What's Happening This Week in San Diego?

What’s Happening This Week? (February 13-19, 2015)

What are you guys doing this weekend? Staying in? Braving the crazy Valentine’s restaurant crowds? Me, I’ll be dead-tired from my band’s mini-tour — today we’re playing in Los Angeles, tomorrow night Ventura — but I think the significant other and I might try to do a short picnic in the park or something. I hope you guys do something that makes you feel great!

Friday, 2/13

  • 7pm-9pm: Country singer-songwriter Trevor McSpadden will be performing at Expressive Arts (32nd & Thorn). Support local musicians and local art spots! $10
  • 7-9pm: Poetry & Art presents the anniversary of SDSU’s MFA program and Poetry International (their annual publication). Several alumni and students will be reading their poetry with a $50 prize on the line, along with live music.
  • 8pm-10pm: Open Mic Showcase at Java Joe’s featuring Isaac Cheong, Gabriela Aparicio, Aaron Bowen, Cortney Preis, Fernando Del Rio, and Heidi Hughes.

Saturday, 2/14

Happy Valentine’s Day! Doesn’t matter if you’re single, you all deserve love from friends and family too. :)

  • 7-10pm: Expressive Arts (32nd & Thorn) presents Valentine’s Art Happy Hour. For $25/person you’ll get art prompts to work on with your significant other or by yourself. Wine and snacks provided with donation or bring your own. RSVP 619-251-8474 or tish@expressiveartssandiego.com.

Sunday, 2/15

  • 6:30pm: Weekly open mic at Java Joe’s (3536 Adams Ave)

Tuesday, 2/17

  • 6:30pm: Can’t go wrong with another open mic at Java Joe’s at 3536 Adams Ave!
What's Happening This Week in San Diego?

What’s Happening This Week? (January 23-29, 2015)

What's Happening This Week in San Diego?
I’m pretty excited about this weekend, not necessarily because there’s much going on, but because I’ll be seeing Sullen Ray play 3 nights in a row, with one night being in San Diego on Friday at the Ken Club. So maybe I’ll see you there?

Friday, 1/23

  • 7:30pm & 9:30pm (two showings): Disoriented Comedy presents “the first ever mostly female Asian American standup comedy tour” right at our very own Comedy Palace (8878 Clairemont Mesa Blvd)! Angry Asian Man tweeted about this and you can get $10 off with the discount code listed on the site. I want to know who the surprise veteran comedian is!
  • 9:30pm-12:30am: Sullen Ray, Katie Leigh & The Infantry, and Social Club at the Kensington Club (4079 Adams Ave) starting at 9:30pm. $5 cover.

Tuesday, 1/27

  • 6:30pm: Open mic at Java Joe’s (3536 Adams Ave)

Wednesday, 1/28

  • This sounds interesting and exciting! Whistle Stop (2236 Fern St) will be hosting an open mic for electronic music. “If it has an on/off switch, bring it out.”

Thursday, 1/29

  • 8:30-10pm: “Crime Pays” is the theme of this regular storytelling event put out by So Say We All/VAMP at Whistle Stop (2236 Fern St). $5 suggested donation.

What’s Happening This Week? (December 19-25, 2014)

Happy holidays!

As expected, there’s a much-needed lull in events in preparation for the holidays, but there are some art events happening if you’re interested.

Friday, 12/19

  • 7-9pm: Music collective Montalban Quintet performs at beautiful Balboa Park’s Panama 66.

Saturday, 12/20

Sunday, 12/21

Thursday, 12/25

  • Merry Christmas! If you’re sick of family, head to Blind Lady Ale House from 5-10pm for craft beer.

Holiday Gift Guide for the Musician in Your Life

I thought it’d be neat to follow up my Holiday Gift Guide for Freelance Writers for one geared towards musicians! From history, inspiration, and songwriting craft, this is a well-rounded guide for those of you who are stuck on what to get for your musician friends and loved ones!

(Just like for my last gift guide, this post uses Amazon Associates links. That means if you end up buying from these links, I get a small percentage of the sales. Enough of those, and I might be able to buy myself lunch! Thanks guys!)

