Guitarist Louis Valenzuela is a vet of adventurous bands such as Áfrojazziacs (fusing contemporary and traditional Cuban, jazz, funk, reggae, cumbia, salsa, and Afro-beat), Juice Box (founded by drummer/composer Matthew Smith), the Humankind (R&B, soul, and jazz covers), Dornob (cross-generational avant-garde twists on classical Persian music), and A Thousand Butterflies, which performs music inspired by the poems of Spanish poet Federico García Lorca, including numbers that feature Valenzuela playing the tres/oud. He’s also the longtime host of the Monday Night Jazz Jam, which held a residency at Rosie O’Grady’s in Normal Heights before the pandemic shutdown. Valenzuela recently launched a new livestreaming outlet for local musicians called ElectricLouieLand. Most episodes are shot at Chula Vista’s Avant Garde Music music school and recording studio, with the livestreams offered via YouTube, Facebook Live, and Twitch. Donations go toward keeping the music school open. The weekly Monday show has so far featured local performances from the Irving Flores Quartet, Frankie J, Leonard Patton, Karlos Paez, Joshua White, Ed Kornhauser, Gilbert Castellanos, the Nathan Hubbard Trio, Whitney Shay & Ed Holiday, Israel Maldonado, his own LouieLand Quartet, and a Virtual Music Festival that included a rare Juice Box performance.
Formed in 2012, Ashen Earth is a melodic death-metal band, heavily influenced by progressive and black metal acts such as Bloodbath, Hypocrisy, Behemoth, and Decapitated. Founders Jeff Meredith and David Cox, inspired by Swedish and Polish death metal bands, formed the group as an answer to the lack of European-inspired music in San Diego. The band plays engaging storytelling metal reminiscent of locals Ruines ov Abaddon, whose rhythm guitarist Pat Sissom joined Ashen Earth. Their first album came out back in 2013, and there was a single two years later, but they’ve otherwise been mostly concentrating on gigs, at least up until the pandemic. With time over this past year to return to the studio, their second full album Oceans Above will be released April 20 on Spotify, Bandcamp, and YouTube, as well as on CD. The sci-fi “Space Vikings” cover artwork was created by Paul Vargas, and colorized and digitized by David Correa. Its first single “Warlord” is now available, and other tracks carry descriptive titles such as “Of Vengeance and Consequence,” “Our Place Amongst the Pyre,” “The Sun Fills Our Sales,” and the epic three-part title track with passages named “Days Gone By,” “Unmoored in the Cosmic Abyss,” and “Rekindled.”
Three Julian-raised brothers make up L.A. Edwards: Former Smart Brothers frontman Luke Andrew Edwards (who also self-released a solo EP as L.A. Edwards), his brother drummer Harry Edwards, and a third brother, keyboardist Jay Edwards, along with lead guitarist Alex Vo. In 2017, they released their debut group album True Blue, which went on to generate nearly half-a-million streams independently and was named “flat out amazing” by No Depression. It led to performances with The Beach Boys, Jefferson Starship, Amanda Shires, and The White Buffalo, as well as appearances at Pilgrimage Festival, Bumbershoot, Kaaboo, FloydFest, and AmericanaFest. True Blue was produced by Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers bassist Ron Blair, at Blair’s home studio in Carlsbad. Blair returned for the band’s sophomore release, this past December’s Blessings From Home Volume 1, which also included his Tom Petty bandmate Steve Ferrone, in sessions produced by Ryan Hadlock (Lumineers, Vance Joy, Foo Fighters). That album’s first single, “Trouble,” was recently heard on CW television series Walker, which created a custom music video for the track using clips from the show. Blessings From Home Volume 2 is due in March.
Blues-psych rockers Radio Moscow were originally an Iowa band, located in the tiny town of Story City, though this didn’t stop them from recruiting A-list producer Dan Auerbach of the Black Keys to produce their self-titled debut full-length in 2007. The band relocated to Rancho Tehama in California in 2010, and then San Diego a few years later, where frontman Parker Griggs ended up recruiting two locals for the group, Anthony Meier (Sacri Monti) and Paul Marrone (Psicomagia). Their allegiance to this city is pledged by their popular cover of “Gypsy Fast Woman” by local ‘60s faves the Brain Police. By the time of the 2020 pandemic shutdown, Radio Moscow had become favorites on the outdoor tour circuit, playing the Crossroads Festival, the Ride Festival, Desert Daze, End Hip End It, Psycho California, and Electric Funeral. The group recently released Live At Rockpalast 2015, a 15-track DVD release filmed May 18, 2015, shortly after the release of their Magical Dirt album (which is heavily represented in the set list). Featured concert staples include “I Just Don’t Know,” “250 Miles,” “Broke Down,” “Brain Cycles,” and “No Good Woman,” as well as acoustic bonus selections and a cover of Peter Green/Fleetwood Mac track “World Keep on Turning.”
‘80s singer Stephen Pearcy has released several solo albums, before and after his various tenures with Ratt. He’s also been in less-known groups like Arcade, Vicious Delite, Vertex, Nitronic, and Band From Hell. Still in and out of Ratt, whose name he was once legally prevented from using due to years of back-and-forth lawsuits, Pearcy says his 2013 autobiography Sex, Drugs, Ratt & Roll: My Life In Rock does not bash his occasional Ratt-mates, unlike drummer Bobby Blotzer’s axe-grinding 2010 book Tales Of a Ratt. Pearcy has managed to cruise on the fumes of Ratt’s lone big hit from 1984, “Round and Round,” for nearly 40 years now, with one of the more recent re-recordings heard in the 2018 film Super Troopers 2. Pearcy recently announced a Backstage Past docuseries, featuring a series of “house party” sessions on ASY TV (available on Roku, Amazon Fire, and Apple TV). Filming began February 23. Pearcy tours San Diego and L.A. locations from the early days when the band was still called Mickey Ratt, sharing behind-the-scenes stories and livestream footage, and jamming with visiting musician friends who aren’t currently badmouthing or suing him.