by Bart Mendoza • actual article
Ocean Beach’s music community continues to grow by leaps and bounds. Always a popular location for artists, the area is beloved and considered inspirational by a legion of musicians who reside here. Here is a selection of news concerning Ocean Beach’s music community.
• Slightly Stoopid is likely the biggest success story to emerge from Ocean Beach, and it will be taking part in radio station 91X’s 30th anniversary celebration. The concert is set for Saturday, Jan. 12 at the House of Blues, with a bill that features many of San Diego’s best-known artists. In addition to Slightly Stoopid, on hand will be hard rockers P.O.D., ska heroes Buck O Nine, hip-hop combo Vokab Company and a special appearance by the reunited Rugburns, featuring ace raconteur Steve Poltz. Tickets for this concert are only available by winning them from the station. The band will be touring the West Coast through Jan. 27, with a headlining show scheduled April 20 at Colorado’s legendary Red Rocks Amphitheatre.
• The Lazy Hummingbird coffee shop and community center has started offering music once again by way of a twice-monthly, open-mic night. The event takes place on the second and fourth Tuesday of each month. This open-mic night is a little more varied then most, with the usual singer-songwriters, but organizers are also open to magic, dance, poetry and storytelling. Signups are at 6:30 p.m. on event night.
• Bassist Billy Fritz (the Coyote Problem, Peter Hall) has recorded a track for an upcoming Elvis Costello tribute album, “Beyond Belief.” He’ll be performing on a version of Costello’s 1986 track “Blue Chair,” alongside such artists as former Romeo Void singer Deborah Iyall and Nelson Bragg of Brian Wilson’s band. Fritz will also participate in “Sounds Like San Diego” a special fundraiser for the Museum of Making Music in Carlsbad on Feb. 1. The event features current performers playing the hits of San Diego’s past between 1955 and 2010, with Fritz taking part in a version of former San Diegan Chris Hillman’s tune, “Have You Seen Her Face.” Others appearing include Jack Tempchin, Joey Harris and Kevin Martin.
• Dazed and Confused frontman Jason Ott has a Friday-night residency at The Harp. From 6 to 9 p.m., Ott performs his “All Request Acoustic Show,” playing classic-rock favorites. With a set list of over 1,300 songs from which to choose, odds are he’ll know one or two of your favorite tunes.
• The Heavy Guilt, featuring multi-instrumentalist Alfred Howard will be touring the Bay Area the weekend of Feb. 1. The band will release its third album this spring, with advance orders getting a bonus album of outtakes, demos and acoustic versions. In the meantime you can catch the band Jan. 28 at Winston’s Beach Club.
• The weather may have cooled down a bit, but the weekly OB Farmers Market continues to heat up. Held every Wednesday, from 4 to 6 p.m., upcoming performers providing free music include Sunday Hustle and Lucky Rumba (Jan. 16), brothers Gow and Drew Taylor (Jan. 23), world-music favorites Todo Mundo (Jan.30) and young jazz up-and-comers The Trunks (Feb. 6).
“We have an embarrassment of riches, musically,” said organizer Michael Head. “Mixing up genres from singer-songwriters to jazz keeps the event fresh. You never know what you’ll hear from week to week, but it’s always something good.”
• Musician and promoter Jefferson Jay has posted an electronica spoken-word collage to his Sound Cloud page called “I Love Ocean Beach.” Among his many other endeavors, he continues to host a Wednesday night open-mic session at Winston’s Beach Club from 6 to 9 p.m. www.soundcloud.com/jeffersonjay/i-love-ocean-beach-1.
Two-day Oktoberfest set to take OB, visitors by storm
by Bart Mendoza • actual article
Though the streets of Ocean Beach are thousands of miles from Germany, OB is the site of one of the most popular Oktoberfest celebrations on the West Coast. Taking place this year on Oct. 12 and 13, the event is now in its eighth year and is expected to draw more than 6,000 people to the intersection of Newport Avenue and Abbott Street at the foot of the Ocean Beach Pier.
Featuring music, crafts and food, Ocean Beach’s Oktoberfest is one of the biggest bargains of the year. There is a $3 cost to enter the beer-garden area, but other than that, the outdoor events are free. Oktoberfest is a joint venture between Hoy Hoy Boys, the Ocean Beach MainStreet Association and the Ocean Beach Community Foundation.
Funds raised go to help fund local nonprofit organizations. Since its inception in 2002, Oktoberfest has raised more than $150,000 for such groups.
