News and Trivia from San Diego’s Music Scene

by Bart MendozaAugust 2011

News and Trivia from San Diego’s Music Scene and Reviews from Here, There and Everywhere…

San Diego Music Awards August 8

The 21th Annual San Diego Music Awards will be held on Monday, August 8, at the cities most scenic outdoor concert venue, Humphrey’s by the Bay. 27 Awards will be given out by guest presenters in categories ranging from “Best Jazz” to “Best Hard Rock Album.”

Live performances will include: Surf rock band Wavves, indie rock groups Dynamite Walls and The Silent Comedy, blues favorites Candye Kane & Sue Palmer, jazz trumpeter Gilbert Castellanos, alt-blues duo Little Hurricane and hip-hop combo Cuckoo Chaos. A Lifetime Achievement Award will be presented to the members of Southern California legends, The Penetrators.

The Penetrators were a driving force in San Diego’s music scene from the late seventies through the early eighties. In addition to receiving their award, the band will perform a brief set.
The event is open to the public, with proceeds from the San Diego Music Foundation event going to the Taylor Guitars in Schools program, bringing music back to elementary schools throughout San Diego County.

Past Lifetime Achievement winners include seminal punk band The Zeros (2009) (who performed with Wayne Kramer), Nick Reynolds of the Kingston Trio (2007), who appeared with John Stewart, songwriter Jack Tempchin (2003) (who performed with Johnny Rivers) and fifties pop crooner Frankie Laine (1999).


Who from San Diego has been on SNL?
Ever wonder what San Diego related artists have appeared to date on Saturday Night Live ?? Here ya go.

  • 02/21/76 Desi Arnaz
  • 12/11/76 Frank Zappa / Candice Bergen
  • 04/09/77 Tom Waits / Julian Bond
  • 03/11/78 Stephen Bishop / Art Garfunkel
  • 10/11/78 Frank Zappa
  • 04/11/92 Pearl Jam / Sharon Stone
  • 11/20/93 Stone Temple Pilots / Nicole Kidman
  • 04/16/94 Pearl Jam / Emilio Estevez
  • 05/10/97 Jewel / John Goodman
  • 11/14/98 Jewel / Joan Allen
  • 01/08/00 Blink 182 / Jamie Foxx
  • 04/20/02 POD / Alec Baldwin
  • 04/15/02 Pearl Jam / Lindsay Lohan
  • 10/04/08 The Killers (w/Ray Suen) / Anne Hathaway
  • 01/31/09 Jason Mraz / Steve Martin

Stephen Bishop Soundtracks

Reprinting this by request: “Just recently someone mentioned to me that it was a shame that Stephen Bishop never did anything after “Save it For A Rainy Day” and “On & On.” Of course he did. Indeed, 15 albums to date. Most other major tracks for Bishop were on movie soundtracks, such as “Animal House” and “It Might Be You.” Indeed, soundtracks is where you had the highest likelyhood to find a new tune from Bishop, though his biggest hit came via a cover of his song “Separate Lives,” when sung by Phil Collins.” Here are the movies you’ll hear his songs in:

1998 Barney’s Big Adventure “You Can Do Anything”
1993 Hearts & Souls “My Heart & Soul”
1991 All I Want For Christmas “All I Want For Christmas”
1987 Someone to Love “Looking for the Right One”
1986 The Boy Who Could Fly “Walkin’ On Air”
1986 The Money Pit “The Heart Is So Willing”
1986 The Care Bears Movie II: A New Generation “I Care For You” “Growing Up”
1985 White Nights “Separate Lives”
1985 Movers & Shakers “Can’t We Go Home Again”
1984 Micki + Maude “Something New In My Life”
1984 Unfaithfully Yours “Unfaithfully Yours (One Love)”
1982 Tootsie “Tootsie” ,“It Might Be You” “Montage Pastorale”, “ Media Zap”
1982 Summer Lovers “If Love Takes You Away”
1980 Roadie “Your Precious Love” (with Yvonne Elliman)
1980 Arthur “It’s Only Love”
1979 The China Syndrome “Somewhere in Between”
1978 Moment By Moment “Everybody Needs Love”
1978 Animal House “Animal House”, “Dream Girl”,”The Riddle Song”

Additionally he can be heard in the following films

2007 Margot at the Wedding “On and On”
2007 The Hitcher “On and On”
2005 Son of the Mask “What A Wonderful World”
2003 How To Deal “On and On”

Not including musical spots on such shows as The Tonight Show, American Bandstand, Solid Gold and Saturday Night Live, Bishop has also had a side career of cameo acting appearances in TV , voice over work and movie appearances:

2010 Family Guy Animated person
1992 Tiny Tune Adventures Mailman
1987 Someone to Love Blue London
1983 The Twilight Zone Movie G.I.
1981 Laverne & Shirley Malcom, love interest
1980 Blues Brothers State Trooper
1978 Animal House Sensitive singer-songwriter
1978 Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band Closing scene guest
1977 Kentucky Fried Movie Charming Guy

