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Cerebral palsy hasn't stopped F.U.B.A.R front man Jake Neilsen from whipping up a storm of sound.


So you think you were born to rock? Before answering the question with an unmitigated yes, consider the following tale of F.U.B.A.R. front man Jake Nielsen.

At first glance, the 22-year-old is nothing too out of the ordinary. Sure, he plays guitar better than most working musicians twice his age, and yeah, he can sing pretty damn well too. OK, and his stage presence is undeniably charismatic, but still, you wouldn't think much of it if you didn't notice the pair of crutches tucked around his elbows.

Nielsen has cerebral palsy, a condition that renders him paralyzed from the waist down. But apparently, you don't need feeling in your legs to wail on a guitar like Hendrix at Woodstock. I mean, if Ray Charles couldn't see and Beethoven couldn't hear, what's a little cramp on mobility gonna do to stop a musician with as much talent as this guy's got? In between off-beat rhythm strums and vocal phrases the other night at the Catalyst, he rattled off a flurry of notes that sounded positively Jimi-esque. His fingers flew from mellow bar chords to light-speed scales and back again with seemingly zero effort.

So when you ask yourself if you were really made to rock, if music calls your name like an obsessively driven poltergeist in the night, remember this: for some, the question is not a matter of choice but of means.

Following F.U.B.A.R.'s rousing performance at the Catalyst Atrium came the night's headliners, the Midtones. Led by Mark Marquez, the local reggae outfit started things off with an extended dub jam, then dove straight into back-to-back covers of songs by legendary Jamaican rasta-men The Twinkle Brothers. With heady roots-style harmonies and both feet planted firmly in solid bass lines, the Midtones delivered a crowd-pleasing set of dance-friendly reggae.

Saturday night at Moe's Alley was quite a little pre-Halloween bash. Actually, there was nothing little about the normally mild-mannered music venue—in fact, the place was jam-packed with costumed partiers letting their inner selves loose on the dance floor. After a solid performance by alt-rock up-and-comer Miznoma and a costume contest (officer Jim Dangle from Reno 911 took home the crown), Nobody's Own rocked the place silly with their wholly unique style of hip-hop fusion.

There's always something refreshing about hearing a band that doesn't sound quite like anybody else. Maybe it's because the uniqueness sets the band apart, or maybe it's because we subconsciously admire a risk taker. Regardless of the explanation, the fact is, bands like these attract us like a grade-school crush. Nobody's Own is exactly what their name suggests—a totally liberated musical collaboration, free of genre constraints and commercial concerns. In a flailing attempt to describe their sound, the best I can do is this: funky-jazz-soul-carnival-blues-hip-rock. Doesn't do you much good, does it? I suppose you'll just have to go see them for yourself, because my words seem to be terribly ineffective for this one.

Whether they're breaking down boundaries or laughing in the face of adversity, it seems that musicians endowed with true talent don't need to waste their time with convention—I guess they're too busy rocking.

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