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The Che Underground’s Children of Nuggets

Weekend ’80s reunions at Little Italy’s Casbah

Can you hear The Loons? Yes, at the Che’s Casbah reunion!
Can you hear The Loons? Yes, at the Che’s Casbah reunion!

“The Ché Café scene did so much to shape us as people and performers, but didn’t leave much of a historical record,” says former Noise 292 guitarist Matthew Rothenberg. Founded in 1980 as an all-ages vegetarian eatery and radical student hangout, the Ché Café at UCSD became a central part San Diego’s underground music scene, as documented by the online community of the Ché Underground’s website. Subtitled The Secret History of San Diego’s ’80s Music Scene, the site collects stories, images, music, video footage, and comments focused on local Ché regulars such as Hair Theatre, the Tell-Tale Hearts, Morlocks, Unknowns, Crawdaddys, the Zeros, Mystery Machine, Town Criers, Nashville Ramblers, Everybody Violet, 5051, Glory, the Penetrators, the Trebels, and the original local Wallflowers.

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Past Event

Che Underground Midwinter Masque

  • Friday, February 18, 2022, 8 p.m.
  • Casbah, 2501 Kettner Boulevard, San Diego
  • 21+ / $20 - $35

The Che Underground Midwinter Masque, happening February 18 and 19 at the Casbah, will reunite many performers from the venue’s glory days. “When we started planning this show way back in October 2020, we thought we were being super-conservative about a return to normalcy,” says Rothenberg, who organized the events with one-time Unknowns bassist Dave Doyle. “All along the way, the musicians have had to get creative about practicing safely, and we’ve made some substitutions to ensure an amazing show of first-rate talent. The Che Underground is a designation I created in 2008 to describe an eclectic mix of young San Diego musicians in the early 1980s who created innovative sounds at the intersection of underground genres. Every flavor of pre- and post-punk, garage, psychedelic, industrial, and on and on. All eight acts on the two-day bill bring their own unique aesthetic to the event. But they’re also old friends and collaborators, so this should be a terrific family reunion, especially after a couple of years in isolation.”

Friday, February 18, will feature The Nashville Ramblers — the partnership of Carl Rusk, Ron Silva, and Tom Ward — whose 1986 single “The Trains” is now considered a power-pop classic, having been highlighted in the Children of Nuggets box set from Rhino Records. Steven Van Zandt, guitarist for Bruce Springsteen’s E Street Band, declared the tune “one of the most unspeakably gorgeous instances of romantic yearning disguised as a pop song.” The bill also includes The Nephews, a San Diego staple since 1983 featuring Charlie Brownell (Buzzkill Romantics), Tim Ellison, and Colin Watson. Also appearing is The Wrecktangle, a San Diego supergroup that includes Ray Brandes (Tell-Tale Hearts, Mystery Machine), Dave Doyle (Unknowns), Joel Kmak (Penetrators, Powerthud), Kevin Ring (Manual Scan, The Shambles), and singer-songwriter Cindy Lee Berryhill.

Saturday February 19 will be headlined by The Loons, founded by Ugly Things magazine publisher Mike Stax (Tell-Tale Hearts, Crawdaddys) and featuring Chris Cancelliere (Jason Hanna), Chris Marsteller, Marc Schroeder, and Anja Stax. Also appearing is The Unclaimed, founded in 1979 with Shelley Ganz, Shaun Bryant, Patrick Cleary, and John Worley. Trio Los Elotes features Tom Ward (Morlocks, Gravedigger V), Christopher Soltero, and Johnny McCree blending western and ranchero numbers.

The Goldfingers, the brainchild of Wallflowers singer Dave Rinck, “will feature a cornucopia of fuzzy warbles from a rogue’s gallery of co-conspirators.” Goldfingers are: Dave Rinck, vocals and rhythm guitar, Sue Delguidice of The Dinettes and Trowsers, Eric Bacher from Tell-Tale Hearts, David Doyle from the Unknowns, and Unknowns drummer Craig Packham.

The Che Underground site continues to grow each day, with thousands of new visitors and comments logged each month. “As participants become more concerned about the privacy and ownership of their data on Facebook and other big social-media platforms,” says Rothenberg, “we’re seeing renewed interest in the blog as a safe harbor where they retain control of their material and identities. I’ve got a lot of new contributions lined up, and I’m determined to update at least weekly. While I’m still focused on the connection to our shared history, I’m very excited to cover more of the fresh projects our members have done, especially in the face of Covid-19.”

