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Stories by Ken Leighton

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 ...

Don't hate Meth Breath because they're straightedge

"We are not militant or in your face.”

Meth Breath lead singer Jimmy Rodgers was hoping that by giving his band a tongue-in-cheek name it might help defuse the uptight attitude some have about straightedge bands. Straightedge punks don’t drink, smoke, or do ...

Music venue bloom

Breweries, Moose Lodge, and don't forget about Quartyard 2.0

Oceanside, San Diego County’s third largest city, has seen a boom in the opening of music venues. Three breweries — Midnight Jack, Black Plague, and Legacy — now host bands on a regular basis. Co-founder ...

Punk Yacht Club's silly sailors

"We wanted the goofball approach of the Bloodhound Gang or Blink-182.”

Punk Yacht Club happened after Connecticut-raised Jesse Goodwick and ex-Bostonian Greg Marsh moved out here from the East Coast. For a while, Goodwick had a real job that used his mechanical engineering degree. “Then I ...

Bad Kids on reverb

South Bay four-piece doesn't hesitate to respect the word of law

After four and a half years, two albums, and two EPs, Bad Kids are finally getting a buzz. The poppy surf punkers from Imperial Beach played to a standing-room-only audience at the House of Blues’ ...

Energy 103.7 gets cranked down-dial

New ownership gives Top 40 station a swift country kick

Listeners of Energy 103.7 were given a rude awakening Friday, November 17, when they discovered their favorite station wasn’t playing the hits by Pink, Kesha, and the Chainsmokers. Instead they were hit with some country ...

Pedal to the metal

"There are at least 1000 guitarists for every steel-guitar player."

When retired veterinarian Jim Palenscar opened the Steel Guitars of North County store 15 years ago, he knew his storefront was destined to be more about personal gratification than a business slam-dunk. “It’s such a ...

Youngblood blues

Casey Hensley's record deal avoids the sometimes messy

To help launch her career internationally, North County blues belter Casey Hensley turned to Vizztone Records’ more streamlined approach to market her first album, Casey Hensley Live, featuring Laura Chavez, released three weeks ago. “This ...

Goodnight, Irenic

North Park church rumored to be ending band appearances

The Irenic, the 70-year-old North Park church building that for the past six years doubled as a 450-capacity music venue, seemed to be the perfect place for headliners who wanted an all-ages venue but were ...

Spice Pistols aim to entertain

"What was missing was the visual aspect of a live show."

The point of the Spice Pistols — a bunch of middle-aged rocker dudes who sing Spice Girls songs as if they were played by the Sex Pistols — is not just about gender-bending camp. ”It’s ...

Finnegan Blue's conga line starts to move

"We finally clawed our way into the North Park Festival of the Arts.”

Anna Lee Fleming was born and raised in North Park. “I have definitely seen a transition,” says the founder/songwriter/lead singer of Finnegan Blue. “When I was first going to school my parents wouldn’t let me ...

Reggae-ready for 2018

Longtime President's Day concert rebranded "Boomshaka"

As noted in a September 6 “Blurt” article, the popularity of reggae was pointing to a resurrection of the all-day reggae festival that had been held at the Valley View Casino Center (Sports Arena) every ...

Boom — new music fest in I.B.

P.O.D. partners with Mike Halloran for summer concert pierside

P.O.D., the South Bay rap-metal band that broke out 25 years ago with radio hits such as “Alive” and “Youth of the Nation,” was on the radio recently to announce its Lower Left Fest, a ...

And the alt-rock-radio war raged on

Big shows, longtime DJs, and Art Laboe cram into the 94/9 vs. 91X picture frame

Singer/songwriter/guitarist Timothy Joseph never imagined his band playing the Sports Arena, which over 50 years has also hosted everyone from Bowie to Zeppelin. The Buckfast Superbee indie-rock quartet launched in 1997 and went dormant eight ...

Longtime busker in the house

Lena Evans isn’t done playing the street — she’s done living there

Homelessness tormented singer/songwriter Lena Evans for much of the past two decades. “I grew up in San Diego. I’ve been homeless on and off since I was 14 by simple choices and mistakes I made ...

Guitarman dealt a hand that will be played

Paul Hartley gigs just a few days after boating accident

Paul Hartley is a Point Loma real estate broker with a power boat moored at Shelter Island. “My grandfather taught me to sail before I was five,” he says. He’s also known as the singer/guitarist ...

Low-budget Beatles tribute keeps it real

Baja Bugs got together in '89 for a friend's wedding

For the 40th anniversary of the pioneering San Diego punk band the Zeros, cofounder Hector Penalosa has planned...not much. “There doesn’t seem to be a big brouhaha about it,” the singer/bassist says. “No one is ...

Jason Lee in orchestral ecstasy

"I wrote 11 different charts. It took me three months.”

“When Metallica [played with an orchestra], it blew me away,” says Jason Lee, a veteran rocker who has fronted the surf-guitar-inspired Riptides for 13 years. Lee took the orchestral plunge with his other band called ...

Vandals on the straight and narrow

“We’re playing a cruise ship with the Offspring and the Buzzcocks."

Orange County proto-punkers the Vandals haven’t had a new member since 1989. Joe Escalante joined shortly after the band formed in 1980. “If you told me back then I’d still be playing in my 50s ...

Virtual Strangers see bluer grass in Nashville

"All they can think of when they hear it is hillbillies and blacked-out teeth.”

Mike Tatar has been proudly playing bluegrass for 40 years, in spite of the hayseed prejudice. “I know a lot of [venue owners] who say, ‘I love your music in general,’” he says. “But they ...

Warpath follows ancestors, inspired by Pantera

“We’re in that dog-eat-dog industry. Everybody in rock has a gimmick."

If you’ve ever hiked in the woods near Julian, you’ve seen those holes in hillside boulders where the native Americans used to grind acorns for food. Dean Osuna, drummer of hard rockin’ Warpath, explains what ...

Vista councilman regrets leash-free vote

John Franklin aims to get Buena Vista Park ordinance rescinded

On August 22, the Vista City Council approved a one-year experiment to allow unleashed dogs at the “Trails” area of Buena Vista Park in Vista’s Shadowridge area. Its passage allowed dogs to legally run free ...

Cattle Decapitation rolls through Deathfest

“It’s a mellow community based on a brotherhood or sisterhood.”

It’s unusual that a local band can share stories about their latest tour to Europe. Cattle Decapitation, the extreme metal band that goes whole hog to support animal rights and other environmental issues, did its ...

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