In a major boon for San Diego's music scene, Java Joe's returns Jan. 8 with the official opening at their new location-6344 El Cajon Blvd., formerly Kelly's Pub. Now known as Java Joe's Pub, the biggest difference between the new venue and the former Ocean Beach version of Joe's is that it's 21-and-up-the acoustic venue that was made legendary by spurring the careers of Jewel and Jason Mraz was open to all-ages.
The music at Joe's will still feature local and national acts. Local pop sleuths Vertibird will perform opening night, while gifted guitarist C.J. Hutton will host a blues jam on Tuesday evenings. As a show of good will to local music fans, admission to all shows will be free during January. You can get details online at javajoes-sd.com.
Coincidentally, the afore mentioned pair of Java Joe's alumni will be making TV appearances this month. Jewel will be appearing on the Sharon Osbourne Show Jan. 13, while Jason Mraz will be the featured artist on MTV's Total Request Live Jan. 15. Mraz also started off the new year in pretty grand style as the opening act on Dick Clark's Rockin' New Years Eve TV broadcast, singing a flamboyantly brilliant cover of Hall and Oates' "I Can't Go for That."
The Album Leaf signs to Sub Pop
The Album Leaf-the mostly instrumental band masterminded by ex-Tristeza guitarist and songwriter, Jimmy Lavalle-has signed a three-album record deal with Seattle's iconic underground label, Sub Pop. The San Diego band joins an impressive roster that includes The Postal Service, The Shins, Iron and Wine and comedian David Cross, among others.
Sub Pop was the epicentre of the grunge movement in the early-'90s, home to acts like Nirvana, Mudhoney and Soundgarden. The label has continued its tastemaker rep into the '00s, being the first to release records by bands like Hot Hot Heat and the Yeah Yeah Yeahs.
Lavalle spent much of last year working with Icelandic alternative superstars, Sigur Rós, both touring with the band and recording in their home studio. In October he released the Seal Beach EP on Aquarela Records. The Album Leaf will soon sign a deal with a respected European label as well, and release a full-length on Sub Pop sometime this spring.
God's a greedy dude
Two key players in San Diego's fledgling music scene of the 1970s and '80s passed away last month. On Dec. 22 we lost Madalene Herrera, former general manager of the infamous Spirit Club (now known as Brick By Brick), who died from pneumonia. She first began to book bands, including the likes of the New York Dolls, at the legendary J.J.'s on Pacific Highway, but it was when she and her husband Jerry Herrera opened the Spirit Club in Bay Park that the pair became synonymous with local music. By the early '80s, a time when many other local nightspots shied away from original music, the Spirit was a hub of activity for bands such as The Penetrators, DFX2 and many others.
The same day Herrera died, long-time radio personality Phil Flowers also passed away from a heart attack. Flowers became a disc jockey for KCBQ in 1970 and eventually did duty at the station as a utility man-from host of the oldies show "I Still Q" to traffic reporter. He was also the station's historian and had amassed a priceless collection of vintage recordings and other memorabilia associated with KCBQ since its inception in the '50s.
They will both be missed.
New local label on prowl
A new area label is seeking demo kits from punk, rock and emo bands. Rock the Dot Records is the product of 24-year-old entrepreneur Cindy Villamora, who decided to launch the label last summer and is working to launch within the next year. Thus far, she has gotten a lot of demos from L.A. bands, but few from San Diego, which is Villamora's main focus.
"I started because I think San Diego has a lot more to offer music-wise, and in the past I've met a lot of under represented talent," she said. "I'd like to help the local scene be better recognized."
She said she'd like to release bands from elsewhere further down the line, but would like the initial releases to be local. Rock the Dot is looking to hold a battle of the bands event in the next few months, and any interested parties are invited to email demos and press kits to Rock the Dot Records, 10091 Jacoby Rd., Spring Valley, CA, 91977. email@example.com.
Mike "Elgin Park" Andrews and native San Diegan Gary Jules held the number one spot on the British charts for a second week in a row with their cover of Tears for Fears' "Mad World." While Andrews' angst-pop is all the rage in England, his next local show will be at a reunion gig from his previous group, the Greyboy Allstars, at 4th & B on Jan. 30. Get your tickets early, as the all-original lineup-Karl Denson, Robert Walter, Chris Stillwell and Zak Najor-will cause their formerly huge fan base to come out of the woodwork.
The Loons have had their song "You're Lyin'" covered on a recent album from Minneapolis group The Spectors, and have a new drummer in Len Curiel.
CD release parties this week include 34 Below's gig at La Jolla's Hard Rock Café on Jan. 10 to christen Live at Dublin Square, while Trophy Wife (formerly known as Bigwheel Wipeout) will unleash their new eponymous disc at the Casbah on Jan. 13.