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Stories by Ken Leighton

Unsteady never went away

"We’re all just nerds who want to keep going"

“We started this month in 1992,” says Unsteady founder/saxman John Roy. In fact, the ska-driven band has only gotten larger. “We used to have seven people. Now we’re up to nine. There were some years ...

Lou Niles launches new label

“I could never just sit there and just do a radio show”

The current co-hosts of Loudspeaker, 91X’s Sunday night local music show, have different ways of celebrating their longtime ties to the local music scene. Andrew Rowley launched his own production company that creates music videos ...

Sports in San Diego is not a way of life

Why The Fan radio will have tough time

The news that shock jock Kevin Klein was fired before he even started his first day on the new “97-3 The Machine” was not surprising to photographer Jesse Cuevas. He took the shot of the ...

The genesis of Malachi Henry

Americana before it was cool

Moving to Charlotte, North Carolina seemed like a good idea at the time. Harmonica player Ben Hernandez and fellow San Diegan singer/guitarist Nathan James had established an international presence as a rootsy blues duo by ...

Max Greenhalgh learned more in L.A. than S.D.

The multi-instrumentalist/producer/songwriter wanted to be all-in

Although he admits he almost gave up and moved back to North County, Max Greenhalgh says he is happy that he stuck it out and stayed in L.A. to pursue music. “It was a big ...

Small Town Heroes: A good vintage music show

"We made a financial decision to not be loud"

The Small Town Heroes are not about Marshall stacks, power chords or booming bass lines you can actually feel. They’re about traditional country. “Asleep at the Wheel are our foundation,” says founder Kevin Williams, referencing ...

After Lestat's, where?

Adam's Avenue acoustic venue shuts down after 15 years

San Diego’s premier acoustic music venue for the last 15 years is closing and it’s not ending on a happy note. The music showcase Lestat’s in Normal Heights is closing. The adjacent coffee house will ...

Talk radio Kevin Kline has Coronado Bridge problem

He tweets to rivals: “your audience soon will be ours”

“It looks like Kevin Klein staged his own suicide jump.” That’s what one competitor said when the ribald radio talk show host was a no-show for his first day on the San Diego airwaves. Klein ...

New radio station owner driven by deep hate for iHeartRadio

Meanwhile, iHeartMedia $20 billion in debt, bankrupt

“I believe they helped ruin the radio industry,” says La Jolla’s Marc Paskin, a former radio station owner, about iHeartMedia, the media group that owns billboards, promotes concerts, and owns 850 radio stations nationwide, including ...

Melvin Knurbein's last recordings

Dying drummer needs your help

“They just put him in hospice yesterday,” says bassist Mike Woods about Resevior Tips drummer Melvin Knurbein, a longtime member of the San Diego punk community also known from bands like Woodshed, the Untold, and ...

Cesar Gonzalez: Baja's new radio ambassador?

Borderless station — they'll sing and speak in Spanish and English.

When Mike Halloran started at 91X three decades ago, he and the other DJs had to drive down to the studios in Tijuana. “We didn’t try to hide the fact that we broadcast from Mexico.” ...

Belly up Kaabooted from Del Mar

Del Mar board member said Kaaboo was “falsifying facts to government officials.”

Belly Up Kaabooted Artist renderings were unveiled last week for the Del Mar Fairground’s planned state-of-the-art concert venue that will be ready next year. The two-story venue will have polished cement floors, balconies, multiple bars, ...

Sisster synth

“I think kids in Mexico appreciate electronic music more”

In her previous music life, Viri Dimayuga fronted Viri and Los Bandidos. She was backed by a male band as she sang original rockabilly tunes en Español. Two years ago, Dimayuga gave up performing in ...

Adios Oysterfest

Eight years and done for the music and food event

It was learned last week one longtime local music fest will not be back this year. Headliners at last year’s 8th Annual Oysterfest June 9 and 10 included Matisyahu and local bands Rocket From the ...

Oceanside Monarch vs. Encinitas Monarch

Name-sharing leads to confusion

The Metal Monarch is none too pleased. Monarch is an Encinitas-based Allman Brothers–ish instrumental jam band. They released their album Two Isles in 2016. One problem: there was another band named Monarch that had been ...

Crazy when there were mosh pits

UCSD's Ché Cafe to re-open

After a long dormancy that involved a threatened eviction, a widespread community reaction, and a last-minute rescue from chancellor Pradeep Kholsa, UCSD’s Che Café will finally reopen after a year of being shuttered. “We’re waiting ...

Second-generation San Diego talent

Like dad-mom, like son-daughter

Guitarist Jerry Raney of the world famous cow punkers the Beat Farmers often shares the stage with his son, guitarist/drummer Nathan. And Josh Kmak’s Undertone album (recorded under the name Creepseed) was one of the ...