Elton John / San Diego

Elton John, one of the greatest songwriters of all time has been no stranger to San Diego. Here are the dates played, so far:

09/18/1971 Convention Hall Third US Tour
10/27/1972 Sports Arena Legs Larry Tour
09/01/1973 Balboa Stadium Elton John Tour 1973 w/Steely Dan
10/08/1974 Sports Arena 1974 Tour w/Kiki Dee
09/29/1975 Sports Arena Rock of the Westies
10/29/1980 Sports Arena 1980 World Tour
03/22/1995 Jack Murphy Stadium Face to Face w/ Billy Joel
08/18/1998 Coors Amphitheatre Big Picture Show
01/19/2001 Cox Arena Face to Face 2001 w/ Billy Joel
12/09/2001 Cox Arena Elton & The Band Tour
05/05/2005 Cox Arena Elton & The Band Tour
07/24/2010 Cricket Wireless Amphi. Elton & The Band Tour


Not so much “reviews” as stream of consciousness writings as I listen to various new arrivals…

Berkley Hart — Las Vegas

This disc is just like every other Berkley Hart album released so far: Superb acoustic guitar based tunes topped by the wonderful voices of Calman Hart and Jeff Berkley. Seriously, they have two of the best matched voices in music today and the song writing skills to back them up. The production here, is full, rich and warm, with a full band that gives new meaning to the word “subtle.” Eleven songs here, with bluesy rock number “Misery” among the best, but their recasting of Bob Marley’s “Stir It Up” is also noteworthy. The only thing better than listening to a Berkley Hart album is seeing them live.

Produced by Jeff Berkley at Berkley Sound.

Camarada — Tango Nuevo: The Music of Astor Piazzola (1921-1992)

A simply stunning release from Camarada, celebrating the works of Argentine tango composer Astor Piazzolla. Featuring an all star line up of Beth Rose Buckley (flute), Fred Benedetti, (guitar), David Buckley (violin) and Lou Fannucchi (accordion), this is instrumental music at its best. Everyone here performs at virtuoso levels, but the stands out are Beth Rose Buckley’s outstanding flute melodies and Fannucchi’s accordion, which along with Bennedetti’s guitar provide the percussive elements of the music. Some of these tunes, such as “Adios Noninos”, are practically ingrained in the public psyche, however in this quartet’s hands the music breathes and truly resonates with the listener. Beautifully arranged, this a perfect Sunday morning album. If you get just one world music disc in 2011, Tango Nuevo: The Music of Astor Piazzola (1921-1992) would be a great choice.

Recorded at Spragueland.

Miss Erika Davies — Galaxy Lakes

Wow. First off, yes the 14 tracks on Miss Erika Davies second album includes the song, “I Love You I Do,” which recently soundtracked a Subaru commercial. Considered a jazz artist, Davies music far exceeds those stylistic boundaries, playing in a “retro jazz folk lounge” style, as it says on her Wikipedia page. Many of the songs are ukulele led, their construction at times reminds me of Tom Waits at others the album “Tumbleweed Connection,” but really this is utterly unique stuff. Favorite song is the title track, a full band effort, full of subtle shifts (such as at 00:56).

Recorded (mostly) and mastered at Capricorn Studios.

Flurish — How We Stay Alive (Quasi)

What is it about electronic music that lends itself so well to the duo format? From Suicide to Soft Cell, OMD to Red Flag, it seems to work, so fair enough. Which brings us to Los Angeles based Flurish, with a debut album, How We Stay Alive, out now on new indie label, Quasi. Comprised of Ryan Joyce and The Rage, Flurish’s digital only release includes eleven tracks, though one is an “intro” and one an “outro.”
How We Stay Alive is an impressive disc, both in production and songcraft, with much to offer fans of both electronic and rock ‘n’ roll sounds
Regardless of trappings or genre, what matters is the songs, and here the pair excel at both delivering hook filled melody lines and (generally) danceable beats. How We Stay Alive opens strong with a pair of potential singles “Say What I Want” and “Let It Go,” the latter sporting a bit of classic disco back beat that begs for an extended remix.

The band wears it’s eighties synth sensibilities on their sleeves, going so far as to include a worthy update of the Real Life track “Send Me An Angel,” but with a modern rock edge. The best track on the album, “Talk Too Much” builds on that. An epic rocker that manages to blend mid period Depeche Mode with indie guitar, it’s a confident, anthemic tune that would slot well on the radio if played alongside Flurish’s peers.

