June 21, 2012
Band reborn with a softer, gentler sound
It’s never easy for a band to re-emerge without shades of its past lingering.
In the case of Catastrophist, the latest addition to Bakersfield’s ever-evolving indie music scene, things have been pretty mum until now as the band prepares to makes its third live appearance, opening for Hawthorne Heights Saturday, June 23rd at On The Rocks.
While the name has been churning among those who’ve caught glimpses of the band live, or people like me who try to follow Facebook posting trails, it wasn’t until just before I sat down with three of the band members that I made a grand discovery: Catastrophist was once known to many as Mission Tonight.
Before you start making similar connections, the band would like fans to know that while there are certain truths afloat, its past in no way defines the present.
Above: Mission Tonight back in the day...
“There’s a lot of difference between the two groups,” said guitarist Jordan Rude. “Our sound with Mission Tonight was more centered around guitar riffs. Our sound now is much more textured and easy to listen to. I had to conscientiously step back from writing again after we ended.”
Catastrophist from left: Tom Porter, Mikee Lee, Elijah Jenkins, Matt McCoy, Jordan Rude. Photo by Laurin Lee
Along with Rude, Catastrophist is Elijah Jenkins, vocals; Matt McCoy, guitar and keys; Mikee Lee, bass; and Thomas Porter, drums. According to the band, Catastrophist’s formation sprouted from a renewed collaboration between Rude and McCoy two years ago. The success of those early meetings ignited interest between the two, attracting Lee back to the fold. Next up was landing Porter back on drums, and finally a vocalist, which proved to be the most difficult to secure.
“We had so many auditions,” recalled Rude. “It’s especially hard when you have to tell a friend of a friend they’re not the one. One guy even said we were auditioning for him.”
After giving up on the audition process, the four found Jenkins to be the obvious fit.
“We have a kinship within the band,” said McCoy, adding he also has been able to contribute more to the creative side of band. “Elijah writes about things I can identify with. All of us have come back with a different mindset.”
Above: Catastrophist. Photo by Laurin Lee
In comparison, Catastrophist’s recorded sound is nothing like Mission Tonight. Definitely more mellow and crafted with a style more tailored to roll with current indie rock, if their goal was a complete makeover, they’re on the right track. To prove that point, the group was courteous enough to drop off a demo in progress, filled with a glimpse of exciting things on the way.
“We thought when we came back we’d be the quiet indie band of the scene,” said McCoy. “That’s definitely not the case.”
After a big debut as the opening band for Choirs’ packed CD release party in February, Lee said the response was reassuring.
“We came back at a perfect time in the local scene,” said Lee. “Mission Tonight was around when nu metal was still big. We used to be billed with all these metal bands at shows and get booed. We felt out of place then, and now we don’t.”
You’ll be hearing more from Catastrophist in the months to come. In the meantime, follow the band online at catastrophistmusic.com.
Also appearing Saturday with Hawthorne Heights and Catastrophist is Afterall. Admission is $10. Show is at 8 p.m. at On The Rocks, 1517 18th St. For more information, call 661-327-7625.
Louie Cruz at Playboy Jazz Festival
The partylike atmosphere at day one of the 34th annual Playboy Jazz Festival Saturday, June 16th could be felt all over Hollywood. This was my first time attending, and with only a few hours to spare, things couldn’t have gone more smoothly. My mission: catch Bakersfield percussionist Louie Cruz Beltran along with his Latin jazz ensemble perform in front of a sold-out Hollywood Bowl crowd. This was kind of a big deal for me along with the noticeably enthusiastic and large party of Bakersfield music fans who made the trek. Longtime emcee Bill Cosby took to the stage as host for the last time to kick off the day’s festivities at 3 p.m. sharp.
Making my way around the venue, I couldn’t help but romanticize about the Bowl’s history as one of the world’s most iconic concert spots. That was easy to understand as the festival’s rotating stage at the Bowl helped ensure each set started as scheduled.
Above: Louie Cruz Beltran performs during the 34th annual Playboy Jazz Festival on June 16. Photo by Matt Munoz
Beltran came on following a solid opening set by the LAUSD/Beyond The Bell All City Jazz Big Band. Opening with a rendition of Willie Bobo’s Latin jazz cover of Hugh Masekela’s “Grazin’ In The Grass,” followed by Cal Tjader’s “Alonzo,” Beltran came out swinging on both congas and timbales to rousing cheers and shouts of “Louie!” in the crowd. You really can’t go wrong with Latin jazz in a festive atmosphere, and judging by the numerous rolling coolers in tow, there were plenty of party libations being served up, as the Bowl also allows outside alcohol and food.
Beltran’s monster backup band was a mix of Los Angeles jazz heavy hitters, including trombonist Eric Jorgenson, pianist Carlos Vivas, percussionist Chalo Eduardo and others. The group was tight as can be, offering Beltran a chance to step up when it was his chance to burn during solos and vocals. Another crowd pleaser, the original “Chili Caliente,” off Beltran’s recently released “Paint The Rhythm,” kept the momentum going. Every minute remaining in his set was used wisely as the group blazed through more tracks from “Paint The Rhythm,” including “Esperando,” “Spooky” and the final scorcher “Timbalero y Bongo.” Overall, a tight set of tradition and originality, and a proud moment for Bakersfield musicians. See more photos by clicking HERE.
Related story: Percussionist Beltran spices up Playboy Jazz Festival
Bakersfield blues guitarist Bunky Spurling has been on a creative roll lately. Recently signed to Southern California independent label Rip Cat Records in May, the ax man has also been busy making regular appearances around town.
Above: Bunky Spurling
If you’re interested in catching a glimpse of the man in action, catch him June, 21 and 28th at Skybar Lounge from 7 to 9 p.m., then again at Silver Creek Park at 7 p.m. Tuesday, June 26th during the 2012 Music Fest.
Spurling has become one of Bakersfield’s most sought-out musicians since the ’80s, performing both as a soloist and with a variety of groups. He’s currently recording his upcoming CD debut for Rip Cat at ASR Studios in Bakersfield. Skybar Lounge is located at 4208 Rosedale Highway; Silver Creek Park is located at 7011 Harris Road. For more information, visit ripcatrecords.com.
Matt’s Pick: June 21 - 22
Fortunate Youth at B Ryder’s, 7401 White Lane, 8 p.m., Thursday, June 21st, $10, 661-397-7304. Combining rootsy vibes and unique bass lines united with multiple harmonies, boisterous guitar solos and heavy keys, Fortunate Youth (pictured above,) is not just another mainstream reggae band. A collaboration of South Bay reggae standouts, they’ve created a phenomenal, fiery show that should have dancers bouncing all night. Also appearing are Dub Seeds, Amity Flow and Tatanka.
Karling Abbeygate & The Atomics at B Ryder’s, 7401 White Lane, 9 p.m. Friday, June 22nd, $5, 661-397-7304. U.K. rockabilly queen Karling Abbeygate’s return to Bako is always a reason to hoot and holler. She has a charming British accent, vintage style, good music and an irresistible presence. Now residing in Los Angeles, she’s been visiting Bakersfield a little bit more lately, assembling a band of Bako musicians to form her latest band, The Atomics, featuring: Alex Lopez, bass; Cesareo Garasa, drums; Jenny Angel, keys; Brian Paxton, guitar; plus Abbeygate’s longtime compadre Donnie Whitbeck on guitar. Also appearing are The Dusk Devils and Mad Dog & The Smokin’ Js. Prepare to shake it up.
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*Also printed in The Bakersfield Californian, 6-21-12