By MATT MUNOZ, Californian contributing columnist
The famed RockWalk located outside the Guitar Center storefront on Sunset Boulevard in Hollywood has become a mecca for musicians of all ages longing for proof of rock's immortality.
Similar to the hallowed courtyard at Mann's Chinese Theatre, the retailer's patio area is filled with a series of concrete handprints and plaques belonging to some of the greatest names in rock, blues, jazz and beyond: Chuck Berry, Eddie and Alex Van Halen, Jimmy Page, Carlos Santana, Ozzy Osbourne, Iron Maiden, The Ramones and countless others.
"There's AC/DC, Black Sabbath, all those bands, and now we'll be joining them. To us, it's like 'Welcome to the family.' It's as if we've finally been accepted after all these years."
-- Jonathan Davis, Korn frontman
On Tuesday, Bakersfield rock band Korn will be added to RockWalk's collection of handprints, an overdue honor coinciding with the release of the group's 11th studio album, "The Paradigm Shift."
"Oh, man, it's great," said Korn vocalist Jonathan Davis, 42, during a phone call before the band's tour stop in Detroit. "There's AC/DC, Black Sabbath, all those bands, and now we'll be joining them. To us, it's like 'Welcome to the family.' It's as if we've finally been accepted after all these years."
Induction into the RockWalk, founded in 1985, is no easy feat. Nominees are subject to a scrupulous voting process set by previous inductees: For musicians, by musicians.
"Korn is about as innovative and influential as they come," said Dave Weiderman, chairman of Guitar Center's RockWalk, in a media release. "They have been purveyors of metal's progression since their formation, and are even credited with creating the nu metal subgenre. For these reasons, and many more, Korn is exactly the type of band the RockWalk is here to honor."
Add that acknowledgment to the ever-growing list of career milestones for the band, which has maintained one of the most loyal fan bases among their heavy rock peers since debuting in 1993.
Successfully cross-pollinating the abrasiveness of heavy rock and punk with hip-hop and a devil-may-care attitude, Davis and bandmates James "Munky" Shaffer, Reggie "Fieldy" Arvizu, Brian "Head" Welch, and drummer Ray Luzier, who replaced original drummer David Silveria six years ago, have had a career most bands can only dream of achieving.
With two Grammy Awards, millions of records sold around the globe, sold-out headlining tours, and a dedication to breaking the mold with each project, the recent honor and new release have put Davis into a reflective mood.
"I mean, it's one of those moments where you look back at working so hard and doing this for over 20 years. I think any band that survives 20 years together deserves an award," said Davis.
There's also the long-hoped-for return of Welch to the lineup after a seven-year absence.
"Head's definitely back. The fans go crazy at our shows when they see us all together up there. I can't describe how amazing that feels. Now it's all about having fun. No one's overly serious or troubled by the past. We're at a really good place right now."
"The Paradigm Shift" has fans' ears searching for the return of Welch's sound to complement the rhythmic bond of Shaffer and Arvizu. The album's first single, "Never Never," released in August, signals a more melodic turn for the quintet after the dubstep heaviness of their last outing.
"The combination of the electronic sound we brought on 'The Path of Totality' with the classic Korn sound is still at work," Davis said. "Head working together with Munky has brought our past to the present. The fans have been waiting for this. I would say it's one of the most important records we've done."
Although Tuesday's RockWalk ceremony in Hollywood is a private, invitation-only event, fans can have the opportunity to catch the band live at the Wiltern Theatre in Los Angeles on Oct. 10 and the Fresno County Fair on Oct. 11, just before they hit the road with ghoul rocker Rob Zombie.
But what about a homecoming show at that sweet spot just between Fresno and LA?
"I don't ever look at the tour schedule too closely, but we'll most likely be on the road for the next two years. We love our hometown and hope to come back soon," said Davis.
We'll hold you to it, fellas -- again.
Achtung, baby! It's time to dust off those lederhosen and squeeze back into that sexy dirndl. After taking a year off, the Bakersfield Oktoberfest returns this Friday at Stramler Park.
Modeled after the popular German festival of beer, food, music, and more beer, the festival debuted four years ago. Bakersfield event organizer Kevin Harrer and his team have managed to condense the much longer German party into a single day, six-hour brewhaha.
"One of the big things we changed up for the event is to have it on a Friday, plus the Kern County Fair is over," said Harrer. "We're having a better response since we announced the date and hoping to have a really good turnout."
In addition to their appetite for beer, attendees should bring an empty stomach, so as to fully partake of the authentic Bavarian food offerings. Try pronouncing these delicacies: Muncher Weisswurste, Nurnberge Rostbratwurstl, or Schweinebraten --all sausage and beef recipes with an authentic kick, and plenty of potatoes on the side. There will be plenty of American food as well for those who prefer less adventurous cuisine.
"Eat some gourmet pretzels, have a dessert," suggested Harrer.
In the tap spotlight are a group of Germany's biggest brews, including Hofbrau, Erdinger Hefeweizen, Weihenstephan, and Bakersfield's very own Lengthwise. Having tried them all at the last event, my suggestion would be to pick a favorite and stick with it.
This year's entertainment includes Bakersfield Oktoberfest polka favorites, Anton Shnitzel and the Merrymakers, along with DJs spinning wacky German techno music for dancing and to psyche Oktoberfest gamers.
You read correctly: Attendees can participate in the stein carrying and holding games, keg barrel-rolling contest, or if you're really brave, take the Alps rock-climbing wall challenge.
"We're encouraging more crowd interaction and music this year. Of course, dressing up is always fun and we give great prizes for best outfits. The more you dress up for this event, the more fun you're going to have. When you come out, join in and play along with the band. Most importantly, bring the mindset that you're going to have fun."
Friday's event kicks off at 4 p.m. Tickets are $10 general admission in advance or $15 at the gate. Special party ticket packs available for $40 in advance or $45 at the gate. Event is 21 and over only. Stramler Park is located at 3801 Chester Ave.
For more information visit bakersfieldoktoberfest.com.