Kava Lounge Part 1 – Retra – May 6, 2016

On a recent Friday night I was in the mood for new music and this show at The Kava Lounge looked interesting. I had heard of Mittens and The Fresh Brunettes but didn’t really know anything about them and I had no idea who Retra was. But I love checking out new bands so I headed on down to Kettner.

First up was Retra, who I soon found out is a relatively new band featuring Haven Blue on vocals, James Howard (Imagery Machine) on guitar , Chris Gorrie (Boychick, Giant Surprise) on bass, Carmen Martinez (Boychick) on drums, and Martin Sohikish (who didn’t play this night) on keys and guitar.   Continue reading

Art Around Adams Part 5 – Mittens – June 4, 2016

The last stop on my Art Around Adams tour was to see Mittens back at the library stage.  I had seen the band play about a month ago at The Kava Lounge so I already knew how much fun they were.  Mittens play a style of indie-pop that looks back but still has a modern feel to it.  Their band bio mentions being inspired by groups like Rilo Kiley, The Cranberries and The Cardigans – and I can certainly hear the influence of those bands in their sound – but there’s also no mistaking their love of early ’60s girl groups like The Ronettes, The Shirelles and Martha & the Vandellas.  Throw in some surf-rock licks and well-timed blistering guitar solos, to go along with their 3-part harmonies and big hooks, and you have Mittens!  Continue reading

Art Around Adams Part 4 – Jason Hanna & the Bullfighters

Jason Hanna 01

My father was 26 years old when the BeatlesPlease Please Me came out.  I used to tell him that he was still young enough then to have followed the Beatles and the Stones instead of  staying on the path that lead to Andy Williams and Glen Campbell. But the die was cast by that point, and rock ‘n’ roll was not going to be my dad’s thing.  However, it turns out there was a section of his record collection that I would eventually come to fully appreciate.  For as the British Invasion was in full swing, my dad was listening to The Lonely Bull, South of the Border and Whipped Cream & Other Delights by Herb Alpert & the Tijuana Brass.  It turned out my dad was much cooler back then than I ever gave him credit for! Continue reading

Art Around Adams Part 3 – The Schizophonics – June 4, 2016

I made it through the first 55 years of my life without ever seeing The Schizophonics and now I’ve seen them four times this year already. I was doing it wrong!  The first time I saw The Schizophonics I had no idea what to expect.  It was a crowded night at The Casbah and I was near the back craning my neck looking for the second guitarist. I turned around to say something to my friend and he was doing the same damn thing! Continue reading

Art Around Adams Part 2 – Cardinal Moon – June 4, 2016

Next up on this perfect day for local music was Cardinal Moon.  The last time I saw this band was at their debut performance at the Redwoods Revue at the Music Box in early May.  The creative duo behind this new San Diego band is singer/guitarist/songwriter Dawn Mitschele and Al “another band? sure, why not” Howard. Continue reading

Art Around Adams Part 1 – Imagery Machine – June 4, 2016

There were so many great bands to see at last weekend’s Art Around Adams festival but fortunately whoever scheduled this event managed to have all my favorites playing at different times.

First up was Imagery Machine. I imagine the beginning of this group to have gone something like this: “Hey, we should start a band!” “Good idea, what kind of music should we play?””Let’s play all kinds.” “I’m in!”

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Dragons, Creepy Creeps, The Phantoms – Jan. 14, 2014

2014 Flashback…

If anyone needed a reminder of how fun rock ‘n’ roll can still be, they should have been to this show at The Casbah in San Diego. The Casbah was celebrating its 25th anniversary and was hosting bands from throughout its storied history, along with the kind of acts that should keep the venue vital for another quarter of a century.

First up on an all San Diego bill were newcomers, The Phantoms. This group features Victor Penalosa, the current drummer for the Flamin’ Groovies, on guitar and vocals, and a fantastic backing band of Xavier Anaya on lead guitar, Chris Iandolo on bass and Jarrod Lucas (from The Dragons) on drums. They opened with the lead song from their self-titled debut album, “Baby Loves Her Rock and Roll”, which sounded like a revved up long-lost song by The Beat (Paul Collins’ not English). The Phantoms then charged through their 10 song set as if they were the headliners with songs like “Stab My Broken Heart”, which besides kicking ass throughout, ended with the opening riff to “Love Gun” by KISS. The set then ended with a garage rockin’ version of Bob Seger’s “Rosalie” and then an homage to the bassist for glam-rock heroes Mott The Hoople with “The Ballad of Overend Watts”.  These guys seem to be channeling the late 70’s/early 80’s power pop of The Plimsouls, 20/20 and the aforementioned Beat and are definitely a band keep an eye on.

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