Erny Nuñez, Cory Hunt, and Silka Benic became DJs and concert promoters because no one would else would keep the ‘60s soul-ska scene rolling.
Erny Nuñez became a DJ and a concert promoter out of need.
“Until five years ago there was a night called Brixton Beat at the Whistle Stop,” says Nuñez about the occasional DJ gig at the South Park featuring Jamaican reggae dance records from the 60s and soul oldies that attracted ska fanatics.
“We were fans of that night,” says Nuñez about himself and Cory Hunt who have been buddies since the 90s when they attended Chula Vista’s Castle Park High School. “We were always fans of ska — the style, the fashion, the music. But when that night fizzled out, we discovered there was no actual clubhouse in San Diego for people who love ska.”
He says the closest thing San Diego skanksters had to a clubhouse was Showcase Theater on Hancock Street (1995-98). “Cory and I passed out flyers for that place.”
- Saturday, July 28, 2018, 8 p.m.
3025 El Cajon Boulevard,
When Brixton Beat went away, the two rose to the challenge and morphed into DJs. Nuñez became “Erny Earthquake” and Hunt “King Dutty.” With their decades old vinyl in tow, they created their own ska/soul DJ nights called San Diego City Soul Club which rotates among various nightspots. They invited themselves into local bars such as the Ken Club, the Tower Bar, the Observatory, and the Merrow. Their only regular night is the fourth Saturday of the month at Tiger Tiger Tavern in North Park.
Nuñez says he first learned about ska from his uncle in Tijuana, a city that has long nurtured a healthy ska scene. “He showed me about [Vespa] scooters, the Specials, and Madness.” He says that’s where he learned that the two-tone ska bands of the 80s and ska’s 60s originators from Jamaica shared musical DNA with American soul artists such as Otis Redding, Sam Cooke, and Booker T and the MGs. “If you loved early reggae, you loved soul. Those songs go hand-in-hand.”
Each time they host a Soul Club event, they tote in their classic 45s and LPs they’ve collected over the years. “I worked at the Music Trader in Chula Vista in 1999-2000, which was the best time to work in a record store,” Nuñez explains. “I got to listen to music and meet other people who were into it.”
The core of the San Diego City Soul Club also includes “Miss Silka” Benic, who, like Nuñez and Hunt, had no DJ experience when the lure of classic ska drew her to the turntables. “She just started coming to our shows,” Nuñez says. “She started off selling merch for us, T-shirts, patches, scarves, and pins.” Now she spins records.
- Friday, June 29, 2018, 9 p.m.
4746 El Cajon Boulevard,
The San Diego City Soul Club DJs will be playing between live sets of Dave Hillyard and the Rock Steady Seven on Thursday, June 28 at the Casbah and Friday, June 29 when they share the bill with Mexican ska standout Robbie Studio at Til Two.
Nuñez says the Soul Club started hiring its own headliners and promoting its own shows when, “We decided it was cheaper to bring them down here than drive up to L.A. to see them.”
- Thursday, July 26, 2018, 9 p.m.
1337 India Street,
Their biggest shows so far are coming up. “On July 26 we are putting on Western Standard Time at the Music Box. They are a 22-piece ska orchestra that sold out the Hollywood Bowl and sold out the San Diego Museum of Art.” Also coming up, reggae great Pat Kelly August 24 at the Merrow.