In a wholesome twisted version of Clark Kent and Superman, Rick Kreiser draws an easy comparison.
By day he runs the successful Carney’s Technology Center here in Bakersfield. By night he transforms into “Rockin’ Rick,” the driving force behind the popular and award-winning Guitar Master Series.
Suit and tie during the day, by evening Rockin’ Rick transforms into a rock and roll, blues, jazz aficionado and promoter.
He cringes when I call him Bakersfield’s “musical ambassador.” Rockin’ Rick has earned my honorary term of endearment because of the great care he takes in searching for and finding extraordinary musicians of all genres to perform in our town. He finds them and with his suave style, charms them to perform in Bakersfield.
To resist is futile. Like a walking, breathing Chamber of Commerce human kiosk, he puts them in our best hotels, treats them to our best restaurants and showcases the many facets of our community. Many artists cite the reason for returning is Rockin’ Rick’s attention to detail and gracious style.
Just in time for the holidays, one extraordinary example is the return of the “Cranktones” Dec. 15 at the Bakersfield Hall of Fame. Never heard of the “Cranktones”? Not to worry. They only perform about three times a year.
You may not know their names, but I bet you know people with whom they have toured or recorded: Ringo Starr, Ray Charles, Neil Diamond, Alice Cooper and Supertramp are just a few names on their individual musical resume.
The “Cranktones” are members of Los Angeles’ elite “first call’ studio musicians who have played on hundreds of records, movie soundtracks and television shows. When not in studio session, these in-demand musicians are usually on world tours.
Carl Verheyen, Jim Cox, Craig Copeland, Tom Child, John Ferraro and Chad Wackerman form the “Cranktones” pick-up band. The “Cranktones” give a new upscale definition to the term “pickup band.” Look up their musical credits on the internet for their full musical resume. Simply amazing.
Last year’s “Christmas with the Cranktones” sold out quickly. Many in the audience were seasoned local musicians there to see the best of the best perform. It was a rare opportunity to see world-class musicians of this caliber perform in the intimate setting of Bakersfield’s Music Hall of Fame.
Because of the ticket demand from last year’s concert, the “Cranktones” will be performing two shows in one evening this year. Rick recently announced the first show is sold out with many good seats remaining for the 8:30 p.m. concert.
Through Rick’s generosity and the support of the concert’s many sponsors, proceeds from the “Christmas with the Cranktones” will again benefit the Kern County Cancer Fund.
Full disclosure, I am a board member of the Fund. The KCCF assists local residents who need financial assistance to obtain the screening, diagnosis and treatment for cancer and associated diseases. All money raised is for Kern County residents and stays in our community.
This “Cranktones” and the Kern County Cancer Fund are for me and Rick the perfect tying of the commitment knot of our emotional journey with cancer, to help in a way we know best.
Several years ago, Rick and I lost our wives to cancer. His journey with his wife, Kris, ended as mine began with my wife, Susie. Rick was there for me during our journey with Susie. His emotional support helped sustain me during some of my darkest moments. I can never thank him enough or fully explain to him how he helped give me strength when I thought I had none.
Together, “Christmas with the Cranktones,” Rick and the Kern County Cancer Fund make up one great example of our community working together to continue to provide much-needed support to cancer patients in financial need.
Superhero or not, Rockin’ Rick and the many other people, organizations and efforts who help give hope to Kern County cancer patients are very special — some might even say superhero special.
I know I do.
Email contributing columnist Steve Flores at email@example.com. His work appears here every third Monday; the views expressed are his own.