Despite the fact, today, that if you look far enough beneath the cracks, there is a wealth of musical talent worth committing your earholes to, in many cases, there is a severe lack of authenticity.
“Blues is the teacher… Punk is the preacher”
Sometimes, when I’m listening to certain current bands or artists, I think to myself, do they really, “mean it?” – and most of the time, I say to myself, “I’m not sure.”
That’s why I love The BellRays. Forged in Southern California some decades ago, this is a band with an enduring spirit and commitment to their craft unlike any other.
Once described as “The Stooges meet Aretha Franklin”, I’d say that’s a fair description of The BellRays’ signature sound, but their ‘PUNK FUNK ROCK SOUL’ credo delves into many nuanced pockets of, in my opinion, the best things that music has to offer.
I can’t say that I was there at the band’s first gig – I was about five then and I’m from the UK – but, I do remember hearing the fast, furious and gut-punching, ‘Fire on The Moon’ in my late teens while browsing the shelves of an independent record store in London. And, bosh, that was it for me. I was converted to the sounds of The BellRays right there and then, forever.
Much like offerings from The Stooges, The MC5, The Dwarves and The Gories, the track’s raw energy dug deep beneath my skin, almost compelling me to jump around the shop like a pogo stick-wielding mad man. Shortly afterwards I got stuck into The Bellrays’ music, track by track – and I quickly realised that the seamless injection of groove and soul into an authentic punk dynamic set this band apart from the rest of the pack.
The first time I saw The BellRays was in The Borderline, a small subterranean venue just off the Tottenham Court Road. From the first chord to the last sustained ringing note of feedback, I lost control of my actions – it was an immense, sweaty experience that I’ll never forget. Although, founders Lisa Kekaula and Bob Vennum might have omitted this particular show from their memories due to the perspiration-drenched bear hug I tried to give them afterwards.
As I always say, I could go on and on about how much I revere this band and their music all day long, and bore the bleedin’ life out of you all. So what I will say is that you should listen to them, today – it might just change your life, forever.
These guys have been there, worn the t-shirt, turned it inside-out, worn it again and will continue to wear it for years to come.
The band’s out and out authenticity, unwavering commitment and ability to produce fresh, relevant, real sounds that resonate with audiences across the globe is nothing short of magic – and that it why I love The BellRays.