The Jade Element — s/t

A superb mix of soul, funk, jazz and ambient touches, the Jade Element’s debut is a knee deep in singles. Favorite track here is “Time Never Met (With It’s End),” perhaps the most pop edged of the tracks, but the group doesn’t put a wrong foot forward on the ten tracks here. Fans of downtempo R&B tunes, or Portishead, will love this disc. Extremely well arranged, producer Anthony Molinaro (who also plays bass and keyboards, as well as co-wrote the material) didn’t scrimp when it came to putting musicians together, and it shows, The first thing I thought when I popped the disc on the player was, “Wow, those are real strings.” Sure enough, checking the album notes shows a four piece string section on the track “Carried Away.” Things like that make a huge difference. Vocalist Rebecca Jade, turns in a great performance, but there are over are almost two dozen musicians contributing to the overall effort.

Recorded and mixed at White Horse Recorders. Engineer / Mix Alan Sanderson.

Candye Kane & Sue Palmer — One Night In Belgium

14 songs recorded live in Eeklo, Belgium circa 1999. Just voice and piano, the album is well recorded and an engaging listen. To be clear, this is a warts and all, in concert, recording — check out the bumped mic on “Dream A Little Dream of Me” at 2:00 — but small things like that add to the charm of the album. Best of the bunch is a great version of r&b ballad “Only Time Will Tell,” but “Cry Me A River” comes close.

Jesse LaMonca and the Dime Novels — Until The Stars Came Out

Although Jesse LaMonca and the Dime Novels are considered by most to be an Americana based quintet, in truth their sound is hard to pinpoint. Indeed, their best song here is the sweet soul groover, “Left Coast Sunshine.” Topped by excellent keyboard backing from Ed Kornhauser, it’s an antidote for a cloudy day. Some of the seven tunes here, such as “Cliched Broken Hearts on the Floor,” definitely fall within the Americana tag, pedal steel, player piano and soaring harmonies in place, but others have more of a rock leaning, notably “Pretty Little Self.”

Produced by Sven Erik Seaholm and JL & the DN.

Leyva — Black & Gold

Prolific to a fault, the latest disc from Leyva is easily his best yet. While he’s recorded interesting tracks before, most of his albums to date have been constructed from scattered sessions, gathered as they happened to be recorded. With Black & Gold, the album was constructed as a whole, complete with a sympathetic group of backing musicians, including the late saxophonist Dave Isabelle in the last recording before his passing. Leyva plays guitar and assorted bits and bobs, alongside bassist Guz Gallo, keyboardist Sal Filipelli, drummers Matt Van Allen and Ryan Schilawski as well as multi instrumentalist Taylor Brown. The cast creates a sound that’s part Eddie Vedder angst and part Chris Martin gloss. There’s something here for just about everybody; rock ‘n’ roll, with a touch of glam (“You Belong To Me”), electronic dabbed pop (“ Strange Dayz“), plaintive strummed ballad (“Forever Wild“), all with Leyva confident in his vocal approach. If you’ve never heard Leyva before, this is where to start — even long time fans will be pleased at the sonic leaps and bounds he’s come up with this time.

Scott Mathiasen — EP

Best known for his work with blues based rock band The Infants, Mathiasen’s self titled EP, delivers five excellent tracks, ranging from country honky tonk (“Sweet Mama Blues”) to the acoustic lament “9 O’Clock Line.” The key tune here is the handclap and acoustic guitar stomper, “She Said,” which manages to evoke the shadow of Emitt Rhodes first disc, its melody is that infectious. Like Rhodes, Mathiasen, performs all music and vocals on this disc, which is rounded out by McCartney-esque rock (“The Song”) and a song that would make Lindsey Buckingham smile (“Borrowed Time”). As great as his musicianship is here, the standout instruiment is Mathiasens voice, which can switch from honey to gravel mid note, particularly effective on “The Song.” At the moment this is only available at live shows, which is recommended for powerpop and classic rock fans alike. At five songs this EP will leave you wanting more, but it’s something you’ll want to play loud.

Produced by Scott Mathiasen and Mike Kamoo at Earthling Studios

Barbara Nesbitt — The Bees

Excellent country music album from the former San Diegan singer, featuring performances from some of San Diego’s most respected players, including Dennis Calinger (guitar, banjo etc), Marcia Claire (bass), Mike Spurgat (guitar) and producer Jeff Berkley (rhythm guitar). Best tracks are the uptempo numbers, such as “Losin Time,” but anyone who likes a country lament will also find plenty to enjoy here.

Produced by Jeff Berkley at Berkley Sound.

Privatized Air — Tomorrow or Something

This is a rough recording, garage rock by definition, equal parts Jonathan Richman, Captain Beefheart and Frank Zappa. Fave track is “I Need To” with its three chord beat, and the albums anthem, “We’ll All Be Replaced,” which turns a Bobby Fuller riff inside out, as well as highlights their biggest strength – their lyrics. That said, on an album with song titles like “A Burroughs Xmas” you have a pretty good idea of what’s in store. I’d love to hear this band with better production though.

