Music Scene Ignites Across Central Coast Region of California

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California’s Central Coast region, a foggy coastal zone 300 miles from San Francisco and Los Angeles, is best known for its tourism and agriculture. Local industry is driven by the vineyard culture seen in the film “Sideways” and its classic beach town atmosphere, as well as nearby colleges and universities. Most music fans outside of the region are unaware that the Central Coast is also home to a growing music scene. Its “far from anywhere” location has so far kept the music from the outside.

The Central Coast’s distinct setting far from the noise of its two nearest major cities drives many local musicians to collaborate. The ongoing relationships are the backbone of the growing music scene, producing music that reflects the culture and personality of the Central Coast. Diverse rock bands such as Too Late For Roses, the Wadsworth Bluff Rats, Tropo and Stilltime each possess an individuality, but the collective result is the sound of the Central Coast: organic roots combined with both aggressive energy and pop/indie sensibility.

Too Late For Roses ( is the next band from the region preparing to drop a record, with its debut scheduled for release on indie label LPE Records this fall. The band features Boston-transplant Karl von Kries on lead vocals, guitar, bass, percussion and flute; Wyatt Lund on drums; and Jordan Martin on bass, pedal synth, guitar and vocals. This studio project has been creeping into view at notable California concert events, including a benefit show at the famous Live Oak Festival in Santa Barbara and a recent near-capacity show at Downtown Brew in San Luis Obispo.

TLFR Press Photo

Too Late For Roses Features Central Coast Musicians Jordan Martin, Karl Von Kries and Wyatt Lund

The band performs as a minimalist trio despite the band’s massive recorded sound, using unique instruments and live arrangements to keep the sound full on stage. Karl and Jordan routinely switch between guitar and bass mid-set, each taking turns at lead vocals. Karl layers lead flute over with effects over the band, often while simultaneously playing guitar. Too Late for Roses also is a rare modern band to use the pedal synth popularized by The Police and other bands in the early 1980s and rarely used since. This adds another interesting texture to the overall sound.

All Too Late For Roses band members are active in several musical projects both inside and outside the region. Karl previously fronted the local band Instar and has composed film scores for award-winning New York filmmaker, animator and fine artist Pat Smith. Karl and Pat are now working on “Masks,” a new film anticipated for release early next year.

Wyatt Lund is a respected drum instructor and founder of the popular Central Coast band Siko, while Jordan Martin also records as a solo artist and drums for the Wadsworth Bluff Rats, a band that merges the sunlit ambiance of the Central Coast region with alt-country atmospherics. Karl is producing both the Too Late For Roses debut and the first record from the Wadsworth Bluff Rats ( at Hanging Fish Western Front, his private Central Coast recording studio.

Tracks from the Too Late For Roses debut can be heard at the band’s website. Songs like “Pacifier” are heavy on melody, as its aggressive guitar riff, hovering bass lines and rock-steady drumming explodes into a huge chorus. Meanwhile, “B.C.O.,” with its moody, ethereal vocal harmonies, favors a darker atmosphere that suggests the gray Pacific Northwest skies colliding with the Central Coast shoreline.

Song previews, photography and a moody self-produced video for the track “So Gone” are among the other downloads available at the band’s website. The video was recently submitted to New York City fashion designer John Varvatos and SPIN Earth’s “Free The Noise” contest, which profiled hundreds of unsigned bands from around the world.

Along with Too Late For Roses and the Wadsworth Bluff Rats, the band Tropo ( adds its stamp to the Central Coast region with its brand of electro-edged rock music that all at once reaches back to the early 80’s dance music of Manchester and the USA; emphasizes modern elements in rock and electronic music; and provides a glimpse into the future of where dance-oriented rock music is headed. And like Too Late for Roses, Tropo incorporates unusual instruments both in the studio and on stage: Tyson Leonard’s soaring lead violin, a focus of the band’s live shows; and Ryan Johnson’s atmospheric pedal steel, which adds an ambient flavor to the band’s emotionally-charged dance tunes.

Stilltime ( is another local band that defies genres, incorporating eclectic instruments such as harmonica, mandolin, slide guitar and upright bass to create groove-oriented rock. Other notable Central Coast bands include Criticnue and the Damon Castillo Band. This land of sun, surf, fog, and wine is emerging as a powerful artistic scene, and the ongoing connections and collaborations amongst local musicians have built a solid musical foundation.

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2 Responses to “Music Scene Ignites Across Central Coast Region of California”

  1. Steve Key says:

    Thanks for single-handedly igniting the Central Coast Music scene.

  2. karl says:

    Now, Steve, we know you’re the lynchpin of the CC acoustic and songwriter world! Any visitors, please see for lots of info on Steve’s myriad events…
    – Karl