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“After seven and a half years hosting Lestat’s open mike,” says MC Isaac Cheong, “I stepped down so I could take an opportunity to work in Sydney, Australia.”

Performers who cut their teeth at Lestat’s during Cheong’s tenure include the Wrong Trousers, Rob Deez, Josh Damigo, Mal Hall, Kenny Eng, Greg Laswell, and Dat Phan.

“It was a very difficult decision to leave,” says Cheong, “but Sydney is a great city. Imagine taking San Francisco and putting it in San Diego’s climate. The music scene isn’t as widespread as in San Diego, but there are some talented musicians out here.”

Before departing, Cheong recorded his own debut, The Shopping Cart, under the name She Blonde Swede. “I did it over five days in coproducer Aaron Bowen’s living room in La Mesa, literally days before I moved to Australia. I played just about every instrument, except for drums and bass. Aaron played lap steel, some lead guitar, and backing vocals. Kelsea Little and Joseph Lorge of the Wrong Trousers backed me up on the song ‘Loving You,’ and there’s also a choir of local musicians on the track ‘Haunted.’ ”

Cheong will return to town for the record-release show on Friday, October 9, at Lestat’s.

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