You're not hearing things-that is indeed Steve Poltz singing the praises of Sycuan Casino in recent TV and radio spots.
"They saw me open for John Mellencamp about four years ago," said Poltz. "The Sycuan marketing guy... attended a show at SDSU, and later I found out that he told his wife, "That guy's going to write our next jingle.'
"It just took awhile."
Poltz first showed his affinity for the ad world at the 2000 San Diego Music Awards, when he performed a medley of locally based jingles-from a Pearson Ford spot to the Chargers theme song. Anyone who's heard the singer-songwriter's album Answering Machine (60 mini-songs written for his phone's outgoing message), knows Poltz is a fan of brevity. But he contends ad jingles are his favorite short-form.
"I've always been a font of knowledge about jingles-I like to compare them to pop songs," he explained, before demonstrating the tonal qualities of Mennen deodorant ads. As for the Sycuan spot, it almost didn't happen. Pressed for time as he was about to embark on an Australian tour, Poltz set about composing the song.
"The only direction they gave me was to use the words "minutes away, miles apart,'" he explained, noting that his girlfriend, local musician-radio deejay Anya Marina, joked that he should just change the lyrics to a tune by his old band, The Rugburns.
"So I went and wrote this new Rugburns song about sex, drugs and debauchery, and with a few word changes," Poltz said, clearly amused by the memory. "When it came time to present the song to the guy who makes the decisions, I forgot it. So there I am sitting in this guy's living room, playing different things. I'm just supposed to do this one jingle, and the guy's wondering why I'm giving a concert."
Poltz quickly phoned Marina's roommate, who played him the song-which he had recorded on their computer-over the phone. All was solved. For the final recording, Poltz was joined by Brian "Nucci" Cantrell on drums and Reeve Oliver's Sean O'Donnell on bass and electric guitar.
Poltz said he was especially anxious to impress this prospective employer.
"I was thinking, This is a casino-there are underworld sorts of things. I was afraid if the song didn't go over I might wake up with a horse head in my bed."
Poltz also recently wrote the theme song to This Just In, a new political cartoon airing on Spike-TV on Sundays at 10 p.m. Seems out the show's producers were big fans of Answering Machine.
"Most people don't realize [This Just In] takes place in San Diego," Poltz said. "But what I love most about it is how topical it is-it's put together very quickly so everything is current."
When kids, booze and Mooses meet
Seems local music fans can enjoy a few libations in the presence of underage concertgoers without inspiring Blackboard Jungle-like riots. While L.A. teens can visit legendary, alcohol-serving clubs like The Whiskey and The Troubadour, all-ages-with-alcohol shows remain almost taboo in San Diego.
Porter's Pub at UCSD has been breaking that taboo for years, even if their band lineup was uninspiring. Now, however, the venue has upped its profile with the excellent Buzz Series, which has presented Friday night shows by the likes of local icons Pinback and Monterrey, Mexico's Kinky.
Adding to the all-age mixers, a new live venue has opened up-South Park Moose Lodge (1648 30th St.). The effort is spearheaded by part-time Scolari's Office bartender and horn-wearing, card-carrying Moose Lodge member Donny Nanos. The first show was May 7, featuring local bands Campaign for Quiet and Ultravire.
Though the first show was 21-and-up and Friday night shows will remain that way, Nanos and his fellow Mooses plan by June to be sanctioned to book all-ages Sunday shows where people over 21 will be allowed to drink.
"The Moose Lodge is kinda hurting for funding and needed a boost," said Nanos, who also plays drums for local Cobain mediums Nearvana. "So I figured this is a prefect opportunity for them."
As an unpaid Moose member volunteer, Nanos will run the bar at shows. He said lodge bigwigs (Bullmooses?) were pleased with the inaugural event, as were fans.
"Sure, the place is kinda old man-ish, and some people came into the show laughing and shit," Nanos said. "But by the end everyone dug it and was walking up asking if they could book their bands here. It's actually a really cool space."
Nanos said the Lodge can legally hold about 300 people, compared to the legal limit of 80 at Scolari's.
"A few of the old Moose guys even stuck around for the show and they were impressed," Nanos said. "The kids were nice and it went really well."
The Screaming Yeehaws and U.S. Defenders will play the next show on May 21. Bands interested in playing The Moose Lodge should contact Nanos at dons firstname.lastname@example.org.
Where all the North Parkers at?
While not as established as the recent Adams Avenue Street Fair or P.B. Block Party, the North Park Spring Festival on May 16 promises to be a hoot. The festival is in its eighth year, and hopes to match last year's attendance, when 30,000 people packed onto University Avenue between 30th and 32nd streets.
The festival offers more than 150 booths, an "Art Village," children's space and five stages of live entertainment, including dance, comedy and music. The music portion focuses largely on world music, with a smattering of local rock, punk and jazz bands-including Spazzboy, Scarlet Symphony, Cabeza de Vaca and Sleeping People.
While the quality of local bands is high, the quantity ain't so impressive, especially since North Park arguably boasts the highest per-capita population of musicians and bands. Jing Jing Evans and Pupsa Warsa Balinese Gamelan are dandy performers, but where's the love for our local boys who call 30th and Uni their turf?
Pickin' on heaven's door
Condolences to the family, friends and fans of legendary guitarist Barney "Mr. Guitar" Kessel, who passed away at his University Heights home May 6, from a brain tumor. Although best known as a jazz guitarist, performing with everyone from Billie Holiday to Lester Young, some of Kessel's most influential work was as a session man appearing on dozen's of top 40 hits, including Elvis Presley's "Return to Sender," The Beach Boys' "Good Vibrations" and Jefferson Airplane's "White Rabbit." John Lennon, George Harrison and other household names have cited Kessel as an influence, and Pete Townshend was so impressed by the six-stringer's prowess that he recorded a song in tribute to Kessel.
Former local bluegrass picker Bernie Leadon has released his first studio album in 25 years, titled Mirror.
Congratulations to local jazz vocalist Stellita Lindgren and her husband Dave on the birth of their daughter Jade Marie.
Earl Thomas will be recording his next album with vocalist-guitarist-percussionist-producer Jeff Berkley behind the board. The as-yet-untitled collection will be recorded live at four private, invite-only shows held at Berkley's studio this month. The album is set to coincide Thomas' tour with blues icon Etta James this summer.
The Eve Selis Band has just finished up their new album in Nashville and were lucky enough to rope three Grammy winners as guest vocalists: country legend Lynn Anderson ("Rose Garden"), bluegrass star Jim Lauderdale and drummer extraordinaire Harry Stinson. The new CD, Nothing But the Truth, will be released worldwide on Proper Records out of the U.K. on July 5. Selis will be celebrating the release of the CD locally on June 19 at the Museum of Contempoary Art in La Jolla, after which the band will embark upon a European summer festival tour to support the disc. Visit eveselis.com for updates.
Rumor has it Denver Harbor, the new project by former FenixTX frontman Willy Salazar, will be signing a major label deal soon.