Our Band Could Be Your Life by Michael Azerrad

Our Band Could Be Your Life

When we read the list of bands interviewed and profiled for this book, I had to pick it up. It’s a thorough history of the indie music scene in the 80s that starts with Black Flag and moves its way through the decade, covering many of the movers in the indie record label and music scene. Dinosaur Jr., Fugazi, Minor Threat, and Sonic Youth are just some of the bands featured in this book.

Writing Better Lyrics by Pat Pattison

Writing Better Lyrics

For some people, lyrics is an intuitive process. But like any other craft, it can be learned. I grabbed this book as part of the free Songwriting class offered by the author and Coursera (which I also recommend).

The book is easy-to-read, well-organized, and breaks down songwriting in understandable chunks. From creating vivid imagery, developing a story, and effective structuring, this book is a great start to develop lyricwriting skills. Exercises follow each chapter so you can actually practice what you’re learning.

Journals by Kurt Cobain

Journals by Kurt Cobain

At times poignant and insightful, this collection of Kurt Cobain’s journals and letters uses reproductions of the actual notebook pages and is an intimate look into his head. Even if you’re not into Nirvana, this book is an important way to see how a musician sees the world, thinks, and works.

Scarlett Focusrite 2i2

Focusrite 2i2

I bought this for myself and my boyfriend last Christmas and we’ve been using it ever since. Affordable and portable, this USB audio interface works with all the major DAWs out there. It comes with Ableton Live Lite, which is fun to play with, but we mainly use it with GarageBand on our Macbooks. (And our roommate has used it with Logic.) If you’re just getting recording your own music, this is the perfect audio interface — it doesn’t have too many features where you’re overwhelmed, but has the basics of what you need.

Thanks for reading guys!

State of my life

I didn’t realize that quitting my job last October would require me to learn how to juggle. Yup, I’m a full-time juggler now, and I’m not even that efficient at it yet. I mentioned all my main projects last month, but I think I’ll break it down even further and talk about some things I’ve learned and that I’ve realized I have to learn to be successful.

I’ve found that when I focus on one main projects that the other two have to take a backburner. While it may be better for the one project getting all the attention, it’s not good for the others. But I don’t have the energy to try to devote equal time to three separate goals. Attention seems to sway every month.

Right now, I’m mainly concerned with my freelance writing since I consider that my main source of income. I’ve been trawling Elance and Odesk — both overcrowded with writers from other countries who work for very low rates — and sending letters of introduction to different publications. Occasionally, I’ve used Craigslist to find projects to pitch to. Fortunately, I have a chance to practice my writing chops and create writing samples through this blog and Villains Records.

Although eat.drink.craft. originally started off as a travelogue of sorts, I now have a chance to write whatever I’d like. Writing for this blog gives me a chance to research different topics that I’m interested in and write about it. Granted, I haven’t done that too much yet, unfortunately, but it’s something I’d like to keep doing.Some topics I eventually want to cover are depression and anxiety and how it affects freelancing and productivity; punk rock/alternative spirituality in terms of meditation, yoga, and religion; and Star Trek. It always comes down to Star Trek for me.

For Villains Records, I get to focus on marketing. I get to write engaging and interesting blog posts for the website and update its social media. And with the help of a friend who has been coaching me, I’ve been working on press releases for various album releases as well. My favorite part of working on the site is all the band biographies. I get to research band members, which includes interviews, and write biographies that show off their personality. Using those skills, I plan to land more gigs that will help companies and websites engage with their audience.

Next on the list of things to work on: face-to-face networking. Ahhhh! I’ve written about my anxiety previously. Most freelance projects are landed from knowing someone or knowing someone who nows someone. The Internet is over-saturated with other freelancers like me, so it’s hard to get gigs that way. I need to learn to network in my local community. You’d think it’d be easy, right? I worked in a high-volume casual restaurant and bar for 5 years, yet I still quake at the boots when I think about meeting with a few strangers at a networking event. I do plan on making business cards soon, so hopefully that will prompt me to get out there.

I’ve been less engaged with music and songwriting than I have been with freelancing, but I do pay some attention to it. Fortunately, I have a friend who comes over once or twice a week to jam and we’ve been attempting to write songs together. I’m supposed to be writing a song a week too, for Raymond the Sparrow, but it’s been hard to focus on that when I’m also trying to make money freelancing.

