News Column

The Bakersfield Californian Matt Munoz column

June 5, 2013


June 05--Bakersfield's annual gathering of eclectic musical tribes and vibes known as Rockin' Roots returns to Stramler Park this weekend.

Headlining Friday's event will be indie rock heroes Circa Survive, I See Stars and Hyper Crush. On Saturday, metal core quintet Of Mice & Men, pop punkers New Found Glory, electro sister duo Millionaires and more cap off a daylong extravaganza of music and noise, all scheduled on eight strategically placed stages.

Joining a host of other national touring acts are plenty of local bands eager for some cheers, including Dub Seeds, Amity Flow, Fading Out Silence, Dr. Devito, intruderALERT, Terra Alive, Of Athena and Big Deal Fair Trade, with vendors selling snacks, water, soda and beer.

Among the many acts making their return to Rockin' Roots this weekend is local indie/progressive rock trio Chunrun, which performs on Stage 5 Friday.

The band has been hitting stages across Bakersfield since 2011 with a style and sound that lead vocalist and guitarist Jacob Robin Hall attributes to a very diverse musical upbringing.

"Our sound is mostly defined by the fact that all the members have a very wide range of influences. And I mean wide. We listen to at least a few artists in every genre. We take in everything we can so that we can find a better approach to getting our point across."

Hall, 21, is joined on percussion and backing vocals by Isaac James Pendleton, 21, and lead guitarist and backing vocalist Kameron Bogges, 20. After playing their first official gig at The Gate, they've been regulars at most area indie band haunts, including Jerry's Pizza, Riley's, The Dome and Elements Venue.

Describing their live shows as a "trip through the pages of rock, with sounds from every corner of the scene," Hall is adamant about their originality.

"We can range from mellow progressive sounds, to metal-esque breakdowns, to a grungy chorus, go into a pop-punk bridge, and end on a good old high-energy rock and roll riff. We like to do everything we can."

As Chunrun continues working toward making a name for themselves, Hall says they have learned some hard lessons over time while watching the demise of a number of good bands. It's a story he's witnessed play out many times, but is hopeful he and his band mates can rise above.

"We've also all been on the brink of the end, we've all fallen apart and pieced it back together. We need to find a good harmony between dreams and reality and show some support to one another."

As bands burn brightly and fade out, Hall hopes there can be a change in the air when it comes to nurturing new talent with help from the vets.

"A major problem in this scene is whether or not the veteran bands are willing to sift through the newbies and find something they like, and perhaps engage in some camaraderie. Everybody has had their first show, everyone's voice cracks on stage, everybody flubs a riff or two, we all miss our cues and we've all overdone a fill and lost time."

Along with the support of veterans, Hall says bands need bodies.

"The thing missing at shows are people. There are great bands baring their all out there. I won't name any because I'll forget some and they'll feel left out. Trust me, though: There are some driven and emotionally powerful artists right in our home. It's just a matter of being willing to give up a Friday or Saturday night playing Call of Duty to go see them."

You can check out more from Chunrun at

One of my favorite Rockin' Roots pastimes is scrolling through the bizarre band names on the list of the 100-plus acts. This year's batch includes: We Sunk the Mayflower, Plague Vendor, Embrace the Nightmare, Dr. Doom, Dismembering the Architect, It Starts with Alaska, and my personal favorite: Juicebox Massacre.

Gates open at 3 p.m. Friday and 11 a.m. Saturday. Tickets are $59.50 or $50 if purchased through local bands performing. VIP and Cabana festival packages are available at $150 to $500. Stramler Park is located at 3805 Chester Ave. For more information, visit

Rare Earth at Bright House

Also appearing this weekend are blue-eyed soul funkateers Rare Earth, coming to Bright House Networks Amphitheatre on Saturday.

Widely known for their cover of The Temptations hit, "I'm Ready," released in 1969, the group subsequently had a number of radio hits of their own, including "I Just Wanna Celebrate," that nearly 40 years after its original release has enjoyed newfound popularity through TV ad campaigns for both Ford and Nicoderm.

"Yeah, it's pretty funny, but it helps pay the bills," said Rare Earth co-founder and sax player Gil Bridges during a phone interview. "The songs that usually come together the quickest usually end up being the biggest hits. Nothing surprises us anymore."

Signed to a subsidiary of Motown Records, Rare Earth bears the distinction of being one of two early white acts signed to the soul and R&B label, home to Smokey Robinson, Marvin Gaye, and Diana Ross, to name a few.

"It was strange at first, but fun. They treated us great, getting to hang out with all those greats. They even tried to get Stevie Wonder to produce us during our very early days. He was only 12 or 13 at the time, and too young and inexperienced at the time. But working with Norman Whitfield was really a joy. Like a dream."

With 14 studio albums to their credit and almost as many compilations, live records and singles, Bridges feels blessed to be remembered among the flood of current artists.

"This is all I've done since I was 16. The music in our days, from the '60s to the '70s and even into the '80s, all told stories. I don't mean to sound like an old fogey, but I just don't like much of today's music."

Saturday's showtime is 8 p.m. Tickets are $10. Bright House Networks Amphitheatre is located at 11200 Stockdale Highway. For more information call 852-7777 or visit

Matt's pick

Cabaret Voiler at the Empty Space , 706 Oak St., Friday, 8 p.m., $20, 327-7529.

Not a burlesque show, but a classic music, comedy and dance cabaret show featuring live performances from local artists Johnny Monroe, Robyn lace, Jessica Jans Aleman, Eric Tolley, Michelle Guerrero and Alison Martin. Also scheduled to appear: Bahiyya Almas belly dancers and the Simply Irresistible Pole Fitness dancers. According to the show's organizers, there is no nudity and with the exception of a few words and suggestive dance moves, the show is rated PG-13.


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