We had no idea. No idea what we were getting into with the San Diego Music Thing. We knew there was some live music. Some sort of conference and there was some sponsorship money coming from Blue Moon (hey get it where you can I guess). We knew it benefitted the San Diego Music Foundation, but weren’t sure what that was. We really weren’t prepared. And so far we’ve only been to one day.
The San Diego Music Foundation is working to enrich San Diego’s diverse and creative music community through music education for youth, professional development for current and emerging industry professionals, live performances for the San Diego public, and recognition for San Diego artists of exceptional merit or service. -SDMT
We picked our three-day badge at the Lafayette Hotel early on Thursday. It came with a gift bag. Oh yeah. Classy. “Where does this get us?” we asked.
“Everywhere,” was the response.
Well alright. That was some pretty exciting news, and the gift bag had chips in it. Double exciting.
We went straight to Subterranean Coffee for some coffee just to calm us down, and go through the event schedule. Thursday & Friday had a full day of short panels geared towards musicians. Everything from How To Social Media, Building Your Brand to Musician Legal 101 was being covered. There were meet & greets with industry types. A happy hour to end the day. Hell, Fireball Whiskey was there with samples if you need a pick me up late in the day.
Then there was the concert list. 100+ bands. 9 or more venues (some like the new Music Box were added late. They weren’t listed on the schedule but the passes work all the same.) The venues were all over town, but a distinct cluster in the North Park to El Cajon Blvd region. Rock, Folk, Soul a little something for everyone. (Check out the full schedule here. You still have two full nights to go!)
We headed back to the Lafayette to learn about social media techniques from an industry insider. To our surprise the room was sparsely populated. Only about a dozen at the start which grew to about 20 at the end. The audience was split pretty evenly between actual musicians (who the conference was geared too), and people affiliated with bands or covering SDMT like us.
The next panel was bigger with a club owner, pr person, record executive, hip hop activist (not sure what that is but hope it’s on his business card) all available for a guided Q & A for an audience around 35-40. We gotta say. If you are a musician in the SD region who wants to learn or needs to learn some of the business behind making a career out your art, and you are not at the San Diego Music Thing soaking up a ton of information you are selling yourselves short. Unless you consider knowing almost 4 chords on the Ukelele enough skill to be considered a musician no one at SoCal Sessions HQ meets the bill, and we still took quite a bit away from the sessions we attended. Despite addressing the music industry specifically, a lot of the info crossed into areas all creatives could do well to learn more or brush up. Hopefully, the Friday sessions were packed.
After a late afternoon workout/nap we ventured out into the cool SoCal winter evening. We started in Little Italy at Music Box, the new Hollywood-esque music venue on India St. First impression…the place is beautiful, and drinks are expensive. We bet the sound is going to be great, but won’t know for sure until Dead Feather Moon on Saturday. Since they weren’t on the original SDMT schedule there wasn’t a set time for the openers. We hung out for more than an hour but no musicians ever made it on the stage before we left.
We planned on hitting up the Casbah next because we love the Casbah, but somehow we ended up in the car driving to The Hideout. We’ve never been, but we had Spotified some of the bands scheduled to play and dug the overall sound of the evening. We walked in ordered a beer, wandered up to the stage and Old Tiger (local band alert) started to play. Five minutes after arriving we were in love with the Hideout. Great venue.
The idea of the multi-venue pass is brilliant. We could check out new venues all over town with buying multiple tickets, without paying multiple fees. San Diego Music Thing is a great way not just to see live music but to explore cool parts of San Diego that may be new too you. Before going to the Music Box we walked Little Italy at night. The Hideout was on the side of the 805 we don’t always think to go. Add in all the other venues like Soda Bar, The Irenic, Bar Pink etc. and you’ll probably discover someplace new to you.
There was great music too. Old Tiger sounds like the entire Wheezer Band made some sweet lovin’ with Sam Cooke while Elvis Costello watched, and they made a baby. A baby called Old Tiger. It was good feelings, soulful music. New band Sonny Boy Thorn took the stage. They looked like a music stereotype. The head-bobbing lead singer. There was vampire pale guitarist, a guy with a Indiana Jones hat going the Bob Dylan route, and the long-haired drummer who could have been in any rock band ever. We don’t mean that as insult, but it was almost uncanny.
Then they began to play, to sing. Those mother-fuckers could wail. Some bands are good. And some can take it too another level. Those guys could get to that level. Somewhere along the line we planned to hit up one last venue, but A.A. Bondy came out next & brought a chill vibe on-stage with him that leveled us out. We wandered out of The Hideout. The cool SoCal air tickled our beard, and we thought to ourselves, “Holy Shit. We weren’t prepared.”
Luckily, we’ve got two more days.
A day pass is $35 and gets you into any of the venues. Plus don’t forget to check out the San Diego Music Foundation. Your good times are going to support music education.