An evenings entertainment rarely gives as much as this one did at the Ace Hotel Palm Springs. Blac Jesus and the Experimentalists are an electric, spiritual quest of duelling guitar and saxophone; they live and make music in laid back, horizontal fashion in the city of Pomona in LA County. Man on Fire is the lead single off of their debut EP, Crimson – one of this year’s classiest independent releases we’ve come across.
I’m not sure what’s worse: showing up to the Ace under-dressed (by comparison) or blatantly underestimating the group we were there to session. We thought our consummately Canadian, winter-killer plaid fatigues were good enough for any glide… none more true. In fact, it was in the shuffle past a couple of sets of Californian straight teeth who were standing in the drink queue when I sensed eyes in my periphery. It was late enough to feel self-indulgent while still early enough whereas a sweat had yet to break, I looked back to see what was up. In doing so, saw the words “Who invited these people” mouthed by the teeth. I probably would have felt worse had there not been this other guy there letting it all hang out, talking up a blue streak, and waltzing about with a look on his face like he had just discovered the best conversation starter – all along, wearing his hotel room house coat. And if that was the best, we weren’t far behind; in that, the Canadian ‘look’ also landed us in this conversation, which must count for something:
Girl: “There are a lot of good bands in Canaduh”
Me: “Yeah there certainly…”
Girl: “Arcade Fire!”
Me: “Yeah they’ve…”
Girl: “I saw them. And I CRIED!”
Me: “Yeah, they really invol…”
Girl: “I CRIED”
Then there’s mistake #2. My hunch on Blac Jesus and the Experimentalists was prompted by a tasty acoustic blues jam called, In Your Hands. I figured we would be able to roll up and shoot a simple piece prior to their set alongside Blackstrap Molasses and the Henry Clay People. However, they played first and threw off our timing. This detail alone is responsible for the inspiration behind this video. Walking into that barroom and hearing Runson Willis’ guitar ooze down the walls; the squeal of Brian Perske’s sax and the mountainous rhythm section of Michael Garcia and Francisco Morales demanded an ideological retake.
Deliberation over drinks in the hotel room after their set led us to the conclusion that anything besides full-band, electric would be ludicrous. And luckily, a studio space – one deep, dark shadowy room laden with vintage horror film posters and a life-sized Freddy Krueger- in Bedrock Studios would open up at the end of a long day of filming with Rachel Fannan and Deap Vally.