Ugh. I’ve been paying the least attention to this right now. I still have a LOT to do to hit my goal of being carried by at least one consignment shop. I think that’s what’s most daunting. I hit a bit of an obstacle with the broken china jewelry I’d been working on — mostly cost of materials — and have been discouraged. (Damn you, depression and self-esteem!) I’ve spent money on materials and such, yet still need more. Since I’m trying to MAKE money and not SPEND money, it’s been hard to convince myself to invest in more materials to get the job done right. I also need to organize a photo shoot, or at least borrow a DSLR, and start emailing shop owners. Money, time, and anxiety have melded together to create a firestorm of self-doubt. I do want SHOP.jlowatari to succeed, but the fact that it’s taking so long to get my act together is discouraging.

That’s the state of my life right now. Thanks for reading.

Back in the real world after a crazy Valentine’s Day weekend

Mariel performance in Los Angeles. Picture by @ehighstrete.

Mariel performance in Los Angeles. Picture by @ehighstrete.

I had the pleasure of going on “mini-tour” with my band Mariel, Sullen Ray, and friends during Valentine’s Day weekend.  The tour was in celebration of the release of an annual compilation by Villains Records, a local garage label founded by my boyfriend.  (I’ve mentioned that I write weekly blog posts and content for them.)

We started on Valentine’s Day at The Griffin, located in Linda Vista.  It’s a nice enough venue with friendly staff and craft beer.  The performance was a bit shaky since we hadn’t practiced with the guitarist in a couple of weeks, but overall, we had a good response!  Hands down, my favorite song is our closer, “Shipwreck.”  At the end we have 3 singers going at once and I think it’s a great way to end the set.

We opened the bill and were followed by Privet, Muscle Beech, and Sullen Ray.

Privet performance at The Griffin in San Diego, CA.  Picture by @sethaeubanks

Privet performance at The Griffin in San Diego, CA. Picture by @sethaeubanks

Second night was at a Chinese restaurant in Ventura, CA. Yeah, we thought it was weird too, but it ended up being a nice night. The restaurant was huge and divided into two separate sections. On one side was a room where karaoke was going on. That’s also where the bar was located. The other side of the restaurant was the stage, a huge pond/fountain, and the kitchen. The latter is where we played. It looked like a good spot for say, a wedding reception. I met some cool people here and got to watch a great performance by Dan Driskill and Andrew Saks (spoken word and guitar) and rockin’ sets by first timer Jane Gray Black Orphan and Sullen Ray.

Dan Driskill and Andrew Saks performance in Ventura, CA.  Picture by @juniejuniejune

The third and last show was in Los Angeles. We saw an amazing set by Tarah Who? I was completely blown away and it was my favorite part of the night. (My least favorite part was the bartender yelling at me for not tipping before I even had a chance to pull out my wallet. So, fuck you bartender.)

Now I’m back in the real world writing this blog post in the local cafe down the street from my house. I don’t miss the cramped hours in the back seat of the car, but I do miss being surrounded by other musicians and artists.

A run down of my life and projects 2014

I thought it might be a good idea to mention some of my other projects. I have three main things going on right now: my writing (poetry, prose, and freelance), music, and my shop.

Main Thing #1: Obviously, reading my blog, you’ve read some of my creative nonfiction (Thoughts while sitting in Caffe Calabria and A memory from Valley Center). I also like writing about music, which you can see with these short song and album reviews (listen category). I have a couple of ongoing sites I blog for, including Creative Edge Music and Villains Records. In addition to weekly blog posts, I also write the web content — band biographies, mostly — for Villains.  Did you know that I also freelance?  I would like to start writing more and more music content for up-and-coming musicians and artists.

That leads me to Main Thing #2: my music. I play in a band called Mariel. You can read a little bit about us on the Villains site. I play synth/keyboards and sing. We’re going on a miniature tour with another Villains band, Sullen Ray, this coming Valentine’s Day weekend, in celebration of the annual Villaintine’s compilation release. I also have a solo project called Raymond the Sparrow that I started as an homage to sci-fi but has turned more personal as the months have passed. My friend/roommate Will recently recorded me, and that song will be released on this year’s Villaintine’s record!

