Chula Vista roots-reggae band River Bottom Rockers has had the same nine-man crew for more than two years.
That changed when lead singer-songwriter Kenny Diaz, 20, died in a car crash early on February 1. The police report says Diaz was traveling at a high rate of speed on northbound I-805 when his car left the freeway and rolled several times. He died at the scene.
“He had just moved in with our [band] manager,” says bassist Bubba Abril. “He was leaving his house in San Ysidro to see his girlfriend. He crashed right after the Palm exit. It was a super-foggy night.”
The county medical examiner’s office said on February 11 that toxicology reports are pending.
“The weird thing is that the day of the accident we played a show at a family get-together, and after the show we had a band meeting. He kept saying that ’09 is going to be the year of the RBR. That this was our year and that we were about to get really big. We were planning on going on tour this summer. We were all super into this. Our first record is out this summer.”
Abril says the River Bottom Rockers will continue. “Our next show is March 7 at the World Beat Center. Ten bands are playing over eight hours. Admission is what you donate.” Abril says proceeds will help the Diaz family.
“I have a feeling God will throw someone our way in terms of singing who will help us out. Or the rest of the band will have to learn his vocals to keep him alive. He was a soulful activist. He saw through the fake things in society. He wasn’t about jive.… Services were last Friday. It was huge. We all sang one of his songs a cappella style at the gravesite [at Glen Abbey]. It was very emotional. It’s all on our website [myspace.com/riverbottomrockers]. We all stand behind Kenny’s lyrics. He was always talking about love and respect, about uniting our brothers and getting rid of evils.
“He would always be late to a practice or late to a show. One time he was super late to a show at the House of Blues. He knew we were super pissed off. He shows up and says, ‘You guys can cuss at me later. Let’s just do the show.’ But we didn’t care. We were just happy to have him there.”