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Stories by Ken Leighton

Tijuana free to rock again

Mexico's back in the rock concert/festival business

Chim Arrieta Espinoza, singer/guitarist with Tijuana-based Rabbit Fever says the Mexican government has opened up to live-rock events. Arrieta has put on a number of multiband shows in small venues in TJ and San Diego ...

Latin for Wolves

Melvus keeps the voice of their dead brother alive

On June 5 the Los Angeles Times noted how bands such as the Red Hot Chili Peppers and Guns ’N Roses survive while the scenes they created 30 years ago have “withered” due to fewer ...

Pierced the radio veil

Local post-core quartet is blowing up

It pays to play well. Even if there aren’t many people there to see you. “The other day I went to the Ché Café and there were, like, ten kids there,” says singer/songwriter/guitarist Vic Fuentes ...

The Mice embrace the weird

Twenty-year punk trio and their bar the Bancroft bring a new sound to East County

The three punk Mice have been playing for 21 years. “We actually started two years before as Billy Club,” explains singer/bassist Travis Poe. “Our lead singer Matt went away to rehab and never came back. ...

I've made thousands off those idiots

San Diego artists on their Gigtown gigs

While the local booking company Gigtown remains controversial, one San Diego band and a hardcore critic are glad they’re here. Launched last year by Andy Altman with a reported $3 million investment by his father, ...

No cover, no problem for three San Diego clubs

...and the bands still get paid

Hosting original bands without a cover charge has become a successful business model at three San Diego nightspots. The owners of the Salty Frog in Imperial Beach, the Manhattan in Chula Vista, and the Pour ...

Punk band pines for "Oceanslime"

Shit Outta Luck prefers its beloved Oceanside on the gritty side

The boys in Shit Outta Luck are protective of their turf, which they say is slipping away. “We are old-school punk, and we all grew up in Oceanside,” says the drummer, proudly named One-Eyed Jew. ...

Unherd — televising the dark side

Zaragoza, Halloran, and Terich to host new locally produced music show

When pop-culture columnist Alex Zaragoza was approached about hosting a weekly TV show about music, she wasn’t sure if the guy was for real. “The first thing I said was, ‘You do know I’m not ...

A teepee for Blau

B-ball great Bill Walton lends his Balboa Park–adjacent backyard for music video shoot

While Bill Walton’s son Luke is getting all the media attention for being named the Los Angeles Lakers’ new head coach, his backyard teepee stars in a new music video. “Bill was so nice to ...

Rockers with walkers

Coachella grounds will host two Desert Trip weekends this fall

The band that once put on their own free show at Altamont with drugged-out bikers as security now rolls a little differently. Anticipated demand for the Rolling Stones (along with The Who, Neil Young, Paul ...

It's about the...baseball?

Modern-rock station FM 94/9 to broadcast Padres games starting next spring

John Reis went on FM 94/9’s local music show this past Sunday to talk about the record-release party for his local band compilation Hardcore Matinee next Sunday, May 15, at Bar Pink. The musician/producer/bar-owner, who ...

The Shadows of Nasty City

Surf-punk four-piece outgrows hip-hop high school

If you go to Sweetwater High, chances are good you are into hip-hop. “That’s just what all the kids from National City are into,” says Andy Saldana, singer/guitarist of Los Shadows. “Our area is gangster ...

Katching up with Kut U Up

The Riding in Vans with Boys band on their comeback

Chris Cote was returning from Australia last week when he says he almost triggered a biosecurity brouhaha. “I was bringing my wife back this tiny cactus in this cool little aboriginal vase when I realized ...

Sheila E. will help launch North County concert series

Grand Tradition Estate and Gardens in Fallbrook schedules "Jazz and Wine" concerts

Shelia E., the percussionist who was once Prince’s musical director, will make her first local appearance since her former fiance's death at a new North County outdoor concert series. Inspired by a sold-out David Benoit ...

Coachella perks for Prayers

San Diego's "cholo goth" duo get the star treatment

Things are different now for Rafa Reyes, the heavily inked former gangbanger from Sherman Heights who many of us know from the days when he slung veggie burritos at Pokez. “We got to meet the ...

Eat the record

Visiting North County's Spin Records on Record Store Day

Last weekend marked the seventh time Spin Records has celebrated the annual Record Store Day. “It’s our biggest day of the year,” says Ken Kosta, who brought Spin Records to Carlsbad 23 years ago. “We ...

Sale of 4th&B could mean the end of the venue

Tearing down the house?

The downtown venue that hosted James Brown, Kings of Leon, Black Eyed Peas, X, Snoop Dogg, and TV on the Radio during its 17-year run, and which was slated to be refashioned into a state-of-the-art ...

