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CESAREO GARASA: Performers ready to jam, help preserve local music history

On Aug. 19, the Bakersfield Music Hall of Fame will host its quarterly Local Country Music Artist Concert to raise funds for the Bakersfield Country Music Museum.

The BCMM's mission, as listed on its Facebook page, “is to preserve memorabilia and provide education of Bakersfield’s Country Music history’s past, the present and future" with a goal "to help make awareness through fun educational events.”

It has most recently done so by donating $2,500 to the grand reconstruction of the Bakersfield Sound Exhibit due to open this fall at the Kern County Museum's Pioneer Village.

Kim McAbee, who is a part of music history herself as a member of Buck Owens’ Buckaroos, has been the president of the BCMM for the last two years and co-owns, along with husband Kyle Carter, the Bakersfield Music Hall of Fame. The couple has personally donated money to help with the Bakersfield Sound Exhibit remodel.

She will also be performing at the upcoming concert on vocals with James Ranger on keyboards. Ranger is the lead pastor of New Life Church and the father of local musicians Jon and Jim Ranger.

McAbee’s fellow Buckaroos Drew Harness and David Wulfekeuhler will be on guitar and drums respectively, and Wulfekeuhler’s Nightlife Band bandmate Justin McWilliams will round out the rhythm section on bass. Teddy Spanke from The Tex Pistols (love that name) will also be on guitar.

The musicians will take turns fronting their own numbers over the course of the two-hour event.

“These guys are all so talented,” McAbee said. “I would consider this to be like an old-time country concert dance where the musicians come out and we’re all singing.”

But to me, it's the next part that I find the most intriguing.

After the all-ages concert is over, there will be an open jam where audience members are invited to join the incredible talent collected onstage. There will be a sign-up sheet for anyone who wants to perform.

For younger and aspiring musicians, this is an incredible opportunity to network and play with some of the most remarkable and solid musicians currently playing in town.

If you are a musician and are entertaining the thought of becoming active in our local country music community, I cannot stress this enough: Do not miss this. The players on that stage are pretty much local country music royalty and having the chance to perform with them is an invaluable lesson on what it’s like to play at that level.

The jam is only an hour and it’s entirely possible that not everyone will be able to make it onto the stage. Sign up early and show the musicians and the audience what you’ve got.

Some advice, though: Know the key of the song you want to perform. It’s not necessary with this bunch, but it does help.

Who knows? This might be the first step of another legendary career in the making. I find that and the thought of some of Bakersfield’s best talent coming together to help pay tribute to — both literally and figuratively — some of its greatest musicians to be an appropriate bit of kismet.

The concert is from 7 to 9 p.m. Aug. 19 at the Bakersfield Music Hall of Fame, 2231 R St.

Admission is a very reasonable $10 with proceeds going to BCMM. Food and drink will be available for purchase.

Observing and following safety guidelines regarding COVID is recommended.


This Saturday night’s event at The Well will be a sophisticated affair under the name “A Night of Jazz.”

The headliner is Los Angeles-based singer, composer and trumpeter Johnny Britt, whose style of music isn’t just smooth, it’s ridiculously luxurious. His full bio — found on his website, — is pretty impressive.

His latest is the single “Police Officer,” which sounds like ”Kiss From a Rose”-era Seal: a soulful delivery with breathy background vocals sung over lush, gorgeous chords. All combine to create a shining, golden melancholy that, in this case, is encumbered by the weight of its timely lyrical matter.

Britt knows groove though, with songs like the title track of his enjoyable 2020 release “Mo Jazzin'" and "Let's Get Down Tonight," best exhibiting the appeal of his music: It’s accessible, lovely to listen to and imbued with a high musical acumen. Fans of Incognito, Herb Alpert and George Benson would seriously appreciate this concert.

As of this writing, there are only a few general admission tickets left at $40 with bar seating. There are a few single seats closer to the stage going for three figures. Regardless of where you sit though, there really isn’t a bad seat in the house.

The outstanding local group j2 and the Bizzness will open the Plush Vodka-sponsored event that goes from 7 to 11 p.m at the Well, 7401 White Lane, Suite 7. The show is 21 and over.

According to the event page, this show is also “a fundraiser to support the Pathfinder Society and Teach Me Technology, which helps kids with science, technology, art, financial literacy, high school student athletic scholarships and sport activities.”

Tickets are available at Please observe and follow safety guidelines regarding COVID.

Contributing columnist Cesareo Garasa brings you The Lowdown on local music and entertainment every other Thursday.

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