Night of Contemporary Music performers

Trisha Escovilla
Trish Escovilla owes her lack of stage fright to her father, who used to pull her in front of family gatherings and ask her to sing. Escovilla obliged, and has dared to continue the practice in front of people she isn’t related to. Inspired by contemporary singer-songwriters like Michelle Branch and Jewel, Escovilla aspires to get to “a point where each song I perform touches someone in the audience and makes them feel better.”

Running Riot
If the name Running Riot sounds familiar to you, it’s likely that you were at last year’s Jammies event at the Crest Theatre, where the post-hardcore band performed its tinnitus-inducing music. After the event, the group took a yearlong hiatus and returned with a slight change in the lineup—guitarist Vinnie Guidera replaced Sam Trux—and a brand new set of songs. Well, the band is, as they say, “back from the dead” and ready to “rock your socks off.” And despite a major setback at the Jammies Battle of the Bands, where bassist Kevin Hayes’ gear was stolen, the group still managed to put on a killer show. Let’s hear it for the boys!

Aaron Trux, drums; Kevin Hayes, bass; Cody Howle, vocals and guitar; Vinnie Guidera, lead guitar.

Molly Roth
In an ankle-length sequin-covered skirt and with flowing blonde hair, 17-year-old Molly Roth looked like a gypsy at the Jammies Battle of the Bands—a gypsy who found a temporary home behind a keyboard, singing out the crises of her heart. Roth’s original compositions immediately call forth comparisons to Fiona Apple, Tori Amos, Kate Bush and any woman with a powerfully melodic voice and a score to settle. Roth aspires to teach music to children in Africa, but here’s hoping Sacramento’s music fans will get to enjoy her performances for a while longer.

Adrian Bourgeois
It’s becoming silly to say, “Watch this guy; he’s going places.” The fact is, he’s already there. Yes, Adrian Bourgeois is the son of musician and former World Records A&R man Brent Bourgeois. But, at the ripe old age of 18, the singer-songwriter already has a fully articulated sense of his own musical self. Adrian’s songs sound like they always existed, just waiting for him to realize them, but that doesn’t mean they’re short on melodic and harmonic surprises. What’s more, his unshowy style of solo, multi-instrumental performance seems like just the right vehicle for his folksy, tender-hearted pop.

Raymond Zhou
Guitarist Raymond Zhou was the only Jammies applicant to submit his work to both the classical and contemporary events, thus causing SN&R staffers to debate which event was better suited for the talented young man. Zhou, who moved from China to the United States when he was nine, first learned to play music on a nylon-string Spanish classical guitar. For his thirteenth birthday, Zhou was given an electric guitar, which marked the beginning of his love of rock. A mere four years later, Zhou’s playing is reminiscent of virtuoso guitarists Yngwie Malmsteen, Joe Satriani and Steve Vai. Whether he’s performing his own compositions or “The Flight of the Bumblebee” by Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov, one thing is certain: This kid has mad skills.

According to Fixed’s band bio, the group is an amalgam of “hardcore, screamo, grind, black metal, punk, blister-core, indie, ambient and all-around Jedi-core.” While we’re not altogether certain what Jedi-core means, let’s just say we weren’t surprised when vocalist John Blomster busted out a red lightsaber before embarking on a set of punk-infused badass-ness. Blomster, with the help of guitarist Nick vonKaenel, bassist Jared Yee and drummer Ian McDonald, put on a tight show complete with plenty of guitar shredding, arm flailing and all-around headbanging.

Nick vonKaenel, guitar; Jared Yee, bass; Ian McDonald, drums; John Blomster, vocals and guitar.

Green Light Blues!
“I generally find it easiest to come up with new song ideas in the shower,” says Green Light Blues! frontman Joseph Grijalva. “Not only does my bathroom have great acoustics, but the hot steamy water allows me to relax.” Don’t get the wrong idea: The Green Light Blues! sound is anything but watered down. When Grijalva and his mates took the stage at this year’s Jammies Battle of the Bands, the vibe went from high-school dance to south-side-Chicago hole-in-the-wall in 12 hardy bars. And, as tunes like “10 Hours at the DMV” attest, this band knows plenty well what the blues are really made of.

Joseph Grijalva, guitar and vocals; Nick Rieger, guitar; Nick Peterson, bass; Patrick Sweeney, drums.

Natomas High School Nighthawk Drum Corps
The award-winning Natomas High School Drum Corps is the heartbeat of prestige at the Natomas High School campus and in community. The NHS Nighthawk Drum Corps was founded nine years ago by Mr. Floyd Kennedy Sr. The Corps is just one part of the school music department, which is under the direction of Mr. Mike Seto. With support from the Natomas Unified School District administration, the NHS percussion ensemble and drum corps is a successful and intimate part of the NHS performing-arts program. All music and choreography is composed by Kennedy, and the Corps is noted for their diversity and the ability to entertain any audience, anytime, anywhere.