One of the event’s biggest attractions is Ocean Beach’s seaside location. Ocean Beach MainStreet Association executive director Denny Knox points out that this fall celebration is the only Oktoberfest located on the beach. She added this is key to keeping admission prices low.
“We just want people to come and have fun,” Knox said. “Some things you go to are so expensive, and then you don’t have money to spend with the merchants in the area. We find that this way, business is brisk even at merchants in the area surrounding Oktoberfest.”
While adding a Friday-night component to Oktoberfest has been very successful, she said it is unlikely that it would ultimately stretch into a third day on Sundays.
“It’s very costly to stage these special events,” Knox said. “It’s all volunteers and a committee of about 12 people. Right now, we’re pretty happy with the Friday and Saturday setup.”
On Friday, Oct. 12, event goers will be entertained at a single stage at the foot of Newport, beginning at 4:30 p.m., and include a beer garden and finalists in a Band Slam competition to pick the best cover or tribute band in the area. On hand will be Myndecryme (Queensryche), Spiral Out (Tool), Rage Again (Rage Against The Machine), Dazed and Confused (Led Zeppelin), Hey Ho Lets Go (The Ramones) and Hitman Honey (1980s hits).
Then, on Oct. 13, there will be a full day of activities beginning at 10 a.m., along with two stages. The main stage will be hosted by inimitable local personality and crooner, Jose Sinatra, with performances from one of the area’s favorite tribute bands, Electric Waste Band (The Grateful Dead), and a selection of original music ranging from rock to reggae with artists like Mike Pinto, The Devastators, The B-Side Players, JetWest and Blackout Party.
At the same time, the Rey Vinole Oktoberfest Band will play on the Seaside Stage, located on Abbott Street. Of course, that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Oktoberfest visitors will find a plethora of additional activities, including a “Mr. and Ms. Oktoberfest” contest, a sausage toss with a $10,000 top prize, a brat trot beach run, as well as stein-holding contests and a bratwurst-eating competition.
Guests worried about parking are encouraged to take a shuttle that will run every half-hour between the event and the 710 Beach Club in Pacific Beach. There will also be a special bicycle parking area adjacent to the lifeguard tower on Abbott Street.
Members of Electric Waste Band are veterans of the event. According to keyboardist Paul Bell, it’s the location that particularly sets this Oktoberfest apart from the rest.
“I always enjoy playing outside at the pier, as you cannot ask for a better setting,” he said.
He said there are challenges to playing an outdoor gig like this, but the stage location actually mitigates some potential issues.
“The sound outdoors isn’t as ambient so,” said Bell. “As a vocalist, it creates the illusion that your voice is disappearing the instant you make a note, whereas indoors you get the reflection off the back wall giving you a little more of your own voice. At Oktoberfest, though, it is great because the stage points toward the cement wall and we can get a little vocal slapback.”
According to Bell, it’s likely the band will skip a planned-out set list.
“One year, I think we did compose a set that we adhered to about 70 percent,” he said. “More often than not, we want to feel out the vibe of what kind of day it is, how the crowd is reacting, etc.”
He said that generally means the crowd will be treated to a more hit-oriented show.
“We do seem to lean toward the sunnier side of the [Grateful] Dead universe,” said Bell. “‘Scarlet Begonias,’ ‘Here Comes Sunshine’ and ‘Sugar Magnolia’ are all favorites.”
Dazed and Confused frontman and Ocean Beach resident Jason Ott agrees that the hits are important at an outdoor event of this type.
“The sets are pretty short and there are so many good songs,” said Ott. “The hard part is trying to decide which songs not to play. We’re used to doing at least three hours, which gives us plenty of time to play all the crowd favorites and some obscure tunes, too. The thing we will take into consideration is: Is it a popular enough song that the majority of people listening will get into it?”
He cites “Kashmir,” “How Many More Times,” and “Whole Lotta Love” as crowd pleasers.
“At OB Pier parking lot events, we get to play on a much bigger stage and to a much bigger crowd than usual,” Ott said. “That’s a bonus more than a challenge. Over the last six years, we have played in OB, Pacific Beach, Mission Beach, Orange County, Solana Beach, downtown.
“OB is by far the most fun,” he said. “People here just love live music. I love being able to play in my backyard. We get to look the crowd and see so many friends all in one place. Good times!”
