The catch-22 of American democracy is that, right or left, a good portion of us will always disagree with the shot-callers, but just as many of us believe we're too insignificant to make a difference.
Veronica Gonzalez has decided steer clear of the latter category, and she's working to ensure fans of rock en español don't, either. She's joined with Rock the Vote to establish a presence for the organization within San Diego's Latino rock scene, and she encourages associates outside of the city to do the same.
A longtime promoter of rock en español-both local (Acteal, Los Abandoned, The Bentleys) and national-Gonzales and partner Alex Gomez set up www.VivaElRockSD.com, a website dedicated to rock en español acts that includes show announcements, reviews, band features and links. The site, via a large banner ad, also encourages visitors-fans, band members, promoters-to register to vote.
"I feel that as a promoter and website owner-just like anyone else in the business, like a band or other sites-I have a responsibility to inform today's youth with what's going on," Gonzalez said.
"We have the power to communicate with these kids, and along with that power we have a responsibility."
Gonzalez said the rock en español scene is politically aware and motivated, but she doesn't think that always translates into action-often because Latinos have learned to fear discrimination.
"Some are actually scared to the point that when they register to vote, they register as white because they are afraid to be classified as Latino," she said.
Gonzales said she's been motivated by the same raving leftist intellectual who's inspired creative types for the last decade or so-writer and filmmaker Michael Moore. She also has a personal motivation in her brother, who's already been deployed three times since the U.S. invaded Iraq.
Though personal connection to soldiers is common here in the military port of the West, Gonzalez thinks it's especially prevalent in the Latino community.
"Latinos are still a minority, and it's no surprise that a lot of our troops are coming from low-income families like ours," she said. "What is going on is affecting all of us."
And through VivaElRock SD.com, she's doing her own small part to both turn fans on to rock en español and make sure their opinions are counted come November.
Wanna come over to myspace?
Twenty bucks for a CD from the MegaSuperMusic Chain has pissed us off. Downloading for free's gonna get you fined by Johnny Law sooner or later. But by now it's accepted logic that the future of music distribution lies in the Internet. The trend's not lost on independent artists, who're able to gain a worldwide audience with the small amount of effort a lazy musician can muster.
But the market's done been glutted with half-assed catch-alls. There are so many websites offering free music and band profiling-literally hundreds, serving everything from alt-rock to free-jazz-mariachi-electro, some hosting several thousands of bands-that small local bands get lost in the muck. Without a well-known, centralized supplier (can you say MP3.com?), e-music sites have been degraded to a pile of crap upon a pile of crap upon a molehill of genius.
The answer may lie in a website that wasn't looking for the answer. MySpace.com was originally designed as "A Place For Friends"-where sociable geeks could create a free profile, add others to their "friends list" and post weblogs, pictures and bulletins. Since its inception, however, thousands of bands saw its potential and have used it as a "friend of the band" tool (bands are averse to such terms as "marketing").
Recognizing its new clientele, MySpace.com updated its format last month to include the integrated Standalone Music Player. More than 90 San Diego artists have updated their profiles to the MySpace Music format. Right now, it's mostly indie-rock and punk acts, but folk and hip-hoppers are getting hip to the tool, too.
And get this: Tom Anderson, the 29-year-old founder of this booming, colossal megasite that has long since surpassed competitors like Friendster and Makeout Club-is an Escondido native.
Arizona sucks, but there's work
It must've been an American car. When Arizona native and singer-songwriter Sage Gentle-Wing arrived in San Diego last fall to play the Adams Avenue Street Fair, his transmission blew out. The prototypically cash-poor musician decided to make the best of the situation and stay for a while. He quickly became a local fixture, playing gigs at local venues, hosting open-mic nights at The Beachcomber and busking on the streets of Ocean Beach.
Less than a year later, however, the high-cost of life in California (as well as more vehicle-related mishaps) have conspired to send him back to The Zone.
"There's just not enough work to encourage me to stay," Gentle-Wing said. "I've been living really close to the wire in O.B. for the past few months, but I haven't been able to make the connections needed to survive here. It's been a daunting rollercoaster ride."
Gentle-Wing doesn't blame the area musicians, whom he said welcomed him with open arms, even if he stole away a few paying gigs.
"All the artists here have been great, but support from the venues hasn't been so good. I figured it was time to get back to Arizona, where I could get work regularly," he said.
But in order to return to the hot, hot hellhole that is the desert east of here, the dude needs a little cash in case that piece-of-crap car of his breaks down again. So, from noon to 5 p.m. on June 3, The Hot Monkey Love Café will host a benefit concert called The Leavin Train. On hand for the send-off will be Derek and Lyle Duplessie, Joey Harris, Steve White, Gregory Page and more, with Gentle-Wing's own set sure to be the day's highlight.
Local punks Underminded recently signed to Kung Fu Records (the label owned by L.A.'s comic three-chorders The Vandals) on the strength of their self-released debut EP, The Task of the Modern Educator. They're scheduled to play every date of this year's Warped Tour.
CD-release shows this week include one on June 2 at Dizzy's for Keltik Kharma 2: Keltik Klassiks, with an all-star lineup that includes Chris Vitas (violin), Fred Benedetti (guitar), Richard Tibbitts (flute), David Page (drums) and Jeff Pekarek on bass.
San Diego music continues to dominate Cathode Land. On June 4, Jewel is on The Sharon Osbourne Show, airing here on KUSI. On June 5 National City's best-ever doorman, Tom Waits, appears on PBS-TV's Austin City Limits. And finally, blink 182 appears on MTV's TRL June 2 and on the WB Network's Pepsi Smash June 10.
The next Jason Mraz album, Tonight, Not Again: Live at the Eagles Ballroom will be out Aug. 24, once again via Elektra Records. More of a stop-gap before a real follow-up to the nearly platinum Waiting for My Rocket to Come, the CD-DVD set was recorded in Milwaukee, and leans heavily on his debut for material, though five new tunes make the set. Musical guests include the Blues Traveler's John Popper and the horn section from funk legends The Ohio Players. The DVD will promises a bonus set with Mraz' take on Elton John's "Rocket Man."
Fueled, a new surf film featuring five songs from local art-rock quartet Starline Theorie, will be screened at the La Paloma Theatre in Encinitas on June 3. The movie will be shown at 7 and 9 p.m., and the band will perform at the Martini Ranch between screenings.