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Stories by Ken Leighton

North San Diego County GOP survivors: Chris Rodriguez, John Franklin, Rocky Chavez

Rodriguez attends Democrats' meeting but poked into leaving

“The Republican party asked me to run against [Congressman] Mike Levin in 2020,” says GOP-up-and-comer Christopher Rodriguez. The Hispanic father of six checks a lot of political boxes. He’s a Purple Heart-decorated, USMC Iraq War ...

North San Diego County – newspaper desert

Vista had access to seven different dailies

Bartender Steve Menzel easily sees between 75 and 300 customers daily during his eight-hour shifts at Larry’s Beach Club. Menzel has been a bartender at the restaurant/bar on Oceanside Boulevard west of Coast Highway for ...

Oceanside's Pour House owners have big plans for Firewater

“This is still a blue collar, gritty surf community”

The harsh way Firewater Saloon in downtown Oceanside was closed September 25 is not how the state Alcoholic Beverage Control (ABC) usually deals with bar owners it doesn’t like. Firewater owners were given a ten-day ...

Monster Paws’ Mario Rivera edits Strange 80s documentary for charity

Documentary is about mental health is perceived and how depression can impact everyone

Once again Mario Rivera has proven that operating a video editing console can be as valuable to your band as playing an instrument. The video he created for “Champagne Bike Ride” not only helped him ...

Vista's main pot promoter loses chance for own dispensary

“My ball came up 31st out of 31"

In spite of city council opposition, citizens of Vista voted in November to allow 11 new dispensaries to sell medicinal weed legally. But due to a last-minute decision by the city, the man largely responsible ...

No major changes to Fairfield Inn and Suites in Oceanside

Neighborhood groups get money but won't say how much

City council candidate Michael Odegaard should be happy that local activist Nadine Scott sued a developer who wanted to build the “prison hotel” development in his neighborhood. Scott sued in June over plans to build ...

Camp Pendleton Marine faithful to homeless brothers

Will ask Palomar College for part of parking lot

Florida native Anthony White II taught marksmanship to new recruits in bootcamp. Like many Camp Pendleton Marines, White had a post-Corps life plan when his four years of service was over in 2015. “When I ...

Wild West at Oceanside Airport

Monday night's death in fog

Tim Broom was not happy that a small plane crashed about 700 yards from his home near Highway 76. But when his interview aired on News 8’s 11 pm Tuesday night newscast, he could not ...

Shindigs enjoy bountiful record label attention

“When I first heard about it, it seemed very, very odd,”

For the first seven albums he’s appeared on, bass player Grant Glibert did what most local artists do. He and his bandmates in four different bands (Splavender, Slay Dean, Big Bloom, Citrus) ponied up their ...

Punk Big Bang

The Penetrators reunite for the Casbah’s 30th anniversary

While the Casbah’s 30th is a milestone, the Penetrators reunion show packs a bigger numerical punch. Their first reunion show in five years on Friday marks the 40th anniversary for the trailblazing band that dominated ...

Former cop Ryan Keim gets surprise nod for O'side council

Witowich takes name out of consideration

Being tied to Oceanside Police can either be a blessing or the kiss of death if you want to become an Oceanside city councilman. It worked just fine for Jim Wood who was elected to ...

Change coming to Oceanside pier

Tiki culture to make an appearance

“Bamboo Ben” Bassham has been involved in creating more than 20 tiki bars from San Francisco to Georgia. After he remade them in his version of Polynesian paradise, the bars and restaurants saw business pick ...

Oceanside council pick a done deal?

Witowich would keep conservative majority

“Oceanside is a big city. But it’s just like a small town. You can’t keep a secret here.” That’s from one of 23 candidates who applied for a vacancy created on the city council that ...

Born to drum

Three minutes of percussion glory

This is the 50th anniversary of “In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida” by San Diego’s Iron Butterfly. The 17-minute rock opus was known for taking up one entire album side. Its mid-song drum solo helped grease the wheels for the ...

Big Sonic New Year’s Eve

XIV can veer from “Erykah Badu-meets-Radiohead” to industrial-Afrobeat

Consider XIV, a loosely-structured La Mesa congregation that joyfully lives in the loungey music groove known as Big Sonic Chill. Nathan Samuels (keyboards, trumpet, vocals) and wife/partner Kelly Samuels (vocals, flute, keyboard, percussion) have anchored ...

Mexicans cut off the Max 105.7

American operators behind in rent?

A high-stakes struggle over the airwaves between a Mexican radio owner and his San Diego-based operator spilled over onto the airwaves today resulting in DJs being yanked off the air and commercials for San Diego ...

