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Stories by Ken Leighton

Campy Kings

San Diego's drag Kings keep on keeping on

Halloween may be gone for a year, but dressing up and performing like famous singers is a nonstop pursuit for one of San Diego’s longest-running shows. “We are the oldest, continuously running drag-king show in ...

Rockstar teacher Martin Coughlin

The Martin Coughlin Band plays Company Pub in Poway on Friday, November 20

Although he was championed as “Westview’s rockstar teacher” on a campus newscast, Martin Coughlin was a high school dropout. “I got picked up by the Scottish Premier [soccer] League to play for Glasgow Celtic. I ...

Kabbs at a dollar an inch

Local garage band on their Reheated cassette etc.

Brian Clinebell, singer with the garage band Kabbs, went to SDSU to study graphic design. His art schooling got him into making ads and T-shirts for Fallen Footwear, Lurkville Skateboards, and DC Shoes. And that ...

Just in on Justin (Pearson)

The Locust, Head Wound City, Retox, janitor on the WB

Twenty years ago bassist Justin Pearson cofounded the Locust, the San Diego band known for its short, spazzy grindcore songs played by guys in insect suits. About the same time he launched Three One G, ...

This just in: Episcopal churches to be sold

“The fact that church attendance is dying in America isn’t news."

Two North County Episcopal churches, both over 60 years old, were told last week that due to declining attendance and compounding red ink, the Episcopal Diocese of San Diego has decided to fold them. The ...

The Gloomies' synthy surf trip

North County trio has a hit with "LSD"

Andy Craig likes to surf. He grew up soaking in Encinitas beach bliss. But he also needs to rock. The mellow overload caused Craig to escape to New York. “San Diego is a good surf-culture ...

Theme park celebrity

Lakeside native Natalie Emmons makes it big in Japan

Natalie Emmons’s road to becoming a Japanese pop star began with a meeting of foreign-exchange students six years ago. “I always had a fascination with Japan,” says Emmons, who was raised and still lives in ...

The Slim Shady of punk

Infidelz frontman Kelly English gets back to promoting punk in the Southland

Kelly English’s big-bang moment happened at age 12. “My dad was the high school marching band director. I had the sax, trumpet, and French horn shoved down my throat. In sixth grade I heard ‘Bodies,’ ...

Dead Man's Party can't call themselves an Oingo Boingo tribute?

Ersatz Oingo

Oingo Boingo, the musically complex octet that was the centerpiece of California ’80s new wave has been dead for 20 years. But Dead Man’s Party, an Oingo Boingo tribute band, has been a SoCal Halloween ...

Chris Cantore's real man tears

Another jock job gone, the San Diego radio veteran's got a new perspective

Right after his last morning show on modern-rock KPRI September 28, Chris Cantore and 20 co-workers were told their jobs were over. Cantore, an SDSU grad who has been on the local airwaves for two ...

The Stage Room's ready

...for San Diego singer-songwriter Tyson Motsenbocker

A Solana Beach singer-songwriter who just wrapped up a monthlong tour with Switchfoot’s Jon Foreman will be the first local headliner at the Stage Room, the UCSD venue formerly known as Porter’s Pub. Tyson Motsenbocker, ...

Party at Pier Plaza with Pepper

Brooklyn of the West

“I plan on stumbling home that night,” singer/guitarist Kaleo Wassman says about his show Friday at Oceanside’s Pier Plaza Amphitheatre. It’s five blocks from his house. Pepper moved to North County from Hawaii 16 years ...

KPRI finds Jesus

"K-Love" Christian radio format takes over KPRI 102.1 FM

“What would Jesus do? Certainly not fire 20 people.” That’s how one local radio pro joked about the transition of KPRI (102.1 FM) from a locally owned, locally programmed rock station to a contemporary Christian ...

Coconut & Canoe

TikiTronic plays bachelor pad lounge you can dance to

“We are fans of the tiki culture,” says Andy Tolley, who as Captain Coconut plays with Freddy Canoe (Rick Roessler) in TikiTronic. “We’re very retro culture. Bachelor-pad lounge mixed with space age.” It’s not Nick ...

"Cholo goth" duo gets ripped off at Riot Fest in Chicago

Stolen Prayers

“We are mostly a San Diego/L.A./New York band,” says Rafa Reyes, half of cholo goth duo Prayers. The release of their Young Gods album took them on a 14-city, three-week tour, which ended September 11 ...

Bob disrespected at Fallbrook pot bust

JAH Healing Caregivers get the SWAT-like treatment

On September 10, a Fallbrook neighborhood was woken up by a SWAT-like operation that included closed-down streets and a bashed-down door. “They had two fire trucks, two Marine tanks, and a SWAT team van,” says ...

