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By Photo courtesy of Iration
By MATT MUNOZ, Californian columnist
The California reggae scene has been heating up so much lately it's hard to keep track of the influx of new acts making their debuts.
For the members of Iration, who make their return to B Ryder's Thursday, working outside the confines of familiar two- chord jammin' is still what sets them apart from the pack. The band members, all friends originally from the Hawaiian islands, formed in 2004 after arriving separately two years earlier to attend college in the Santa Barbara area. After starting in the fertile college party scene of nearby Isla Vista, their grassroots popularity has helped them score some major gigs, including a killer spot on the Cypress Hill Smokeout and other major festivals.
"It is really crazy how they keep popping up," said vocalist and guitarist Micah Pueschel during a phone interview. "I can't keep up with them either. There's a new band every day all over the country now."
The godfather for most bands bands of the genre today is Sublime, which blended Jamaican reggae's easygoing styles with elements of punk, ska, rock and hip-hop. Sublime's impact can still be heard in groups like The Dirty Heads, Pepper and others who make attempts at forging their own path but owe as much to the influential reggae/ska band as they do to Bob Marley.
"I think that people just enjoy reggae music in general, but it's a type of reggae with themes, ideas and sounds that are easy for people of all ages to be drawn to, not a politically charged Jamaican thing. Most of the kids listening now weren't even born when the original Jamaican reggae was introduced, so it's going to be hard for a lot of them to grab ahold of it and understand it."
Pueschel added the key to the genre's appeal doesn't have to be analyzed in order to be embraced.
"Obviously, there are people like Bob Marley that have universal themes in their music, but I think our music and new bands that are coming out have modern themes and make reggae for everyday people. So it has the rhythms that everyone likes. We try to ride the line and make music that is accessible, much like the punky reggae party days of London."
Iration's 2010 single "Turn Around" became a minor hit, making regular rotation in the Southern California radio market. The group hopes to find similar success following the release of their next record, "Automatic," which they hope to have out when the timing's right.
"Having a reggae sound or being affiliated with the music, radio stations only want to put a certain number of those songs in rotation. We're competing with Slightly Stoopid, 311 and bands like that that are reggae-ish. All those bands are competing for the same radio spots. We do draw better than a lot of bands, but that doesn't guarantee radio play. We're still a young band trying to find out our spot in the grand scheme of things and make our own space."
Thursday's show kicks off at 8 p.m. Tickets are $17. All ages admitted. Also appearing are Passafire and Pacific Dub. B Ryder's is located at 7401 White Lane. For more information, call 397-7304 or visit numbskullshows.com.
999 Foundation Fundraiser at Spotlight
On Tuesday night, the Kern County Officer Down 999 Foundation will host a special concert fundraiser at the Spotlight Theatre featuring "America's Got Talent" finalists Reverse Order.
Before their successful run on season seven of the NBC talent competition, Reverse Order was just another struggling pop band from New Jersey. But after scoring millions of views on their YouTube channel for the song "Sing for Me Baby," the group enjoyed maximum exposure in the tween pop music scene. Their song,"Go" also scored a nomination at this year's Grammy Awards for best vocal collaboration.
According to the foundation's official website, the Kern County 999 Foundation, founded in 2007, is a nonprofit organization whose mission is to recognize and honor Kern County's fallen peace officers and provide support to family members left behind. For more information visit kerncounty999foundation.org.
Tuesday's showtime is 7 p.m. Also appearing are local pop band Grant My Wishes and singer/ songwriter Dakota Drummond. Tickets are $30 and tax deductible. Seating is limited. For more information, call promoter Bob Bender at 342-6119 or 326 -1140. The Spotlight Theatre is located at 1622 19th St.
KSVG now streaming
Bakersfield residents unable to tune into independent terrestrial radio station 89.7 FM KSVG from their place of residence or car stereo can now listen online.
KSVG currently broadcasts from a tiny downtown studio from noon to midnight, and features a revolving line-up of local on-air personalities and specialty shows suited for mostly the underground set. From goth to punk, reggae, rockabilly, hardcore and more, the station's non-format format makes for an eclectic, but always entertaining garage mix.
To begin listening, type in the following url: http://ruby.streamguys.com:5570/ksvg.m3u, and within a few moments you should be prompted on how you'd like to receive the free stream. I tested it out using the iTunes and Windows default players and both streams worked fine without interruption. For more information, visit facebook.com/KSVGRadio.
New music from Choirs
Fans of local band Choirs can listen to a new song from the group, titled "Vestige" at soundcloud.com/choirs. According to a post on the band's official Facebook the song will be released exclusively on 7-inch vinyl in the coming months. No word on whether they plan to release a full-length follow-up to last year's EP debut "We All Need Closure." In the meantime, you can catch the group live at Sandrini's on March 16 with Redadare.
The Chop Tops at Narducci's Cafe, 621 E. 21st St., 8 p.m., Friday, $10, 324-2961.
Santa Cruz rockabilly faithful The Chop Tops have survived a record of five replacement bassists since their formation in 1995 in between long tours and studio recordings. They epitomize the hybrid country-punk sound and image and play every show as if it was their last night on earth. I've caught these guys during one of their many Bakersfield visits and they don't disappoint. The cozy retro vibe and vintage acoustics of Narducci's make this show a perfect match made in psychobilly heaven. Also appearing: The Hellkatz, Loner Troubadour and the Rockabilly Rats.
Newsboys at Olive Knolls Nazarene Church, 6201 Fruitvale Ave, 7:30 p.m., Saturday $25 to $65, 324-0638.
The popularity of Christian rock music has changed a lot since its arrival in the '80s, when it was considered too wild for worship. But as times changed, so has its quality for the better with hot-selling acts such as the Newsboys and others who incorporate a lot of the sounds heard on mainstream radio without sacrificing their soulful message. From pop to alternative rock and heavy metal, the genre even boasts its own traveling Lollapalooza-like festivals. Newsboys' latest release, "God's Not Dead," continues to be one of the group's biggest-selling releases in their 16 album discography, mixing classic pop rock with strong sing-a-long melodies. Also appearing: Building 429, All Things New, Campbell. Expect a packed house at this revival.
The White Buffalo at B Ryder's, 7401 White Lane, 7:30 p.m., Saturday, $10, all ages.
Singer songwriter Jake Smith, aka The White Buffalo, represents an authentic homage to the times of hard-touring/hard-drinking artists who truly lived what they sang about. Seamlessly moving from heartfelt ballads to raucous bar songs, Smith sings with honesty and reflection with a live show that moves like a freight train. Everything about him is big, from his imposing physical size to his amazing vocal range and whiskey-drenched voice. Smith paints a touching picture, whether he stands alone or performs with his charismatic backing band. His music can be heard in regular rotation on the soundtrack to the FX television hit "Sons of Anarchy." Also appearing: Joel Jacob, Mama's Kitchin'. Highly recommended.