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Stories by Ken Leighton

Rest in peace, Boss Lady

Talent buyer, club owner Anilee Griffin passes away at 35

Anilee Griffin, known to many punk and metal musicians as the tattooed music lover who hired bands at Hensley’s Flying Elephant in Carlsbad, Brick by Brick in Bay Park, and who owned and operated the ...

Electric Fallbrook

Electric Elms' country roots

Ian Logue says he and his dad plan to attend the “Last Waltz 40 Tour,” a tribute to the Band (with Dr. John, Warren Haynes, and Don Was) next month at Harrah’s Casino. “When I ...

Bob Lights

"Underhero" of the San Diego music scene asks for help and gets it

“It started as a joke,” says veteran rock jock Mike Halloran about the fundraising concert he’s spearheading for a fellow veteran of the local music scene. “I announced on Facebook that Chris Cantore, Steven Woods, ...

Creature marinade

Super Groupies out, Creature Canyon in

Austin Steele learned the hard way that it’s hard to play pop music in San Diego. “There is no scene for our music at all,” the singer/songwriter told the Reader three years ago about his ...

Community vibe

Lou Niles hopes to see clubs go back to all kinds of music, like Haight Ashbury in the ’60s and ’70s, and L.A. in the ’80s.

Few locals have more music biz experience than Lou Niles. As the host of 91X’s all local Loudspeaker show when San Diego was considered the next Seattle (1988–1996), Niles was the first to play Jewel, ...

I was enthralled

Hilary Chambers' list of favorite SD bands matters

Next month will mark 20 years in San Diego radio for Hilary Chambers. Now holding down the midday DJ gig on 91X, she is also that station’s music director. Since you are responsible for what ...

That nice homey feel

Sam Chammas shares the nooks and crannies of East County

Sam Chammas, the co-owner (with Joe Austin) of the Live Wire and Whistle Stop is part of San Diego’s roots-rock era of the 1980s and ’90s led by the Beat Farmers and Mojo Nixon but ...

Talk about doing something with nothing

Cory Stier has come a long way from Pistola

Starting with his Granite Hills High band Pistola, Cory Stier went on to play drums in Weatherbox, Mrs. Magician, and the Cults. This month marks his seventh year booking the Soda Bar. Where’s the best ...

Rasta redemption

Local radio rediscovers reggae

The positive vibrations championed by Bob Marley are not exactly what’s driving the increase in reggae airtime on local airwaves. A few weeks ago, 91X brought back Brunch with Bob and Friends. The 10 a.m.-to-noon ...

Embracing our Asian-ness

T. Rexico revisits Southern California's suburban '60s

There is nothing Mexican about T. Rexico...and they don’t sound anything like T. Rex. “Yeah, I know who they are,” says guitarist Thomas Souvannaraph. “They’re that glam band. It’s just a name our bassist Bryce ...

Cardiff shreds

Camp Shred hits the beach on March 11 and 12

It was never this good in Beach Blanket Bingo. Kut U Up’s singer/bassist Chris Cote assembled the lineup for Camp Shred, a combination campout, beach party, music fest, and surf-industry demo held at the Cardiff ...

Whiskey practice with the Ass Pocket Fellas

These guys played Cameron Crowe's Ridgemont (Clairemont) High

The Clairemont High rock scene honored in Cameron Crowe’s Fast Times at Ridgemont High lives on, more or less, in the eight-piece rollicking Irish-rock band Ass Pocket Whiskey Fellas. “We’re all from Clairemont,” says guitarist ...

Wussification of music

Squinty-eyed Clint Westwood rides into town this week

Clint Sobolik’s latest project takes on the nickname he picked up in his last band, the Whiskey Avengers. “I squint a lot and I’m a man of few words, so I guess I just gravitated ...

Drummer's revenge

Caskitt kills the frontman, sings from behind the kit

There aren’t many bands with lead singers who drum. The list includes “Phil Collins, Don Henley, [the Band’s] Levon Helm, and the guy from the Romantics. I watched all the biographical documentaries on those guys. ...

Big wall realities

Mexican-American artist Cruz Radical on thumping Trump with punk

The October record-release show for Cruz Radical’s self-titled album at the Whistle Stop had one snafu: no vinyl. “We held out hope until the last minute they would show up. Part of it was our ...

Saturday night in San Diego

The chance for local musicians to get TV face time just got better

Tonight in San Diego, a Tonight Show-type variety show that has appeared on various cable outlets over its two-year history, has just been picked up by CW6, which will air it Saturdays at 11 p.m. ...

Numbers aren't lion at 91X

Alt-rock flagship station fires another program director in ratings woes

After “Shotgun” Tom Kelly, Mike Halloran may be San Diego’s best known rock-radio DJ. According to one friend, Halloran is doing now what he usually does when he loses a radio gig. “He’s out riding ...

