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Punk Rock in Martinez? Believe it!

“I’m an angry young man – I’m a punk rock refugee

And I’m working on a plan, to smash the disco scene”

Recently in mid-June 2024 there was a show at the First Congregational Church that not only illustrated how music in Martinez spreads to many venues, this show also demonstrated how some under-represented genres can get their due in the local music scene.

Ladies, and gentlemen, I give you:  punk music at church!

This punk show featured several punk bands in the Church’s basement – the poster listed C.I.M.P. (pronounced “simp), Pinoles, Can’t, the Creepy Crawlies, Fuzz Attack and Slugface – admission was only $5 and it was an all-ages show.

It was well-attended and while I didn’t see a perilous mosh pit, I did see people of all ages having a good time. Some were clearly devotees of the punk scene, with leather jackets, torn tees, generously inked skin and tinted coifs. Others just seemed be curious onlookers, but it sure seemed like everyone was having fun. There were “old guys” like me, and there were toddlers (with appropriate ear protection) with their parents – an eclectic mix to be sure!

So, how did it come to pass that there was a punk show (with more to come) at the First Congregational Church?  Well, that particular church has a history of supporting and featuring music. The Pastor, Lori Ortiz knows that music allows people to express emotions – joy, celebration, and even rebellion and frustration in cathartic ways that benefit those playing music and those listening.

One of the members of the church, Jason Stasuik, is a longtime punk rock fan and musician, and is in a local punk band called “Can’t”. Jason also has lots of energy and is a born organizer – a welcome combination to any church, right?

He approached Pastor Ortiz with the notion of having a punk show in the church basement in 2023, and she embraced the idea. But a church has internal governance so the proposal had to be submitted to the proper committees for approval.

The event had to be “all ages”  - this church has inclusiveness baked right into its ethos – the sign outside the church plainly states “All are welcome here”. There could be no alcohol served or consumed at the show. Those in the church who feared the event could get out of hand needed assurances this would not be the case.

In the end, all the t’s were crossed and the i’s dotted and they had their first punk show.  There were no riots, anarchy did not reign. (Although one of the bands was called “Tungsten Reigns”).  What DID happen was, folks had a great time and young people got a chance to be part of cool show in a cool venue.

The most recent show brought much-needed attention to punk music – it’s 50 years young, people – it’s here to stay!

The thriving music scene in Martinez has received a fair amount of attention, and rightfully so. On any evening stroll downtown  - especially weekends – you are likely encounter bands playing at various venues . The venues include restaurants, bars, breweries, the Campbell Theater, the Veteran’s Hall, to name a few.

Music in these venues varies from rock and pop cover bands to jazz ensembles, country music, Mariachi, soul, bluegrass, blues and even Cowboy music. You can check out local favorites and other bands making themselves into local favorites.

There are informal open mic events, where musicians of all types get to make their artistic statements and frequent singer/songwriter showcases.

And yes, punk rocks on in Martinez, and in a very cool church.

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