We pause now at year’s end for a visit with some old friends: the B-Side Players. A trusty bunch of local loyalists, the Players have been a part of the hometown music scene for years. Thus far, they have won nine San Diego Music Awards and are known to pack houses wherever they set up. But, always the bridesmaid and never the bride: the B-Side Players have yet to escape the gravitational pull of San Diego and as such survive to this day as a band with a cult following. Why no national love? I suspect the tug of day jobs tempered by the high cost of touring a fairly large band. B-Side’s Facebook page lists nine members on the payroll. At some point, cost should cease to be an issue. To my ears, the Player’s Afro-Latin soul mix of funk-rock-jazz and Cumbia is better than the bands they are most often compared to: Ozomatli (yawn), War (ancient history), and Ben Harper (boring). As such, the B-Side Players are a gifted conundrum.
Karlos Paez, the dread-locked front man of the B-Side Players launched the group in 1994. First a Chula Vista punker, then later reinvented as an all-embracing roots musician and brass player, Paez sometimes sings songs in Spanish that are said to be about hot-button social issues such as political corruption and racism and the manner of issues that undocumented workers deal with. Heavy lifting as far as subject matter goes, but no matter. The B-Side Players are a dance band, and I think that’s always been their draw. Reliable as a diesel engine, the Players are mainly known as a good-time group with a message. “We now represent the Brown Majority,” Paez writes on Concord Record’s home page. “The surfer, suburban stereotype of California is changing fast. It’s not all bleach blondes anymore.” Can I get a Happy New Year?
The Aggrolites also perform.
B-Side Players: Belly Up, Friday, December 28, 8:30 p.m. 858-481-8140. $18 advance/$20 door.