The Machine spits out 97-3 DJs

Music programming out, talk-radio featuring The Men's Room in

On March 1st, San Diego’s all-music station known for three years as “Energy 97-3” was “blown up,” as they say in the radio business. The upshot: there is one less local station playing the hits ...

TV on the music

Local shows featuring local bands diminish by one

The opportunities for local artists to get TV face-time just got slimmer with the news that Tonight in San Diego has suspended production. The Tonight Show–style program was most visible in February and March of ...

Career as rockin' tattoo artist not recommended

“Right now I’m booked nonstop; other weeks, it’s crickets."

Mike Stobbe of North Park’s Avalon Tattoo started inking San Diego’s most famous rock stamp 25 years ago. “I did at least 100 to 150,” he says of the Rocket From the Crypt rockets he ...

Copacabana clubbed

Music and passion aren't always the thing

Tara Cardenas ran an all-ages venue in Lemon Grove called Mesopotamia in the mid ’90s. Two decades later, her ongoing support of local music led her to open a bar featuring local bands. Her tenure ...

Going up: Band of Gringos and the Holding Company

O.B. natives don't sniff at the thought of an improved venue to play

The January demolition of the Ocean Beach bar/music venue named the Holding Company helped put its owner in the social-media crosshairs. Was Steve Yeng, also the co-owner/operator (with his brothers) of the OB Noodle House ...

Skate punks don’t die after all

Music sells the boards that sell the music

Does action sports still connect with rock? Not so much, if you consider the Warped Tour, which was built on the fusion of punk and skate cultures and is folding after 24 years. Or that ...

Pulled up by roots reggae royalty

"Someone wrote we should call ourselves ‘Ginger Roots’ on a five-dollar bill."

Long before the Rolling Stones played the Belly Up, internationally famous musicians started popping up at the Solana Beach music showcase in the early ’80s. One of the first was bassist Fully Fullwood, who had ...

Del Mar fair board lowers boom on Kaaboo

"We were hit with complaints we had never heard before."

In a surprising show of open animosity, members of the board that run the Del Mar Fairgrounds launched attacks against Kaaboo at its monthly board meeting on February 13th. The fourth annual Kaaboo music fest ...

Black-metal punks

“It’s unfortunate, but a lot of the local bands play for free or for beer."

Patrick Erhard is the lead singer/bassist of Ash Williams, the punk band that one reviewer said “wishes it was a black metal band.” The SDSU grad started booking his own punk shows two years ago. ...

Thanks for the chops, School of Rock

Elise Trouw also credits jazz band at Bishop's School for musicianship

San Diego’s Elise Trouw got bumped from Jimmy Kimmel Live January 30. Was the local 18-year-old multi-instrumentalist bummed because porno actress Stormy Daniels hogged all her time? “I wasn’t worried about it,” says Trouw. “These ...

Plans for 91-year-old Carlsbad theater unclear

“This is just what we need. Another brewery.”

“Where is the historical society?” That comment appeared February 7th on the Carlsbad Locals Facebook page shortly after the news broke of the sale of the Carlsbad Village Theater. The 91-year-old downtown theater was Carlsbad’s ...

The Dodges will avoid autotune influence

"There are still people who crave music that doesn’t go through a computer.”

Alex Snyder, guitarist with the Dodges, doesn’t get worked up over the fact that Coachella’s three main headliners this year are Beyoncé, Eminem, and the Weeknd. “If we wanted to have huge shows and make ...

Powerballs hits Rock Lotto, keeps in the Pink

Random gig leads to a steady one at house that Reises built

Veteran singer/songwriter/guitarist Chris Henry says his new project dubbed Powerballs proves it’s good to avoid rock ’n’ roll inbreeding. “We all wanted to experience something outside our own gene pool,” says Henry, best known for ...

Corre Diablo taps into the Rage

"Maybe you guys should consider getting a white guy to sing lead for you."

While the San Diego/L.A. band artist migration usually goes south to north, for Xavier Delgado it was the other way around. He moved here two years ago from East L.A. to get his master’s in ...

Captain Morgan Lee revives the meatier soul

When not onstage, Henry Wallace drives a bus, marches with Panthers

When he works the MTS late shift, Henry Wallace takes on different routes until he gets off at 3 a.m. “I’ll pick up domestic workers who are getting off work at the Hotel Del who ...

Homeless Sexual record-shop owner keeps the faith

“Cassettes have come back really big but I didn’t see it coming."

When Jeff Clark was hit by a train in Little Italy last June, the 20 employees at his Thrift Trader stores in PB and North Park immediately lost their jobs. The used records and retro ...

Flogging will continue

Pro skater/accordionist Matt Hensley's brew scene beats bar ownership

Practice sessions for Flogging Molly’s Matt Hensley used to be a pain. He’s been in North County for decades. The other six Celtic punkers lived in greater L.A. Lately it’s gotten a lot harder for ...

