Justin Werner is an folk-rock-blues one man band who moved to San Diego from Boston, MA. "I started out at around 15 years old in Boston as a subway musician with my older brother Thomas," he told the Reader. "My brother and I decided California was the best place to pursue music, so we moved out here as soon as we could in 1999. I was turning 20 and Tom was 32."
The siblings soon found themselves at Mission Beach, performing "Operator" by Jim Croce for a small audience. "We moved into a hotel downtown and got right to work finding gigs and jobs. We played anywhere and everywhere that we could. Within our first week of being in San Diego, Channel 8 News captured footage of us playing 'Cat's In The Cradle' by Harry Chapin on the boardwalk in Mission Beach for Memorial Day as a part of the festivities. That definitely kept us motivated."
The duo recorded an album and made a couple more TV appearances on Channel 8 News with Pat Gaffy, then KUSI Channel 9 for the early morning program in 2000. "We called ourselves Sparin' Change and we titled our first album Sitting Pretty With Mr. Paradise. It was an album about the trials and tribulations of being a starving artist."
After his brother relocated back to the east coast, Werner became a member of Old Man Hands, the Chad Farran Band, Space Shag, Western Collective, Awakening Magic, and Jalopy Street Orchestra.
"In 2008, I formed a band with my good friend Pauli Kipling, aka DJ Apaulo8. We called the band 3rd Borough and were fortunate enough to start working with Mark Boyce from G Love & Special Sauce." The band recorded their first self-titled album in 2009 (released 2010), with guests including G Love, Chali 2na (Jurassic 5), Killah Priest (Wu Tang Clan), C Money and Dela (Slightly Stoopid), DJ Dez (Slum Village), Main Flow (Mood), Nikila Mama Wisdom and Taylor Maiden Space (Goddess Alchemy Project), Gabe Feenberg (Old Man Hands), MC James Dove Mosis, and Chad Farran and Chris McGreal of Superunloader.
Werner has also recorded with Main Flow (in 2010 and 2014) and Lou Evans (2015). He formed a new group called the Western Collective in 2014 with San Diego songwriters Fast Heart Mart, Trent Hancock, Chad Farran, and Jamie Shadowlight. Their first album Hearts and Dreams was nominated for a 2015 San Diego Music Award.
Werner began recording and performing solo. In early 2017, his song "Without a Bang" was heard in the Sharon Stone film Running Wild. Other Werner songs have been heard in films like Dark House and The Wanderers, the webTV show Good Medicine, and the documentary Hope for Haiti.
A new band debuted in 2017, Escape Door, featuring Werner on guitar, harmonica, and lead vocals, with Ross Hendler (from Werner's 2013-2014 band Spaceshag, as well as Jalopy Street Orchestra) on bass and backup vocals, and Josh Benz (Reed Street Sessions) on drums. The group debuted March 11, 2017, at Winstons in Ocean Beach.