BajaBugs recently took on management because the high-energy Beatles cover band “needs to take things more seriously.”
What local band is led by one of San Diego’s first punk rockers, has been inhabited by a who’s who of local rock/pop/punk players, and has a drummer — Nick “Nico” Peters — who says he’s regularly mistaken for Ringo Starr?
"Ticket to Ride"
BajaBugs covering a Beatles classic
That local band is BajaBugs. Led by bassist/former Zero Hector Penalosa, with consistent support from guitarist Xavier Anaya, the band’s been kept alive over 16 years by members of the Phantoms, Shambles, and Zeros. Set lists consist mostly of songs by the Beatles and artists whose work inspired the Beatles. But Penalosa says the Bugs aren’t a cover band, per se.
“We are not a tribute band — wearing wigs and calling ourselves Ringo, Paul, etc. We don’t talk in Scouse accents. The BajaBugs started when a friend wanted Beatles music at his wedding reception. Also, around 1997, I went to my first Beatles convention. The bands were not rocking the tunes — lukewarm at best. Not on fire. And why weren’t they infusing the energy of Beatles’ influences — Chuck Berry, Buddy Holly, Little Richard — into their performances? With that in mind, I figured, let’s rock the shit out of these tunes.”
Anaya recently told me that new Bugs manager, Mike Cates, adopted the foursome because “we need to take things more seriously.” A pretty serious performance highlights the band’s fall calendar. Penalosa’s tone in our email chat rises a visible step as he types, “A most significant gig will be in September — it celebrates the 50th anniversary of The BEATLES playing the Balboa Stadium in San Diego. We’ll play the same songs the Beatles did. Chuck Gunderson will talk about his book, Some Fun Tonight! The Backstage Story of How the Beatles Rocked America/The Historic Tours of 1964–1966.”
BajaBugs take the stage at the Saville Theatre at City College with Some Fun Tonight! author Chuck Gunderson on September 1.