Alex Woodard band
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One night I went to two different parties at opposite ends of the spectrum. The first was at a giant house at the Coronado Cays that had a back yard on the water with a boat dock. The second was at a small bar in South Park crammed with college film students. One would have bottles of fine wine to go with the beer they had, the other had beers on tap and beer on the floor from where a few rowdy guys spilled their suds.

When I arrived at the first party in Coronado, I couldn’t believe the houses in the neighborhood. It was harder to believe that this house wasn’t even being lived in. It was Candice’s parents’ “summer home.” She said, “I usually throw a few parties here. We have bands play on the roof deck.” On the first floor, they had a catering company serving up Mexican food. The view was incredible. I saw a gondola go by, and somebody asked, “Are we in Venice?” His friend replied, “I think those are from Loews Resort.”

Catered food

With the caterers’ setup, the beer, tables, and 20 people, it was starting to get crowded. I was told by Wendy, who put on the party with Candice and a few others, “We’ll be having the music upstairs. Just come up when you’re done eating.”

The spiral stairs led up to one floor, and I stopped to take in the view. I would still have to walk up another flight before getting to the roof. And when another couple was walking down, we realized there wasn’t room for both of us to pass.

When I got up to the deck, it looked like Woodstock. People were sitting on blankets. There was a beautiful fireplace that a few ladies were sitting next to. I heard Candice tell somebody to get some hot apple cider. That sounded good, but I had already staked out a good place to watch the band. I didn’t want to trek back down those stairs. She was telling others, “I have extra blankets if you need one.”

The first performer was Cary Pierce. He was in a band called Jack O’Pierce that was big on the East Coast, and even appeared on Rosie O’Donnell’s show. He showed a great sense of humor with his song lyrics and stories. He said, “This is one of the top five gigs I’ve ever played. This place is beautiful.” He then went on about how the backstage area at the Belly Up Tavern sucks, and you feel like you’re in somebody’s office, and you have to dodge the empty kegs. Pierce’s song lyrics had funny lines like “I can’t call and hang up on you/Because of caller ID.”

There was a helicopter pilot and instructor from the base at Coronado. He said, “When I found out Cary was playing here, I had to come. I have a briefing at 5:30 in the morning, but I used to watch this guy when I was in college back East. My wife is into him also, but she couldn’t make it today.”

Candice told me they were only going to invite a few acts but ended up having so many more. It looked like there were over a hundred people here. I saw a jar that said “donations,” and asked Candice later if that even remotely helps her cover the cost of how expensive this whole thing must be to put on. She said, “We got $201 in donations, and that went for the food only.”

Candice got onstage before the next singer and reminded people to keep their cell phones off, “unless your wife is at home pregnant or something.”

Cary Pierce played solo, but when Alex Woodard performed, he had a fiddle player, a guitarist, and bassist. His drummer is in the popular band Fountains of Wayne, and they’re out touring. Alex did a version of “Always on My Mind” that was the most beautiful I have ever heard (sorry, Elvis). He sounded like a combination of Springsteen and Dylan, but with a better voice. He did some great cover songs, including “Peaceful Easy Feeling,” which his fellow Encinitas resident Jack Tempchin wrote. He also segued into Dylan’s “All Along the Watchtower” during one of his tunes. Another great tune talked about “laying awake, wasting away/with Sinatra and Billie Holiday.”

There was only one bad seat on the roof. Since the area was packed, a couple had to sit against a wall by a hose. Their friend said, “You guys are snuggled up next to a hose.” She replied, “Who are you calling a ho?” One lady said, “Are you the reporter here? You’re going to write about this party? Just make sure it’s not a lame party review like Burl Stiff writes for the Union-Tribune. All he does is list people at the parties, and not what actually happens at them.”

As I was leaving, two of that woman’s friends were on the street yelling into a cell phone at the cab that got lost trying to find the party. They were going to the airport, so I gave them a lift. One said, “I fly into town for this party; it’s that cool. Now we have to go back to Scottsdale.”

The gal in the backseat said, “Are you going to write that you took us to the airport?” I said, “If I do, I’m going to change it to say it was two blonde stewardesses, and that I joined the Mile High Club.” The blonde in the front laughed, and the brunette said, “Why can’t you say we work at Bank of America? And why can’t I be brunette? A voluptuous brunette.”

Since this party ended around 8:30, despite the quick detour to the airport, I still had time to go to the party that some film students at SDSU put on at the Whistle Stop Bar.

Gavin Allen

Gavin Allen told me, “It’s called Brew and View. They’re movies that are perfect to drink to.” I was surprised how packed the place was. The bar had rows of seats set up like a movie theater. There were well over a hundred people here. The first film was called Glaadiator [sic]. It was a gay take on the movie Gladiator, and it was quite funny. The film was a finalist in the Berlin International Film Festival and has played in over 60 film festivals around the world. Not bad for the $13,000 the flyer said was spent to make it.

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