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Meet Manuel Grajeda of Manuel The Band in Long Beach

Today we’d like to introduce you to Manuel Grajeda.

So, before we jump into specific questions, why don’t you give us some details about you and your story.
Back in early 2017, I had decided that I wanted to start up a new group and really focus on the songs I was writing. While I’ve always preferred to play with a group, at the time I really thought I was just going to be doing shows on my own and hire people to play when I could. I’ve been very fortunate to meet some amazingly talented musicians who have been down to be part of this project and make the sound better than I ever could have imagined. The group, originally, started off as a four piece with our lead player being on pedal steel. A unique lead instrument for a rock band, but George (the pedal steel player) has an amazing ear and comes up with the most unique and rockin’ lines.

I have to give credit to my mom for influence on the horns. Ever since high school, she was telling me, “you’d sound so good with horns! They’re such a texture.” Well, she was absolutely right. Brandon (drummer) and Kevin (Bass player) knew of a trombone player at their university (CSUDH), Richard Fernandez, and asked him if he wanted to come and rehearse. We started rehearsing together, did a show and Richard’s been on board ever since. Our final member, Matt Kalin, came on board after a jam session at one of the local spots we play at. He brings such an energy and has a wealth of experience in the music industry.

Together the groups has played two music festivals, NAMM and a tour are we’re looking at doing more festivals and tours in 2020. We just released our first album back in June, which now has over 30,000 streams and are heading back into the studio in the next few months to record a few more tunes.

The band’s line up consists of Manuel Grajeda (guitar/vox) George Madrid (pedal steel) Kevin Nowacki (Bass Guitar) Brandon Charlesworth (drums) Richard Fernandez (trombone/trumpet and Matt Kalin (Saxophone).

Has it been a smooth road?
Good question. I think with any career, there will always be obstacles and struggles that have to be overcome. However, the best part of this group is how we act. On stage, we are a unit of sound and that carries into our off stage presence as well. We’re friends and have created our own music family, so we’re there for each other. When something comes up that needs to be discussed, we talk about it. If one of us is tired, we push each other on. We work together and I think that characterizes how we move through challenges and obstacles, which has made our career, for the most part, overall smooth.

We’d love to hear more about your work and what you are currently focused on. What else should we know?
I’m excited to say that we’ve done as much as we have independently. We booked our whole summer tour by ourselves, we made sure we were playing at least three times a week and we manage all aspects of the band and the business parts independently. Of course, we’d love to move into management and, perhaps, some label discussions, but I’m proud to know how much of the music industry we have been able to handle on our own. It’s really allowed us to experiment with business ideas and, I think, give us an upper hand when it comes to knowing exactly what we want and how we want to do things.

How do you think the industry will change over the next decade?
That’s a big question. Overall, I think there’s a shift happening where people are wanting to see live music again. Not to say that ever went away, but I think people are wanting to see bands. I think, in the next five years or so, we’ll be seeing a resurgence of bands playing and a move away from electronic sound.

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