Traditional Irish folk group Skelpin heads to Japan this week, having been discovered by Mickey Mouse's employers. Hot on the heels of their new CD, Rua-Rojo, fiddler Patric Petrie recently returned from two weeks of promoting the band in the obvious place-Ireland. Upon her return, however, she learned that some unusual suspects also wanted Skelpin.
"The people at Disney basically found us online," said Petrie. "They really wanted the group to come to Tokyo to take part in their theme-park productions."
It took some doing-with a slight membership shuffle in the process-but Skelpin will spend the next three months performing several times daily at Disneysea, an aquatic theme park in Tokyo. Multi-instrumentalist Tim Foley and guitarist David Maldonado will join Petrie on the trip, and Todd Davidson will fill in for Hector Maldonado on second guitar.
Disney is somewhat notorious for the strict rules and dress codes governing its employees, and that extends to the musicians the company hires. But Petrie says at least they won't be asked to shave and wear leprechaun suits, because their look was part of what attracted Disney to them in the first place.
"It's cool enough that we'll be getting a salary to play our music," Petrie said. "And we're getting to play for audiences in a foreign country! But we also have the opportunity to perform out on our own while we're there, using the Disney camp as home base. We'll be touring around the country the whole time we're there, as well as meeting with a couple of labels."
Plus, she adds, "at least we won't be wearing furry animal costumes."
Folk Arts benefit
When legendary vinyl emporium Folk Arts Records was recently forced to move, area musicians quickly rallied to help the store's owner, local music historian Lou Curtiss. A benefit planned for earlier this year had to be postponed, but now the Casbah will host the rescheduled fundraiser for Curtiss on June 11, featuring a who's-who cast of local artists who have been helped by Curtiss. Mario Escovedo, The Flying Putos, Steve Poltz, Tomcat Courtney, Berkley Hart, The Loons, Sven Erik Seaholm, Robin Henkel, Skid Roper & The Shadowcasters, Gregory Page and Tom Brosseau are among the performers.
Organized by former Beat Farmer and current roots-blues guitarist Buddy Blue, the money raised will be given to Curtiss to help with his moving expenses.
"He got a raw deal with that 30-day eviction," Blue said. "His monthly expenses are effectively quadrupled now, on top of the expense and hassle of moving. Lou's not getting any younger, which makes it even more difficult."
Blue has been a beneficiary of Curtiss' work in the roots and blues community here in San Diego, and sees this as his chance to give back to the man in the way he knows how.
"I felt like this was the best thing I could do to help my old friend, financially and spiritually," he said. "On top of the money we'll make for him, I hope this coming together of San Diego talent lets him know how much he's meant to the local music community.
"Speaking for myself, he's been essential," Blue continued. "I've certainly learned more about music through him than anyone else I've ever known. I spent countless hours at his store when I was young. He always sold me records at a fraction of their worth, and played me essential stuff I couldn't afford to buy."
Curtiss also influenced Blue's music more directly by introducing him to other local musicians before Blue had ever played a gig, including blues icon Tomcat Courtney.
"With one phone call, [Curtiss] got my band The Jacks signed to Rounder Records back in the '80s, and never asked for a dime for his troubles," Blue said.
"I'm overwhelmed," said Curtiss of the help. "But then the rock 'n' roll community has always been there for me."
Curtiss said he's now come to terms with the closing of the old location-which also doubled as a home for him and his wife.
"One thing that is better is that this new store is much brighter," he said of his new space at 2881 Adams Ave. "I had gotten used to sitting in a place that was gloomy and dark."
One of only a handful of all-ages music venues in town, Ground Zero is scheduled to shut down on June 11. A posting on the Ground Zero website invites music junkies to "come out and say goodbye with us" at a show set to feature My American Heart, Get Back Loretta, Jupiter and Goodbye Tomorrow. A vital East County venue for the underage crowd, the hall has booked its own shows as well as those by major outside promoters, including House of Blues and the Casbah.
"The [advisory] board had issues, so that's the last concert," said a spokesperson for the building's owners, Skyline Church, which uses the site for its student ministries. "It's still going to be in use, though. It's still our high school and junior high school youth meeting place."
Insiders suggest that the bands that played at the venue didn't exactly jibe with the message the church wanted to convey.
At press time, inquiries to the venue's booker, Drew Miller (ex-Waiting for Autumn), had not been returned. But a recent posting on Myspace.com suggested financial difficulties. In fact, the posting was somewhat of a "wanted" poster-the club was searching for a small local promoter who had not paid his bills, reportedly costing Ground Zero thousands of dollars.
Trumpeter Gilbert Castellanos has just wrapped the recording of his as-yet-untitled second album, due out later this year. Castellanos has most recently been touring with jazz legend Kenny Burrell and spent the latter part of May at the Capitol Records Studios working with Diana Krall on an album of holiday standards scheduled for an October release. In the meantime, Castellanos continues his jazz sessions at La Jolla's Excelsior Club on Wednesday evenings. The free event gets going at 8 p.m.
Pacific Records is the new name for Real2Reel Records, a small shop located inside the Epicentre. Open weekdays from 3 to 6 p.m. and during shows, the shop is expanding to accommodate in-store performances.
After having two tours with Unwritten Law canceled, Denver Harbor (which features ex-members of FenixTX) has landed a pretty solid bill. They're embarking on a short tour with Sum 41 this week, including a June 14 gig at Soma.
June 10 marks the beginning of the granddaddy of San Diego tradition, the San Diego County Fair. In addition to major acts performing on the grandstand-which this year includes Kelly Clarkson, ZZ Top, Carrot Top and the Village People-dozens of local acts will be performing at various stages around the fairgrounds. While it's too late to enter the contests, highlights are sure to include a Superstar competition for local vocalists and a reprise of Fox Rox's Battle of the Bands, which kicks off with a preliminary round June 10. Don't expect rock 'n' roll mayhem, however, as the fair's rules clearly state that "performance and attire must be appropriate for a family audience."
Hard-rockers Slewfoot host a CD-release show at 'Canes on June 11. The band will play material from their new album, Mosquito, and are joined by Siren and The Expendables.
Alex deLanda, the tender crooner for Out Brief Candle, is the latest artist making an exodus from San Diego. Following a final Southern California show at the Casbah on June 10, deLanda will relocate to the Bay Area. "I'm moving to San Francisco to work, live (and) record in a recording studio up there, and also to join up with the band The Papercuts," he said. "I'm pretty excited about it all but will surely miss some things down here."
Louis XIV are the latest artists to fall victim to the mash-up craze with online remixer SPR4 combining their music with that of rapper G-Unit for a unique "new" song. While not a legit track per se, you can still download a copy on Louis' website. Look for the band's video for the song "God Killed the Queen" to hit TV next month.