Year of the Snakes — Hot ones

San Diego's prime specimens prepare to strike

It was 25 years ago when major record label reps came to town to scout local bands such as Inch, Lucy’s Fur Coat, and Truman’s Water. San Diego was called the “next Seattle,” suggesting the ...

Belly Up vs. Kaaboo

Longtime locals poised to book new Del Mar track venue — but wait...

The coast was clear for the Belly Up Tavern to take over booking for the state-of-the-art concert venue located on the Del Mar Fairgrounds. A committee appointed by the board that oversees the fairgrounds (the ...

This just in: Observatory's troubles far from over

Venue's 15-day suspension over, but issues remain with fire dept., code compliance

Lt. Steven Behrendt of the San Diego Police Department’s Vice Operations issued the following statement this morning (January 17th): “Based on the incident that happened at the Observatory on June 7, 2017, and other prior ...

North Park Observatory allegedly under observation

Latest abrupt show postponement said to be related to XXXTentacion incident

Fire department spokeswoman Monica Muñoz didn’t respond to a request for comments on specifics, but a different government source explains that the North Park Observatory won't be putting on any shows this week due to ...

Private Domain guys hit 40

Butler and Shaffer started in Bratz back in '77

As of 2018, Private Domain guitarist Jack Butler and front man Paul Shaffer have been playing together locally, nonstop, for 40 years. Shaffer began in 1977 when he led Bratz through Aerosmith, Stones, and Zeppelin ...

San Diego for its reggae and girls, for starters

Dubbest gladly pays the price to live here

If the cliché held true, you’d think any local reggae band would endorse the arrival of the new pot laws. Not necessarily, says guitarist/singer Cory Mahoney of Dubbest (pronounced dah-BEST). “The whole tax they added ...

San Diego pop-punk-rock-reggae-hip-hop encore

Breakups, career moves, venue booms and busts of 2017

While no locals dominated the national scene in 2017, Unwritten Law, Clint Westwood, Cattle Decapitation, Little Hurricane, Quel Bordel, and Earl Thomas continue to tour the world. And while the fall-off in record sales continues ...

Brown-chicken brown-cow tunes had to go

Aaron Thompson traded bass-rocker life for porn and whiskey

Last we heard from Aaron Thompson he was playing about 100 dates a year in Stranger's Six. After over six years, Stranger's Six folded in 2009. Members Tommy Garcia and Evan Ehrich went on to ...

Dinettes reopen 40 years later

New-wave riders of SoCal punk scene catch 21st-century swell

Before the Go-Go’s became famous, there was the Dinettes, San Diego’s first (and only) all-female new-wave band that was there right alongside San Diego’s first-generation punksters the Zeros, Dils, and Hitmakers. “We weren’t really punk, ...

Will Tegna drain the KFMB talent pool?

A wary eye cast toward the new ownership of local media company

Will longtime anchor Barbara-Lee Edwards be shown the door when News 8 gets swallowed up by a Virginia company next year? Could sports anchor Kyle Kraska get the axe when new owners get the keys ...

The time Scott Szikla evaded Russian arrest

"We got to fly from Helsinki to Osaka for, like, $400. It was freezing.”

San Diego–born-and-raised guitarist Scott Szikla, 29, who grew up Poway a few years after blink-182 and Unwritten Law became popular, played his first awkward teenage gigs at the Epicentre. He eventually became assistant manager and ...

King Schascha of the dancehall

Trinidadian and Tobagonian toaster once a Marine, now a soccer lobbyist

Frontman Dave Wakeling is the only original member of the two-tone British ska band that moved from England to Southern California over 25 years ago. He calls all the shots. “The rest of us are ...

The last from Lemmy

Pacific Records releases Motörhead frontman's last tune

Brian Witkin’s dad performed at Woodstock as a member of Sha Na Na. The son had experienced success running a CD store at the all-ages Epicentre music venue. But a major setback ten years ago ...

So it goes in the jazz desert

Paris is calling supper-club chanteuse Sacha Boutros

“In some cities, like New York, if you bring the goods they appreciate you for your art,” says homegrown jazz chanteuse Sacha Boutros, who just returned after spending a month in Paris (where she’ll move ...

Florida blues behind her

Lindsay Perry's western migration pays off

Although there are some decent surf breaks back home, pro surfer Lindsay Perry says Central Florida is nothing like San Diego. “My dad used to catch alligators with his hands,” she says about her upbringing ...

Queen Bee's northern migration

Arts center planned for Oceanside

Alma Rodriguez is meeting with city officials to launch a Queen Bee’s in Oceanside. Since 2009, the Puerto Rican–born impresario has hosted bands, poetry slams, and swing, salsa, and samba dance lessons at the 250-capacity ...