And finally, Main Thing #3 is my online shop. I like to make jewelry and knit and embroider cards and the list goes on and on. My 2014 for SHOP.jlowatari is to get at least one brick-and-mortar to carry my earrings. I wrote about my latest jewelry project on the blog. To succeed, I have to get more earrings made, take professional-looking photos, and start contacting shop owners around San Diego and outside. My friend Jonnie Estes has been so nice and helpful, giving me advice! She and my friend Becca of Little Otto Shop inspire me to continue with what I’m doing, despite all the self-doubt I have about my skills and creativity. I hope they know how much I appreciate their help!

Portland’s Genders new album Get Lost

I’m lucky to have friends with amazing taste in music. Without them, I never would have listened to Oregonian band Genders. Recently back from tour with Built to Spill, they returned to Portland for a release show for their latest album Get Lost.

The album starts like a cool summer night: windchimes on the porch, the wind represented by dreamy “ooh”s and a sense of loneliness as one sits with a cigarette on the front step. “Something To Get You By” exemplifies the album well, showcasing alternating vocalists and guitars that never seem to reach the apex of a crescendo.  Running a little under 6 minutes, this is the longest song on the album.

The following songs range from poppy to introspective, each exemplified respectively in track 5 – “Golden State” – and track 10 – “Twin Peaks.” Both happen to be my favorite tracks on the album. “Golden State” leads with percussion, reminiscent of a drum circle, enticing me to stomp my feet. I imagine a bunch of kids surrounding a beach bonfire. The instrumentation of this song is very playful, at times giving off a surf-flavor, which ties very well into the title. In “Twin Peaks,” the vocals are layered and echo-y, creating a surreal and space-y sound, with a hint of discordance and lots of noise.

All the songs feature dreamy vocals and poppy guitar. But in general, I prefer the mood of the last few songs of the album, starting from 52-second song, “Close My Eyes.” The penultimate song “Oakland,” features spunky guitar and a synth inspired by psychedelic 70s surf rock.

I could do without the excessively long “How Long Can I Wait?” which should have ended at the 4 minute mark, but continues a minute longer. The last song of the album is disappointing as well. Although it starts strong, it fades away, and gives the album no sense of finality, which is a shame, considering how great of a listen the rest of the album is.

I’ve since dived into their previously released 7” and EP, also available via their Bandcamp page.


Kera and the Lesbians – “Gypsy Song”

Originally based out of San Diego, Kera and the Lesbians moved to Los Angeles and have since been picking up residencies there. But not afraid of the studio, they released their latest single, “Gypsy Song,” this November.

The song starts with muted horns before the mellow (for Kera) vocals enter, which are punctuated by the guitar, before it builds up to what I consider to be the standard in her music: funky, syncopated guitars and a vocal prowess to be jealous of. Kera’s vocals are what hooked me to her music in the first place. At times straining in volume, her voice is passionate and her emotions ripping out of her throat. Their new single demonstrates this just as well as when I first saw them years ago. As the song continues to its end, the reverb on the guitar is reminiscent of surf rock. In whole, “Gypsy Song” is fun to listen to and has all the qualities that I admire in Kera and the Lesbians.

They will be returning to San Diego to play at Soda Bar on December 15th with Northern Tigers and Bleached. I’m looking forward to it!

You can check out an older single here: “Nailbiter” on BandCamp.

Bulletins – “Can’t Stop” and “Is Love”

At their show in November at the Soda Bar, San Diego-based Bulletins celebrated the release of two singles, available for download through their BandCamp page.

Bass and vocals feature prominently at the start of both songs, although both are joined by the guitar and synth soon after, both instruments showing off a playfulness that accents all of Bulletins’ songs.

My favorite part of “Can’t Stop” is right at the beginning, when Lorelei croons, “I can’t stop wishing it’s not true, it’s not yo-o-o—o-ou,” which sets the theme for the rest of the melody, with more ascending and descending croons coming back over and over throughout the song.

Guitar and synth take more prominent roles in “Is Love” compared to “Can’t Stop.” The lyrics are sweet, describing attempts to fight falling in love. The vocals are dreamy, more poppy. Their pop rock roots come out around 2:30, with the guitar distorted before taking a step back behind the synth and vocals.

The singles show off their sound their very well. Paired with their previously released demos, I anticipate their forthcoming album to be a great listen, with their alternative pop rock sensibilities. The two singles are already in my regular rotation.