“When we first got the call, we thought it was maybe not legit.” Baron Lunbeck admits surprise at learning his band Sandollar was singled out as San Diego’s best unsigned band and thus taped for an appearance on the web TV series Indie Across America. “They sent scouts to every major city looking for talent,” says Lunbeck, who plays keyboards and sings. “They chose us,” he says, “and we’re holding it down for San Diego.”
Sandollar? “There are so many talented musicians out there that no one knows about because they aren’t signed by a big label,” Indie Across America host Dave Holmes told a reporter. “It was nice to be able to sit down and talk with these bands, watch them put on a great show, and give them the exposure they deserve.” Holmes first came onto the pop-culture radar as a runner-up on MTV’s first Wanna Be a VJ contest in 1998, a loss that he somehow parlayed into a career on television and the internet.
Lunbeck says the Sandollar band has been playing local venues since 2006. He lists North County nightclubs known to them: “Peabody’s...Yogi’s.” He says the rock/reggae/jam quintet has likewise booked into Winstons and the 710 Beach Club. “We’re still not sure how the show’s producers heard about the band. We don’t know if it was word of mouth or if they just came to a show.”
Indie Across America (“Discover America’s emerging bands one city at a time,” their marketing banner reads) shines a spotlight on eight indie bands over an eight-week period in cities including Philadelphia, Baltimore, New York, Boston, Los Angeles, and San Diego. “It was a big production,” Lunbeck remembers. “A dozen team members flew out from New York and set up in the Belly Up.” He recalls cameras on tracks across the stage, Hollywood style, and a camera mounted on a boom overhead. “They made us play the same song over and over to make sure we got it right.”
At present, Sandollar, born of high school jam sessions, is putting the finishing touches on their debut CD for San Diego–based Pacific Records. He says the title Rollercoaster Ride pretty much describes the band’s year so far. The beach rockers self-released Plane Rides and Hillsides five years ago.
The Sandollar episode, which is slotted at number six in the series, will air the week of October 28. Lunbeck says the band got paid $1000 for their Geico-sponsored appearance. He stops just short of calling the web series an infomercial for the talking lizard but admits that Indie Across America is indeed “part of their new marketing strategy to reach out to younger people.”