Salinas is probably the last place you’d find a band like us. The migrant knows this town for work. The literati know this town because of John Steinbeck. Servicemen remember Salinas because it was every soldier’s destination upon leave from Ft. Ord. You’ve probably had a salad with components from the Salinas Valley. James Dean died on his way to a race here.
But all that is neither hear nor there. The fact is, none of Rum & Rebellion grew up in Salinas. But this town is where we’re at right now, and that’s reflected in our music.
We’re part of the town’s migrant tradition. We didn’t come here to work the fields, but we did come to Salinas because of work. Just like every other migrant, we brought along our memories and traditions and sought out a community familiar to the ones we left behind. Like the others, we found a community in the bars and the shows and over time, we became part of something that exists, happily, on the fringe.
There aren’t any established English-language acts here. Most touring bands skip this town altogether. For shows, we’ve got house parties, a few friendly community spaces, and an all-ages café run by some down folks. Most of the records that come out of this town are done without the help of a label. And that’s all right. There’s no standard that casual observers expect the bands, poets and emcees to live up to. After a few shows, all the faces quickly become familiar. Sure, we’ve had some scraps at the shows, but there’s also an intimacy, respect, and care because the shows are all we’ve got.
Our songs are political and heart felt. After all, what is politics without love and what is love if not a political stance, a declaration of one's self-determination? Our inspiration is equal parts Ian McKay and Alejandro Escovedo, hardcore and the Harry Smith Anthology of American Folk Music, with the boom-chicka-boom of Luther Perkins for fun. (Truth be told, Rum & Rebellion came together in the wake of the Lucero/Against Me! tour in 2004.)
In July, a friend asked us what we call our music. Straight from the heart and bit from the hips.
Take a listen to the record. We recorded it with Craigums at the new Dutch Oven in Alameda, CA one weekend in April. We’ve also got a song, “The San Luis Waltz,” on the Someday Coming Round: Deviant Twang Revisited compilation put out by our friend Paul Davis of Mule Train in Santa Cruz, CA.
You’re invited to the next show in downtown Salinas, our home outside of the practice spot. Afterwards come along to where ever we end up and have a drink with us. When you drive through Salinas, don’t be a stranger. There’s so much to be lost by keeping yourself to yourself.
George, Joe, Scott & Mark
rum & rebellion