Wednesday, Aug 01 2012 05:48 PM

MATT MUNOZ: It's not punk -- it's 'newgrass'

By The Bakersfield Californian

As much of a music geek as I am, there's always a chance I may show up a little late to the party.

Blame my tardiness on the musician in me, but once I do get around to arriving, bet on me to be one of the more wildly enthusiastic guests, dancing on your sofa when my favorite tune comes on.

Kind of like my mood when I discovered for the first time San Fernando-based alternative bluegrass riot starters Old Man Markley.

The band describes itself on its website as "what would happen if Social Distortion's Mike Ness woke up drunk in a bed with the guys in Old Crow Medicine Show and decided to just make a record rather than do the walk of shame."

It's a fitting description for the seven-piece group with deep Southern California punk rock ties, whose roots are displayed clearly on their latest release, "Guts n' Teeth."

The band appears Friday at B Ryder's.

"There were a few bands involved prior to this collaboration," said lead vocalist John Carey during a phone call from a recent tour stop. "Most of us were in the punk scene. When we had this idea to start Old Man Markley, we weren't really doing anything."

Old Man Markley could be an American cousin to the Irish sounds of The Pogues and Flogging Molly. In the case of OMM, much of the instrumentation is the same, but with a true bluegrass influence.

Formed in late 2007, the original 11-piece group played its memorable first show the following year at a bar in Pasadena called the Old Towne Pub to a near-riotous crowd and since then has continued carrying the torch for a sound known as "newgrass."

"When we first came out we're sure people probably thought, 'Oh, here we go, another Flogging Molly,' because they see the fiddle and banjo. People didn't know what to make of us really. What I love about bluegrass is it's so focused on amazing singers. I started listening to Old Crow Medicine Show and Devil Makes Three, and coming from punk rock, I was really able to identify to this music. To me it was so similar, yet different at the same time."

Joining Carey is Annie DeTemple, autoharp; Jeff Fuller, drums; Joey Garibaldi, bass; Ryan Markley, washboard; John Rosen, banjo; and Katie Weed, fiddle.

I've only had a day to absorb a portion of Old Man Markley's music, but if my initial reaction is any indication, you'll be hearing me rave about this group for a while.

"We have a lot of energy onstage and the kids usually get drawn in right away. They can feel if it's not legit and sincere. I like seeing their reactions when we bring out the washtub bass."

Friday's show is all-ages. Admission is $10. Showtime is 8 p.m. Also appearing is Danny Garone and friends, plus Kenny Reeves and The Clones. B Ryder's is located at 7401 White Lane. 397-7304.

Beatnuts at Jerry's

On Saturday night, underground rap duo The Beatnuts returns to Bakersfield, this time in the downstairs crawlspace of the Jerry's Pizza basement.

Members Jerry "Juju" Tineo and Lester "Psycho Les" Fernandez grew up in different communities in Queens, N.Y., rocking underground parties in the mid- '80s. Their style was in line with many of the street sounds of the day: sample-heavy grooves taken from vintage jazz and funk records. Hip-hop music was heading into wide-open territory with socially conscious themes in the music just before the gangster rap takeover in the decade to follow.

According to their bio, while searching for vintage vinyl, both Tineo and Fernandez ran into hip-hop godfather Afrika Bambaataa, credited for putting New York on the music map with the breakdance anthem, "Planet Rock." Bambaataa took them under his wing, introducing them to the Native Tongues music collective that featured members of rap groups De La Soul, A Tribe Called Quest and the Jungle Brothers. At that time, the two were DJing parties under the alias Beat Kings. The Jungle Brothers claimed that they were "not kings, but rather two nuts" for their comical nature and the fact that they were crazy enough to carry hundreds of records to every show they played. Soon their name changed to Beatnuts, and it stuck.

Over the years they began producing and became known for their remixing, working with the likes of Mos Def, Cypress Hill and a host of others. They're revered in hip-hop circles as Latino rap pioneers, but also as one of the few lasting groups that has never stopped working and representing their brand of hardcore rap and in-your-face performance style.

Much of their musical catalog has been used by a host of singers over the years, including on Jennifer Lopez's "Jenny from the Block," that features a sample of The Beatnuts' 1999 hit, "Watch Out Now," as the song's foundation.

I have to tip my hat to Bakersfield promoter Chuck "Tha Butcher" Arias, who has been hitting the pavement, passing out promo compilations to hype the show for over a month.

Packaged in both jewel cases and slip covers, the 10-track CD also comes with a flier about the show. It's rare you see this type of dedicated street promotion rather than the usual Facebook invite, and very much in the original spirit of hip-hop culture.

Saturday's all-ages show starts at 9 p.m. Admission is $15 pre-sale and $25 at the door. Also appearing is Gob Goblin. Jerry's Pizza is located at 1817 Chester Ave. 633-1000. Highly recommended.

ZZ Top sells out Fox

If you've been procrastinating about buying tickets to see legendary Texas-rock trio ZZ Top at the Fox on Aug. 14, you're out of luck. According to the Fox Theater, the show sold out almost as quickly as it was announced, with only a few final seats released for ZZ Top fan club members this earlier this week. There's always a chance the Fox may release any unsold seats to the public on the day of the show. For inquiries, call the Fox box office at 324-1369.

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