The Red Fox Tails — Skate Deck EP

A very cool instrumental trio, yes, surf rock oriented, but also heavily sound track influenced, particularly in the title track. If you’re a fan of guitar in the Duane Eddy, Ventures or Henry Mancini mode, this will be required listening.

Recorded by Billy Watson at Thunderbird Analogue.

Tori Roze and the Hot Mess — From The Hip

Blues, soul and jazz inflected rock from trumpeter and singer Tori Roze, with flute and trombone in the mix.. Thirteen songs including an alternate version of the song “Sweet Drank,” previously heard on a Staring at the Sun compilation. Roze has a great smokey voice that works especially well with the bluesier aspects of the music and this is a very well produced disc that uses the musicianship of all six band members to their fullest. Be advised that there is profanity on the album.

Recorded by Alan Sanderson at Signature Sound.

Gayle Skidmore — Make Believe

An absolutely charming recording, part of a set with a coloring book full of whimsical drawings that illustrate themes in the songs. Skidmore has made really good music in the past, but this is something special. For lack of an easier term, call it singer-songwriter styled music, but that doesn’t do this album justice. Though Skidmore’s voice is completely her own (indeed, the album cover features a drawing of Skidmore having tea with an octopus at a lake dock) for reference, think Suzanne Vega with dashes of early Kate Bush (the middle section of “Annabelle” for ex) or Sam Phillips (“Bad For Me”).

Well written, masterfully arranged, with great musicianship and Skidmore’s commanding voice nearly every track on Make Believe is a potential single, particularly the uptempo heavy melody numbers such as opener “Set Me Free.” With a chiming guitar lick, the song makes wonderful use of space in its construction. There’s atmosphere to spare within the tune, essentially a series of choruses and sing-along-hooks. At just a shade over three minutes, it’s a perfect pop single.

But that’s just a start. Bucking a trend in the less is more category, Skidmore offers up 14 tracks, each cut from a different cloth. Particularly striking is the powerpop gem, “Promise”, complete with fuzzed out guitar work from Tom Greisgraber. That it’s followed by a melancholy acoustic guitar and banjo workout, “Paper Dolls,” shows both the diversity of the material here and Skidmore’s mastery of songform.
This one’s a keeper.

Produced by Gayle Skidmore, except for one track Aaron Swanton & Preston Parsons, one track by Skidmore & Swanton.

Skytone — Shining Over You (Beautiful Music)

A nice ten track collection, this is a solid collection of pop-rock tunes, with nods to turn of the eighties punk and powerpop, The Beatles and Weller. All good then. Skytone consists of two brothers, with great natural harmonies. It’s down to the songs though and the pair nail it time and time again. Skytone know how to wield an acoustic guitar, evident in the jangle of the album’s clear single, “One Fine Day,” but the best song is the lightly ska and piano tinged “Working Class Lament.” Well worth investigating.

Patrick Yandall — The Window

The eleventh album from guitarist Patrick Yandall continues his mix of jazz, pop and soul to wonderful effect. Stylistically the instrumental album is all over the place. The title track comes across like a late period Earth, Wind and Fire track, while Latin flavored opener, “To The Left” is a true pop gem, built around a simple, instantly memorable, hook. Yandall is no one trick pony, using different types of guitars for both lead and rhythm, production techniques and backing configurations to make this as melodic n album as possible. There’s a tune called “La Jolla,” with guitar lead fans directed to the song “Tower of Soul.” Best of all is the range of instrumentation, from steel drums to keyboard driven strings, making this album a pleasure to listen to, start to finish.

Produced by Patrick Yandall at PYM Studio.

Various Artists — Heavy Soul Sampler Volume 3 (Heavy Soul)

Free with Heavy Soul modzine#3, this ten track compilation includes a track from my own Manual Scan, but even with that caveat :-), fans of new modernist sounds, will enjoy this disc start to finish.

With ten different sources, there is sonic difference between tracks as production varies, but all the recordings are high quality studio tracks, featuring primarily British and American groups, with one notable exception.

Being a fan of jangly guitar, I was immediately drawn to “Take 5” by the Spitfires, which has the same sort of ramshackle charm of TVP’s, but the album closes on a particularly strong note with “My James Brown,” by Belgian soul / horn band Maximum Basie.

Meanwhile, blueswailing maximum R&B fans won’t want to miss “Find Somebody New” by The Above, a storming, adrenaline based, Kinks driven rocker, complete with nice harmonica licks and manic closing keys — essential.

Also included are 12-string and harmony wonders The Poseurs (“Turn Again”), an early track from The Shake (“Lights Out”)and horn / Hammond combo, The Modern Works, with “Can’t Get You out Of my Head” and more.

Are the kids alright? According to this compilation they are.

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