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Reggae funk on the rocks

Wren Wertin

RubiX is being billed as a local band, as its members are products of Battle Mountain High School. They live in California and New Orleans now, going to school by day, writing songs by night. They wile away their summers on the road, touring the country. Christmas break has brought them back to Vail, their families and a gig at 8150. The local appreciation party is cover-free; doors open at 8 p.m.

RubiX has been described as reggae funk rock; the don’t even begin to resemble the frolicsome jam bands the mountains are known for. They take a harder, more precise line, focusing their energies on rock. According to them, they take it beyond punk, something that differentiates them from other bands in California.

Joe Petri (bass, vocals) and Paul Churchill (guitar, vocals) began performing together in local musician and instructor Dave Laub’s Regional Jazz Band.

“Those two guys were always hanging out,” said Laub, laughing. “Now I wouldn’t say they’re troublemakers, but they liked to be the center of attention – which is important when you want to be a musician.”

Petri was especially interested in jazz, and played in Laub’s jazz combo as well. The trumpet was his first instrument; the guitar and bass followed. According to Laub, jazz serves any musician well, whether or not they pursue it.

“When I’m talking to other musicians, when they say they play jazz I assume they can play everything else, because rock came from jazz and blues,” he said. “So if you can play all the styles jazz requires, you’re covering everything beyond just the realm of rock.”

The group used to play under the name Liquid Banana, but decided RubiX fit them better. According to Churchill, the idea behind the name isn’t the perfect square with matching colors.

“It’s a puzzle we’re trying to solve, to make everything fit,” he explained.

Those parts, in addition to Petri and Churchill, are Andrew “JuJu” Salazar (turntables), Pete Hinmon (drums) and Chip Herter (vocals, guitar). They last played Vail when 8150 was Garton’s. What they don’t say is they’re proud to be back, having expanded their musical horizons. They plan on being a “local boys make good” story.

One band they particularly admire is Vail’s own Sucker. Coincidentally, Sucker made the move to California a few years ago; they’ve been back for a couple of years. Why the move to land of the stars?

“It’s not like California is where the talent is, but it’s where all the bands are,” said Churchill. “Out of 49 bands, maybe three of them are good.”

“In Vail, the talent really shows through,” added Petri.

Petri is currently the one band member living in New Orleans. Though he likes the rhythm of that funky city, he’s less enamored with it than he originally was.

“I’m kind of over it,” he said. “It’s very dirty, and all that drunkenness gets old.”

The distance between them is hard, too, as they all contribute to the song writing. Currently, they each write their own parts, building off of each other’s original ideas. Juniors in college, they plan to tour again this summer.

“I think our moms laugh at us,” said Churchill. “They think it’s a phase, and that we’ll eventually grow out of it. College is just my back-up plan.”

RubiX will be playing for 8150’s locals appreciation night. There’s no cover, and the doors open at 8 p.m. For more information call the venue at 479-0607.


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