North Park Music Scene
By Bart Mendoza
Now in it’s sixth year, North Park’s annual Indie Music Fest, held this year on March 26 and 27 at various locations in the area, has quickly become one of the top events on the West Coast for up-and-coming performers to get noticed.
Championing diversity in music, art, spoken word and film, the event covers a lot of stylistic ground in it’s two-day run, from folk to rock to reggae and all point in between. The full performance schedule was not set at press time. Visit sandiegoindiefest.com for the schedule.
Friday night is devoted to film only, while Saturday sees the full use of seven stages with 85 artists set to perform on the day. Indeed, Indie Music Fest offers literally something for just about every musical taste. Here are few highlights:
Since the release of their first album in 2001, Canadian indie rock quartet Metric has honed its synth-tinged rock tunes to near perfection; all hook, no filler. Though still relative unknowns to the U.S. mainstream, the opposite is true in Metric’s native land, where both of its last two releases have gone platinum. While seeing little U.S. chart action, the band still enjoys significant radio play, with the new wave-influenced hit “Sick Muse,” the latest in a string of incessesently catchy singles.
Metric at Durga Sound Main Stage, 29th Street and North Park Way. myspace.com/metric.
Fronted by the event’s organizer, Danielle Lo Presti & The Masses excels in a mix of rock, funk and blues that manages to be intense, danceable and carry a message. Indeed, Lo Presti is a tireless activist, so much of the group’s music deals with social issues. In this group’s capable hands, lyrics match melody and beat. The group’s three albums to date showcase the band’s tunes well, but it’s live where they truly shine, with Lo Presti’s powerful stage presence and vocals topping the excellent musicianship.
Danielle Lo Presti & The Masses at Durga Sound Main Stage, 29th Street and North Park Way. myspace.com/dlpm.
Winner of the 2009 San Diego Music Award for “Best Local Recording,” Josh Damigo is certainly one of the most gifted singer-songwriters the area has seen in some time. The tunes from his award-winning disc, “Raw,” will likely get the night’s biggest response, but he’s an engaging, crowd-pleasing performer, whether in acoustic mode or with a combo. Damigo adds a slight pop edge to his songs that makes his music a bridge between the acoustic stylings of Jason Mraz and the rock of Switchfoot.
Josh Damigo at Craig Yerkes Acoustic Stage, Kansas and University Avenue. myspace.com/joshdamigo.
Los Angeles-based Saucy Monky is often thought of as a duo, featuring Annmarie Cullen and Cynthia Catania. The impression is likely due to Cullen and Catania’s acoustic performances, but in fact the group is anchored by bassist Steve Giles and drummer Megan Jane, the latter a well- respected musician with local connections, including stints with Runhoney and The Anna Troy Band. Even with sterling musicianship, it’s the songs that matter and for fans of jangly pop with folk overtones and fuzzed out power pop, it doesn’t get much better than this.
Saucy Monky at Green Stage, 29th Street and University Avenue. myspace.com/saucymonky.
Few things are as sure to get a festival crowd dancing as a blues band. One of the newest additions to the area’s clubs is the Smokin’ Knights, a five-piece band specializing in harmonica-driven blues as originated by the likes of genre icons Magic Sam and Little Walter. Last month, after winning local contests, the band represented San Diego at the International Blues Competition, held in Memphis. The band didn’t win, but with a great set list of originals and classics, it has picked up new fans nationwide. Though some might find blues limiting, frontman/harmonocist Karl Cabbage’s virtuoso playing and energy keep this exceptionally tight band an exciting proposition.
The Smokin’ Knights at Craig Yerkes Acoustic Stage, Kansas and University Avenue. myspace.com/smokinknights.