Locals gathered in Jack London Square on Halloween night to eat sushi, drink cocktails, and rock out with Zack Bateman and the Coal Minds.
The Oakland-based sextet played an upbeat, costume themed gig at Yoshi’s jazz club on the rainy evening. The band members were dressed as Beetlejuice, Nick Cave, Jessica Rabbit, Jack Skellington, Sally Stitches, Bob Dylan, and an extravagant Dia De Los Muertos figure.
The Coal Minds opened with an original tune called “Bourbon and Bones.” They performed a medley of original tunes and covers from notable artists Tom Waits, Screamin’ Jay Hawkins, Nick Cave, Bob Dylan, Cab Calloway, David Bowie, and Oingo Boingo. Bateman and lead guitarist Georgia Sam dedicated two romantic ballads to their girlfriends, Ashli and Shayna, who watched the show with adoration.
The group kept the audience fully engaged through the entire two-hour set. At several points during the show, crowd members got up from their seats and danced enthusiastically. After closing the show with two original pieces, the band showed their appreciation by greeting fans personally in the lounge.
Bob Frazier, a past member of Oingo Boingo (known for writing music for various Tim Burton films and animated TV sitcom “The Simpsons”), made a guest appearance that evening, playing a few trumpet solos at various points in the set; this was Frazier’s first time performing with the band.
Frazier mentioned that band member Erik Baughan reached out to him over Facebook, asking him to accompany them at that night’s performance.
“I don’t know how he got my name,” he said, chuckling. “We are becoming fast friends, though this is my first time meeting him in person.”
From the opening to the encore, each band member exuded passion in their own ways, all of which flowed together smoothly and cultivated an extravagant and memorable Halloween evening.
Bateman, the band’s founder, comes from a family of musicians and has been exposed to a number of artists from infancy.
“My family raised me with a lot of jazz, and other random stuff” said Bateman. “My parents were very into Nine Inch Nails. As a baby, I heard my parents blaring Nine Inch Nails, Ministry, and a lot of industrial Goth material that stuck with me over the years.”
The original members of the Coal Minds were Bateman (lead vocals and rhythm guitar), lead guitarist Georgia Sam, violinist Judy Cruces, and background vocalist Edwina Maye (who is also Bateman’s mother and a lifelong musician) in late 2014. Bateman initially formed the group as “Whistlin’ Past the Graveyard,” a tribute to one of his greatest musical influences, Tom Waits.
In early 2015, Bateman would go on to recruit bassist Ken Medlen and drummer Jared “Tex Nasty” Kuenstler. Mandolinist Erik Baughan was asked to join the band that year after attending several of their shows, including a festival known as the Blackheart Bash.
Bateman describes the band’s sound as “Delta Punk,” which he said “takes many aspects of Delta Blues,” such as Southern Goth and Voodoo Punk.
Bateman is also a former Laney College student and Tower staff writer.
“I was doing a lot of the music theory classes and English preliminaries,” he said. “I was a member of the Tower for about a year or so. It was definitely a good learning experience, and I got some good jobs from it.”
While Bateman attained worthwhile knowledge from participating in the Tower, he discovered that he had a stronger passion for creative writing and a desire to be a musician.
Since their founding, the Coal Minds have performed at a number of well known Bay Area venues. In addition to Yoshi’s (where they have now played four times), they have appeared at Slim’s, 924 Gilman, and Bottom of the Hill.
Bateman reflected on the significance of the band’s Halloween show.
“This gig was definitely a big test and corner stone in our career as a band. Not due to the size or magnitude of the venue’s popularity, since we’ve played bigger and more known venues in the past, but the fact is, we’re now in there as the first band to play a Halloween event there on Halloween night.”
“Yoshi’s is a world renowned jazz club where classic artists like Stanley Clarke and Victor Wooten play regularly, being open to a dark and gritty band of punks and metalheads performing on a night they’ve normally dismissed in the past. So this show wasn’t just monumental for the band, but also for Halloween itself.”