Matthew Rothenberg would like to put San Diego’s music scene on the map. And the rest of the world’s as well, with a new website called Scene Roller. “It’s a group-driven, grassroots, music-history machine,” said Rothenberg. “It tells the story of ‘local’ music scenes, worldwide, from the ground up. Basically the dawn of the rock ’n’ roll era to today.”
Though 46-year-old Rothenberg resides in Maplewood, New Jersey, he spent his youth in San Diego, attending UCSD in the early 1980s and playing in local group Noise 292. In 2008, Rothenberg created the Ché Underground Blog to celebrate the era, flying back to San Diego for several related events held at the Casbah and Lestat’s.
Now, Rothenberg and his partners, fellow New Yorker Jonathan Goldin and San Francisco–based Jason Brownell, have come up with Scene Roller, a website that intends to include details on every concert, by every performer, who has trod a stage since 1949.
Despite the fact that all three co-creators live elsewhere, the initial input into the site has focused on San Diego. “It’s where I’m most comfortable with,” Rothenberg said. “It’s a scene that I know historically.”
Each artist page shows an interactive map with the performer as the center of that particular universe. Multiple satellites connect groups, players, and venues. Ultimately, you’ll be able to play the seven-degrees games with just about any musician on the planet.
Information can be input by the public — no performance, venue, or artist is too small. “We purposefully designed it not to worry about things like genre,” he commented. “We also don’t worry about who was more popular. The main principle is that all that mapping is based on hard facts — it’s based on who, what, and where. Once you’ve entered that stuff in there you can start to draw connections.”
Rothenberg hopes to draw advertising to Scene Roller with the site’s potential worldwide audience. “This month, Ché Underground Blog had 16,500 unique visitors,” Rothenberg said. “That’s just for a small slice of San Diego history. I would speculate if there is that kind of appetite for one intense scene of a few years’ duration, we would hope there is a pretty big appetite worldwide for 50-plus years of ‘local’ music history.”