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earl grey garage band show

A St. Patty’s Garage Band Charity

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The shamrock-green colored flyer read “Come One, Come all!” in Old English type font and listed an address, no name of a venue, just an address, at which patrons were to be by 7 PM when the first music performance, Dollklaw: a one girl band from El Monte, was to showcase. The event was a St. Patty’s Day garage band show charity, organized by Solutions Plus Services INC., a California Title 17 entity located in the South Gate neighborhood of Los Angeles and whose mission is “to strengthen, with dignity and respect, the quality of life for all individuals, through supportive services and advocacy.” The main men in charge were Abraham Del Castillo, director of SPS, and Ivan Flores, the lead composer and songwriter of the new wave inspired, 80’s-esque, dream pop band, Dropout, hailing from Huntington Park, which also performed that evening. Flores started working for Del Castillo at SPS in 2016, because, as he put it, “I just like to help out people,” but their long-standing work relationship made for “a really collaborative event,” said Flores. Del Castillo provided the unnamed venue, an old warehouse of sorts, with an open bar by donation that served green beer and, at the back of the venue, a burger burn to boot, and Flores organized the evening’s music lineup consisting of Dollklaw, Luvjoy, Funfair, Blythe, Earl Grey and Dropout, themselves.

The garage band show cost $5 a head, about $4 a beer and $4 a burger and earned SPS approximately $800 in proceeds that went to purchasing SPS clients’ mattresses, stoves and refrigerators, some used wheelchairs and “whatever was left over, went to paying for clients’ overdue utilities,” said Flores, who guesstimates that about 80-100 people came out to support that night.

“I know all of these bands personally and I’ve come to know that no musician in them, takes themselves too serious, rather, it’s all about having fun and at all shows,” said Flores.

The origins of Flores’ garage band, Dropout, reflects exactly that essence of loving music, having fun and doing so for the people. It was formed in 2015 from what was simply a get together with friends to write songs.

“I guess that’s how all bands start out, you know, but it eventually turned into something greater than that when we started showing our music to friends who really liked our work. They, then, supported us to record our first EP Happy Birthday (released in 2017) and perform at live shows,” said Flores, “since then, things keep getting better.”

Earl Grey, a four piece band from Lennox that joined in 2017, is another group whose love and fun for music has blossomed into a musical fanfare that rocks the ears of 1,293 Instagram followers, plus 142 on SoundCloud. But, who’s counting? Earl Gray shook the house with indie lead guitar riffs by Kike Sotelo, harmonica serenades by singer Kevin Saudade, bass licks by Marco Ascencio and percussion beats by Axel Sanchez.

“We’re friendly indie. We’re short, brown and sad,” said Saudade, when describing his band’s music.

This night filled with garage band music also brought a twist: Luvjoy, a six-piece band comprised of music talents hailing from the Los Angeles neighboring cities of Covina and Pomona, and who brought an eclectic mix of chill and dreamy tunes, which fit the night’s theme, but, with hints of pop, trap, R&B soul and rock.

“I wouldn’t really know how to categorize our music. I take inspiration from many different genres and people and situations going on in my life. I use a little bit of everything; from pop, R&B and new wave to punk and emo. I’ve had many other bands in the past and I feel like all of those bands were a product of my negativity and all the shitty things I feel, so I’d like to think of Luvjoy as me getting better and trying to be more optimistic about certain situations and life in general,” said Juice, lead composer and singer/songwriter of Luvjoy.

As for the other garage band performers – Dollklaw, Funfair, Blythe – well, their unique flavors also helped melt the night away and under a flash flood of rainbow strobe lights that reflected brightly in puddles of spilt green beer and in the toes of dancing latex combat boots worn by punker chicks with black lipstick. And all the while, the music – that ripped your heart out, dare I say – rang with narratives of different people from different places and with different experiences. It was the music that unified everyone in that room; from the Bob Dylan channeling music fans with their unkempt hair to the skanking rockers in their spiked leather jackets, to the flannel and simple white T wearing beatniks with cigarettes tucked behind their ears. It was the music, by golly, and everyone in that joint that made it a night to be reckoned with and an epitome of what music is all about, “breaking boundaries to unite people from different backgrounds and different qualities of life,” said Flores.

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