Muslim no more

Former Muslims/Soft Packer Matt Lamkin celebrates a record-release this week

Ten years ago the Muslims were one San Diego’s most promising bands. Founders Matt Lamkin and Matty McLoughlin renamed themselves the Soft Pack and moved to L.A. The stripped-down indie-rock band put out two records ...

More changes at FM-94/9

Cantore + Woods morning show is off the air

It’s been a bad month for San Diego radio veterans. Mike Halloran, who started at 91X in 1986 and went on to work at four other local alt-rock stations, was dismissed as afternoon DJ and ...

Putting the new in Newport

O.B. bar Holding Company steps out of the neighborhood's stereotype

Keeping the O.B. vibe intact was a priority when Noodle House owner Steve Yeng bought the beach bar Gallagher’s and renamed it the Holding Company last May. After all, that was the name of the ...

Come on in, Daring Greatly, now go home

Canada band blocked from U.S. work visas forced to take the show on the road

For their Whisky a Go-Go show January 7, Daring Greatly brought along two busloads of fans. “They brought 100 people who each paid $50 to go up and see them play in Hollywood,” says promoter ...

Modern Me scores a direct hit

Fallbrook indie rockers toss their disc into the 91X ring and hit Halloran

Adam Lamah is the frontman for Modern Me, a six-piece indie-rock band from Fallbrook that’s been compared to the 1975. In an attempt to get radio play for Modern Me’s new single, “Waters,” Lamah called ...

Vinyl in the pink

Western Settings' Will Castro talks about his La Escalera Records and the good news for vinyl sellers

Will Castro lives and dies by the pressing plants that make the vinyl releases for his local label La Escalera Records. Demand for vinyl keeps increasing. But turnaround time is getting worse. Castro says it ...

San Diego music news year in review

The Reader's top music stories of 2016

Arriving in 2016: Local gypsy rockers Quel Bordel launched a 35-artist, four-stage Gypsy Fest at the Jacumba Hot Springs nudist colony in August. It returns June 10. Maybe the most unlikely of venues debuted when ...

Jefferson Jay, every day for 365 days straight

San Diego troubadour talks sports-song parodies and the parody-worthy Chargers

When South Bay rap/rockers P.O.D. played to thousands at a 2008 Chargers rally/concert before a post-season game outside Qualcomm, lead singer Sonny Sandoval proudly belted out the lyrics to “San Diego Chargers Anthem” with homer ...

Crash Worshipper John Goff talks Noise

San Diego's Goff and Shepard Fairey getting radio play with "Little Lions"

According to former Crash Worship member John Goff, everyone knew there was no future for his band after Great White’s 2003 Rhode Island nightclub gig that ended with 100 fans dead from a raging fire ...

Aquile — a son is born

Voice contestant talks life after reality TV

Carlsbad-based singer/songwriter Aquile watched last week’s season finale of The Voice. It was the first time he’s seen an episode since he appeared on the chair-spinning talent show in 2012. “It can get hard to ...

First one's free at Blowhole studio

Record-maker Scott Lehman's got plans for bands on a budget

Scott Lehman left Canada a year ago when his wife got a plum job as a cancer researcher at Salk Institute. The guitarist/keyboardist had spent three years in Acronycal, a Foo Fighter-ish band that had ...

Josh Kmak on the mend

Garage-rocker reaches out in depression, finds salient support on social media

Josh Kmak says his commitment to making music both helped and hurt him through a very dark time. The multi-instrumentalist singer/songwriter sits in occasionally with the Schizophonics and has played with the New Kinetics. He ...

Prayers for the Sioux

Cholo-goth singer Rafa Reyes visits Standing Rock

Prayers frontman Rafa Reyes was one of many musicians among the thousands protesting the Dakota Access Pipeline near Bismarck, North Dakota. “I didn’t tell anybody. I just woke up the day after Thanksgiving and took ...

Anti-Trump spitting

Cypher at the Hostel welcomes rapping world travelers

The aggro spirit present in many rap lyrics bubbled up when an impromptu curbside verbal battle between two local crews got physical outside the Tower Bar in May of 2013. Don’t expect any inter-artist aggression ...

Music scene emerging in Tijuana's southern neighbor

Ensenada rocks DIY

Maybe the best sign that Ensenada’s music scene is starting to get active is that its world-famous strip joint just shifted gears. Drummer Jehovah Boggeano says Anthony’s was around way before he moved to Ensenda ...

And the winner is...

San Diego Music Awards back on at House of Blues

Kevin Hellman says he was convinced to come back and resurrect the San Diego Music Awards, which will be held March 21 at the House of Blues downtown. Hellman told the Reader two weeks ago ...

