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Capital T The SDMAs

Heads have been scratched, queries have been made: folks wanna know more about “The San Diego Music Awards” that tops the Casbah bill on March 29. “Truthfully, it’s not much different than an extension of Creedle,” said guitarist-vocalist Devon Goldberg last week of his latest band. He’ll head west from his home in Queens once again to play wide-ranging arty rock/jazz/metal/film-score-ish music in SD (and miss hosting his Sunday soundtrack specialty program Morricone Youth on Manhattan’s East Village Radio). But unlike last month’s Creedle set at the Michael “Stimy” Steinman Memorial — offering originals like “Rabbi Steinman’s Happy Hour Frito Boats” plus Devo, Descendents, and Minor Threat covers — it will be the live debut of a new band with all-new material. “That February show was all about Stimy. This new stuff is all over the place. Over half are instrumentals. I sing a bunch, Rob sings a bunch...”

Yes, The SDMAs — mandatory upper-case T — marks yet another group for Rob Crow, the SD singer-guitarist-etc. known for his many bands, from the seminal Heavy Vegetable over two decades ago, to today’s internationally successful Pinback. (An intro to his excellent new free-form-radio podcast Rob Crow’s Incongruous Show makes light of same, rattling off various incarnations: “Whether you know him as ‘the fat one in Pinback’ or ‘San Diego’s foremost overrated indie-rock man-child’...”) Crow, an enthusiastic Creedle fan from their 1991 inception through ’98 breakup, has become part of the band in recent years, regularly playing — and encouraging — Creedle’s semifrequent reunion gigs. Along the way, he and Goldberg began writing songs for the new project, which also includes familiar core Creedlers Tim Blankenship on bass/vox, drummer Dion Thurman, and saxist Gabe Sundy.

“We’ve already partially recorded 16 songs for an album,” Goldberg revealed. “But most have only working titles that might change.” The sound is, as expected, eclectic: tracks range from something suggesting a surf-metal makeover of an Erik Satie-ish classical piece, to a Melvins-style tear through an Astor Piazzolla tango.

But, the name? “Rob’s idea,” chuckled Goldberg. Essentially, it seems to be a playful moniker, acknowledging how some older scene vets still refuse to take the (lower-case t) San Diego Music Awards too seriously — and who recall when the SDMAs were regarded by many as a cheesy joke in itself. “Once we get the cease-and-desist from [non-band SDMA founder-president] Kevin Hellman,” he continued, “maybe we’ll change our name to SLAMM” (SD CityBeat publisher Hellman’s forerunner ’90s publication, ridiculed for having ignored local alt/punk bands while, curiously, running cover stories on a Hellman-guided act — and regular early-era SDMA nominee — like Natasha’s Ghost).

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Heads have been scratched, queries have been made: folks wanna know more about “The San Diego Music Awards” that tops the Casbah bill on March 29. “Truthfully, it’s not much different than an extension of Creedle,” said guitarist-vocalist Devon Goldberg last week of his latest band. He’ll head west from his home in Queens once again to play wide-ranging arty rock/jazz/metal/film-score-ish music in SD (and miss hosting his Sunday soundtrack specialty program Morricone Youth on Manhattan’s East Village Radio). But unlike last month’s Creedle set at the Michael “Stimy” Steinman Memorial — offering originals like “Rabbi Steinman’s Happy Hour Frito Boats” plus Devo, Descendents, and Minor Threat covers — it will be the live debut of a new band with all-new material. “That February show was all about Stimy. This new stuff is all over the place. Over half are instrumentals. I sing a bunch, Rob sings a bunch...”

Yes, The SDMAs — mandatory upper-case T — marks yet another group for Rob Crow, the SD singer-guitarist-etc. known for his many bands, from the seminal Heavy Vegetable over two decades ago, to today’s internationally successful Pinback. (An intro to his excellent new free-form-radio podcast Rob Crow’s Incongruous Show makes light of same, rattling off various incarnations: “Whether you know him as ‘the fat one in Pinback’ or ‘San Diego’s foremost overrated indie-rock man-child’...”) Crow, an enthusiastic Creedle fan from their 1991 inception through ’98 breakup, has become part of the band in recent years, regularly playing — and encouraging — Creedle’s semifrequent reunion gigs. Along the way, he and Goldberg began writing songs for the new project, which also includes familiar core Creedlers Tim Blankenship on bass/vox, drummer Dion Thurman, and saxist Gabe Sundy.

“We’ve already partially recorded 16 songs for an album,” Goldberg revealed. “But most have only working titles that might change.” The sound is, as expected, eclectic: tracks range from something suggesting a surf-metal makeover of an Erik Satie-ish classical piece, to a Melvins-style tear through an Astor Piazzolla tango.

But, the name? “Rob’s idea,” chuckled Goldberg. Essentially, it seems to be a playful moniker, acknowledging how some older scene vets still refuse to take the (lower-case t) San Diego Music Awards too seriously — and who recall when the SDMAs were regarded by many as a cheesy joke in itself. “Once we get the cease-and-desist from [non-band SDMA founder-president] Kevin Hellman,” he continued, “maybe we’ll change our name to SLAMM” (SD CityBeat publisher Hellman’s forerunner ’90s publication, ridiculed for having ignored local alt/punk bands while, curiously, running cover stories on a Hellman-guided act — and regular early-era SDMA nominee — like Natasha’s Ghost).

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3

Bonus Beatage: After going to press, further one-sheet-ish info on The San Diego Music Awards arrived from the cyber-desk of Robertdale Rulon Crow, Jr. It's rich in factual/descriptive detail and synergistically enhances this author's impressionistic take on the band name. Here 'tis some:

"[Other members of The SDMAs include] -- Chris Fulford-Brown - Keys -- and probably some more guys by showtime.

(NOTE: This is in no way a jam band and any "explorations" are kept to a minimum)

What it sounds like: Carl Stalling, Ennio Morricone, Nino Rota and John Carpenter influenced Post-Pop, Post-Punk, Pre-Prog, Contemporary Drinking Klezmer, and Hardcore Easy Listening.

This description is not hyperbolic.

Impetus behind the band: An excuse for us old-punk music-nerd friends to hang out and play complicated, surreal, and sophisticated music while drinking.

Why it is called The San Diego Music Awards: Because The San Diego Union Tribunes, The City Beats, The Blurt Sections, The San Diego Readers, The IMS's, The Learning Annex's, The May Day '94's, The May Day '95's, The Rockpress', etc. were all shot down as names and we all need to stop taking ourselves so seriously."

Exactly why "The May Day '93's" -- when, whoah, Bill Silva even got the Electric Love Hogs to come down from LA to play the local band fest -- and "The May Day Rejects Show's" -- Sept. '95; included the self-described "cartoon ska" of El Cajon's Turkey Mallet, as fronted by charismatic frontman Matt Hoyt -- were, apparently, not considered ... remains unclear.

Finally: as no credit appears online, it really should be noted that the awesome perf photo of Dev & Rob was taken by Chris Woo.

March 23, 2011

I was just looking up this band for the first time, and the top search results were this excellent article and a much less informative CityBeat piece that actually managed to make the group seem boring and pointless -- I look fwd to the band's first recordings --

March 24, 2011

The most entertaining part of the San Diego music scene is watching the two free papers in town bicker with each other. Keep it up guys!

March 27, 2011

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