Whether you’ve got a tear in your beer or a peaceful easy feelin’, Vince Galindo has a song for you.
A fixture of the Bakersfield music scene for over a decade, Galindo boasts a tenor with a soothing timbre, a welcome sound to countless downtown nighttime drifters.
“Classic country music is full of emotions and feelings,” said Galindo, 38, of his loyalty to the traditions of the Bakersfield Sound. “These songs tell great stories. That’s what is missing in today’s country music. There isn’t anybody playing this stuff in downtown Bakersfield. I try to learn as much as I can about the history of the music that I perform and in turn pass it on to the audience.”
Curating weekly set lists on the fly or by request — if the requester is polite — Galindo said his affinity for country music goes back to his early years in McFarland.
“Music was always around when I was growing up. The radio was on whether we were doing chores, having a family get-together, or just hanging out at home. I heard George Jones’ voice when I was a junior in high school and was instantly hooked. I had to know who was singing and what else they had done. His voice and music have always been the biggest influence on the music I perform these days. It really can’t get any better than hearing George sing a true heartbreaking song.”
After being given his first guitar as a high school graduation present, Galindo set off to college in Oregon, learning his way around the frets before moving back to California in 1998.
“When I wasn’t in class or at work, I had the guitar in my hand and taught myself to play.”
New to the Bakersfield music scene upon his return, Galindo made his stage debut as a country performer at Fishlips in the mid-2000s during a random open mic run by Ray McDonald, a close associate of Merle Haggard’s.
“Ray convinced me to play a few songs. I had never sung while playing guitar in public. I was really nervous. After I played, Ray spoke to me saying he really enjoyed the songs I played and encouraged me to return,” he recalled.
Galindo eventually developed a weekly residency at the request of former Fishlips owner Kip Sullivan. In time, Galindo’s name began to buzz in music circles.
“I would say that I am an entertainer, performer, musician, historian and fan. I’m working on the songwriter part. That’s the most difficult part for me. Being able to bare your soul on paper and seeing your thoughts put into words is not very easy and can be quite scary at times.”
Over the years, Galindo has performed at nearly every area watering hole that features live music, including the Monte Carlo, Ethel’s Old Corral, the Bull Shed, Riley’s Tavern, the Buckhorn in New Cuyama, the Rustic Rail, the Mint, and Buck Owens’ Crystal Palace.
“I was lucky enough to watch Buck play at the Crystal Palace several times. I would go watch him and the Buckaroos any chance that I had. I had met Buck when I was 10 years old and he was filming the ‘Streets of Bakersfield’ video with Dwight Yoakam in Delano in 1988. The producer of the video had flagged my dad down and asked if they could use his truck for the video. I believe it was an old 1965 bright yellow Ford F-100 service truck that he had bought from the owner of the tire shop that he worked at. You can see it in the background.”
Galindo’s admiration for local greats includes Haggard and the late Red Simpson.
“My first time watching Merle was at the Porterville Fair in the mid-’90s. I paid $15 to watch him play on the Porterville High baseball diamond. That was still one of his best performances I’ve seen. I’ve met him briefly a couple of times. He is one of the few artists that I will watch anytime they come near Bakersfield.”
These days, you can catch Galindo live every Wednesday night at Sandrini’s downtown, where he’s held court for the past six years as both a soloist and with his band, Country Deluxe. Pulling both deep cuts and the familiar hits from Johnny Cash and more, Galindo and company keep it real.
“I sing covers but I do them my way. I don’t adulterate them or stray from them so much that you don’t recognize the original song, but I don’t try to imitate the artist.”
Some of Galindo’s top picks:
“He Stopped Loving Her Today,” George Jones: “He will always be the king of the tear jerker. The pain in his voice let you feel every bad marriage, heartbreak, every drink and every rock bottom moment that he sang about.”
“Hungry Eyes,” Merle Haggard: “Merle sings about his father working to give his mother the best life that he could. It reminds me of my dad, who was and still is one of the hardest working men I’ve ever met. He always did what he could for her. They both always did what they could for myself and my two brothers. We didn’t have everything we wanted growing up, but we always had everything we needed.”
“Together Again,” Buck Owens: “It’s a song of hope. Tom Brumley’s pedal steel solo is one of my favorites.”
“Those Gambler’s Blues,” Jimmie Rodgers: “He recorded this on July 5, 1930, in Los Angeles. He is one of the artists that I find myself playing when I need to clear my mind. It’s his version of the song ‘St. James Infirmary.’”
Galindo has no recordings to his name as of yet, but says he has been approached by a number of songwriters looking to collaborate with him in the studio.
“I hope that anybody watching me perform walks away feeling the same way I do about the song. Maybe they’ll go home and look up some of the songs that I play and those songs or artists will open up a whole new world of music for them.”
Galindo performs at Sandrini’s every Wednesday at 9 p.m. Sandrini’s is at 1918 Eye St. For more information, call 322-8900, or visit the Vince Galindo and Country Deluxe artist page on Facebook.