Troubadour's Kent Johnson and Liz Abbott in homier times
  • Troubadour's Kent Johnson and Liz Abbott in homier times
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For San Diego’s music insiders, one of the top events each holiday season is the annual party held by music magazine San Diego Troubadour. This year, on December 21, and for the first time, the free, all-ages fundraising event will be held at Tango del Rey in Pacific Beach and is open to the public.

For the first nine years, the event was a potluck held at the home of Troubadour owners Liz Abbott and Kent Johnson. In 2010, when the guest list topped 150 attendees, they realized it was time to move. “We knew it was time to relocate when it was raining cats and dogs and we were wall-to-wall inside our little 800-square-foot Craftsman house,” Abbott tells the Reader. This year they hope for at least 300 attendees.

If the event is free, how will funds be raised? “We felt bad enough about turning our party from a potluck, where everything is free, to a situation where people have to buy their own drinks and food,” said Abbott. “We're keeping costs as low as we can this year. We didn't want to ask for more money, but, by fundraising, people have a choice and we are grateful for their donations.” She notes that the donations will cover party costs, such as a sound tech and security for the door. “The rest of the money will be tucked away to use when advertising is down.” Food and drink will be available for purchase, with those proceeds going to the venue.

Abbott points out that fundraising this way has become more important each year. “Many of our advertisers have dropped out, due to the economy, I suspect. Beyond that, fundraising also helps raise awareness for the Troubadour.”

The highlight of the event is the music, which will feature dozens of San Diego’s best-known artists performing. “Alan Land and Jimmie Lunsford are onboard to host the open-mic-style format,” Abbott said. She notes the amount of people trying to get stage time keeps the sets short. “Sometimes, we barely get through the whole list of people who want to play if they do, say, three songs. Last year, we had to limit it to one song, which isn't ideal. We haven't quite decided what to do about that yet…”

Tango Del Rey

3567 Del Rey Street, Pacific Beach

While Abbott is happy to have the party in a bigger location, she does miss something about the previous home edition of the party. “Although Kent will probably disagree with me, since he does so much of the cleanup, but it was just easier not to have to go anywhere to host the party,” she laughed.

To view the invitation, go to

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