Music Scene


With younger audiences discovering the ’90s, bands from that era are now getting a second life — so long as they still have the wind left for the rigorous touring needed to re-introduce themselves.

But David Lowery, Cracker’s vocalist and lead songwriter, has never appeared exhausted in his 30-plus years as a frontman, keeping Cracker on the road and in the studio since the early ’90s and having reformed his first successful band, Camper Van Beethoven, in 1999. With nine albums collectively and steady promotional tours for all, the steam seems to have paid off for both bands.

Between 1992 and 1993, Cracker released its debut and a follow-up — “Cracker” and “Kerosene Hat,” respectively — two albums that flung the relatively apathetic alt-rock group into gold-record status and onto regular radio rotation that still spins today. It was a time when popular music was driven by FM radio, music videos and CD sales, and Cracker emerged as one of the most favored of all three, due in large part to singles like “Low,” “Teen Angst (What the World Needs Now)” and “Euro-Trash Girl” and landing on the soundtracks for iconic ’90s movies like “Empire Records” and “Clueless.”

Calling the desert valley town of Redlands, Calif., home, Cracker came to project a distinct sound of Southern California’s budding alternative rock, one that infused grunge, punk, blues and Americana to find relevance in the vast landscape of the country’s rock climate at the time. And while the band never quite regained its mainstream popularity, it firmly planted itself in a grassroots subculture where the fans have far outlasted the fame.

Co-founders Lowery and Johnny Hickman remain as the only original members, but continue pushing past labels in Cracker’s catalog. The band’s latest effort, “From Berkeley to Bakersfield,” came last year and explores the punk and hard rock influences of the Bay with the twang of desert country and classic rock still pulsing in California’s desert regions.

Cracker will perform Saturday at The Windjammer, 1008 Ocean Blvd., with The Whisky Gentry. Tickets are $15 in advance, $20 the day of the show and are available at the door or online at Call 886-8948 or go to the venue’s website for more information.

When drum majors Derrick Moss and Lumar LeBlanc met in the late ’80s, the pair was anchoring the percussionist section for Harold Dejan’s incarnation of the historic Olympia Brass Band known as the Young Olympia Brass Band. The experience inspired the New Orleans duo to create a hip-hop and funk take on brass and jazz traditions, resulting in the genre-bending group that the Village Voice has called “the missing link between Public Enemy and Louis Armstrong.”

Following an opening performance for Cyril Neville in 1991, the funk and blues legend dubbed the newly assembled octet The Soul Rebels and helped the young up-and-comers define its sound and direction.

Today, The Soul Rebels have released seven albums since its 1995 debut and collaborated with artists as varied as Arcade Fire, Seal, Green Day, The Roots, Metallica, Kanye West, Robert Plant and Jimmy Page, and Cee Lo Green.

The Soul Rebels will perform Saturday at The Pour House, 1977 Maybank Highway. Tickets are $15 and are available at the door or online at Doors open at 9 p.m.; show starts at 9:30 p.m.

Go to or call 571-4343 for more information.

Bronx-born punk and reggae/ska septet The Slackers was already an established act among its peers prior to releasing its debut record in 1996, due in large part to its five-year effort grinding for shows and fans in the unforgiving NYC punk underground and vocalist/keyboardist Vic Ruggiero’s involvement with Rancid.

In the early ’90s, records weren’t made without a raised thumb from a label, big or small, to show legitimacy for who deserved recognition and who didn’t, but by the time Moon Ska records signed The Slackers in 1995, it was only confirming the obvious: third wave ska was commercially viable, and The Slackers were at the tip of the spear.

Hellcat Records (Rancid, Dropkick Murphys, Joe Strummer and The Mescaleros) signed the group in 1997 and has since released nine of the band’s 12 albums.

Today, Ruggiero defines The Slackers as “Jamaican Rock ’n’ Roll” and stands firm on the band’s resistance toward altering its sound for more mainstream appeal. “We learned from guys like Rancid that were offered the MTV ride, and we watched them not take it. We watched bands that did take it, and who had more trouble? In the end, the MTV ride was more trouble than it was worth,” Ruggiero told his label when asked about the group’s successful longevity. “You’ve got to be good to your fans and your people and know where you stand.”

The Slackers will perform Thursday at Tin Roof, 1117 Magnolia Road, with The Duppies. Tickets are $15 in advance, $18 the day of the show, and are available at the door or online.

Call 571-0775 or go to for more information.