BY CESAREO GARASA For The Californian
7/8/2015 – Anytime the Austin-based quintet Band of Heathens visits Bakersfield, the Texans are mindful to show reverence for “the house of Buck,” as singer/ guitarist Ed Jurdi calls the Crystal Palace.
“We usually end up doing a couple of different tunes in Bakersfield than we normally do just because it’s inspiring to be in the home of all that great music that goes on there. It’s one of the dates on our calendar we have circled in terms of being a cool musical spot,” said Jurdi via phone interview from a tour stop in Arlington, Texas.
“The band is heavily in the idea of creating a dynamic, musical evening. That’s been the thrust of the band since the beginning. It’s always a fun night there so hopefully we get a bunch of people out and get rowdy and have a good time.”
The band is a mixture of country-tinged rock, blues and folk with an audiophile’s aesthetic in musical gear and tones — richly earthy and heady at the same time. Every guitar, every effects pedal, every cymbal serves a purpose for each of the songs. They’re deliberate players with a deep awareness of songwriting, lyrical subtleties and feel, and demonstrate an artist’s understanding of how music can sometimes re-shape itself over time.
“Certain songs have a central integrity that needs to remain intact,” Jurdi said. “People know a song a certain way and if you go out and turn it on its head, it might not have the same resonance that it once would. “For some people, it doesn’t matter. Bob Dylan could play ‘Tangled up in Blue’ and you might not even recognize it at first, and that’s totally cool because that’s Bob Dylan. He can do that.
“But for us, we kind of pick our spots where we are going to turn stuff around. With some songs we can stretch out and go on a more musical path, but with others, the melody, lyrics and everything fits right in a certain way and to try to play them differently it almost sounds forced and not a good hang, y’know?”
Fans of 1970s-era Laurel Canyon rock such as The Eagles, Fleetwood Mac, Harry Nilsson or even The Band would enjoy the show the most. Certain songs, like “Records in Bed,” “Caroline Williams,” and the excellent “The Same Picture” off of the 2013 album “Sunday Morning Record,” are standout nuggets that will bring you back to the days of leaded gasoline and soda-bottle dispensers with a pop-top bottle opener on the side. The sound is both warmly familiar and fresh.
“The band sounds really good right now — it’s probably the best it’s ever sounded,” Jurdi said. “The rhythm section is tight and everyone is singing really good and playing really well. We have a good rotation of songs and found a pretty good stride. There are a handful of songs that our fans want to hear every night, so we’ve figured out how to get those in there.”
Jurdi can’t guess how long the band has been coming west to play but long enough for the Austin icons to form some local connections.
“We’ve been coming to Bakersfield for a long time,” Jurdi said. “Our old tour manager’s family was from Bakersfield, and we know a handful of people that we’d see every time we’d play there. It’s going to be great to see them and hang in such a great venue.”
Band of Heathens with special guest Uncle Lucas
When: 7:30 p.m. July 21
Where: Buck Owens’ Crystal Palace, 3223 Sillect Ave.
Tickets: $10, plus fee; 328-7560
When Heathens Play, it's a date circle in red – for them and usWhen Heathens Play, it's a date circle in red – for them and us The Band of Heathens