From Jerry Lee Lewis to Billy Idol's "Cradle of Love," rock 'n' roll has long held a fascination with underage girls. Right or wrong, Mario "Sticky Fingers" Gomez, frontman of local band The Makeout Boys, is now paying for keeping with that tradition.
According to sdsheriff.net, Gomez is currently being held in San Diego's George Baily Detention Facility, charged with lewd and lascivious acts with a child, sex with a minor and four counts of age-specific sex with a minor stemming from the 34-year- old singer's relationship with a 16-year old girl. Bail is currently set at $80,000.
According to Makeout Boys bassist Rick Blair, a readiness hearing held after press time Tuesday may reduce the charges and bail amount, as Gomez claims he didn't know the girl was under legal age-of-consent.
"Her last birthday was in July, and she told all of us it was her 18th," Blair said. "Mario didn't have a relationship with her until well after that-he really didn't know."
Blair also claimed the girl's parents were aware of the relationship and Gomez and band members had attended gatherings her parents held at their home. According to Blair, when the parents called police on Nov. 3, they referred to Gomez as their "daughter's boyfriend."
"I've met [the girl] many times and she's bright, funny... we had every reason to believe her when she told us she was 18," Blair claimed. "These were two people that care deeply about each other and love each other, and I personally think it's fucked up that her parents suddenly... are making the relationship out to be something it isn't."
Benefits to raise money for Gomez' legal defense are in the works:
"We've discussed playing shows with other singers standing in, but don't really want to do that, because Mario is the heart of the band," Blair said. The bassist acknowledged that it's difficult to rally support for someone accused of such crimes, but he insists that Gomez is not a sexual criminal.
Several venues have agreed to stage benefit shows when and if Gomez is released on bail. Meanwhile, the Makeout Boys are directing all of the band's merchandise revenue to Gomez' defense-including a four-song CD they were holding for proper release, but have now decided to sell it as a limited edition "Free Mario" EP.
A preliminary hearing for Gomez' case is likely to be scheduled for next week.
"Mario's doing all right. He seems to be in pretty high spirits," Blair said.
The band can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Plot to be banned
"We were intoxicated, and it was my birthday."
Such words are usually followed by a whopper of a tour story-especially when it comes to jazz-punks Plot To Blow Up The Eiffel. The Plot holds the distinction of being the only band invited and amicably uninvited to perform at the San Diego Music Awards (invited because they kick ass, uninvited because at a show the week prior there was penis, broken bottles and head-butting-some, but not all, the band's doing).
In other words, part of The Plot's allure is their chaos. The scene in question was a recent tour stop at Baltimore's Talking Heads Club.
"First song in, I broke my guitar-the toggle switch snapped," said guitarist Chuck Rowell, who managed to play three songs on a borrowed axe. "It was a shambolic set, but we got no reaction. It was a stuffy, older crowd [in their] late-20s. So our singer Brandon [Welchez] starts berating them. This goes on for 10 minutes and the crowd starts shouting back, "Is this art?!'"
When the club promoter used the P.A. to tell Welchez to "shut up," Welchez simply yelled back. That's when the soundman cut him off.
"Everybody in the audience [was] pissed," Rowell recalled. Worse (or better, depending on your definition of punk) the band's drunken roadie urinated down the steps of the stage, which brought the club manager running. Needless to say, the Plot wasn't paid for the gig, and is now banned from the Talking Head.
"We just wanted to get out of there," Rowell said. But even that proved difficult-since they emerged from the club to discover someone had slashed the tires on their tour van.
"We called AAA, and the guy who came out was cool, totally into music," Rowell explained, making lemonade of lemons. "We ended up drinking beer with him and jumping around posing for pictures on the back of this big flatbed truck. We gave him a shirt."
The Plot will head back out on tour in January following the release of their debut album Love In The Fascist Brothel-which may or may not be art.
Baby, One More Time
On Nov. 11, a throng of garage -rock fans was treated to a one-off reunion by seminal San Diego band, the Tell-Tale Hearts.
The show was to kick off a tour for Australian band, Shutdown 66. When local band The Loons couldn't open the show, Shutdown asked Loons bassist Mike Stax to reform his old band for one night.
Despite having turned down numerous offers to reform and tour Europe, Stax agreed.
"We met a couple of the guys in the group decades back when they came and stayed here for awhile," Stax recalled. "Something like this is loose and fun. It's the only way I'd do it."
The unrehearsed show yielded a seven-song set, witnessed by an audience familiar with every word and not afraid to interact.
When singer Ray Brandes told the crowd, "This is our last song," an anonymous wag in the crowd shouted back, "You said that 20 years ago!"
A family affair
After decades as a well-respected percussionist, most recently working with jazz group Blurring the Edges, Hall Sprague releases his first solo album this week, titled Hurry Home. Sprague recorded the instrumental album with his sons-jazz guitarist Peter Sprague and saxophonist Tripp Sprague-alongside bassist Bob Magnusson. All three will join the elder Sprague for the CD- release party at Dizzy's on Nov. 19.
"It's the biggest thrill of my life," Sprague said. "My sons are the ones that encouraged and really made the whole thing happen, so it was an act of love from my boys."
Hurry Home upends the stereotype that drummers lack melodic tendencies, with Sprague's songs ranging from a samba "Recuerdos," to the more traditional jazz of the title track.
"I've been playing since I was 10," remarked Hall, whose long career has included stints as a scientist and screenwriter. "These are the first songs I've ever written-and I had no idea I could do it."
John Willgoss, owner of O'Connell's Pub in Bay Park, passed away Nov. 7. Willgoss had been a staple of San Diego's nightlife since the late '70s, having owned a succession of clubs including The Oddessey in Point Loma, Stinger's in Pacific Beach and O'Connell's.
Prolific jazz trumpeter/band leader Gilbert Castellanos has begun work on his long-anticipated sophomore release, planned to drop in summer 2005. The Hillcrest resident also recently started a weekly commute to U.S.C., where he's been hired to teach music.
La Jolla Playhouse director Des McAnuff is working with Pete Townshend on a new musical venture for the Las Vegas strip.
Those not fortunate enough to have tickets to Switchfoot's Nov. 18 show at Spreckels Theatre can catch the band the same night on CBS-TV's Late Late Show. The band also scored a gold single in the latest RIAA certifications for "Meant To Live," as did blink-182 for "Feelin' This."
They said they wouldn't do it again, but Los Maricones de Rock-a.k.a. the Dragons-have announced they will re-form to play their traditional Christmas Eve show at the Casbah. The band will be without guitarist Kenny Horne, who recently moved back to his native Japan.
Dorado Gold has been chosen out of 7,000 submissions as a finalist in the "Sign My Band" online contest, put on by violin punks, Yellowcard. Prizes are aplenty, including a deal with Takeover Records (owned by Y-Card guitarist, Ben Harper). You can vote at www.purevolume.com
Blues aficionados shouldn't miss the CD-release party for the Boogiemen's third album, A Little Trim, held at Humphrey's Backstage Lounge Nov. 18. The show will also double as a membership drive for the local Blues Lovers United of San Diego.