Rock Pilgrimage brings L.A. band to Ridgecrest

‘The Title Trackers’ will help kick off next week’s Desert Empire Fair

Rebecca Neipp

News Review Staff Writer

Rock Pilgrimage brings L.A. band to RidgecrestA band that pays homage to such rock and roll legends as Jim Morrison, Bono, Johnny Cash, Bruce Springsteen and Billy Joel will bring help kick off the annual Desert Empire Fair with a performance on Thursday, Oct. 22, at 7:00 p.m. on the main stage.

DEF Executive Director Chip Holloway said that he is excited to bring “The Title Trackers” to fairgoers.

“In a town that loves classic rock and blues, I think ‘The Title Trackers’ will bring a unique blend of incredible music and talent combined with parody and showmanship,” said Holloway.

“I don’t think we have ever seen anything like this in Ridgecrest, and we just got lucky to catch them on a routing deal. I encourage everyone to come out and experience this intriguing concept and great music!”

“The Title Trackers” bring their act to the Indian Wells Valley as a part of their tour through the Mojave Desert regions.

“The term ‘tour’ doesn’t quite capture the full spirit and ambitiousness of the journey,” said co-founder David Tokaji. “We’re treating it more like a pilgrimage.”

Tokaji’s father was among the internees at Manzanar, where Japanese-Americans were relocated during World War II. Today Manzanar stands preserved in its original austere condition as a national reminder of how Americans were stripped of their freedoms and possessions during the war.

“A lot of Americans don’t realize that our government rounded up 120,000 American citizens and put them in these camps in the middle of nowhere during World War II. It was racial hysteria at its ugliest,” said bandmember Andy Hill.

“I’m not sure what to expect,” said Tokaji. “My dad is dead now, but the internment had a big impact on him throughout his life. This is about the closest I can get to that experience, and I just want to soak it all in.”

The Trackers draw their name from the 10 satirical songs on their debut album “Lost Title Tracks,” which features songs they wrote for albums without title songs. “What might the title tracks to legendary albums have sounded like if they’d been created?” asked a band members, jokingly calling their creations the “greatest hits never written.”

During their trek, the band members will also seek the exact spot where U2’s famous “Joshua Tree” photo was taken. “It’s literally in the middle of the desert and there are no obvious landmarks — truly where the streets have no name,” joked Tracker Russel Wiener.

The band makes playful fun of U2 with its song “The Joshua Tree,” but Wierner noted “We genuinely love not only their music, but their willingness to take on all these human rights issues and not flinch in the face of all the bile and hostility that people unleash on them. So the site of that classic photo is kind of our rock Mecca.”

Tojaki s added that the bandmembers were deeply moved to learn that the site of the photo is only 25 miles from Manzanar.

“There such a personal connection for us between U2’s sense of social justice and the internment camp experiences of Japanese Americans like my dad.”

Following their spiritual journey, the band will kick off their high-desert tour on Wednesday, Oct. 21, with an in-store appearance at Retro Records on Ridgecrest Boulevard.

Admission to the fairgrounds is $7 per adult, $4 for seniors and military, $3 for kids age 6-12, and kids 5 and younger free.

For a complete schedule of attractions at this year’s fair, visit desertempirefair.com.

Pictured: From left, Russell Wiener, David Tokaji and Andy Hill in promotional art for their album inspired by song titles. -- Courtesy photo

Story First Published: 2015-10-16