Brylcreem roots

Find Navy SEALs favorite watering hole in Coronado

Founded by former Navy SEAL Greg McPartlin 36 years ago, McP’s in Coronado is probably most famous for being the favorite local watering hole for current and former Navy SEALs. Or for being the place ...

Oceanside flood damage was avoidable

Why was drain clogged? Why was street open?

The video of 19-year-old hot dogger Lukas Soelberg surfing on the flooded South Oceanside block December 8 went viral. NBC-7 reported an immediate 40,000 hits of the street surfer getting towed by a rope. The ...

New beginning for Dewey Defeats Truman

"We realize how fun it is to play music again.”

For a decade bassist/singer James Reader and drummer Scott Frazier were in two different “Casbah bands” that went on to get national buzz: Red Dye No. 5 and, later, Dewey Defeats Truman. The 1995 Red ...

Oceanside – the good and bad news

Hobby Lobby, WinCo, Orfilia Winery coming. TE Connectivity leaving.

Oceanside’s shady days as a wild jarhead romper room are long gone. Residential land values continue to bound upward. Its commercial profile flourishes with the soon-to-be-announced specifics of the new "pier hotel" by developer SD ...

How to bring poor people to Del Mar

Annex Surf & Turf from San Diego

Will Del Mar horse groomers and fairground carnies be the next group to get squeezed out in the ongoing housing shakedown? Those temporary Del Mar fairground employees may eventually feel the pain due to a ...

Coffee music

Daniel Charlson unveils his all-vinyl Dark Horse Coffee Records

“When I saw Starbucks get into music” — selling CDs in-store and running its own label — “I thought it was a genius idea,” says local coffee entrepreneur Daniel Charlson. “I thought what they were ...

Hard rock sweet spot

I have learned if you want to get paid, play for bikers

Rob Farr was embedded in the glammed-up hair metal scene that ruled West Hollywood’s Sunset Strip in the mid-’80s. “There was band called Ruby Slippers which were basically Poison before they became Poison,” says Farr ...

Chris Heaney’s venues venture

La Mesa’s Navajo Live — his latest — is now paying off

A glam-metal headbanger from Philly has been hosting live bands in San Diego for 26 years. “My first club was the Playhouse on El Cajon Boulevard,” recalls Chris Heaney about his first venue that he ...

This would be embarrassing for Oceanside - story updated

City treasurer candidate grilled, but no answer

UPDATE: Brenda Moore of the UCLA Registrar's office called back three days after she was first contacted October 30 to confirm Victor Roy in fact did graduate from UCLA with a degree in geography in ...

San Diego’s Ammar Campa-Najjar runs for congress, sings campaign song

Southwestern College professor Peter Bolland enlisted to write it

Ammar Campa-Najjar, who got national publicity as a mixed-race underdog running to unseat an indicted congressman can sing, too. A just-released music video has him singing an original song written by his former professor at ...

Oceanside mulling Brother Benno's

Beneficiaries irritating businesses close by

“Brother Benno’s has got to go,” says an irate businessperson in the Oceanside Industrial Park about how the visitors to a not-for-profit support center has impacted her business. “I don’t have a barber pole because ...

Vice dream job for Unherd host

Local TV producer laments Alex Zaragoza’s move to New York

The on-air hosts producer Scott Richison selects for his locally produced TV shows move on bigger and better things. He tapped music writer and TV novice Troy Johnson to host Fox Rox (2002-2007). The weekly ...

Say goodbye to Java Joe's

The name may be changing, but the music will go on

The name may be changing, but the music will go on

A conscious tone with an unusual tact

Recorded in South Africa, Latex Grenade’s The Cage “is a protest to American exceptionalism”

Legacy reputations have drawn artists to record albums at studios in Muscle Shoals, Rockfield Wales, or the Caribbean island of Montserrat. But South Africa? “We wanted to work with [South African producer/musician] Theo Crous,” explains ...

Dave Myers, rabble rouser

Tells all about Sheriff Gore's body cameras and private jails

When 33-year San Diego Sheriff Department veteran Commander Dave Myers announced he would be running to unseat Sheriff Bill Gore, he says his boss tried to humiliate him in front of the force. “He took ...

Cult Muzic collective: three different rappers, a comic, a lively stage show, and a producer

“We’re like the Beastie Boys plus mushrooms times alien”

Five years ago, rapper Van Brando (born Brandon Van Eklenberg) was driven by anger. His lyrics told how his imprisoned father “fucked up his family” and how that pent-up anger led to his going to ...

