It's that time of the year when alternative, retro-pop, psyche-rock, Mod, and other types of underground bands from around the country leave their pockets of support to converge on San Diego for the "New Sounds of the '60s" festival. The seventh annual edition takes place Saturday at the SOMA club downtown.
"New Sounds of the '60s" is so called because most participants play in contemporary modes that, to lesser or greater degrees, take their musical cues from that decade's groundbreaking pop, rock and soul music. As before, the festival is being coordinated and promoted by Bart Mendoza of the local band Manual Scan.
"New Sounds" is well known among underground-pop aficionados the world over. Past festivals have even featured
European acts who were already in this country, either touring or vacationing. This year, there were no such bands available, and, due to economic conditions overseas, especially in Great Britain, most foreign invitees could not afford to make the trip.
Consequently, this year's model has a more American look, but the scheduled acts nonetheless are among the best in their respective sub-genres. Artists to be featured in Saturday's marathon program include the Overcoat (psyche-rock from Phoenix), the Loved Ones (R&B from San Francisco), 27 Various (psychedelia from Minneapolis), Hepcat (rock-steady ska from L.A.), Jigsaw Seen (melodic garage pop from L.A.) and Odd Numbers (soul-punk from San Jose).
Prominent San Diego acts include the Hoods (garage R&B), the Shambles (hard folk beat), the New Breed (power pop), Miniature! (punk-pop), acoustic performer Jon Kanis, and, of course, Manual Scan (beat rock 'n' roll). Fleshing out the rest of the field are the Witch Doctors, Colour Blind, Third Eye, the Others, the Imperials, Tombstones, Contra Guerra, Neighborhood Bully, the Romulans and Gangbusters.
Like past festivals, 1991's "New Sounds" event will commence with an observance of a traditional Mod rite: a motor scooter rally. This activity, a derivation from the stylistically very particularized mid-'60s Mod movement in England (immortalized in the film of the Who's "Quadrophenia"), will begin at 10:30 a.m. with a gathering of scooters at Kate Sessions Park. From there, riders will follow a scenic route to SOMA, 555 Union St., near Market.
The music will begin at noon and continue until 2 a.m., with bands playing on two stages. Eight deejays, door prizes and a scooter raffle will fill the down time. Admission is $15 for the entire day, or $10 from 9 p.m. on. Tickets can be purchased at Off the Record (265-0507), Vespa Supershop (574-1818), West Coast Lambretta Works (229-0201) or the Catwalk (696-9786).
Former San Diegan Mike Keneally (currently the guitarist in Dweezil Zappa's band) had a hand in the production of "The New Secret City Adventures," a KPBS-TV series that teaches kids how to introduce more lifelike dimensions (shading, foreshortening, etc.) into their drawings.
Primarily, Keneally wrote the show's theme song, on which he sings the verses and conducts a 19-kid choir on the chorus. With computer programming and orchestration assistance from brother Marty, Keneally also composed the original scores for three of the half-hour episodes, the third of which airs today at 4 p.m. on Channel 15. Keneally even provides the voice of the character Violet the Dragon. (He used a "harmonizer" sound device to effect a feminine voice.)
Following are the winners of the first annual San Diego Music Awards presented Monday night at the San Diego Museum of Contemporary Art's Sherwood Auditorium in La Jolla: Best Jazz, Reel to Real; Best Vintage American, Tobacco Road; Best Solo or Duo, A.J. Croce; Best Contemporary Group, Bordertown; Best Blues, Earl Thomas and the Blues Ambassadors; Best Country, Linda Rae and Breakheart Pass; Best Classic or Vintage Rock, Rockola; Best Nightclub Rock, Nemesis; Best Reggae, Roughneck Posse; Best Original Rock, Paladins; Artist of the Year, Mojo Nixon; Group of the Year, the Beat Farmers. Proceeds from the program went to the Mary Lou Clack Center for Handicapped Children in Vista.
PLAYBACK: Overheard at the recent Peter, Paul and Mary concert at the SummerPops site: a very conservative-looking man telling his small son that "this is what those 'hippie' concerts were like in the '60s."
GRACE NOTES: In a combined celebration of their anniversaries--Leo's Little Bit o' Country's seventh, KSON radio's 28th and Spoons Restaurant's seventh--Leo's is hosting a gala Thursday from 5 p.m. to closing. Both the KSON Flatbed Band and Char Carroll and the Durango Band will perform, and there will be free food, drink specials and door prizes (no cover charge). Leo's is at 680 W. San Marcos Blvd., San Marcos. Meanwhile, on Sept. 1 at Leo's, T.G. Sheppard will perform two shows. . . .