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The WAZ is to once again play for Ridgecrest. A benefit dinner by Ephen Tacos and a concert by The WAZ will be held at the USO Historical Building on Saturday, March 11, starting at 4:30 pm. The fun continues at Moe’s Music at 7 PM. / Laura Austin Photo

Ridgecrest Boulevard, Tunes and Tacos equals good times

By LAURA QUEZADA News Review Staff Writer– Ridgecrest is this kind of community: Folks work together for mutual benefit. Events are springing up that combine businesses and provide a good time for our residents. With that spirit, Ridgecrest Boulevard Tunes and Tacos was conceived. They are happening at the USO Historic Building on Saturday, March 11, starting at 4:30 pm and ending down the street at Moe’s Music.

What is happening? Tacos (and other tasty stuff) by Ephen Tacos and a benefit dinner concert by The WAZ, where the $5 entry fee is 100% donated to the Historical Society of the Upper Mojave Desert (HSUMD). Music starts at 5 pm and ends in time to head to Moe’s for a 7 pm concert by the local band Foreseers and two bands from Southern California, Some Gifts and Still Missing, with a $7.00 cover charge.

The timing was right for The WAZ to once again play for Ridgecrest. They were hired for a private event at the USO on that Thursday night. Tom “Krunchy” Rindt, a band member of The WAZ, tells us, “We thought, ‘Geez, let’s leave the equipment there instead of tearing it down because we have Open Mic the next night. We have a big stage, and all the lights and the big sound system, and the people who do Open Mic can play with that.” That led to the thought that they could do a concert on Saturday night. After they booked the USO, they realized that their friends, The Foreseers, had a show that night at Moe’s.

Then they got creative. They decided to make their performance a dinner show and be finished in time for folks to get to Moe’s. Ephen Tacos signed on to provide the dinner with tacos for $3.00 each, and the USO sells beer, wine & soda. Moe’s Music thought it was a great idea, and now there’s a fun music-filled night in Ridgecrest to look forward to.

“We’re big supporters of the USO and HSUMD, so we never try to make any money at this kind of thing,” says Rindt. “But we’d like to have them make money because they use it for cool stuff.”

Tex Hoppes, President of HSUMD, says, “For years, The WAZ has been the musical heart and soul of the Historic USO Building.  They actually conduct our Open Mic nights and have for years. So having them perform on a special night and date for a special reason is incredible. It is magnificent, and it’s very generous. People will enjoy the music beyond belief. They are magnificent musicians.”

Hoppes says the money raised will go to their General Fund; however, one particular program will be the primary beneficiary. “We have expanded the support for veterans and are now buying the food for our Monthly Free Veterans Breakfast. We have somewhere between 70 and 80 veterans that come in. They have served us. We are now serving them.” Breakfast is served to veterans and their spouses or caregiver on the third Thursday of the month between 8 am and 10 am. “Our costs have increased for that and in other areas such as utilities. So the generous donations that are made will go towards those efforts.”

Open Mic, held every non-flex Friday at 7 pm, is a welcoming environment that gives musicians a place to practice their craft, whether they be beginners or seasoned professionals. Many musicians got their feet wet at the USO Building and are pursuing professional careers. Many bands were born from the Open Mic music breeding ground. 

This is true for The WAZ. Rindt tells us, “The WAZ is an acronym for The Whatevers and Antique Zyphyr.” The common thread between those two bands is Chuck Bolt. Bolt grew up with two members of Antique Zyphyrs and had been playing with them since they were in high school. They added two more members when they moved to San Diego. Eventually, Bolt shifted to the high desert and continued playing with them.

Then Bolt started attending Open Mic, met Rindt there, and in 2012 formed The Whatevers.  The bands combined a couple of years ago, thus their name: The WAZ. The band has nine members who all harmonize. Magic. Locally there is ClairAnn McDiarmid, Rindt, Bolt, Stuart Nissim, David Cheshire, and Anissa Rindt, who runs sound and sometimes adds her voice to the harmonies. Out-of-towners include Paul Franco, Byron Heard, and Tom Quinne.

The WAZ is known for a diverse set list with epic rock songs culled from overseas, or “Whatever” strikes their fancy. They will play an evening of classic rock leaning toward the Grateful Dead and their originals for this concert. Bolt, a former truck driver, is their lyricist. There are some pretty cool road songs and their signature closing song, “I’m Too Happy To Sing The Blues.” 

A three-minute walk down Ridgecrest Boulevard will bring you to Moe’s Music, where a different sound will entertain. The Foreseers, formerly The Duendes, will open for two bands from out of the area. The Foreseers brand themselves as “Post-hardcore/emo from the Mojave Desert in California.” Baby boomers will find their music “trippy.” Band members are Tommy Morehead, Jason Knight, and Ryan Smith. Rindt says of Smith, “Ryan is an unbelievably good drummer. That guy is a machine. I always love watching him play. And then he gets those boys out in front of him, and yeah, it’s an energetic show, man.”

Also in the show are Some Gifts from Covina, who bill themselves as “Loud guitar rock that scratches that 90’s indie itch.” And from Bakersfield, Still, Missing, who say of themselves, “One Part Sludge -Two Parts Punk/Hardcore.”

Smith tells us, “It’s gonna be a fun show because all three bands are just musically progressive.” When The Foreseers play at gigs out of the region, they talk about the great music happening in Ridgecrest at Moe’s. “We’re building a little scene, and there’s a lot of really good bands in this venue.” The other bands wanted to come to play here to check out the scene and hang out with The Foreseers. They set the March 11 date, and then Rindt reached out to them to combine the two shows. “Anytime we get a chance to collaborate with The WAZ is always a joy,” says Smith. “It just flew together really naturally.  Everyone is interested in putting together good events, so we jumped at the opportunity.” Smith wants folks to know that The Foreseers are planning a Vinyl Release Show in April.

Ashley Jones, Co-owner of Moe’s, says, “I love that they came to us to partner and that we have all created this community where instead of saying, ‘This is my event,’ Tom came to me with this idea and said, ‘Hey, we both have events planned on the same night. They both draw similar crowds. Let’s work together and figure out how to get everybody to both’.  That’s how that happened.”