Tidings Cafe: Buckle Rash

Former members of reggae group Synrgy have rearranged, regrouped and re-tooled as rock 'n' roll band Buckle Rash, one of the musical acts for the Four Twenty Southern Oregon Mash-Up show Saturday at the Historic Ashland Armory.

So is Buckle Rash what happens when you switch from reggae to rock 'n' roll?

"Some people think it's an STD or something," says Aaron Reed, who plays rhythm guitar and sings lead vocals. "I was kind of anti, and everyone else wanted it really bad. We started looking up online the other names we liked and that was the only one that wasn't taken."

Buckle rash is the damage done over time to the back of a guitar from a belt buckle rubbing on it, he says.

"It's a really common term to use when you're describing an old guitar," says Reed, who buys and sells musical gear. "I have a couple of guitars with buckle rash."

Clay Baker plays lead guitar, T.J. Eilers plays bass and provides backup vocals, and Oscar Matallana is on drums.

As Buckle Rash has been playing together for just two months, most of its songs come from Reed and his solo work.

"Aaron's songs are already on the table and ready to go," Eilers says. "It's been a nice little transition from reggae to rock 'n' roll."

The group describes its sound as "electro-grass" — rock 'n' roll with a little country thrown in.

"We're definitely plugged-in," Eilers says. "Some of the grooves are very grungy and rock 'n' roll, like what we grew up on. Clay has been adding the funk factor to a few tunes."

For the Tidings Cafe, the newspaper's online video gallery of local bands, Buckle Rash performed an original song written by Reed called "Love Like a Fire" in its rehearsal space at Reed's home in Ashland. Go to www.dailytidings.com/tidingscafe to watch the video.

A multi-instrumentalist, Reed played drums in Synrgy but says it's too difficult to play drums and sing. So he recruited Matallana, who was performing with a reggae group in Portland to come down and join Buckle Rash.

"I was playing with a band called Outpost," Matallana says. "I wasn't planning to come here — I was going to go to San Diego and check out their reggae scene — but Aaron told me to come check out his project so I ended up staying."

Since Matallana came from a reggae group as well, all the members have made the same genre transition.

"It's been interesting looking out and seeing a whole different group of people," Matallana says. A reggae crowd moves in a large wave motion; Eilers describes the audience for Buckle Rash as an "earthquake."

"Southern Oregon likes to get rowdy," Matallana says.

Buckle Rash has played gigs on the Oregon Coast, and at Alex's and Caldera in Ashland.

"The two local shows we had were really awesome," Reed says. "Everybody was listening and having a good time, then as soon as we played Johnny Cash, it was like an earthquake, like he said — it was like 50 people got on the dance floor, like bam."

Four Twenty Southern Oregon Mash-Up begins at 7 p.m. Saturday, April 20, at the old Armory, 208 Oak St. Tickets are $15 in advance and $20 at the door and are available at the Music Coop.

At 9:30 p.m., Buckle Rash will play at Alex's Plaza Restaurant and Bar, 35 N. Main St., before Eugene reggae group Sol Seed performs. The cover is $5.

Buckle Rash has gigs booked all the way into September, with shows at the main campground at the Oregon Country Fair, the Oregon Brewers Festival in Portland, The Hemp Expo, The Barter Fair and Applejam.

"I'm a little nervous because we're not really learning the material at the speed we need to be to be covering these gigs," Reed says.

But Matallana is hopeful. "Even though we aren't super, super tight and super, super hot yet, because we're so new, we are still getting a positive reaction consistently."

Reach Mandy Valencia at 541-776-4486 or by email at avalencia@mailtribune.com.

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