Lucy's Fur Coat is resurrected

...and it's serious as a heart attack

When Lucy’s Fur Coat sold out a Friday/Saturday stint at the Casbah two months ago, the five guys in the band, once signed to Sony/Relativity, were getting together for the first time in seven years. ...

Woody Guthrie called it music about folks

...and Valley Center's Joel Rafael agrees, finally plays a hometown show

In 1972, folkie Joel Rafael planted roots in Valley Center, where he built a home studio, Lilac Sound. In 2000, he signed to Jackson Browne’s Inside Recordings label, which in April of this year released ...

Welcome to the Pit

...a new all-ages venue in Pacific Beach

San Diego’s newest music impresario isn’t even old enough to drive. “I wanted to promote the music I like,” Jack Habegger told the Reader last week on his 16th birthday. He co-promoted the Burger Revolution ...

No glamping at Kaaboo — say what?

Del Mar's inaugural music festival kicks off next Friday, September 18

Like La Jolla tennis instructor Rob Hagey whose love of music led him to launch the San Diego Street Scene (1984–2009) as a music industry outsider, Kaaboo creator Bryan Gordon drops into the concert business ...

University offers to foot the bill for Ché Café repairs

With the Ché on the heritage organization's endangered list, UCSD has a change of heart

After weeks of meetings between the Ché Café collective and UCSD administration, the two sides have announced an agreement that spells out specific improvements that will pave the way for the operation of the Ché ...

Gigtown stirs the pot

“Just as Uber changed transportation, we’re changing local music"

Is Gigtown a heavy-handed bully or visionary new business model? Launched as an all-purpose app to connect musicians with gigs and fans to shows, some locals are recoiling at how this aggressive startup has flipped ...

Subsurfer drops in on Electric Audio

San Diego band records with star-maker Steve Albini

Subsurfer founder Dave Montalbano got Steve Albini (Nirvana, the Pixies, the Breeders) to record his band’s fourth album. The local singer/guitarist says he picked up the phone and called Albini at Electrical Audio, the Chicago ...

Shotgun ambassador

Deejay "Shotgun" Tom Kelly goes radio silent

San Diego’s most recognized radio deejay has learned that his gig is over. After 18 years at L.A.’s classic hits station KRTH-101, Shotgun Tom Kelly was told his contract as the afternoon drive-time host would ...

Gregory Page and friends to perform free Balboa Park concert

"This is a gift from us and the city of San Diego."

While a Balboa Park centennial committee blew through $2 million before it was disbanded after coming up with nothing, a group of accomplished acoustic artists are banding together for an old-timey, low-tech, free-admission concert Saturday ...

Foreign exchange with Quel Bordel

How to tour Europe and come home with cash, and other advices from the local gypsy-rock act

Follows is some “how to” advice from San Diego band Quel Bordel. How to get a tour in the south of France and come home with money: Quel Bordel singer/guitarist Jakovich Skolnick met the band ...

Where's my robot?

Random Gibberish puts the tunes back in 'toons

There are plenty of freaks and geeks at Comic-Con, but to Matt Sernaker, who has been to every Comic-Con since he was three, the fantasy convention always comes up short in one area. “I never ...

Jumping Turtle's fire sale

North County club Jumping Turtle hits a hurdle

An auction house ad last week announced, “Complete restaurant/bar/live music venue sale!” That August 13 fire sale was at the Jumping Turtle and a surprise to the bands scheduled to perform at the venue near ...

Mrs. Mess's nightmare

Some Kind of Nightmare going through one of their own

Punk-rock veteran Cliff Cunningham takes some credit for talking Some Kind of Nightmare into a life on the road. “It was sometime in 2010 and I had just played with them at the Pier View ...

Echo Park Social Club breaks through with an Aloha song

Local band skirts radio play rules and finds themselves in heavy rotation in Hawaii and Peru

Radio doesn’t have the make-or-break power it held from the 1950s until MP3s arrived in the late ’90s. Still, nothing jumpstarts a career like a Top 40 hit. But in order to get on the ...

Music Box winding up, Avalon on the horizon

Latest news on the San Diego nightclub scene

After being dark for two-and-a-half years, the Little Italy space formerly known as Anthology has been renamed the Music Box and crews are racing to have the remodeled restaurant/bar/music venue opened in time for the ...

Bands out of storage

Storage unit companies cleaning house

Seedheads frontman Kevin Pulido says the lack of affordable practice space countywide may impact the ability of his five-man reggae band to stay together. They were just kicked out of Storage West, a San Marcos ...

Slamming with Tigers

Folk-punk band drops its latest — in a shoe store

The future of the long-threatened Ché Café now looks promising. But Soda Bar booker Cory Steirs, who booked many shows at the Ché over the years, says the on-campus club would not have made it ...

