The late summer heat may be beating down on Bakersfield, but thankfully there’s just enough new local music to keep tempers cooled and feet moving.
Let’s start with the long-awaited, full-length release by classic reggae and soul outfit The Soul Chance.
A collection of 12 tracks that could have been pulled directly from the hallowed music vaults of Jamaica’s Studio One or Trojan Records of the '60s and '70s, the duo of Nico Collins and AJ Brewer have a serious scorcher on their hands.
Opening with “My Best Guy”, an irresistibly soulful track lead by Collins, it’s a perfect introduction to what I expected to be a fun ride aboard The Soul Chance soundsystem. I was right.
Next up, the first of three previously released singles beginning with “Give Love a Try”, a favorite and a track that helped expand interest in the group from around the globe. Brewer’s ability to re-create the early low-fi warmth of old Jamaica in the studio is pretty amazing and showcased nicely here. From there, the album strolls steady along in a reggae mood with some Nyabinghi style hand drumming in the mix on the instrumental “I Tried My Best,” another favorite followed-up by “Tonight”.
The inclusion of a reggae cover of “Is It Any Wonder?” by Durand Jones & The Indications should please fans of the original viral video. The album wraps on a pair of high notes with “Why Wait,” a take on Billy Stewart’s soul classic “Sitting In The Park,” and “You’ll See Me,” the album’s final track.
Released on the Going Underground Records label imprint, Obeah, the album is currently available for stream and download on all digital platforms with a limited-edition red vinyl pressing available for pre-order now at goingundergroundrecords.com. According to Going Underground Records owner Ron Ramirez, the album has already generated a lot of buzz so if you want to snag a copy from the initial 500 units dropping on Sept. 27, you better hurry.
You can also catch the band live on Sept. 20 at Temblor Brewing Co. for the group’s official release party and if the pre-sales haven’t wiped out the inventory, you should be able to get a physical copy at the show. We’ll keep you posted, but in the meantime, follow the group at facebook.com/thesoulchance and on Instagram and @thesoulchance.
Kernville may be known for Whiskey Flat Days, locally brewed craft beer and blues music, but it soon may add reggae/ska to its list of tourist draws with the recent release of “After The Shuck” by Stoneflys. Fronted by vocalist and keytar slinger Guy Jeans, owner of the Kern River Fly Shop in Kernville, the group also features veteran trombonist ‘Skabone’ Stan Middleton (Crucial DBC, Pato Banton and more) plus a host of other solid players from the central coast and SoCal music scenes. A mix of sunny California style rhythms, the album also delves into pop and reggae rock originals, plus a cover of “It's All I Can Do” by The Cars. Having been familiar with Jeans’ previous projects, Lion I’s and Papa Nata, the 12 tracks on “After The Shuck” should help the group further establish itself throughout Kern County. Not that they haven’t already shown the locals their stuff following strong appearances at both Village Fest and Michelada Madness events in Bakersfield.
This Friday night, you can catch Stoneflys live at the release party for “After The Shuck” from 9 to 11 p.m. at the Kernville Saloon, 20 Tobias St. in downtown Kernville. Admission is free and as an added bonus attendees get a free CD just for rolling through. It gets no more irie than that. Just make sure to show your appreciation by skanking it up on the dancefloor. For more info visit facebook.com/stoneflysmusic.
Heading back to the street sounds of Bakersfield, the new single by Western Medicine titled “I Won’t Let You Down” will be available for download and stream beginning Thursday. I was lucky enough to get a rough mix of the song last week smuggled to my inbox from vocalist, guitarist and producer wiz, Emile Antonell, who always has something brewing in his home studio. If this was the rough mix, I look forward to hearing the final mix and mastered track. After a few listens, one thing is for certain: after eight years together, they may have finally found the California rock/country roots sound they’ve been searching for. If that sounds confusing, give it a listen for yourself. Download “I Won’t Let You Down” at westernmedicinemusic.bandcamp.com and follow the group at facebook.com/westernmedicinemusic.
Victimas del Doctor Cerebro
Tickets are currently on sale for a rare local appearance by not one, but three of Mexico’s most legendary rock acts: El Tri de Alex Lora, Victimas del Doctor Cerebro, and La Castañeda at the Fox Theater on Oct. 19. If you’ve never heard the raspy rockero voice of the outrageous Alex Lora, prepare yourself. Nicknamed the “Mick Jagger of Mexico” he’s been performing as long as The Stones south of the border. Helping usher in the Latin alternative rock movement, Victimas Del Doctor Cerebro mixes rock with ska and punk styles. On the poppier alternative side, La Castañeda are the more dramatic of the three. Do a Youtube search for an endless archive of video footage along with recent concert footage of all three groups. Fun Fact: Both El Tri and Korn co-headlined the annual Vive Latino music festival in Mexico City in March.
Tickets for the Oct. 19 concert are available for $65 to $125 and can be purchased at thebakersfieldfox.com or at the Fox theater box office, 2001 H St.
Liberty Roche, 7 p.m. Saturday, Temblor Brewing Co., 3200 Buck Owens Blvd. Ste. 201, free, all ages, 489-4855. It’s been almost a year since local singer songwriter Liberty Roche released her six-song debut with help from her mentor, singer Amy Adams. But just as the celebration seemed to be leading to another early career milestone, she’d all but disappeared from the stage (unless we missed something?). After making a recent appearance at the reception for Ken Burns’ country music documentary at The Padre, Roche makes her return at Temblor. Welcome back.