After stealing her father’s guitar so she could learn to play at the age of 11, Gayle Skidmore moved to England to study at Oxford University. While overseas, she performed on a local TV channel, as well as busking street corners in Germany, Italy, Austria, and Switzerland. She returned to San Diego to study for a master’s degree in theology with a concentration in Hebrew, but music was always foremost on her mind. Skidmore formed her own label, Raincoat Records, to release her debut five-song EP Gayle, issued in 2002. She played fourteen instruments on her 2010 album Make Believe, including the folk harp and the marimba, and composed all of the parts for her cellist and violinist. The record came with a coloring book, a tradition she’s maintained on subsequent releases. Her new single “All My Life” (due May 29) was co-produced by Jeff Berkley (Berkley Hart) at Om Studio at Jason Mraz’s Organics Avocado Ranch. The track features local guest vocals from Berkley, Veronica May, Isaac Cheong, Heather Nation, and Billy Galewood. She’s currently working on a piano album recorded in the Netherlands at Wisseloord Studios.
Black Market III
Singer-guitarist Scottie Blinn and bassist Roxy Coverdale formed Black Market III as a working side project while Blinn was on a break from recording and touring with the Mississippi Mudsharks, a band who were nominated for San Diego Music Awards over a dozen times, winning three of them. Originally known as Black Market Baby, they established their soulful blues and Americana roots sound on a CD of originals and covers of artists like Tom Waits, Wayne Walker, and Leadbelly, released in spring 2012. They’ve recorded several more projects at Blinn’s Grease Punk Studio in Lakeside, and have landed multiple overseas tours. Their 2018 album Dashboard Jesus debuted at number 25 on the Roots Music Report’s Top 50 Contemporary Blues Chart, with the singles “Daddy Rollin’ Stone” reaching number 4. “When the Sun Goes Down” reached number 32 in Living Blues Magazine. While Blinn and company work on their second CD for Rip Cat Records, they’ve released The Let It Be Project, created in their mobile Grease Punk Studio and featuring musician contributions from around the world.
Few locals keep busier than Justin Pearson, even during a pandemic lockdown. Aside from band projects like the Locust, Dead Cross, Planet B, and his growing Three One G record label, Pearson has a group called Deaf Club with Brian Amalfitano (ACxDC), Scott Osment (Weak Flesh), Jason Klein (Run With The Hunted), and Tommy Meehan (The Manx, Chum Out). Last year’s Contemporary Sickness EP came with a music video for “Bright Side Of Death,” built from fast-paced footage of the band performing in front of a strobe-lit wall of amps. A video for “Bounced Reality Check,” directed by Dark Details (Planet B, Kool Keith), is a zombie apocalypse mini-movie. Another video, for “Boyfriends of Christ,” features around a minute of jarring black and white found footage. Late last year saw the debut of the video for “Days of Amusement Are Over,” comprised of live footage from a record release show at the Factory DTLA. Contemporary Sickness will be re-released in a cassette remix edition featuring the original tracks, along with bonus remixes featuring GothBoiClique’s YAWNS (with accompanying video), Bubblegum Octopus, 304angstroms, and DJ Embryonic Petit Sac. The limited edition of 200 neon green cassettes, released through Three One G and Sweatband Records, will be followed by a digital release. A vinyl edition sports cover art by graphic designer Jesse Draxler (Nine Inch Nails, Daughters, New York Times).
Ready Set Survive
High energy pop-punk trio Ready Set Survive features bassist-singer Sean Drake (Silent Lune, Zone of the Interior), singer-guitarist Troy Cook, and drummer Morgan Guest. Their love of anthemic rock that aspires to stadium sing-a-longs is evident in their list of influences, which include Green Day, AFI, Rise Against, A Day to Remember, Muse, and local heroes Unwritten Law. Since releasing their debut self-titled EP in 2017, they’ve appeared and performed on local television shows such as KUSI’s Good Morning San Diego, as well as a spotlight segment of NBC 7’s SoundDiego. The band is working on a new EP called Keys, with three piano covers of their original tracks “Young and Dumb,” “A Voice Inside,” and “Black and Blue.” According to Troy Cook, “These will be all home based recordings done during quarantine. It’s been a fun learning process, and nice to get back to my keyboard roots for a bit.” The project, due for release on June 15, was entirely tracked with an 88-key Yamaha keyboard and a $99 Dynamic microphone.
Formed in 2017, the Havnauts were founded when Shelbi Bennett (the Midnight Pine) began working on songs with Jenny Merullo (Black Sands, the Heavy Guilt), a fellow teacher at the School of Rock San Diego. They were joined by Zak Kmak (Winchester Friendlies) for a few shows, and then added Josh Smith (Monkeys in Space) to their ranks. Early singles released online include “Woke Up Late” and “Ghosts,” the latter also filmed as a video. Merullo has also drummed for French Kiss Koma and Shady Francos. The Havnauts EP Go For It, released in September 2018 amd recorded at Earthling Studios in El Cajon by Mike Kamoo, won Best Local Recording at the San Diego Music Awards. A video for “Gained Weight” debuted last September, and their eight-song album Real Good Now, again recorded with Kamoo, was released on New Year’s Day. The album recently spawned a characteristically pink-hued video for the track “Melody Albertson,” with each member miming the bouncy track in their own individual homes and yards.