Lucy's drenched in sweat

Lucy's Fur Coat reunites for two nights at Casbah

The promise of San Diego as “the next Seattle” was never fulfilled. But that creatively fertile time was saluted with the release of the feature film It’s Gonna Blow: San Diego’s Music Underground 1986–’96. Many ...

Original San Diego punk band regroups and re-energizes

First-wave Executives

The first time I saw the Executives play was when I hired them to open for a Penetrators show I was promoting at the La Paloma Theatre in Encinitas. Lead singer Mike Jenks explains 35 ...

A weekend to remember at Casbah

Lucy's Fur Coat cancels Friday and Saturday, Dragons host rock and roll memorial on Sunday

The long awaited return of Lucy’s Fur Coat planned for this Friday and Saturday at the Casbah has been postponed. The first Lucy's show in seven years featuring all original members has been canceled due ...

Kraken's still makin' noise

Cardiff club's band schedule has been reinstated

Today’s U-T full-page-headline: LIVE MUSIC SILENCED AT KRAKEN NIGHTCLUB. Bands booked to play the seaside nightspot were told on Tuesday that their shows were cancelled indefinitely because the owner was “worried that a series a ...

San Pedro psicodélico

Border band talks about the difficulty of breaking out of TJ

“I played All My Friends three times,” says guitarist Aris Chagoya of Tijuana-based San Pedro El Cortez about the annual music fest, which was held in June near Rosarito. “Usually, it was half electronic and ...

Scene Not Heard

A second compilation from San Diego's unsung punks

“All these people said they would use our music on their comps. The problem is, those comps never came out.” That’s why longtime punker Ugly Lenny of Inciting Riots became Ugly Lenny record producer when ...

Epicentre cuts the cord

All-ages venue calls it quits in Mira Mesa

“You’re killin’ me,” says Brian Witkin, founder of Pacific Records, about the news that the venue that gave him his break in the music business was ending live shows. “I met my wife when we ...

Rock-and-roll food CHON

North County prog rockers launch European tour at the all-ages Irenic

Progressive rock, the complex, jazzy instrumental music that flourished with King Crimson and Return to Forever didn’t weather as well as other genres from the ’70s and ’80s. “I think those bands got hit with ...

Can Ché stay?

UCSD chancellor agrees to meet with Ché Collective on Wednesday

In what could be a major development in keeping the Ché Café alive, UCSD Chancellor Pradeep Khosla has for the first time agreed to meet with key members of the Ché Collective 2 p.m. Wednesday. ...

No bully pulpit

Cholo-goth duo Prayers make Pet Shop Boys tough

“I’ve been stabbed. I’ve been shot. I’ve stabbed people. People have stabbed me.” Rafa Reyes says he proudly claims the Sherman Grant Hills Park gang he joined at age 13. His street-savvy tattooed choloness mixed ...

Reggae on the Coast canceled

What's high-definition radio?

Does reggae not matter in San Diego or should the folks who run modern-rock station FM 94/9 stay out of the reggae concert business? Those were the questions being raised on June 29 when Lincoln ...

South Bay serenade

The Bassics bring the San Diego music scene to their neighborhood in Imperial Beach

What is Imperial Beach famous for? “I don’t know, [HBO’s] John from Cincinnati...Lords of Dogtown was shot at the pier,” says Bassics lead singer Sam Martinez about his hometown. “Sand Castles, I guess. But there’s ...

Blowing up the Baja stigma

Glasmus goads gringos into coming south of the border for the Fourth

As Mousiky, guitarist for Tijuana’s Glasmus, sees it, there are a couple reasons gringos should consider spending the Fourth of July in Mexico. “I hear [fireworks] all the time down here. In September, when we ...

F the Snykes

Surf-punk trio on self-promotion and the vans Battle of the Bands

The winner of Friday night’s Battle of the Bands at Soma wins a slot in this year’s San Diego Warped Tour show, August 5, in the Qualcomm Stadium parking lot. The pop-punk Snykes are one ...

Love's 'hose

North County band the Gift Machine share memories of Kurt and Courtney

Dave Matthies, the singer/guitarist for the psych-tinged indie band the Gift Machine decided he needed a cyclops monster and colorful swirls coming out of the mountains for the music video for their song “Telemetric Mayhem.” ...

Out at the Fair

Nick and Mel bring their satirical song stylings to the Del Mar Fair this year

While the Bruce Jenner story leaves many confused, Nick & Mel, a music and comedy duo, try to demystify transgenderism by breaking it down into song. “Our music is unapologetic acerbic androgyny,” says Nick Walker, ...

La Jolla millionaire goes for Denver green

Marc Paskin aims to cash in on pot ads via Colorado radio station

La Jolla publicity maven Marc Paskin has remade himself into the pied piper of pot on the public airwaves and he says he will eventually do the same in San Diego. Published reports have said ...

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