“I think Thursday is the best night in San Diego, honestly,” says blogger Rosemary Bystrak, who books music at the West Coast Tavern in North Park. “There’s always the most things going on then.” She explains that West Coast had been booking music a few months before she came into the picture (“the night manager ran it at first, but he was too busy”) and that the diner’s goal has since changed.
“West Coast was having successful dinner concerts, after which the people would leave. They wanted something that would keep people around a little longer,” says Bystrak.
The Howls played Bystrak’s first official gig in August. She has since booked Roadside Graves from New Jersey and Old Tiger. “It’s for the after-dinner crowd,” Bystrak says. “It’s never gonna be anything crazy, loud, or harsh.” And, she says, her Thursday nights can’t compete with her other employer’s venue. “I work at the Casbah, so I want to make sure that I don’t conflict the two. I do social media for Tim [Mays]. I do the [Casbah] Facebook and the calendar updates.”
For the past four years, Bystrak’s blog San Diego:Dialed In (sddialedin.com) has covered the indie-rock scene. Recent posts have chatted up a new online couch-surfing network for bands on the road and the rock outfit Transfer and provided coverage of the North Park Music Thing.
Bystrak met West Coast Tavern owner David Cohen last year. He says that his plans extend beyond the boundaries of the restaurant and into the adjoining 750-seat North Park Theater. “We decided to start offering local shows with the idea of booking national touring acts into the big house.” With promoter Bill Silva, Cohen booked Ghostland Observatory into the theater last year. “We’re looking at the Wiltern Theater in L.A. as our example,” he says.
According to San Diego:Dialed In, there is no cover for the West Coast Tavern shows. Music starts at 9:30. Bystrak blogs that bands interested in playing the restaurant can bring her a CD on Thursday nights.
“The people that I talk to normally through my various outlets,” says Bystrak, “are sort of the dive-bar indie-rock crowd. I think that there is a more upscale audience that maybe doesn’t want to go to a dive bar, but they do want to see indie rock. West Coast Tavern is by no means a dive bar,” she says. “It’s casual without the gritty dive-bar feel.” Cohen sums it up: “North Park is becoming like the Silver Lake district of Los Angeles.”