Isbelle's thrill for life

Local rock-roller Toni Isbelle dies when her car is hit by an airplane on a Fallbrook roadway

Shane Zelm was one of the couple hundred friends who paid tribute to Toni Isbelle last Monday at Skateworld in Linda Vista. Tears were flowing as fellow members of the Starlettes roller-derby team paid tribute ...

Funny openers

San Diego comic Steven Briggs discusses the comedy/music connection

Making fun of hip-hop is part of Steven Briggs’s act. “Rappers are proof that freedom of speech exists. Most of them just talk about booty...over and over. If they didn’t have a beat behind them, ...

Piano, not keyboards

Brett Harris of Wind Playing Tricks on instrumental San Diego

The recent passing of Keith Emerson underscores how keyboards don’t play as big a role in pop music as in the days when Emerson, Lake, & Palmer, Deep Purple, Yes, and Edgar Winter ruled the ...

Surf-punk Chuck

Label startup Chuck Records rides a trendy wave

Erica Buenconsejo’s father died when she was a baby. But his rock ’n’ roll spirit drives San Diego’s newest record label. “My dad had a great punk-record collection,” says Erica about her dad, Chuck Petrowsky. ...

Viejas doubles down on live music

New Viejas in the Park venue looks to draw major-name acts

Viejas Casino, the once thriving host of touring music headliners, is about to unveil a new venue that may re-establish the resort as a host for major artists. The new Viejas in the Park venue ...

Fallbrook Golf Course sale falls through

“They created a monster that didn’t need to be created.”

On March 10, the Union-Tribune headline read: “Fallbrook Golf Course Closing Monday.” The next day, owner Jack Lamberson said he wasn’t closing his course after all. Lamberson says he decided to keep the 56-year-old course ...

CodeBlue goes deep house

Local electronic artist finds more support in his bedroom

It’s the best of times, it’s the worst of times — for electronic dance music. “EDM has become so huge in San Diego that we get some of the biggest artists, like Oliver Heldens, coming ...

Fallbrook's underworld of artists

Canada band Daring Greatly finds a new home in North County

It was a book about making bold life choices that inspired Dail Croome to quit his job, sell his house, and hit the road with his two sons and two other musicians. Croome: “I had ...

Promoters of the local dream

Radio shows as career-launching platforms

Tim Pyles loves Sundays. That’s when he gets to play the local bands that excite him... on 100,000 watts. “The Schizophonics…the Sesh…Adam from Burning of Rome…the Prayers, even though they are controversial. [Front man] Rafa ...

Surreal Vokabulary

Local hip-hop jam band goes genreless

“We were just outside of Ferndale, Washington, when the wheel from our Thomas the Train trailer completely flew off and shot a hundred feet in the air,” says Vokab Kompany vocalist Matt “Burkey” Burke. The ...

Switchfoot has left the building

...but their Bro-Am studio/performance space stays vital in Encinitas

After one year of operating the Bro-Am Studios, Encinitas’ multiplatinum band Switchfoot has moved on from their 600-square-foot practice studio/performance space on Highway 101. The space shared the name of the band’s annual Bro-Am Surf ...

Mr. Buck's Full Contact bric-a-brac

Davit Buck sets up shop selling rock-and-roll oddities

Some people know Davit Buck for fronting such wild and woolly local bands as Jack Septic, Bad Apples, Mother Russia, Subterranean Horses, Mother Bitch, and John Wayne Gacy Daycare. The only band name that caused ...

San Diego tube amped over SoundDiego TV

“Daye was just a huge music fan who was out and about and going to shows all the time.”

Note to music fans who want to get on TV: it pays to be seen at shows. Or at least it did for the host of SoundDiego, the weekly half-hour music-and-interview show that is starting ...

If you like Bernie, you'll want Caballero

Council District 7 candidate's headquartered on his kitchen table

Jose Caballero has no problem that his race to unseat incumbent Republican Scott Sherman in city council District 7 isn’t thought to be “contested.” He says the media, pundits, and political bosses all seem to ...

The fresh and weird Anya Marina

One-time San Diego DJ and coffee-shop-pop singer makes good in the big city

Anya Marina is a singer/songwriter who got her start in San Diego but has moved on. On to releasing four studio albums and opening for national acts such as Chris Isaak, Jason Mraz, and Paolo ...

Newspaperless Oceanside

Union-Tribune vacates office, heads east to San Marcos

For the first time in over 130 years, Oceanside will not be home to a newspaper office. At the end of this month, the Union-Tribune is moving out of its leased headquarters in Oceanside and ...

He got bikers to go against me

Sickstring Outlaws learn about band brotherhood the hard way

A gooey mess regarding band finances led to an ugly departure of a four-year member and some malicious slurs between bandmates including “thief” and “deadbeat.” Singer/guitarist Ron Houston founded the Sickstring Outlaws 12 years ago. ...

