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“There is no single person who has the juice to book major acts [at 4th&B],” says an insider who suggests that the 1500-capacity venue has created the best business plan it could, considering the competition; unlike the Belly Up, House of Blues, or ’Canes, 4th&B will not have its own in-house talent buyer or promotion staff. It is now a for-rent venue, available to outside promoters who are willing to pay rental, security, and production costs up front. The house will keep all receipts from the bar, while the renter gets the door.

The insider speculates that 4th&B owner Ali Nilforushan may see the arrival of the Hard Rock Café’s new 800-seat venue as increased competition, prompting him to step back from the financial commitment required to promote shows.

“I hear [Hard Rock Café has] already booked Black Eyed Peas,” says the source. “The Hard Rock will get a lot of major-name acts, and that’s just one more competitor.” (House of Blues is a block away from 4th&B.)

4th&B general manager Harlteen Stamps Jr. says AEG, Live Nation, and radio station KIFM have booked the venue to host shows by such artists as Blake Shelton, Richard Elliot, and Bob Saget.

“We just had Legendas de Banda and Rodrigo y Gabriela [which were booked by independent promoters],” says Stamps. “Those shows were packed.”

Regarding the club’s past success booking Latin artists and DJ headliners, Stamps says, “The market has become pretty crowded. DJs or promoters who might be looking to come here might think that if they come here and we do 300 or 400, the place looks pretty empty.” He says the much smaller On Broadway or Stingaree are now the DJ destination venues of choice, but he would welcome dance or electronica promoters.

— Ken Leighton

Grammy Slammy As I Lay Dying’s song “Nothing Left” earned a 2008 Grammy nomination for Best Metal Performance. One band member refused to attend the February 10 ceremony, while the others decided to go.

“I am not able to have even my wife come with me unless I pay $600 for her seat,” posted singer Tim Lambesis on the band’s blog a few days before the ceremony. “Our label, management, and parents can’t go unless they pay $300 for seats that are nowhere near where we sit. Basically, all the people that deserve to enjoy this ‘special’ moment along with the band are unable to do so.…

“Not only is some out-of-touch elite committee telling us what they think good music should be, but then they try to make the artists they nominate pay a ridiculous amount for the event.…”

Guitarist Nick Hipa attended, posting this explanation on his blog:

“I don’t think it’s right to demonize the Grammy society. They’re not telling us what is and isn’t good music, I think they’re casting votes on who is doing what they do well, or maybe standing out the most. Now, obviously they all don’t know much about metal, because I can’t think of a single awesome thing [co-nominees] King Diamond or Slayer did this year.

“I do think it’s unfortunate that we would have to pay such large amounts of money to bring guests.… I understand Tim’s reasoning not to go, our opinions on the matter differ, but I harbor no ill-will or bitterness towards him. Only respect for standing by his convictions.”

Slayer won the Best Metal Performance Grammy.

— Jay Allen Sanford

Fing and a Prayer Fing, a North Park electronic/funk/rock band, released their 11-song CD Making Love with Fear last year. The insert features a photo of each band member, including bassist James Balmer, who is pictured in a hospital bed.

“I met James at the ashram at Pacific Beach,” says lead singer Pascal Dickinson. “He was a Hare Krishna devotee. He lived there for three years. We both worked at Dr. Jefe’s [piercing studio] from 1999 to 2000.”

The two played in a local rap-core band named Swan. Dickinson decided he was finished with the Tool school of rock in 2005 and formed Fing with guitarist Brannon Blosser. Bassist Balmer followed Dickinson. After a December 2006 Fing show at the Alibi, life changed for Balmer and Dickinson.

“These two girls asked if they could get a ride home with James and I. We said sure. I asked Angie if she wanted to sit in the front and she said no.… We took the off-ramp from north 163 near Washington Street. I think there was some confusion whether we should take 8 east or 8 west. We hit a dip, and the car started spinning.”

The accident left the other female passenger with minor injuries. “It killed Angie.… It gave me a concussion and a severe whiplash.… It put James in a coma for 18 days. He suffered axon shearing; that’s where your brain twists inside. It sheared nerve endings that control his motor skills. They thought he was going to die.”

Balmer recuperated at Sharp Cabrillo Skilled Nursing Center for six months before moving to his parents’ house in San Marcos.

“His speech is severely inhibited. It’s hard for him to pronounce words sometimes.… He comes down and stays with me on weekends. We’re planning on him moving in with my girlfriend and I when he gets a little better.”

On February 11, Balmer was sentenced for his involvement in the accident.

“He pleaded guilty to vehicular manslaughter. He received a $10,000 fine, three years’ probation, and 500 hours of community service. They don’t consider him a flight risk.”

Dickinson says part of the accident report was not true.

“The CHP reported that he had above a .08 alcohol reading, but they never tested him. They just wrote it in there. Neither he nor I drank that night. They found THC in his system from two weeks earlier, when he was in Amsterdam.”

Dickinson says Balmer cowrote songs on the CD.

“He recorded all the bass lines before the accident.… People don’t know what is up with that picture [on the CD art]. I wanted him to know…his spot in the band is reserved for him until he says he can’t or won’t resume the position.”

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Josh Board Feb. 24, 2008 @ 1:49 a.m.

HOMEGROWN ALERT: I saw two Homegrown albums at the Music Trader off of Sports Arena (Midway). I believe they were being sold for $5. I know often times, people ask where they can find them.


brookebarrows Feb. 11, 2009 @ 9:49 a.m.

"these two girls"....these two girls were my best friends for many many years.....one in which you had been screwing.....james was tested for drinking two hours after the accident by blood test in the hospital and tested positive.....i have a twenty plus page report of the accident from the police investigation....you guys are two unsensitive bastards.....james KILLED my best friend, Angie, and recieved community service....what the hell....no jail time....this is so wrong....not only wrong...he has never apologized to angie's parents, sisters, or brothers....nor did anyone send anything to her FUNERAL!.....you make me sick....if their is any Karma in this world james will remain in a wheelchair and worthless for the rest of his life.....Screw BOTH OF YOU!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


brookebarrows Feb. 11, 2009 @ 4:08 p.m.

apparently there is a dispute with wether or not james was drinking....but does it really matter.....he was driving over 120mph with three other passengers in the car....taking everyone's life in his own hands.....he needs to take responsibility for his actions....


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