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Stories by Andrew Hamlin

Paige Koehler expands her network at PB’s Garage Mahal

Ocean Beach singer-songwriter Paige Koehler kept things in the city when it came to recording her debut EP, Sorry I’m Late. “My EP was recorded at [Kearny Mesa's] Defiant Robot Studios in 2019-2020,” she says. ...

Elisia Savoca: the “Shower Singer”

Singer-songwriter Elisia Savoca, currently living in L.A. but raised in San Diego, has no qualms about being known as the “Shower Singer,” a sobriquet bestowed by her beloved father. Everyone has to start somewhere, and ...

July 15, 2021
Chuck Charles and the Bigfellas band: Steely Dan for the Pabst Blue Ribbon crowd

When it comes to gigging in San Diego, Chuck Charles, once-and-future doyen of the Bigfellas band, gives due love to the Belly Up, Humphreys, and Anthology. But certain odder moments stick sticky-er in his mind. ...

July 1, 2021
What does Tijuana’s DFMK stand for?

The men of Tijuana’s punk quartet DFMK — the letters stand for “doing fucking meth kills” on days when they don’t stand for “don’t fuck my kids” — allow that their hometown can get a ...

Fandango at the Wall film fascinates

When it comes to the San Diego/Tijuana community, retired librarian Jorge Francisco Castillo counts himself pretty well settled in. He eats at Tacos el Gordo, plus Ranchos and El Zarape in North Park. He takes ...

June 3, 2021
Sound Talent Group pivots to podcasts

When the virus response clamped down on fleshy, sweaty, side-by-side public outings, the local branch of entertainment agency Sound Talent Group had a backup plan ready to go — to cover the local scene with ...

May 20, 2021
Sharon Katz: on the train of peace

Sharon Katz has gone all over the world promoting peace, love, and unity. She performed for Nelson Mandela. She jumped out of airplanes in South Africa to rock the vote in that country’s first multi-racial ...

Tour San Diego venues past with Devon E. Levins

Devon E. Levins of Morricone Youth has played just about every kind of rock and roll, and just about everywhere in San Diego’s city limits. “The last night of the old Casbah was memorable in ...

April 22, 2021
Cheyenne Benton’s love/hate relationship with the San Diego County Fair

Cheyenne Benton loves the San Diego County Fair. Except when she hates it. “One of my best stories would have to be when I was performing at the 2019 fair,” she recalls. “We got to ...

April 8, 2021
City Windows: straight outta Ida

“One particular gig we did at Tower Bar in Summer of 2019 really sticks out in my mind. We had just finished up recording our debut EP Oxbow and were feeling really great about what ...

March 25, 2021
The Thieves About come across hobo code in Encinitas

“The Thieves About” could suggest a phrase lacking one final noun. But as singer/guitarist J Scott Gavin avows, the name came about from a little boys love for locomotives. “My son was obsessively into trains,” ...

March 11, 2021
Thousand Below miss the road

Looking back on the virus, the ones of us who survive will of course, each have a story to tell, starting with the first signs, first erosions. San Diego’s Thousand Below found themselves, with bleak ...

February 25, 2021
Folk Uke’s own theory of relativity explained in “Small One”

“We like to huff on gas lamps. It’s addictive. No one talks about it.” Amy Nelson’s account of her love for the Gaslamp Quarter, might seem slightly suspicious. But it’s a splendid introduction to the ...

February 4, 2021
Real J. Wallace: beyond comprehension

“I was raised in San Diego, and one of my most memorable [memories] is being six, and my Mom taking me to my Auntie’s AA meetings. We sat in a circle and I thought that ...

January 28, 2021
El Cajon classmates Robert Houghton, Roger Anderson, Andrew Hamlin on Lester Bangs

Lester Bangs, El Cajon Kid These “great man” theorists see Lester as self-made and El Cajon actually was a hindrance. Those of us from El Cajon, especially those who knew him well, have a much ...

January 24, 2021
Twelve Haiku by Andrew Hamlin

Consider a life in the time it takes your phone to wink dark *** On the prison camp raining and then not raining *** September... he yawns like a lion with his frosty beard *** ...

