When Justin Ancheta takes the stage at The Center for the Arts tonight, it won’t be the Bay Area musician’s first performance there. But it will be his first headlining concert at the storied venue of his past.
The Justin Ancheta CD release party for “Plant” begins at 8 p.m. and features his current band of almost all local musicians.
Ancheta, an alum of both Live Oak Waldorf School in Meadow Vista and Colfax High School, grew up with the Nevada, Placer county music scenes, which played an influential role in his career.
He has known nearly all his bandmates since childhood. Isaac James, one of two drummers for the band, attended the same elementary school.
A resident of Nevada County, James attended John Woolman High School and honed his drumming skills in Senegal, Africa, where he studied with a renowned grandmaster of traditional African rhythms, according to Ancheta.
Ancheta used to play basketball with Joshua Tree’s older brother and discovered Tree’s musical talent’s at an open mic night in Nevada City, he said.
Tree is a regular feature of the local music scene and a member of bands such as the Saul Rayo Band and South Yuba String Band.
Alex Scammon, the band’s horn player, learned to play saxophone at Nevada Union High School before going on to Harvard and studying with members of the Boston Philharmonic.
He started playing with the Justin Ancheta Band in 2004 and has been a regular ever since, according to Ancheta.
Jay Ladner, the band’s other drummer, met Ancheta at Encore Music in Auburn, where he remembers being impressed with Ancheta’s versatile skills.
“Justin is a world-class composer and performer. It’s a great honor to be included on this CD,” Ladner said.
The only nonlocal band member, Damian Sol, grew up in Sacramento. Sol is an accomplished violinist.
“Damian is a recent addition to the band, and he brings a new layer of complexity and firepower to our lineup,” said Ancheta.
“We’re excited to add such a distinct sound to the mix.”
The CD encompasses five years of writing and six months of production.
One of the tracks was inspired by a performance by Scammon and Tree at an open mic night at the former Cirby’s Creekside Bar and Restaurant in Nevada City in 2004.
The same night he heard them perform, Ancheta wrote a song about the counter-culture scene in Nevada City, he said.
Ancheta’s music is an eclectic blend of funk- and jazz-flavored reggae, seasoned with the sounds of klezmer and flamenco, according to him.
“But at heart, we’re all rock musicians who love to get people up and dancing,“ he added.
The performance will start out with a few acoustic songs with James playing a special drum. Six years ago the two said they wanted to play on stage at the Center for the Arts one day.
“To be able to feature (James) on these first acoustic songs is an honor,” Ancheta said of his longtime friend.
Beyond the music, Ancheta is an artist creating a global movement with his lyrics and message of community.
He has shown his dedication to human-powered environmental causes by touring Europe and the United States almost exclusively on bicycle.
“Our CD is called ‘Plant’ for a reason. Our songs plant seeds to encourage people to live sustainably, to invest their energy locally and grow roots where they live,” he said.
Tickets for tonight’s CD release party are $15 for members, $20 for non-members and are available at the Center for the Arts Box Office, or at BriarPatch Co-op. For more about Ancheta, go to www.justinancheta.com.
Contact Features Editor Brett Bentley at firstname.lastname@example.org.