Bristol to Memory Rock UCI to Promote Voter Registration

Central Orange County band, Bristol to Memory (BTM), played their classic punk rock music on May 7th at 3 p.m. on the campus of UC Irvine.  They were the headliner of the “Tunes at Noon” event coordinated by the UCI Votes multi-agency collaborative to publicize the June 3rd Primary Election, register voters, and of course- recruit poll workers.  The event drew several hundreds of students and faculty who enjoyed the music of three talented student groups, and then a 45 minute high-energy set performed by BTM.  Staff from the Orange County Registrar of Voter’s office was on hand to encourage students to participate in the upcoming Primary Election, and students from the UCI chapter of CALPIRG gave out free root beer floats to everyone who registered to vote.  The event came off without a hitch and it was obvious that everyone in attendance had a terrific time. The band performed with an amazing level of energy, they were very engaging with the crowd, and the music rocked.

The band has previously played college concerts to rave reviews as a way of promoting voter registration at several Orange County campuses, including Cal State Fullerton, Chapman University and Golden West College.  Neal Kelley, Registrar of Voters, thanked the band for their continuing support for voter registration in Orange County.  “We are grateful to BTM for generously donating their time to promote the importance of voting here in Orange County.” BTM lead singer and guitarist Rory O’Connell added, “We love playing at these events.  It’s great to see so many students signing up to vote.”  “The energy at these events is terrific,” asserted drummer Alex Buster when I sat down with BTM recently at their recording studio.

Rory started the band nine years ago with his brother Kealan and some friends they grew up with in the Santa Ana area.  In fact, Bristol to Memory refers to the two streets that border the childhood homes of members of the band.  Rory and Kealan grew up in a very musical family.  Dad is a song writer and performer, and Mom is into musical theater. Every member’s family has been very supportive of the group, and the name of the band was even coined by sister, Briona O’Connell.

BTM is made up by Rory, his brother Kealan on bass guitar, guitarist Ken Aquino, and drummer Alex Buster.   All members of the band contribute to the great vocal sound, which has resulted in the rapid acceleration of the band’s success over the past couple of years.  BTM performed at the Vans Warped Tour in 2009 after winning the Ernie Ball Battle of the Bands, and they have played a multitude of shows in Los Angeles and Orange County.  This summer the band goes on tour up the coast through Washington to promote their new album entitled Animus.  Listen for it on college and rock stations in the near future.  It is the first album to be totally produced in house by the band in the recording studio they built just over one year ago.  For the first time, BTM took a completely independent approach.  They played, produced, engineered and mixed the album themselves.  They are also working on a musical score for a film about a man with autism titled Nathan’s Kingdom.  “The project is very exciting.  Look for it to be released in 2015,” said Rory.

I couldn’t resist asking the band about their version of “Take Me Out to the Ballgame,” which is played at the Angels games.  “We are big time Angels fans.  So when we heard that they wanted bands to play before the game, we auditioned.  An Angels’ executive told us that they were going to have a group like Goo Goo Dolls do a version of the seventh inning stretch traditional song.  We immediately said that we could it.  We went right into the studio and produced it.  Well, they loved it.  Ever since, we have been one of the bands who play there.  And the rest is history.” 

The band’s music can be purchased through their website,, or the usual online music outlets like iTunes and Spotify.  For local fans, BTM can be seen on Saturday, May 24 at the House of Blues in Anaheim at 7pm.  Free tickets can be acquired on the website.  They are also scheduled to appear on June 21 at the Save Our Oceans art show and fundraiser in Rolling Hills Estates, courtesy of the Surfrider Foundation.

Neal Kelley is right.  These are a great bunch of guys.  Admittedly, I’m a guy in my 60’s and used to think that music died at the end of 1979.  But I discovered that Bristol to Memory music is very enjoyable, even for a dinosaur like me.   It’s very musical and high energy at the same time.  They can truly rock.  Even better- they truly care, which makes their partnership with the Registrar of Voters office so valuable.