Wednesday, Nov 28 2012 05:55 PM

MATT MUNOZ: Crooked Folk investing in future

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    Bakersfield alt-rock trio Crooked Folk will celebrate the release of their new CD Nov. 30 at On the Rocks.

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    Bakersfield trio Crooked Folk's debut CD, which features original cover art by Bakersfield artist Carlos Fierros and layout from author and cartoonist Erwin Ledford. The band will host a release party Nov. 30 at On the Rocks.

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    Stray Cats drummer Slim Jim Phantom will perform with The Whammy Dec. 1 at B Ryder's.

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    UK rockabilly guitarist Tim Polecat will appear with The Whammy Dec. 1 at B Ryder's.

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By The Bakersfield Californian

After putting the final touches on their long-awaited debut CD, the members of Bakersfield trio Crooked Folk are ready to celebrate its arrival this Friday with a release party at On the Rocks.

A project nearly three years in the making, the group's name fits their reputation as consummate grassroots rockers. Not only have they played just about every dive and watering hole in town, but they've also taken the hard-earned monies from those shows and put them back into funding the recording, production and packaging of their project. Whether it be a $5 drop in the bucket or $50 and couple of free brews, guitarist and vocalist Ricardo Pacheco, 25, says every cent is accounted for.

"Getting paid has always just been a bonus for us. We're happier to see our fan base grow with each show."

Pacheco, bassist Scott McArdle and drummer Matt Hinson resemble a motley crew of Austin transplants with thick hair and laidback personas. Not to mention McArdle's imposing beard that seems to be growing longer as our conversation treads along.

"I really want Crooked Folk trucker hats, with that mesh in the back," said McArdle, 37, the veteran of the band who's already logged in his share of live performing as a member of Bakersfield's The Bird Channel and others. Hinson, 23, who joined the group last year replacing original drummer Ryan Culberson, was found via the Active Musicians in Bakersfield Facebook group. McArdle compared finding Hinson to discovering a needle in a cyber haystack after auditioning a number of prospects, none of whom fit their sound.

Within a matter of a few rehearsals with Hinson, both Pacheco and McArdle knew Hinson's audition would be their last.

"I could always count on Ryan's groove," said McArdle. "But Matt was like chop city once he started playing. He's the guy fans said was 'the one.' Our fans have always fostered and helped develop us and we trust their input."

Although Culberson had recorded 12 tracks for the new CD, the band had no plans to go back, re-record and replace them with Hinson, but instead chose to record a new song, "Zodiac," during a few final sessions.

"Recording 'Zodiac' and adding it to the disc was the perfect choice," Pacheco said.

McArdle agreed adding Hinson's coda to the CD was very much in the spirit of the group.

"We're closing a chapter in the band with this CD. Nobody's perfect, we're all a little crooked. Embrace your abnormalities."

"The name fits this band," said Hinson. "Music is something I enjoy. It doesn't have to be something physically in front of me."

For Friday's show, the band has a limited pressing of 100 copies of the CD, which features original cover art by Bakersfield artist Carlos Fierros and layout from author and cartoonist Erwin Ledford. According to the band, the release will be available on iTunes and other digital outlets in the coming months. Local independent music promoter Patrick Spurlock is also giving Crooked Folk a big boost by campaigning heavily for the band.

"Trying to finalize the 'Thank You' list was probably hardest thing to do," McArdle said.

I'm still absorbing the new CD from Crooked Folk, but after a few listens, I can share it has mixed elements of rock, jazz and funk, with a '90s-style hot level mix on the B2 Studio production end. I don't feel comfortable making comparisons in fairness to a band's artistry, but for the sake of this review, this CD should appeal to fans of Wilco, Black Keys, Jane's Addiction and Red Hot Chili Peppers. That's an odd combination, but after hanging with the group and hearing about their influences, I could add a few more.

As a team, Pacheco and McArdle make a great match as equally proficient players with a knack for catchy grooves, especially on the opening tracks, "Cabbie," and "Breathe," just two of a number of strong early cuts. Culberson's drumming presence make it clear of their well-established history, but Hinson doesn't settle for backseat on "Zodiac." It's an honest and overdue debut designed for fans of the classic power trio that should carry over into the live arena with high intensity.

Friday's show starts at 9 p.m. Admission is $10 and includes a copy of the CD while supplies last. Also appearing are rising local trio Stocks and Blondz and pop punk legends the Lebecs. On the Rocks is located at 1517 18th St. For more information, call 327-7625 or visit facebook.com/crookedfolk.

The Whammy hits B Ryder's

On Saturday, all-star rockabilly outfit The Whammy will be rantin' and ravin' over at B Ryder's.

For the legions of local tattooed, pompadour-coiffed fans of the genre, this may be the closest things you're going to get to real-deal rockabilly music. Sure, we've hosted numerous touring hybrid bands that branch out into styles with "billy," added to the end of their description, but let's not confuse people.

The Whammy features Stray Cats' Slim Jim Phantom on drums and UK imports Jonny Bowler of Guana Batz on bass and guitarist Tim Polecat of rockabilly legends The Polecats. If those names sound familiar, it's because all three are partly responsible for keeping the hearts of rockabilly revivalists alive and beating for decades.

"When we were kids in 1979 in New York, there was nothing like this going on the way it is now," said Phantom, 51, whose given name is James McDonnell. "You had radio stations that played oldies, some old guys with old cars. We loved all that stuff, but nothing had any sort of edge of today's rockabilly scene. I don't think any of that existed prior to that time on the East Coast or before the Stray Cats put out 'Built For Speed,' in '82. ... The West Coast back then had groups like The Blasters who were playing some classic rock 'n' roll, but it wasn't like today with festivals like The Hootenanny in Southern California."

The group set list include a variety of Stray Cats and Polecats songs along with rockabilly classics, some more obscure hits and Whammy originals.

Saturday's show also marks the kick-off of a 12-date tour running through the end of the year. If all goes well, the band hopes to keep performing into next year.

"This is the first leg of the tour, so everyone who comes to the Bakersfield show will get to hear a lot of songs, a lot of 'em we'll be trying out for the first time."

Saturday's all-ages show begins at 8 p.m. Admission is $10. Also appearing is Fatt Katt & the Von Zippers and Stella & the Steel Cats, featuring Bakersfield vocal newcomer LaShay Munoz. B Ryder's is located at 7401 White Lane. For more information, call 397-7304.

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