June 9, 2011
What a weekend in Bako!
With some of the wildest weather in years clouding up the skies and predictions of rain, I first must hand it to the organizers of last weekend’s First Friday, Rockin’ Roots, Scott Stock, and the Latin Food Festival and 13th annual Menudo Cook-Off. Crowds came out in force, filling streets and packing venues for one of the most successful local shindig weekends the city has had in recent memory.
Beginning with last week’s First Friday (June 3,) Metro Galleries owner Don Martin was more than happy with the turnout in the downtown arts district.
Above: Metro Galleries owner Don Martin
“The gallery was absolutely jam-packed from 5:15 to 9:30 p.m., and we had to stay open 30 minutes later than we normally do. Even by closing time, there were still about 100 people in the gallery and the streets were still packed. We had about 50 artists showing this time.”
It was also opening night for Metro’s “Chronicles: Transitions Through Time” exhibit. Martin said openings aren’t usually known for big art sales, but that wasn’t the case this time.
“It sometimes gets so packed in the gallery people may forget, and I usually sell afterwards. So to sell things on opening night is fantastic. By June you’re kind of shack happy and wanna get out anyway. We were definitely up about 25 percent from last month.”
On the same night over at Stramler Park, opening night of Rockin’ Roots started with a bang with co-headliners A Day to Remember and Forever the Sickest Kids. Nicknamed the official “school’s out” party of Bako, local teens filled the event grounds, leaving just enough wiggle room to breathe.
Jonathan Cook of Forever The Sickest Kids performs at during Friday’s Rockin’ Roots Festival at Stramler Park on 6-4-11. Photo by Jeremy Gonzalez
Jesse Rivera of Bakersfield, who last attended Rockin’ Roots back in ’06, knew from word of mouth that the event had grown, but not this much.
“From the stage on the south side of the park back to the northside near the playground and fence, there were close to 2,000 kids. I was really impressed with how big this event has become.”
Crowds filled up Stramler Park during last weekend’s Rockin’ Roots Festival at Stramler Park on 6-3 & 4-11. Photo by Jeremy Gonzalez
Rivera noted the enthusiasm of the local crowd. It was billed as a rain-or-shine show, but judging from the overall mood in the air, it could have poured and not mattered.
“The crowd was awesome, and the security handled the crowd well, especially with all the crowd surfing going on. A Day to Remember asked how many people in the crowd remembered catching them at Jerry’s and The Dome. They remembered the city, so that was a plus.”
Saturday’s crowd numbers weren’t available from promoter Tim Gardea, but taking a quick stroll across the grounds in the late afternoon, I would estimate more than 3,000 people of all ages. Split among eight stages, some bands had bigger crowds than others but, for most, it was their group’s first big show.
A Day To Remember headline day 1 of Rockin' Roots on 6-3-11. Photo by Jeremy Gonzalez
After washing off the Rockin’ Roots dirt and jumping into a quick change of clothes, I headed back downtown to Fishlips for Scott Stock. This was the fifth year for the concert benefit, and hopes were high to surpass last year’s fundraising goal. Displayed across the Fishlips stage were autographed guitars from Metallica, Kiss bassist Gene Simmons and more. At the mic throughout the evening was shiny-domed radio personality Scott Cox. Never short on jokes or reasons why people should support the military or Operation Interdependence, Cox made the perfect ringleader. I even threw down some cash in hopes of winning at least one of the raffles for rare guitars on display (with no luck). By the time the big-ticket auction started, I knew I was way out of my league.
“I thought it was absolute magic,” said Fishlips owner Shawna Haddad-Byers, who organized the event with Cox. “Our goal was to raise $22,000 this year and take us past $100,000 from combined years. We did $25,107.”
The autographed guitar from Metallica was the biggest moneymaker of the night at $7,000, which beat last year’s Willie Nelson guitar of $3,000. It was a guilt-free party for everyone in attendance and, for Byers, the end to a perfect night.
“I can’t wait to do it again next year,” she said.
Friday and Saturday may have been busy, but Sunday’s Latin Food Festival and 13th annual Menudo Cook-Off (June 5,) just avoided bursting at the seams.
By the time gates had opened at 11 a.m., I counted at least 1,000 people in attendance. Centralized by the Budweiser Pavilion area of the Kern County Fairgrounds, it was also the perfect amount of space to accommodate the massive crowds continuing to file in. From the kids’ play area to the vendors, there was no shortage of things to do. With the smell of spicy food in the air and free samples from competitors, the last thing left to do was dance. Headlining the day’s events were three of Latin music’s well-known names: Mento Buru, Tierra and Little Joe Y La Familia. Introducing Bakersfield singer and actor Thomas G. Robinson as one of the band’s new vocalists to the stage, Tierra and Robinson gave a greatest hits set that included their 1980 Billboard charter, “Together.”
Bakersfield's Thomas G. Robinson sings with Tierra on 6/5. Photo by Matt Munoz
Tejano music pioneer Little Joe Y La Familia brought down the house, walking out with a rendition of “America the Beautiful,” dedicated to our U.S. military, before going non-stop for well over an hour. Casting a Tex-Mex spell over listeners, many of whom sang along to his bilingual repertoire, the music sent the event into overtime, but not before the announcement that Maria Morales of team Mi Tia was the cook-off winner.
Tejano music legend, Little Joe Y La Familia, performs at the Latino Food Festival and 13th Annual Menudo Cook-off at the Kern County Fairgrounds last Sunday, 6-5-11. Photo by Henry Gonzales
Chamber President Jay Tamsi said the event’s ever-growing popularity is encouraging during a tough economy.
“We had approximately 8 to 10,000 people in attendance, up from 5,000 last year, and the weather was perfect.”
Who says there’s nothing to do in Bakersfield?
Hot jazz guitar legend, Dan Hicks & The Hot Licks, perform in Bakersfield Saturday, June 9th at Bright House Amphitheater at the park at River Walk!
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CHECK OUT PHOTOS FROM THE 2011 CINCO DE MAYO GRAN PACHANGA ON 5-5-11!
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CHECK OUT PHOTOS FROM THE 2011 FESTIVAL OF BEERS ON 4-30-11!
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*Also printed in The Bakersfield Californian, 6-9-11
***Don’t forget “Bakotopia Unplugged” open-mic night every Wednesday nights, from 8-11pm at Fishlips, 1517 18th Street! With your host, Matt Munoz.
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