Like roots music? Western Mini Festival rolling into Long Beach
On Saturday night, Alex’s Bar will be having a hoedown of sorts as it plays host to a Western Mini Festival put on by the Southern California Chapter of Hillgrass Bluebilly, which is doing its best to turn Southern California into a roots, rockin’ hub.
This definitely won’t be your dad’s Bob Wills Western Swing show, although the echoes of Wills and Bill Monroe definitely will be there.
The Good Luck Thrift Store Outfit, Spindrift, local favorites Restavrant and RT N’ The 44s will be among the bands performing. Variously, the groups have been described as Western psych rock, electro-cowpunk, country noir, Americana and country folk and rock. Collectively, though, they can all trace to the burgeoning roots music movement.
The event was originally slated for the Echo Country Outpost in Echo Park, but when that venue suddenly shuttered, Alex’s stepped into the breach.
Among the groups performing is the six-man The Good Luck Country Thrift Store Outfit out of Oakdale in Northern California, who are touring the area. Bass player Taylor Webster took time to answer five questions.
Q. What do you think of the roots scene in Long Beach?
A. This is our third time playing Alex’s. I think (roots) is starting to take hold. There are a lot of great bands playing there. It seems there’s a good scene developing there, and we’re hoping we can be a part of it. This is a good chance to get in with actual roots bands; I’m really looking forward to it.
Q. To what do you attribute the rise in interest in Americana and roots music?
A. I’ve been playing this type of music for 14 or 15 years. When we picked it up, nobody was doing it. I think people want to connect to a simpler way of life. The big record labels and corporations have created a mono-genre, and people are reaching out for something else. (Roots) is easily accessible, and I think people are thirsting for that.
Q. In what way do the bands you’re playing with complement your band?
A. They’re all amazing. I guess we just come from the same scene. We’re doing it for the honesty of the music, and they’re kind of doing the same kind of thing.
Q. You’ve been compared to Old Crow Medicine Show, The Avett Brothers, Asleep at the Wheel, Bob Wills and even Neil Young. How do you describe your band’s music?
A. We’ve got six guys so we’re eclectic. We’ve got the traditional instruments, but our pedal steel player will also mix in a flying V rock guitar. It’s hard to pinpoint what we are. We don’t have any rules when we write and play. It’s all original music.
Q. Does coming out of the Cowboy country of Oakdale help?
A. We have a giant rodeo here you have to come through if you’re on the circuit. It’s a ranch culture here. When we were younger, there were only 10,000 people here. All our songs are based on where we’re from and I think that comes across in what we do. It’s honest.
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