owens Blvd. $37.92 in advance through eventbrite.com. For 18-and-over crowd.

You might not recognize comedians Kevin Heffernan and Steve Lemme by name, but if you’ve seen the 2002 cult comedy “Super Troopers,” you’d know them better, respectively, as Farva and Mac. The latter giving us the funniest demonstration of a bulletproof athletic cup in the history of film. They’ll be returning Thursday to Temblor Brewing Company.

The two of them will perform stand-up comedy, with funny stories about the making of their films and, according to their show bio, “In the end, you’re guaranteed to see everything that’s funny about a fat man sharing a stage with a little-bitty fella.” The show starts at 7 p.m., but if you plan on eating, get there earlier.

The duo and their Broken Lizard comedy troupe are currently working on a “Super Troopers” sequel, due in April. If you’ve ever seen their other movies such as 2004’s slasher parody “Club Dread” (that, for a comedy, has an impressive amount of gore) or the 2006 sports-movie send-up “Beerfest,” you know what to expect here. Fans of raunchy, adult comedy will have a blast, and if there was ever a time for irreverent comedy, it’s now: Where everything might be irreverent, but not very funny.

Senior music recital for Tony Rinaldi (2:30 p.m.) and Rebecca Spickler (4 p.m.) Sunday, Dore Theatre, Cal State Bakersfield, 9001 Stockdale Highway. Free admission and parking in lots B and C.

These days, keyboardist Tony Rinaldi and percussionist Rebecca Spickler can usually be found playing on a bar stage, having both become consistent fixtures in our local music scene. Both are incredibly proficient musicians and are playing in a variety of different projects ranging from the orchestral to the psychedelic and even work together in the group Mopey Lonesome and the Drunken Voicemails.

But during the day, they’re burgeoning students closing in on graduation. Both of their senior recitals are happening this Sunday at CSUB's  Dore Theatre and the event is open to the public. Rinaldi’s program starts at 2:30 p.m. and will concentrate mostly on jazz with a powerful backing band featuring James Dandy on bass, Isaiah Morfin on saxophone and Kyle Burnham on drums. Spickler’s recital starts at 4 p.m. and will be more classical-based on mallet percussion and tympani.

I know, it might not feel as appealing to some people as singing along to “Hey Jude” (with Spickler’s Beatles tribute band, the Abbey Roadies) or going crazy to Rinaldi’s cosmically funky and phenomenal keyboard style, but these are the culmination of their runs of study and it’s a chance to see two highly talented musicians show you what they got one last time before they ship off to the big, bad world. Or until they decide to get another degree.

(1) comment

Jack

Who would pay to see the “Byrom” brothers?? One used mommy’s money to get close to fame, the other used mommy’s money to fund his failing smog shop.

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