TMO EXCLUSIVE: The Lost Betrayal Tapes III: California City, October 23, 1992

The next chapter of this series “The Lost Betrayal Tapes” takes a marvelous step forward. We are honoured by Chris Ackerman sharing this with you all. So take it away Chris…….

Christian Sullivan – The Metal Onslaught Magazine

“It was the stuff of legend…”

Whenever I am driving to announce a motorcycle race at Kern County Raceway Park in Bakersfield or Desert Empire Fairgrounds in Ridgecrest, I see signs that point to “California City – 19 miles” and my mind drifts back to a very special and stormy October night in 1992.

At a band meeting in the early days of Betrayal, Marcus N. Colon told the rest of us, “We have booked a show in California City, at their community center”. I thought, ‘What and where the heck is California City?” I was soon to find out…

California City is a small desert town, north of Mojave, in the middle of nowhere, but from our first show, we knew this was something special. One of the first things I heard when we arrived was that a local pastor told the parents in his church not to allow their kids to attend our show because we were really a satanic band pretending to be a Christian band! Well, the kids didn’t listen. They showed up in droves, not only from California City, but the surrounding towns as well! These kids were so thrilled an LA band was coming to them (instead of the other way around) and they let us know it! 

These shows were put together by a teenage promoter named David Priest. “I had initially caught wind that there was a youth pastor in Cal City looking to book Betrayal”, stated David. “So, I contacted him and his wife Maria to offer any help I could lend as I had been a promoter in the area for a number of years and he graciously accepted. I remember putting the flyer together and spreading the word all over the valley. Many made the hour-long drive to see this show and many others that soon followed. Cal City became a hotbed for Christian Metal in the early 90’s sometimes drawing people from many hours away, Bakersfield, L.A., etc. When the show began, I had to laugh because we didn’t have any lights except for the white stage lights and one of the kids decided to flip the switch on and off creating a strobe effect which later proved to be not approved by the band LOL!”

After that first incredible gig and how special it was, we as a band made a commitment that no matter what happened with the band or how big we got, we would always return to California City at least once a year to play a show, which we did, but nothing prepared us for that October night gig in 1992.

There was a huge storm in the forecast, but rain or shine we still made the trek. Due to the weather, the crowd was a bit lighter than a normal California City show, but that made no difference to us. In addition, we had two new members to unleash to the fans. Matt Maners and Brian Meuse made the difficult decision to leave Betrayal a couple months earlier to form The Terminal Generation, and we recruited Bob McCue and Jeff Mason, both from Hesperia, CA on guitar and drums.

We were still in our Renaissance By Death touring cycle, but had already began writing songs that would appear on our second (and final) album, “The Passing”.

With a massive thunderstorm raging outside, we began with “The Invitation” before forging ahead with our classic “More Faith Than Me”, followed by “Stroll Through a Wicked Age”, which was an incredibly difficult song for me to do live. From there we announced the premier of a brand-new song for the fans entitled, “Strength of the Innocent”. Before we could get the first drum beat out, the storm took the power out! A few moments later it came back on, and we continued playing through the new track. After that, all bets were off.

We got a little more than halfway through our next song, the epic “Escaping the Altar” and the power went out for a second time. Once the power came on, we started where we left off and continued the song, until the power went out a third and final time! 

Hearing from the Lord, Marcus turned to me, (and I’ll never forget the words that came out of his mouth) “The power is not coming back on, let’s preach and do an Altar Call.”  And that is just what we did. Several kids made the decision to follow Christ that night.  Once we ended the Altar Call and had the local youth leaders take the kids to talk and pray with them, the power immediately came back on. Christ was in control that night!

David Priest agrees. “One of the most memorable things from this show was the storm that kept knocking out the power but each time it came back on, the guys went right back into the song not missing a beat. Fantastic! When the power finally went off for good Chris immediately starts preaching and gives an altar call. I think I counted somewhere between 10-12 people getting up on stage to receive the Lord. So awesome. After the show we all had to load equipment in the rain using headlights from the vehicles to get the job done. Although the band’s set got cut short, God had his way nonetheless! What a great night!”

Whenever I share with people the Betrayal shows that stood out the most to me, this tops the list (with Utrecht, Holland a close second). I have shared this story with motorcycle riders and crew members when we’ve traveled together to tracks and passed the California City signs, and I was so pleased, after getting these dusty VHS tapes digitized, that the one labelled “California City, was in fact, this show which is presented to you now.

I watched this last night. At the 28-minute mark you can see Marcus talking to me when he heard from the Lord, and I cried like I haven’t for a while, watching these young people come onto the stage with us, to make that first commitment to be a Christian. 

David Priest was just as moved. “I just finished watching and was so moved to tears by all those who came up on stage to accept Christ. This is the fruit I love to see and need to see more of. Knowing I had a part in making this event happen and the salvation that came from it just melts my heart.”

I hope it has the same effect on you.

Authorized To Crank It UP!!

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