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Can you hear The Loons? Yes, at the Che’s Casbah reunion!
Can you hear The Loons? Yes, at the Che’s Casbah reunion!

“The Ché Café scene did so much to shape us as people and performers, but didn’t leave much of a historical record,” says former Noise 292 guitarist Matthew Rothenberg. Founded in 1980 as an all-ages vegetarian eatery and radical student hangout, the Ché Café at UCSD became a central part San Diego’s underground music scene, as documented by the online community of the Ché Underground’s website. Subtitled The Secret History of San Diego’s ’80s Music Scene, the site collects stories, images, music, video footage, and comments focused on local Ché regulars such as Hair Theatre, the Tell-Tale Hearts, Morlocks, Unknowns, Crawdaddys, the Zeros, Mystery Machine, Town Criers, Nashville Ramblers, Everybody Violet, 5051, Glory, the Penetrators, the Trebels, and the original local Wallflowers.

Sponsored
Sponsored
Past Event

Che Underground Midwinter Masque

  • Friday, February 18, 2022, 8 p.m.
  • Casbah, 2501 Kettner Boulevard, San Diego
  • 21+ / $20 - $35

The Che Underground Midwinter Masque, happening February 18 and 19 at the Casbah, will reunite many performers from the venue’s glory days. “When we started planning this show way back in October 2020, we thought we were being super-conservative about a return to normalcy,” says Rothenberg, who organized the events with one-time Unknowns bassist Dave Doyle. “All along the way, the musicians have had to get creative about practicing safely, and we’ve made some substitutions to ensure an amazing show of first-rate talent. The Che Underground is a designation I created in 2008 to describe an eclectic mix of young San Diego musicians in the early 1980s who created innovative sounds at the intersection of underground genres. Every flavor of pre- and post-punk, garage, psychedelic, industrial, and on and on. All eight acts on the two-day bill bring their own unique aesthetic to the event. But they’re also old friends and collaborators, so this should be a terrific family reunion, especially after a couple of years in isolation.”

Friday, February 18, will feature The Nashville Ramblers — the partnership of Carl Rusk, Ron Silva, and Tom Ward — whose 1986 single “The Trains” is now considered a power-pop classic, having been highlighted in the Children of Nuggets box set from Rhino Records. Steven Van Zandt, guitarist for Bruce Springsteen’s E Street Band, declared the tune “one of the most unspeakably gorgeous instances of romantic yearning disguised as a pop song.” The bill also includes The Nephews, a San Diego staple since 1983 featuring Charlie Brownell (Buzzkill Romantics), Tim Ellison, and Colin Watson. Also appearing is The Wrecktangle, a San Diego supergroup that includes Ray Brandes (Tell-Tale Hearts, Mystery Machine), Dave Doyle (Unknowns), Joel Kmak (Penetrators, Powerthud), Kevin Ring (Manual Scan, The Shambles), and singer-songwriter Cindy Lee Berryhill.

Saturday February 19 will be headlined by The Loons, founded by Ugly Things magazine publisher Mike Stax (Tell-Tale Hearts, Crawdaddys) and featuring Chris Cancelliere (Jason Hanna), Chris Marsteller, Marc Schroeder, and Anja Stax. Also appearing is The Unclaimed, founded in 1979 with Shelley Ganz, Shaun Bryant, Patrick Cleary, and John Worley. Trio Los Elotes features Tom Ward (Morlocks, Gravedigger V), Christopher Soltero, and Johnny McCree blending western and ranchero numbers.

The Goldfingers, the brainchild of Wallflowers singer Dave Rinck, “will feature a cornucopia of fuzzy warbles from a rogue’s gallery of co-conspirators.” Goldfingers are: Dave Rinck, vocals and rhythm guitar, Sue Delguidice of The Dinettes and Trowsers, Eric Bacher from Tell-Tale Hearts, David Doyle from the Unknowns, and Unknowns drummer Craig Packham.

The Che Underground site continues to grow each day, with thousands of new visitors and comments logged each month. “As participants become more concerned about the privacy and ownership of their data on Facebook and other big social-media platforms,” says Rothenberg, “we’re seeing renewed interest in the blog as a safe harbor where they retain control of their material and identities. I’ve got a lot of new contributions lined up, and I’m determined to update at least weekly. While I’m still focused on the connection to our shared history, I’m very excited to cover more of the fresh projects our members have done, especially in the face of Covid-19.”

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