Bands for Bernie

San Diego bands lineup at WorldBeat in Balboa Park to back Bernie Sanders

The five organizers of Saturday’s fundraiser for presidential hopeful Bernie Sanders are amateurs. They have never promoted a music event or fundraiser before. “We did a [pro-Bernie] rally called ‘Enough Is Enough’ at the fountain ...

GNR in their DNA

The Montell Jordans put the rock back in party rock

For the Montell Jordans, news that Guns N’ Roses is regrouping at Coachella could go either way. “I know that time in history will never be re-created,” says guitarist Ryan Baghai. “But we want to ...

Fallbrook Golf Course headed for the rough?

Nearby residents fear potential sale will lead to abysmal conditions

“Look at these pictures. It’s shocking. Does that look like rehabilitated wetlands to you?” Retired Fallbrook elementary school teacher Joan McConnell had just returned on Sunday (January 24) from the site of the former San ...

Zaraguey is the cat

The Donald is the rat

Eight years ago Cuban musicians who played bars and restaurants in Ensenada told me that while they enjoyed playing for visiting gringos, they were forbidden from crossing the border and playing for them in the ...

Donut panic, the music and vegan doughnuts are back

...after a five-month closure due to vehicular store slaughter

A driver plowing into the building and wall-punching punks can’t stop the music at a Grantville doughnut shop. After a five month remodeling, the reopened Donut Panic segues from punk to Persian this Sunday. Linda ...

Slayed by Slashes

Borderland goth-rock band slashing its way into San Diego music scene

Esteban Rene admits this Saturday’s venue of choice isn’t the usual place for a live rock show. La Bodega is located in a converted church in Barrio Logan. “They don’t have a real setup for ...

Independent internet radio stations stifled by fees

New royalty fees may be too much for smaller operations, like the local richbroradio.com

A new royalty rate fee went into effect January 1 based on a ruling by the Copyright Royalty Board. It impacts all U.S. internet radio stations that play music and snuffed one popular station. “Rates ...

The talent follows Michael Pritchard

Former Anthology talent-buyer now booking shows for Humphreys Backstage Live

Anthology gave Michael Pritchard the opportunity to establish himself as a talent buyer during its 2007–2012 run. By bringing artists such as Natalie Cole, Wynton Marsalis, India Arie, and Michael Buble to the Little Italy ...

Wyatt's return

Young blues phenom Wyatt Lowe back in San Diego for a weekend of shows

Teenaged blues guitarist Wyatt Lowe was on a roll three years ago when he and his band the Youngbloods played the House of Blues, Gator by the Bay, and Adams Avenue Street Fair. But in ...

Nerdy New Year!

NerdCon collective throws a 24-hour New Year's Eve party in Escondido

One of the breakout entertainment success stories of 2015 was a one-day geek-rock festival called NerdCon. Think low-budget Comic-Con with live bands. The first-ever NerdCon, held in August at Escondido’s Center for Performing Arts, drew ...

Goodbye Bieber, hello AC/DC!

Jack is dead, long live 100.7 FM and the DSC show

After admitting that the music “sucked” on his own radio station, Dave Rickards, anchor for the Dave, Shelly, and Chainsaw morning show, announced in a pre-recorded statement Saturday morning that his station, long-known as Jack-FM, ...

Weatherbox on tour with Satan

"It was very painful. I had to go to a mental hospital for a while.”

Weatherbox founder Brian Warren explains why his fans would appreciate Entertainment Law, one of the three bands opening for him Sunday at the Ché Café. “They have three ex-Boxists.” There are three ex-members of Weatherbox, ...

The show can't go on

“I asked him if everything was okay. He said no, and he just fell backwards.”

Past San Diego shows that turned serious as a coronary.

'Tis the season to be nasty

Radio-show hosts have giggles over plight of downtown's homeless

While some local radio stations celebrate the holidays with non-stop Christmas music, hosts on the morning show of Channel 8’s sister station KFMB (AM 760) had their own take on providing yuletide cheer. KFMB’s Armstrong ...

Grizzly Business finds alternative venues

Local band offers new pop-rock and a few odd spots to play it

The obvious item on the how-to-get-gigs list would be: make good music. That became clear to Grizzly Business when they put out the catchy pop tune “Rich Girls” in February. “After it came out we ...

Sam Outlaw goes whole hog for country

Poway native didn't/doesn't get his hometown's penchant for pop-punk

When he attended Poway High in the late ’90s, music didn’t mean that much to Sam Morgan. For starters, he was raised in a conservative Christian household that didn’t permit rock music indoors. And even ...

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