The Time Fathers & Suns Earned a Fortune in Wooden Nickels

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Fathers & Suns
Aeron Archambault
Wooden nickels whizzed past Jay Penev's head. The bassist for Long Beach band Fathers & Suns bobbed and weaved onstage at the fifth-annual Long Beach Buskerfest on Aug. 17, as too many timber tokens to count landed around him and his band mates, with one hitting him square on the nose.

It sounded like a kick when Penev encouraged audience members to throw the nickels, which counted as votes for the festival's favorite acts to compete for money, if they couldn't make their way to place them on the stage. The moment quickly gave way to a frenzied, beautiful experience as the band was showered with tangible affection.

There was no question from the ecstatic, spontaneous dance circles erupting in the crowd that Fathers & Suns were killing it. Despite the good-natured danger, once the sun began to set and the band absorbed the experience, the drive to win dissipated. They realized they were playing in front of their biggest audience yet and just focused on basking in the moment.

But each token that fell onstage as well as in paper baggies (set aside for the more civilized to cast votes) brought Fathers & Suns closer to not having to hustle to finance their next yet-to-be-named recording, for which they've already written upward of 20 songs. They'll start on the follow-up to their debut, Mama Provides, this month.

The newish band--Penev; guitarists Arturo Bandini and Jesus Lara, who alternate lead vocals; and drummer Luis Renteria--formed in the fall of 2011. The four previously played together in Program Love, a loose, free-form acoustic band fronted by Peter Arizmendiz. Fueled by growing pains, four of the five members yearned to plug in, explore new musical territory and tighten their musicianship. "It was sort of a phase we grew out of," Bandini says about the acoustic approach. That offshoot became Fathers & Suns.

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