Main Attraction leaving downtown Oceanside

Strip club gives way to five-story housing complex

Gentrification has accomplished what eluded city bureaucrats for decades. Oceanside’s Main Attraction, North County’s only remaining topless club, is going away. A five-story 308-unit, apartment complex is proposed as its replacement. Known to locals as ...

Greyboy Allstars: the greatest band that never was

Members add scores for feature films and performing with the Rolling Stones to their repertoire

Maybe with a little more planning, the upcoming Greyboy Allstars show could have been hyped differently. “I guess it is our 25th anniversary, isn’t it,” says keyboardist Robert Walter about his funk/soul/jazz quintet. “Maybe we ...

Vista's Paintbooth: no-cover venue for all age music fans

“I like smaller DIY venues like this. I like the intimacy factor.”

Adrian "Marty" Martinez sings and plays bass in Vietnam Hardcore, a punk trio based in his native Vista. Late last year he was fed up that North County had become a wasteland for live shows. ...

Oceanside's Firewater Saloon feels unwelcome

Who has $50K to fight the ABC?

The owner of a downtown Oceanside bar claims the city is railroading her out of business all because of a move to gentrify downtown. “Since we bought this bar two-and-a-half years ago we have never ...

Coronado Bridge photo final blow to 97-3 comedy radio

Will KFSD ever stop playing Sinatra and Peggy Lee?

Attention photographers: Even if you don’t copyright your work, you can still collect a nice settlement if your photo is used without permission. That’s what Jesse Cuevas of Normal Heights learned last week when a ...

Tolan Shaw's Road to Nashville

“I still have songs I wrote in Nashville that are yet to be recorded”

Tolan Shaw's Road to Nashville

Oceanside Swap Meet sellers wait and wonder

Zephyr bought land for homes

The 20-year-old swap meet on Highway 76 which has had the reputation with locals as one big garage sale, is populated by vendors who pay $15 on Saturday or $45 on a Sunday to sell ...

Free hip-hop and BBQ

Hip-hop promotor celebrates 2-year anniversary of Skoolyard Records in Oceanside

Free hip-hop and BBQ

Song writing royalty

Encinitas local has a “Peaceful Easy Feeling” about songwriting success

Song writing royalty

After Rocky Chavez pull-out, a Democrat in-fight

Is Dem machine worried about Oceanside's Elizabeth Warren?

The top two primary candidates who advanced to the November election to replace Republican Rocky Chavez as assemblyman from the 76th District, were both Democratic women. That area of North County — Oceanside, Carlsbad, Vista, ...

Hunter, Chavez mailers scrutinized

Will elder Duncan Hunter appear on ballot?

When congressman Darryl Issa said he would not stand for reelection, Rocky Chavez gave up his seat as state assemblyman representing Oceanside, Carlsbad, Encinitas, and Vista so he could run for Issa’s seat. While early ...

Sanctuary city and pot become Vista fault lines

Dispensary signature gatherers fake out soccer moms

Although fists didn’t actually fly at the June 26 Vista City Council meeting, after a seven week summer break, Councilman Joe Green apologized to council colleague John Franklin at the very next meeting August 14.

Rain messed up our pedals

"I’d rather play in the desert than Florida.”

Drummer Jeremy Hilliard of Mira Mesa pop-punk band Lighterburns happily paid his Warped Tour dues. He or one of his bandmates volunteered as a tour tech on the three previous tours, just to get a ...


The Paladins and the Stray Cats reunite

The Paladins and the Stray Cats like to get together as often as they can. Even if it takes 36 years. “The last time we played together was like 1982,” says Paladins stand-up bassist Thomas ...

Look out!

Skydivers over Oceanside

Drew Andrioff was suspicious about a driver “creeping up and down my street” in the middle of the day. The 495 houses in his Wanis View Estates neighborhood — between the Oceanside Municipal Airport and ...

Waving AR-15 is red flag to Californians

But red meat in Oceanside

Mauro Campos, 37, served four years in the Marines in the infantry company known as Suicide Charley. After working construction and in a local airplane engine shop, he now manages a gun store called Firearms ...


“I really want to emphasize this was our upbringing and this is who we are.”

Logan Heights born-and-raised Pablo Cervantez has always been low key about Beach Goons. But that’s all about to change, says the singer/guitarist/songwriter about his trio that grew out of the local garage punk scene. Cervantez, ...

You can never win in Carlsbad

Episcopal church wrestles with retirement home and pickleball

The Carlsbad By The Sea Retirement Community’s ten-year waiting list makes it one of the more popular residences of the ten-facility Front Porch Retirement Community group. The minimum entry fee for the 147-room complex on ...

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