Sin Nombre
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Sin Nombre

Pine Grove, California, United States | SELF

Pine Grove, California, United States | SELF
Band Rock Alternative


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The best kept secret in music


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"Curse of the Mariachi" 2010: Now available on CD Baby and Itunes.

"So What" self titled EP (1997)


Feeling a bit camera shy


The hops seed for Sin Nombre was planted one night in 1991 when guitarist Gilligan Strange was jamming in the empty parking lot of the Jackson Creek Shopping Center in Jackson, California - a small town in the boonies of Amador County. He met a keyboardist named Steve Crowley and the two soon realized they had a common love for funk music - and chicks with "heartbreak" written all over their chests.

Inspired by his relationship with Strange, Crowley started messing around with guitar and a year later moved on to learning bass.

"Steve can play anything," Strange said. "He's one of those guys who can pick up an instrument he's never played before and in half an hour he's playing a tune."

Throughout the years, Strange and Crowley worked on several musical projects together. In 1995 they formed the band So What after Strange had just gotten out of the punk band Klinefelter and wanted to strike out on his own. So What gave him a chance to play more funk-and-groove tunes while still keeping that rebellious attitude.

The two played in So What until 1998 when Strange moved to Atlanta, Georgia. A year and a half before he left Amador County, So What recorded a self-titled CD at Paradise Studios in Sacramento and produced 1,000 copies of the album. The So What CD featured the songs Taco Bell Girl, Burn, Empty Boxes, Sensamilla, and Having You Around - songs that still echo in the air of the Sierra Foothills.

"Both Steve and I are surprised that to this day how many people still have those albums," Strange said.

So What's final performance was in September 1998 at the West Point Town Hall in Calaveras County. After that night, the two guys went their separate ways for many years.

In the meantime, Strange traveled all over the place, including a brief stint working as a civilian in Iraq. When he finally got enough of the war-torn Middle East, he came home to Amador County and was ready to dive back into the local music scene.

In October 2008, Strange checked out a little music event called the Battle of the Bands, hosted by the Amador County Recreation Agency. He noticed the competing acts were extreme opposites - either thrash/metal or folky-holky. Strange thought if he could put a band together that would be somewhere in the middle, he'd have a chance to really clean up.

He was right.

Strange joined bassist Dan Hirsch and drummer Rob Brant in June 2009. At the time, Hirsch and Strange were playing the OK Corral in Pioneer with the Wingnut Adams Band, and Brant was playing with the Steve Capitanich band. The first time the three of them jammed together, they knew they had a special chemistry. Within a month of their first jam session, they were already playing together at local venues.

They entered ACRA's Third Annual Battle of the Bands in October 2009 as blues/rock group Sin Nombre - a moniker taken from the Spanish term for "nameless." The band captured the first place title after performing a set that could best be described as "India-ink rock" - bluesy, edgy and chock full of the blue-collar party vibe. Although they played covers, they funkified the arrangements, turning them into something familiar enough for the audience to recognize, yet different enough to shake up the status quo.

Hirsch left the band in December 2009 due to personal reasons. Two months later, Mr. Crowley re-entered Strange's life and took over as bassist for Sin Nombre. He brought a new sound to the group, this one a little funkier.

"Steve brings a lot of focus into the band," Strange said. "There's tighter composition. Steve is more groove-oriented. He's a great entertainer and sound engineer bar none. He has an amazing ear. He'd come up with the hook and I'd flesh it out for him."

"We can pretty much breed music off each other," Crowley said of his relationship with Strange. "We have a comfort level."

Another reason Crowley joined was to heed the call of the muse.
"I missed playing in front of people, messing around with the recording studio, and writing music," he said.

Over the next few months, the guys started working on Sin Nombre's first album - Curse of the Mariachi. Shortly before the album was finished, Brant left the band to pursue other musical interests. His departure was a blow to his friends and fans.

"Rob was a drummer I clicked with," Strange said. "It felt like (the late Led Zeppelin drummer) John Bonham behind me. He has incredibly powerful feet and a great musical dynamic range." Strange acknowledges that although he clicked well with Brant, it was not the case when his friend Steve joined the band.

"They never had good chemistry," Strange said. "Rob would typically listen to the guitar to match time, and in a power trio this left Steve cold as he was never able to lock in a tight groove with him."

In September 2010, Dave Dommes, a.k.a. Double D, took over the drummer's chair. The band is now whole once again, and ready to attack Northern California and beyon