Blues rock band planning party for new CD release
The members of Bakersfield blues rock quartet Doctors Orders have always believed in the power of music.
Prescribed as an elixir through moments of pain, it’s also acted as the energizing thread keeping a creative friendship groovin’ steady after nearly 40 years.
Ready to show off their time-tested formula for staying young, they plan to celebrate the release of their new self-titled CD at Narducci’s Cafe on Saturday, June 23rd with all the elements of a true rock show.
According to vocalist Xavier Ruiz, the project has been a long time coming.
“We’ve been playing for so long and really just rehearsing. I finally said, ‘Man, we’ve been rehearsing all of our lives, let’s do something.’”
And after a few heart-to-heart discussions with guitarist Otis “King” Newton, drummer Christian Martinez and bassist Lewis Wilcox, the four made an agreement to push forth as Doctors Orders four years ago. Surprisingly, this is one of their few official recording projects together, after being a backup group for numerous artists in various incarnations.
Doctors Orders, from left: Xavier Ruiz, Christian Martinez, Otis "King" Newton, Lewis Wilcox. Photo by Tina Leyva
“There is a certain kind of magic that happens with us because we know each other so well,” said Newton, 58, of his bandmates. “We get along pretty good. I love it that we're still playing together, because these guys are like family.”
The group’s back story begins in the late ’60s, when Newton and Martinez were just getting their original rock ’n’ roll mojo running in the sweltering summer garages of Bakersfield. Rattling rooftops and finding their voice, Ruiz would eventually find his way into the mix, befriending the duo on vocals and harp.
“I can still remember hanging out with those guys when I picked up the harmonica,” recalled Ruiz, 59. “We had a band called Zooly in ’69 through the ’70s, and we won a Battle of The Bands together at the old Albert S. Goode Auditorium at the Kern County Fairgrounds. Bands played mostly originals back then, and we had a sound like Santana with Christian on the congas too. It was so fresh back then.”
Similar stories from their colorful beginnings will find their way into many of our present conversations, and all laced with verbal embraces towards on another.
“Bass players and drummers are usually polar opposites, but Christian and I know exactly what we’re going when we start playing,” said Wilcox, 62. “Everyone looks up to Otis. He’s got a big heart and (is a) humble guy. Over the years, I’ve got to know Xavier more and we’ve become really close. We’ve had a wonderful time with this. No time constraints. It was a blast.”
According to Ruiz, most of the songs written for the CD have been in the works for years, most starting as riffs or leftover studio debris, salvaged then reworked.
“Otis has so many ideas in his head. It just kills me. One day he handed me a tape of some songs he had written a long time ago, and that was our starting point.”
For the next year and a half, the four would meet semi-regularly when time permitted to rehearse and share ideas, before heading into the makeshift recording studio known as AIB Studios aka Antiques In Back, an old warehouse belonging to Newton.
“It would be too hot in the summertime and water going through the roof in the wintertime. We had fans that made it too loud during recording,” Wilcox laughed. “It was an adventure.”
Using modern DIY recording techniques, the four turned a potentially expensive, time-consuming process into a labor of love after transferring their original digital tracks onto computer.
“I played around with different sounds. It took quite awhile, but the results were exactly like we wanted,” said Martinez, 59, who handled computer mixing and editing from his present home in Santa Barbara.
“We did it on our own time when we could, and didn’t look at the clock once unless it was time to check in with our families.”
“Doctors Orders” is full of rock ’n’ roll and country-inflected blues with a signature bar band flair. Balanced with a number of up-tempo songs and slow-burning numbers, they come together to paint a true picture of a seasoned group of musicians. Tracks like "Someday,” "Ensenada," “The Champion” and “When Will I” are all well-executed arrangements, reminiscent of classic ’70s and ’80s rock.
The record is also filled with many personal moments, most notably on “Changed (Olivia’s Song),” a song dedicated to Ruiz’s daughter who passed away four years ago. One of my personal favorites is “Thankful,” an instrumental featuring some mellow, tasty axe work by King.
In short, “Doctors Orders” is honest, direct, and a solid release from a group of well-rounded musicians who deserve another round in the local spotlight.
“This album was pretty much a heartfelt record. After we got started on hit, it just blossomed. This was something we wanted to do all our lives. We wanted to leave something behind. Now, we made a CD and feel really good about it. It was a good thing,” said Ruiz.
“You should always write from experience, from life, the real things,” added Martinez. “We want to play and have fun and hope our friends enjoy the CD.”
Copies of “Doctors Orders” will be available at Saturday’s show for $10, and is also available for download at iTunes and Cdbaby.com.
Doctors Orders CD Release party
When: 7 p.m. Saturday, June 23rd, 2012
Where: Narducci’s Cafe, 622 E. 21st St.
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Also printed in the 6-21-12 issue of The Bakersfield Californian