Goodbye to Alfred Jay "Freddy" Pohr
More than 100 people gathered at Scolari's Office Sunday evening. While capacity crowds aren't a rarity for the North Park dive bar and live music venue, on this occasion people didn't come for the music. Rather, they came to pay their respects to the man behind the music.
Bartender, band booker, music fan and friend to thousands, Alfred Jay Pohr (better known as "Freddy") died in a Colorado hospital last Thursday after suffering a stroke at his mother's home. Pohr left San Diego several months ago to care for his father, who passed away shortly after his arrival. He stayed to help his elderly mother, but intended to return to San Diego and Scolari's eventually, and still handled some of the bar's booking. He was 45 years old.
A veteran bartender who worked at Tubaman's and other area bars for more than a decade, Pohr came to Scolari's in the late '90s. To help the financially floundering bar, Pohr encouraged owner George Scolari to update his cabaret license and start hosting live music.
At first it was typical bar fare-blues and traditional rock-but it really took off after Freddy started booking punk and indie bands. Pohr fostered relationships with many of these musicians and others interested in booking shows, giving them freedom to invite who they saw fit.
"He's the reason bands started happening and why they kept happening at Scolari's," said T Bone, a former Scolari's bartender and drummer for bands such as the Deere Johns and Bartender's Bible. "He made the bands feel welcome-he'd hook 'em up with drinks and, if he liked your band, you'd see his big frame standing front row watching you.
"He made everyone who knew him feel special. If you were a regular at Scolari's, Fred knew you and wanted to hear about your life and tell you a dirty joke."
More than a few local bands owe an incredible debt to Pohr. As lowcloudcover's Greg Russel explained, "Freddy always helped us. When we were first starting, he took a chance on us by booking shows, and continued to give us good dates. I know that we were not alone in his nest of bands he liked. By allowing us to grow in his bar, he allowed us to develop and improve."
Pohr was more to most people than just a guy who booked bands. He was a real friend and certainly a great bartender, renowned for a heavy pouring hand. Many remember him most fondly for his penchant to blow fireballs behind the bar and his rousing karaoke renditions of "Just a Gigolo."
Pohr's good-natured appeal spanned the generations, as witnessed at the memorial last Sunday-a rare meeting of bar regulars where 20-somethings and 80-somethings stepped on Scolari's small stage to share fond remembrances.
In a thoughtful eulogy, Chris Squire of local band Battalion of Saints wrote: "I don't know why it was so important to me, but I really wanted him to see me play the drums, to surprise him with my newfound percussive passion. I wanted to hear his jolly, big voice bellow, "Squire!' as I entered the bar and give the big guy a hug. And I was looking forward to pulling up to the bar as he would knowingly inquire, "Release the hounds?' and pour me the strongest glass of Ketel One vodka and grapefruit juice on the West Coast. And he would still be proudly sporting his mullet and his Hawaiian shirt, a smile as wide as a Cheshire."
Release the hounds, wherever you are.
Al Guerra Strips for another venue
Al Guerra has left The Belly Up Tavern. Last Tuesday, the co-host of 91X's "Loudspeaker" parted ways with the club where he has served as local talent coordinator.
"We just had a different vision," said Guerra. "I'll still be overseeing a few shows that I was involved in, such as the "91X Hometown Throwdown' this weekend, but that's pretty much it."
Guerra had been trying to establish an acoustic show, "Stripped," but was unable to secure a regular night at the Belly Up, making it difficult to build an audience. When the venue postponed the June 16 "Stripped" to make way for a local reggae night, Guerra decided to move on.
"There is no bad blood between us," Guerra stressed. "But Eric Litestein at 'Canes understood what I was trying to do with local music, and offered me the very next night, June 17, to make the show happen. We were lucky that night was open."
For the new night, Guerra will design a dinner-theatre ambiance, with tables close to the stage. More importantly for budget-minded music fans, the show will be only $5 (free before sunset). Details for the future of "Stripped" at 'Canes are still being worked out, but Guerra promises some themed shows and more surprises.
"It will be a monthly event, and I want to do more shows along the lines of "Under the Influence,' where performers perform music from artists that inspired them," Guerra said. "It's going to be a great night of acoustic music on the beach. And you'll be able to get drinks and dinner instead of just coffee and a muffin."
The June 17 concert will be hosted by Pete Thurston and feature The Shaddox Brothers, Four Eyes, Saba, Mike Warren and Gregory Page.
Switchfoot will appear on the WB Network's Pepsi Smash on June 17, with a rerun on June 20. The band also shows up in the June 10 issue of Rolling Stone, their surfing abilities being the focus of a "Jocks that Rock" feature (drummer Chad Butler was captain of the UCSD Surf Team).
Sean Taugher will officially relinquish his role as drummer for Waterline Drift on his birthday-June 25-after a pair of out-of-town dates. Taugher has joined a new trio, The Tall Ships (www.thetallships.com). It sounds pretty damn good-so you might wanna check his first show with the band on June 18 at Scolari's. Meantime, anyone interested in taking Taugher's spot in Waterline Drift should e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
Dizzy's will be hosting "A Tribute to Daniel Jackson" on June 13. The special matinee concert will run from noon to 3 p.m. and feature an all-star group of San Diego jazz musicians, including Jacques Lesure, Hollis Gentry III, Larry Logan, Kevin Green and Bryan McConnell. Best of all, Jackson himself will make an appearance.
Mellow '80s pop stars Wilson-Phillips have covered Jack Tempchin's song, "Already Gone," on their new California album. The song was previously a hit for The Eagles.
Ghost Town Deputies hold a CD-release party for their debut album, Don't Mind If I Don't, at The Alibi on June 12. ©