• OB Oktoberfest takes place Friday, Oct. 12 and Saturday, Oct. 13 at Newport Avenue and Abbot Street. All ages (21 and over in the beer-garden area). Free (except $3 cost for admission to the beer garden. www.oboktoberfest.com
Ott finds home going solo Friday nights in OB
by Bart Mendoza • actual article
For many band musicians it’s the million-dollar question. As enjoyable as time can be onstage with their combos, many wonder what they can do musically with their off time. For a growing number of area frontmen, the answer is to play solo acoustic.Such is the case with Ocean Beach musician Jason Ott, frontman for Led Zeppelin tribute group Dazed and Confused. In addition to his regular band gigs, Ott can now be heard in acoustic format every Friday at Gallagher’s Pub, playing an “All Request Acoustic Show.”“It’s a gig I look forward to every week,” Ott said, “although it can get a little crazy when one person is asking for Metallica and another Neil Young.”He notes that it can be a balancing act to play to the whole room, but he has a secret weapon — a seemingly endless set list.“I have over 900 songs I can play at this point, but there’s always something else to learn,” Ott said.Ott said one of the keys to his success is his willingness to adapt.
“If I don’t know the requested song, I’ll often take it home and learn it,” he said. “It has opened my eyes in a big way. I am now a fan of so many artists I never thought I’d be into. There’s so much good music out there.”
Since he is more known for his work with Dazed and Confused, he said requests for Led Zeppelin tunes are common.
“I play lots of them, but some I avoid because they just don’t sound right with one dude on a guitar,” Ott said. “I love all of Zep’s music, the fast and the slow stuff. Playing solo let’s me play some of the tunes I wouldn’t play with the band.”
In 2007, looking to expand his horizons beyond Dazed and Confused, he approached a bartender at Gallagher’s and asked if he could try out an acoustic show there. He was told to come by that Sunday and give it a shot.
“At the time, I had a set list of about 40 songs and played most of them at my first show,” Ott said. “Gallagher’s was a new bar then and the crowd was pretty thin. They had a small, collapsible stage against a wall in the back where I played for a few hours. I guess I did OK because the bartender asked the owner to rehire me. (They) started booking me one show at a time on Fridays from 6 to 9 p.m.”
His show quickly morphed into the all-request format.
“I had a set list of songs that I personally enjoyed playing, but there was no shortage of people coming up to me and asking me if I knew this song or that song,” Ott said. “Or ‘Free Bird,’ always ‘Free Bird!’”
He admits the requests bothered him at first.
“I had hoped that people would appreciate my genius and just sit there intent on listening to everything that I played,” Ott said. “Wrong! As it turns out … I don’t necessarily know what people want to hear. I checked Wikipedia and there are 80 billion songs in this world and 6.769 billion people. That’s a lot of music and a lot of opinions.”
The gig eventually became a residency, now entering its third year.
“I enjoyed playing at Gallagher’s and wanted to figure out a way to keep a decent crowd there so I could justify a weekly show,” Ott said.
He quickly began listening to the audience and learning the songs they asked for.
“If I saw a person that had requested something, I played their song and they were pleasantly surprised,” Ott said. “When the audience is having fun, so am I. I live for this stuff.
‘Taking a cue from the dueling pianos at The Shout House, I decided to print song-request slips and present them to the audience,” he continued. “We originally went with the title ‘Acoustic Jukebox’ but another local performer was using that name, so I came up with the amazingly creative name ‘All Request Acoustic Show.’”
Today, Ott puts song-request slips on the tables, though people still also yell out their requests.
“My favorite genres to play are rock and classic rock,” Ott said. “Led Zeppelin are gods to me and I grew up musically in the ’80s hair-band era.”
Ott said getting requests has opened his eyes.
“I was never really a Bob Dylan, Johnny Cash or Grateful Dead fan, but I am now,” Ott said. “There’s so much great music out there that I just never got into until I started this show. I’ve found that some of the people who come to the show feel the same way.”
Ott said some songs are perfect for a show of this type and others have no business being done acoustically.
“But that doesn’t stop me,” Ott said. “Sometimes, breaking down an intense, multi-instrument song produces a really cool acoustic version. Some of these include ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ (Queen), ‘Dead Skin Mask’ (Slayer) and ‘Oops, I Did it Again’ (Britney Spears).”
He said it’s this type of risk-taking that he finds the most satisfying.
“I once thought these songs should NEVER be done on acoustic, but I guess I was wrong,” Ott said.
Ott cites a Queen cover as the high point of his gigs to date.
“When I played ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ for the first time, I was met with the loudest, longest round of applause I’ve ever had,” Ott said. “I love that.”
Official Article here: San Diego Community News Group – Ott finds home going solo Friday nights in OB