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"I got hired in January as the new talent buyer/head of redevelopment at 4th and B," Chris Leyva tells the Reader. "I am opening up a new happy hour lounge at entrance/restaurant/snackbar on the second floor and a new museum on the other entrance of the San Diego History Museum with Bart Mendoza."

"One of the rooms will be sponsored by Ernie Ball the [guitar string] company! As part of my new job, I just booked Fastball and Marcy Playground, and [I'm] working on a dozen more, like Dramarama."

Leyva, who grew up in Mexico City, also books bands at other venues around town and co-manages the Black Cherry Group that he founded in 2006 with Reliable Records main man Jerry Segal. “We wanted to offer something positive in the midst of the slow demise of the music industry,” says Leyva of the downtown San Diego company. “We handle artist relations, concert promotion, and we do a lot of brand marketing. [Black Cherry Group] was envisioned as a company that could help artists with the nuts and bolts of the music industry.”

One great perk of running an artist rep agency: “The invitation I got through my email to the 2010 Grammy Awards, via Black Cherry Group. It was my first time at the Grammys, and it was as awkward as a high school prom. I was overdressed, and in all the pictures I look totally dazed. I got invited again [to the 2011 ceremony], and I kept it cooler, less dressy. I think I’m getting the hang of it, but I’m still not used to the red carpet.”

Known around town as the frontman for Blizzard, Leyva's 2008 solo debut Singled Out, produced by Lee Coulter, was nominated Best Local Recording at the San Diego Music Awards, while his 2009 release 27 was nominated for two SDMAs. The latter is more electronic-based than his previous projects, having been mastered and coproduced by Chris Reynolds, whose local techno act Red Flag made the Billboard top-ten charts back in 1988 with their song “Russian Radio.”

Many of his tunes are autobiographical. “I have a song called ‘New Life’ where I sing about being a rock-and-roll troubadour, always looking for adventures, romance, and inspiration."

I went searching for some fun last night/ Got so drunk almost got into a fight/ But I wouldn’t want a new life/ Or be stuck at home with new wife/ I’ll just take my throne and write a song for me

“My newest music is a mixture of indie pop, electronic dance music, and indie rock, making it a simple mix,” says Leyva. “Add to that the sound of British rock, with some acoustic troubadour, and that’s pretty much what you get with me.”


His 2012 full-length 1957 is a covers album with a punch of punk rock, made with the same spirit of the originals and featuring a cast of great musicians. Leyva takes center stage on songs by Elvis Presley, Eddie Cochran, Chuck Berry, Little Richard, Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller, Berry Gordy Jr. & Janie Bradford, Ben E king and Phil Spector, and Vera Matson. The cast also features the great guitar work of Phillip Griebel, the dual rythm section of Thomas Lord on bass, and Ryan Schillawski on the skins. Special appearances by world renowned saxophonist Blaise Garza and boogie woogie keys by Salvatore Filipelli.

“It’s similar to John Lennon’s Rock and Roll album,” Leyva tells the Reader. “There are two songs that are not from the 1950s, but we felt they were important, as they penned the progressions of the time: ‘Stand by Me’ and Phil Spector’s ‘Be My Baby.’ Both songs marked the birth of rock and roll production, and what better way to end the record. The album is made to be played from beginning to end, as if you were home or in your car listening to the radio, narrated by Alan Freed.”

Around the same time, Leyva released a solo full-length, Live Learn Loose. Leyva is currently playing around Southern California with his band Leyva & the Dead 67’s, which specializes in a mixture of early garage rock and punk.

The Dead 67’s “should have something released by summer,” Leyva tells the Reader. “Plus I have a summer album titled Summer of Life currently in the works, and a European and west coast tour is in the planning stages.”

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