By Lynn Lieu
MEMBERS: John Major (piano, vocals, harmonica), Mike Landers (guitar, vocals), Ray Atencio (bass) and Rick Mendieta (drums—“When we feel like we need to rock out”).
CITIES OF ORIGIN: Claremont, El Cajon, Highland.
KINDRED SPIRITS: “My musical influence starts with my grandmother who was a great piano player,” says John Major. “Mr. Van Horn was my middle school music teacher,” says Ray Atencio. “I learned guitar from my Dad (Jimmy) and my brother (Mark),” says Mike Landers.
FREQUENTS: Time in a Bottle, Redlands; Sportswatch Bar and Grill, Highland; Hangar 24 Craft Brewery, Redlands.
It was only a coincidence that Strangebrew, an acoustic rock band, would come to call Hangar 24, Redland’s local brewery, home. The band consisting of three local musicians and the occasional drummer incidentally named its band in favor of the alcoholic beverage one night at practice. And when asked if the group has any favorite Hangar 24 beers, the guys were enthusiastic to give props to brewers Ben Cook and Kevin Wright. Also, next time you’re at a Strangebrew/Hangar 24 show, the group’s beers of choice are the Amerillo and Pale Ale.
How did you get involved in music/how did your band form?
John Major: Strangebrew Band got its start at the Burgundy Room in Highland (my music room). We would get together about once a month to jam with friends and it was great. We would practice and share the songs we knew and eventually we realized we had enough songs to fill a few sets and here we are.
Mike Landers: I was invited to open for Ray and John’s other band Royal Jelly by my former baseball coach (and Royal Jelly lead singer) Don Parnell. Coach was the one who encouraged us to get together.
Where did the name of your band come from?
Major: A bit of Strangebrew trivia—Our first band name was The Lost Code (this was my band from high school), then we changed it to Tres Jalepenos (this was one of our favorite restaurants in Highland that closed down). I think we were practicing for a gig in Mike’s garage when Mike said, “We’re strange, we like beer, how about STRANGEBREW!”
You guys have an upcoming show at Hangar 24 and I heard you’ve played there before. Is it just a coincidence that your band name coincides with the venue?
Major: Yes, it’s a happy coincidence for us. We love playing there and I don’t think it hurts to have “brew” in our name.
What do you like about Hangar 24?
Major: Hangar 24 feels like home for us. Our friends and family love to come watch us play on the patio. The Hangar 24 team has always made us feel welcome and what’s better than having a beer, listening to live music and watching a plane fly off into the sunset?
Strangebrew at Sportswatch Bar and Grill, 27961 Highland Ave., Highland, (909) 280-3250; www.sportswatchbarandgrill.com. Nov. 9 and 16. And at Hangar 24 Craft Brewery, 1710 Sessums Dr., Redlands, (909) 389-1400; hangar24brewery.com. Nov. 21.