January 15, 2021
River Sultan’s Chopin dreams

River Sultan remembers his arrival in San Diego even more vividly than most folks. “July 19, 2000,” he nails it down. “I was 10 years old. I remember the date because I had a small ...

January 14, 2021
Satin Nickel’s Shadow of Doubt debut recalls musical theater

San Diego musicians don’t often count off their seminal musical influences in terms of musical theater. But La Mesa-raised Morgan Hollingsworth — the son of Grossmont High’s drama teacher — loved musical theater before practically ...

December 31, 2020
Gary Wilson’s Tormented new album

Gary Wilson’s new album is Tormented. Which is not to say that Gary Wilson himself — notorious denizen of San Diego’s weirder side — is necessarily tormented. Although he came reasonably close to going over ...

Body Salt writes leaf-songs

“The worst experience we’ve had playing a show was also one of the best,” says Jonathon Bruhin, half of San Diego’s Body Salt. “It was our very first performance at a large private gathering in ...

December 3, 2020
Dance away heartbreak with SIDNĒ

“Not being able to find a waffle with whipped cream after playing a show in Las Vegas. Do your research if you’re ever in Vegas looking to eat a waffle at 1am.” That’s local singer/songwriter/producer ...

Colin Jones: back from Australia

Colin Jones, local slinger of blues shot through with ’90s rock — or is it the other way around? — picks up music, and influences, on the fly. But from his peripatetic childhood, he’s used ...

November 5, 2020
24 Hour Fitness was my bathroom

Ricky Schmidt, bassist of local band Hey, Chels — comma included — never expected a giant German stinky dog to cross his path. But life is full of surprises. “Day two [of the tour] took ...

October 22, 2020
almost monday’s gig stories

Rock bands’ wild-gig stories often involve violence, mayhem, destruction, and the scream of police sirens. For San Diego’s (intentionally non-capitalized) almost monday, nuptials tripped them up. “The worst story we have,” relates singer Dawson Daugherty, ...

October 8, 2020
The evolution of Belle and the Dragon’s “Trees” video

Belle and the Dragon’s new video “Trees,” shot in Barrio Logan, evolved from the confluence of two situations: An inability to emulate John Travolta’s swagger; and a lust for the perfect vegan taco. “Originally I ...

Ten plague haiku by Andrew Hamlin

Third week of the plague pile-driver bangs tempo for the brave builders Third week of the plague the crows — hungry, perhaps...? voice discontent Third week of the plague, but dog shit on the sidewalk ...

August 20, 2020
Road stories from Tyson Motsenbocker

Tyson Motsenbocker’s worried about the virus, and who isn’t? But he’s looking forward to playing shows when he can, showcasing his new album Someday I’ll Make It All Up To You. He was kind enough ...

“Medicine Show” webcast showcases Mrs. Henry’s puppeteering

The virus got so serious, so quick, that they ended up playing only one show of their projected spring tour. What’s a meticulously-planning band to do when they suddenly can’t play live? In the case ...

August 6, 2020
Museum of Making Music Carlsbad nears renovation completion

Carolyn Grant, executive director of the Museum of Making Music Carlsbad, came to music early and passionately. “This involvement [with playing music] is actually the core purpose of my life. As an older adult my ...

July 23, 2020
Stones tribute Jumping Jack Flash has a Spinal Tap moment

Playing Keith Richards for a living isn’t always a rock star trip, as Young Hutchinson, from Stones tribute band Jumping Jack Flash, can attest. A county fair stopped the Flash mid-set — for the sake ...

Mark Dresser’s musicianship cuts through it all

He played San Diego County Mental Health and watched a patient attack another patient during “Freedom Jazz Dance.” He went back to San Diego County Mental Health and made it through a “chilled” set of ...

July 2, 2020
The Gay Agenda party and pose their way past any shade

San Diego’s the Gay Agenda (the band) are so over “We’re here, we’re queer, get used to it.” They never left in the first place, they’re not going anywhere, and they’ll party and pose their ...

June 25, 2020
Virgin and child, with Kathryn Hatmaker on violin

The delicate, and little practiced art of hooking up musicians with paintings, doesn’t occur to a lot of people. But to Kathryn Hatmaker, San Diego violinist as well as artistic director for the Art of ...

