Over the last year, Oakland North has profiled nearly a dozen up-and-coming East Bay bands as part of our mini-documentary video series called Bandwidth. Check out a few of the highlights here, and meet some of the faces you’ll see performing around town.
• The California Honeydrops, an Oakland-based band, got their start playing at local East Bay haunts like the Cheese Board Collective in Berkeley and BART stations four years ago. They have now gone on to perform across the country and in Europe and recorded several albums. “We’ve played to crowds with screaming girls and places with old people falling asleep – it doesn’t matter, we’ll play,” said vocalist, trumpeter, and guitarist Lech Wierzynski. The band has an upbeat and unique sound – soulful gospel, New Orleans-style second line jazz, blues, swing and R&B. See our video here.
• Oakland residents John Morgan and John Boomer graduated from UC Berkeley in 2009. A few months later, they faced a decision: make some quick cash, or move back home. They were unemployed, broke, and desperate to scrounge up the next month’s rent. On a lark, Morgan wheeled a full-size piano out to Macarthur BART station, sat down, and played. Since then, the duo has played for tips as the John Brothers Piano Company at BART stations in Oakland and San Francisco. See our video here.
• Dvondre Woodards, better known as Pooka, used to rap about drugs and guns, but now he spits about transformation and positive change. “I’m for sure promoting that stay alive and free message,” he said. “That’s to whoever, and whoever don’t like it I can care less because ain’t nothing better than staying alive and free.” See our video here.
• Meet Los Cenzontles, a Mexican folk band and musical academy based in San Pablo, California. To say that this group’s sound is eclectic would be an understatement. Their sound ranges from Tejano music to classic rock to re-imaginings of traditional Mexican musical genres such as the boleros, corridos, rancheras and the Son Jarocho. See our video here.
• Meet the Richmond hip-hop duo called the DIME. The group’s two members, Chioke Jelani Clanton and Knightshift, grew up in South Richmond and now they often record and perform in Oakland. The two compare their approach to making music to cooking soul food. “You go to restaurants now and you get your food in ten minutes. I remember when we used to have to wait 30 minutes, and that’s the same way we do our music,” said Knightshift. “It’s the same way we do a lot of things, no rush, no rush.” See our video here.
• This three-piece experimental pop band from Oakland — and no, Religious Girls are not actually girls — is the next feature in our “Bandwidth” video series on East Bay music. With two sets of keyboards, two sets of drums, and three microphones among them, the current cast of musical multitaskers — Nicholas Cowman, Guy Culver, and Christopher Danko — has been together just over a year. See our video here.