Photograph by Taryn Popplewell
Hugh J Noble
Hugh J. Noble is a songwriter, musician, and singer from Wymeswold in the UK, currently living in San Diego (“There wasn’t much else to do in Wymeswold”) and a member of Slum Summer. “Since I haven’t been able to play with those guys for several months, but found myself relentlessly writing songs anyway, I decided to record some of them by myself, with occasional remote help from friends, and make a solo album…before eventually running out of steam, I wound up with 64 new songs.” The resulting album, The Beach Boy, drops this week via Jigsaw Records, featuring guest appearances from Slum Summer bandmates D.J Anderson, Jen Edwards, and Grant Stewart, as well as Franic Rozycki (the Wave Pictures), Jack Hayter (the Hefners), and Taryn Popplewell (the Fictitious Dishes). A video is streaming online for “Hickory PA,” with Noble performing alone before a homemade movie screen on which other performances are projected, along with an old fashioned high school prom light show. The video for “Questions of Summer” captures Noble again self-sequestered in his home, this time seen cutting off his thick quarantine hair and beard over the course of the bright, poppy tune.
Jewel Kilcher was a teenager when she began working on the songs that ended up on her debut full-length Pieces of You, which features live 1994 recordings from the Inner Change coffeehouse in Pacific Beach, as well as studio tracks completed at Neil Young’s facilities. Though it failed to chart in 1995, it began picking up steam and has now sold over ten million copies. She’s gone on to release a number of albums, including a sojourn into country music, a children’s CD and picture book, and a greatest hits package with new recordings of two songs: one co-written with local Rugburn Steve Poltz, “You Were Meant For Me” (featuring the Pistol Annies), and “Foolish Games” (with Kelly Clarkson). She once portrayed country music legend June Carter Cash in a Lifetime network TV movie. Besides hosting TV talent shows, and she’s written a poetry book and a personal memoir. Pieces of You will get a 25th anniversary edition four-disc box CD set full of unreleased music, including more Inner Change coffeehouse recordings. The November 20 online release concert features guest Steve Poltz, as she performs the entire album for the first time. A previously unreleased demo version of “You Were Meant for Me” is available to stream and download.
Jewel’s former flame and songwriting collaborator Steve Poltz is best known from the Rugburns, of “Hitchhiker Joe” fame. He released his first solo album with Mercury Records in 1998 and went on to create his own label, 98 Pounder Records, as well as becoming one of the co-owners of the Starlight Lounge near Mission Hills. His many collaborators include Glenn Tilbrook of Squeeze, with whom he has both toured and recorded. A while back, Poltz recorded a new duet version of the song he wrote with Jewel, “You Were Meant For Me,” with Spain-based singer Soledad Vélez, produced by six-time Grammy Award winner Chris Goldsmith (Charlie Musselwhite, Aaron Neville). His last full-length, his Red House Records debut Shine On, was recorded in his new home city, Nashville, where “Sharon and I got married a couple days ago,” reported Poltz earlier this year. Having survived a tornado near Nashville, Poltz and his wife came back to San Diego this past summer to spend time with his widowed 90 year-old dad. His new animated lyric video for “Quarantine Blues” features a song recorded in Jason Mraz’s home studio (Mraz plays organ), with local star Jeff Berkley (Berkley Hart) producing.
Willie Kellogg (top) with the Strangers: L to R Gene Lamarr, Joel Scott Hill, Harold Kirby
Drummer Willie Kellogg played a huge role in the early development of San Diego indie bands in the 1960s. Among the many groups he played with were a latter day version of the Outcasts, a popular pop/R&B ensemble featuring future Union Gap frontman Gary Puckett which served as the house band at the Quad Room in Clairemont for around two years. His most celebrated group, Five Pound Grin (previously known as the Survivors), was a 1960s garage rock band known for playing teenage dances and schools before graduating to local rock clubs. They released two now-celebrated singles, including “Never Hurt Again,” which resurfaced on the compilation The Incredible Expanding Universe of Brain Shadows Volumes One & Two. The group later evolved into Pale Fire, which released two singles in 1968 on the Lyrics’ label Feather Records. He appears on three tracks of the just-released compilation Look Out! The San Diego Scene 1958-1973 (with Five Pound Grin, Steve & the Holidays, and Joel Scott Hill & the Invaders), plus he was the favored on-call drummer for the Strangers and Joel Semper’s Kingsmen. Kellogg, who also played with Bob Mosely and Mosely’s group Moby Grape, passed away at the end of September.
Formed in Carlsbad circa 2005, the Drabs are an indie rock band based in North County led by composer, guitarist, and lead vocalist David Bernat. The group’s catalog of original compositions were initially worked up during practice sessions at original drummer Scotty Myers’ backyard shed, with guest players dropping in such as Noah Sugarman (500 Miles to Memphis) and Chris Torres (the Grass Heat, Kris Allen Band). Demos for four early songs were tracked at Sven Erik-Seaholm’s home based studio in 2006, and then circulated as hand labeled, numbered CD-R copies. The band’s debut full length LP Ponto features nine original tracks recorded primarily at Big Fish Studio in Encinitas by Ben Moore, who also contributed Hammond B3 organ to the session. Matt Pivetti (the Richter) guested on backing vocals. A holiday themed EP entitled Here Comes the Joy was released in 2015 featuring four original tracks mostly recorded at local Signature Sound Studios by Moore. Guest musicians A.J. Croce (piano) and Gayle Skidmore (vocals) contributed to those sessions. “The Drabs are prepping a new full length LP release,” says Bernat. “We’re currently in studio with Ben Moore doing the recording at Singing Serpent.”