Christopher Maddox: Dr. Demento got me started

Carlsbad’s Christopher Maddox aka the “Crisis Crooner” — Telematics Executive (whatever that means), husband, father, Elvis impersonator, civic booster, sculptor of online parody songs — watched the coronavirus creep through his Chinese business contacts; then ...

James Ian: strategic when I play

San Diego fixture James Ian, knows that looks don’t always tell the whole story. He’s been living with a secret challenge his entire life. “When most people see me just standing,” explains the musician/singer/songwriter, “they ...

May 14, 2020
The Garden: ditch the expectations

Soft tinkling and clonking sounds, whispered vocals, building with no warning to screaming, ranting, pounding, the vituperation of a mental patient who, left unchecked, might chuck a bottle through a window or soil his own ...

April 30, 2020
Imperial Triumphant’s Vile luxury: a retro-dystopian atmosphere

“People who aren’t from or living in New York City may not understand the duality of our existence. So many think they want to move here and start an exciting metropolitan life. In one sense ...

April 16, 2020
Six tanka by Andrew Hamlin

If you’ve thrown open the window in winter, stuck out your head to behold only whiteness... it still isn’t me He simmers, legs over arm of his chair and I took him first for a ...

April 2, 2020
The Districts: San Diego tour reminiscing

Now don’t get them wrong — The Districts, Pennsylvania by origin, love San Diego. They just wish certain laws weren’t quite so tight-assed. Singer/guitarist Rob Grote, remembers “playing Soda Bar before we were 21. We ...

April 2, 2020
Algiers comes out with guns blazing

“We’ve done San Diego several times,” recalls Lee Tesche from the band Algiers, which plays the Casbah March 21. “The first time was with Blood Ponies at the Soda Bar, I believe. This may have ...

March 5, 2020
Worst-ever touring stories from Caspian

“If one word sticks in my mind about shows in San Diego, it’s ‘sweat.’ We all get pretty soaked during shows, because we love to get into it. But San Diego is always next-level.” Jonny ...

January 16, 2020
Queensrÿche: The music between the notes

Queensrÿche, who will be 40 years into their prog-metal run by the time you read this, are painfully aware that they’ve got some members from the classic years who aren’t around anymore; and some songs ...

January 9, 2020
"Everyone thought we were sellouts" - the Penetrators' punk POV

An interview with Gary Heffern of the the Penetrators. What are your best, worst, and oddest stories of playing San Diego over the years? The best times were the early days, people don't realize the ...

December 27, 2019
Grossmont College’s Raul Sandelin releases short film on Gary Heffern

Heffern’s a hugger. “The best times were the early days. People don’t realize the hours of rehearsal and also how many parties and benefits we did… Country Dick Montana and I were on our usual ...

The “Bubblegum Doom” of Fox Medicine

Two-piece glam thrashers Fox Medicine only have one San Diego gig to recall. But they made that one memorable. “San Diego has an impressive music community, and for my tastes, it’s a goldmine of nonconformist, ...

November 28, 2019
Ten haiku by critic Andrew Hamlin

Poplars line far too long a short walk to the lake Train switching tracks never finishes... world spring run down Anubis, white-eyed in obsidian, glares — pinned to his wall Moon silver the samurai’s hilt ...

November 14, 2019
Brainstory record at Diamond Mine Studio for Big Crown Records

“One time it took me three hours to get to a gig in San Diego, and I was super late and we played for three people.” Brainstory drummer Eric Hagstrom hopes to improve that figure ...

November 14, 2019
Kiyoshi: rooted in the groove

Asked where to draw the line between soul and hip-hop, San Diego’s Kiyoshi is quick to say he doesn’t see any such line. “They are one,” he affirms. “In hip-hop, there is soul. Hip-hop is ...

November 7, 2019
Thousand Below’s The Hangover moment

They rock. They roll. They shred. They mangle. But one thing you don’t expect from Thousand Below, your favorite San Diego post-hardcore slamdown quintet, is finding a home for an abandoned baby in Austin, Texas. ...

Sacri Monti’s Spinal Tap moments

“Last summer, our tour manager had a sleepwalking problem. One mellow night at a hotel in Milan, Italy he got up while everyone was asleep and took a nap — butt naked — in the ...

August 1, 2019

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