Kids still get a hardcore voice

San Diego teens pick up where their big brothers' bands left off

Take Offense lead guitarist Greg Cerwonka says playing at Saturday’s hardcore five-band mosh-fest is just part of the circle of punk-rock life. “When we were younger we would see older bands we looked up to,” ...

Late life for the San Diego Music Awards

After being announced it was off for 2016, the awards are back on

It was announced on 91X’s Loudspeaker show November 6 that the San Diego Music Awards was taking a year off this year with hopes to return next year. Through November 7 the SDMA website was ...

Vintage vinyl victory

Beat Box Records in Barrio Logan turns two

Access Hip Hop in P.B. and Beat Box Records serve the hip-hop community from different angles. Access sells new hip-hop albums by current artists. Beat Box sells the 40- and 50-year-old soul, jazz, and funk ...

Hip-hop believin'

Rapper Biggie Babylon's "Small Town Girl" scores a hit with a Journey riff

In 2006 local Iraqi-American rapper Timz got national attention when his anti-war video got him exposure on Fox News. “From there it went viral,” says Alvin Shamoun, who, like Timz, was also a member of ...

Pirate promotion

Orange County–based concert promoter John Reese doesn’t want to take on the "two behemoths"

A former bouncer who launched his own security company and then parlayed his concert access into a gig as the tour manager for Guns ’N Roses, penetrated San Diego’s closed-shop concert business. “I think its ...

SeaBase — all about that bass

All-star all-bass San Diego band covers all bases — lead, rhythm, utility?

Tom Perry hates it that the bass player gets ignored. “Usually you can’t even remember the bass player’s name. But ladies love the bass. Can you imagine...when we play it’s three times the estrogen.” Perry, ...

Ms. Moz

Tijuana No's Ceci Bastida reimagines Morrissey

Ceci Bastida fronted ska-punk band Tijuana No, considered by many to be Tijuana’s most successful band. Between 1989 and 2000 Tijuana No toured the U.S. and Mexico and released three albums, spearheading Tijuana’s thriving ska ...

The Bulbs: high-watt rock

Borderland band joins SoundDiego at Blonde Bar

Anytime the Bulbs rehearse or play a show, border crossings are involved. Two of the Bulbs live in the U.S. The other two live in Tijuana. “I guess you could say we are a bi-national ...

Keeping up with the Kinmans

San Diego punk originals the Dils now do blues-rock with new outfit Ford Madox Ford

Don’t expect the Dils to throw a 40th-anniversary show honoring the birth of punk in San Diego. Along with Chula Vista’s Zeros, Carlsbad’s Dils created local punk from scratch. Because of their leftist tunes like ...

Alternative air

“Millennials who care about hipness aren’t going to listen to traditional radio anyway.”

San Diego does not seem to be able to support two alternative stations. In the latest Nielsen ratings, FM-94/9 was again in a sorry 18th place among all local stations while 91X was even worse ...

Status Ché

The latest from the UCSD campus collective that was on the brink of expulsion

Jorge Arriaga, guitarist with hardcore band Frontside, is a volunteer with the Ché Café Collective, which oversees UCSD’s food café and music venue. He attends the Monday-night meetings when the Collective decides which shows get ...

Soma gets wet

After 30 years, the all-ages place opens up some beer space

After 30 years as an alcohol-free establishment, Soma, the all-ages rock venue that played a role in launching local bands Blink-182 and Pierce the Veil, just hosted its first show serving beer. Soma owner Len ...

Quartyard concept

Urban venue loses its space but finds its way

Good news: you get a 30,000-square-foot lot of prime downtown real estate to hold events. Bad news: the East Village property is so in demand that plans are afoot to plop a highrise on the ...

Grand Daddy Purp will be protected

Marijuana — the new legal specialty

Oceanside attorney David Branfman has no doubt that marijuana will become legal for recreational use statewide in November. He is so sure that he has already reconfigured his four-person law practice anticipating what seems to ...

A flamenco twist

Jimmy and Enrique give popular rock the Latin treatment

Jimmy Patton plays a nylon-stringed guitar. Enrique Platas handles percussion (cajon and bongos) and while the duo is primarily instrumental, when Platas sings, he sings in Spanish. Their seven-year-old flamenco White Stripes act has served ...

Sheila E. and her own drum

Latin percussionist talks Prince, Fallbrook set

Latin percussionist/bandleader Sheila E.’s local connections are deep. Uncle Javier helped bring punk to San Diego when he launched the Zeroes in 1976. Uncle Mario has long been a vital part of the rock scene ...

La Jolla snuffs out its 33-year-old Concerts by the Sea series

Nonprofit team thinks, Make them miss us

Having La Jolla in your name can choke your bottom line. “They think that everyone in La Jolla is rich and they can charge us whatever they want.” Ron Jones was one of the ten ...

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