Mento Buru is a 7-piece band from Bakersfield, CA that combines an energetic blend of Latin alternative, Jamaican SKA and reggae sounds. Veterans of ska music’s hyperactive nineties third wave, the group has released music on the Moon Ska and Steady Beatrecord labels establishing their reputation as a genre-defying musical act around the globe.
Now, the band is excited to announce the release of, “East Bakersfield Christmas,” their first-ever six (6) song ep of reimagined holiday classics. Titled in honor of the historic and culturally diverse neighborhood where the group formed and still resides, the ep is a sonic reflection of the culturally rich area that also boasts its own colorful musical history.
“Christmas time is our favorite time of year, so we put something together guaranteed to lift spirits and dancing feet around the Christmas tree,” said lead vocalist Matt Munoz. “Anything set to a ska or reggae beat is sure to bring out the tamales and egg nog with mezcal in East Bakersfield. These songs were personally handpicked, arranged and performed with heart, soul, and of course ska. We hope you enjoy them as much as we had fun recording them.”
Recorded at Triple Seven Recording in Bakersfield, the project was mixed by acclaimed studio engineer Jon Graber (Goldfinger, MXPX, Brasstracks) and mastered by Dave Fore (Collie Buddz, The Lacs).
Over the years the band has also shared stages with musical heroes The Specials, The English Beat, Los Lobos, The Dirty Heads, Wailing Souls, Fishbone, Ozomatli, Buck Owens (of course!) and countless others in addition to performing at The Roxy, Whisky a Go Go, The Viper Room, BB Kings venues, and headlining Old Spanish Days festival in Santa Barbara just to name a few.
Made possible through a generous grant from The Hub of Bakersfield’s “Cash for the Arts” program, “East Bakersfield Christmas” will be available at Apple Music, Spotify, Amazon, Pandora and YouTube.
“When you watch the video, you’ll see a lot of people smiling. There’s a reason for that,” said drummer Cesareo Garasa. “The sessions went really quickly, around 20 hours over four days, and were inspired by not only what Christmas means to each of us, but the positivity and excitement we all felt as it all came together. There was a real festive, communal feeling making this EP and it shows.”
“Donde Esta Santa Claus?” – The original 1958 Spanglish cha-cha-cha novelty song by Augie Rios is given a fun, swingin’ Latin ska treatment.
“Jingle Bell Rock” – Updated bouncing rendition of the 1957 Bobby Helms country western classic set to an infectious ska beat with new horn arrangement.
“What Child Is This? (Greensleeves)” – The iconic 1500’s English instrumental folk ballad written by composer Richard Jones takes a trip to the island of Jamaica for a reggae holiday featuring the Mento Buru horn section.
“Feliz Navidad” – Still teaching the world how to say ‘Merry Christmas’ in Spanish since making its radio debut in 1970, listeners can now dance around the house to this blazing new rockin’ ska version.
“The Christmas Song (Merry Christmas To You)” – The beloved heartfelt Christmas classic made famous by Nat King Cole is set to a warm, one drop reggae beat perfect for toasting by the fire.
“Donde Esta Santa Claus?” (Spanish) – Bonus track featuring all-Spanish lyrics and vocals.
Mento Buru is Matt Munoz, lead vocals, saxophone; Cesareo Garasa, drums; Caleb Moore, bass; Salvador Galindo, guitar; Jay Smith, keyboards; Paul Perez, saxophone; and Justin Kirk, trombone. Guest musicians: Brent Williams, trumpet;
Chris Heasley, congas; and Alisa Garasa and Robyn Dyer, background vocals.