Isaiah Abdul Rahman, Ryan Burge, Juan Colin, Jeremie Elkins, Chris Eshenaur, Robert Garcia, Santos Gonzalez, Justin Hamilton, Damian Juarez, Claire Kinsey, Dylan Knott, Edwin Lugo, Daniel Mitchell, Joey Sanders, Lototele Seumanu, Sal Soldano, Mario Sorci, Tamra Trotter, Michael Urquhart, Michael Ward, Jeremiah Williams, Jason Woosley, Drum corps Instructor: Floyd Kennedy, Music Department Director: Mike Seto

Walking Spanish
When asked by Jammies overlords to name their genre, the crowd-fave foursome from Oak Ridge High School suggested “something along the lines of Folk-rock-country-blues-jazz-grunge. Who knows?” Well, not to complicate things, but we’d like to point out that there’s some power-pop brightness and punk impiety in their sound as well. Fronted by Alex Nelson and Evan Palmer, who share guitar and vocal duties and sound just right together, the band is rounded out by Chris Vogel’s solid bass lines and Craig Stoller’s driving, detail-minded drum work. Walking Spanish wins crowds over with tight, energetic sets, so who cares what you call it? As they say, “The music will speak for itself.”

Alex Nelson, guitar and vocals; Evan Palmer, guitar, vocals and harmonica; Craig Stoller, drums; Chris Vogel, bass.

Two years ago, Colin Smith, Peter Mancina, Mikel Follette and Andrew Speciale formed Indysisive, a pop-punk band with a propensity for misspellings. Citing influences like Blink-182, the Alkaline Trio and Rancid, the foursome’s music bears a striking resemblance to the mosh-pit-inducing sounds of their punk-rock predecessors. Smith, who pens most of the group’s lyrics, told SN&R that he finds his inspiration in “the usual teenage stuff: not knowing what to do, girls, betrayal, being a nerd and all that fun stuff.” Guitarist and backup vocalist Follette told us that one of the best parts of being in a band is “watching people smile when they hear our music.” Judging from the group’s performance at the Jammies Battle of the Bands, he’s got little to worry about. Before the first chord was struck the audience rushed to the stage. When the music finally started, faces began smiling and bodies began slamming.

Colin Smith, vocals and guitar; Mikel Follette, guitar and vocals; Peter Mancina, bass; Andrew Speciale, drums.

Taylor Neal
Taylor Neal is so smooth on stage he even rocks his sound checks, eschewing the standard “Testing one, two, three” for a melodic, improvised “How’s this sounding out there?” His bluesy voice carries him through bittersweet ballads inspired by artists in many mediums, like guitarist Robert Johnson and poet Langston Hughes, as well as by the troubles of his own friends. But as soon as he finishes a song with a flourish on his acoustic guitar, he’s cracking jokes about the theory of relativity and sleep deprivation that have the audience laughing out loud. The crowd-pleasing mix of technical musicianship and quirky stage presence has served many of Sacramento’s best performers (Did someone say Anton Barbeau?) and it should ensure Neal’s success far into the future.

Like Glass We Break
Five skinny white boys take the stage, bangs swooping across their foreheads in typical mod fashion. Perhaps a Beatles tribute band? The vocalist sinks lower toward the stage, crouching down as if to coax the dark beast from within. The stage is lit from below, casting large ominous shadows on the wall. It’s decided: This act clearly is not inspired by the Fab Four. Vocalist Rob Cesario belts out a line from “Switchblade Romance.” None of the lyrics are distinguishable. The band rocks dramatically to music that reminds us of early Metallica, that is if James Hetfield’s barely decipherable lyrics were replaced by a stream of unnatural noises. The audience goes wild, rocking and moshing to group’s hard-hitting sounds.

Rob Cesario, vocals; Brian Wilfey, guitar; Joel Johnson, guitar; Wes Smith, bass; Will Grimes, drums.

The word nephilim is complicated. Its root, nephel, means abortion or miscarriage. According to the Hebrew bible, nephilim (defined there as “fallen ones”) are a people created by the crossbreeding of fallen angels and human women. In other bibles, the word is loosely translated as “giants.” Whatever the case may be, it’s a great freakin’ name for a metal band, especially for one with an equally complicated sound. To the untrained ear, Nephilim looks and sounds like a typical heavy-metal band: four head-banging band members, screaming vocals and fast, steady guitars. But, listen a little more closely and you’ll notice not only a tight, unique sound but a killer lead guitarist—Brett Rechtfertig. Nephilim describes its style with words like “thrashin’” and “groovin’.” A mosh pit full of dedicated followers at the Jammies Battle of the Bands proved the audience agrees with the description.

Brian Curtin, vocals and guitar; Brian Gifford, drums; Britt Green, bass; Brett Rechtfertig, lead guitar.