Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Venue Review: The Merrow

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The Merrow is located in the pleasant, popping town of Hillcrest. It used to be called the Ruby Room, which was an eclectic art-bar of sorts owned by a guy named Sam. They were the premier live music venue in Hillcrest, offering up many genres of music on any given night, with eerie and interesting paintings decorating the walls. Alas, the Ruby Room closed their doors in late 2013 and changed ownership.

Walking into the new Merrow makes me reminisce on all the good times I had at the Ruby Room. Looking around, I notice that besides the name, the place has not changed much. They kept many of the same bartenders and many of the same beers on tap. The only big change was the redecoration – the paintings were largely gone, with different posters taking their places. The Merrow stays true to the roots of the Ruby Room, however, showcasing many different aspiring artists and groups from all over San Diego, and even some touring acts.

When you walk in, the first thing that greets you is – thankfully – the bar. They have about fifteen microbrews on tap, and their glasses are cold and feel just right. Being a distributor of microbrews, the beers are a little bit on the expensive side ($6 - $7), but it’s nothing to cry about. You can pay with cash or plastic.

To the left of the bar is the showroom: a big, lifted stage, and wide-open space up front for audiences to stand and mingle during shows. There are a few tables for the more casual crowd, two pool tables, and the sound-booth is pretty close to the bar, directly parallel with the stage.

One of the best aspects of The Merrow is the soundguy, Shiloh. I’ve known Shiloh for many years (thankfully he remained even when the Ruby Room left), and he’s always been one of the best and easiest sound engineers to work with in San Diego. With his shaved head and long, belly-reaching red beard, he might seem intimidating at first glance, but he’s one of the nicest guys you’ll meet. No ego whatsoever in his approach to sound – whatever a band wants, they’ll get. He is the main reason why The Merrow consistently has such a great sound.

Most of the shows have a reasonable, low-cost cover fee (usually between $5 and $10), which gets split evenly amongst the bands. It is nice to see honest people that aren’t trying to jip the bands playing. The ownership at The Merrow knows that giving bands the door money to split is what keeps them coming back, and in turn what keeps their fans coming back. They also know that if bands draw well, the venue is going to make a killing at the bar. It is this kind of mutual respect that keeps everyone happy: bands get a little take-home money, the bar makes money, and everyone leaves satisfied.

The vibe here is great. There aren’t any clashes or power-trips from the workers or from the attendees. Everyone knows that when you go to The Merrow, you’re going to have a great, stress-free time, which is exactly what a music venue should try to represent.

  • Great, quaint location – lots of partying, but a thriving community.
  • Laid-back vibe and a spacious venue.  
  • Door money is split between bands, keeping everyone honest. 
  • Shiloh is one of the best sound guys in the business.  

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Fargen Amplification’s High Gain Classic 50

SACRAMENTO, CA – To celebrate their 15th anniversary, Fargen Amplification is now offering a limited edition High Gain Classic 50. The anniversary edition will be limited to five pieces in red, five pieces in white and five pieces in blue for a total of 15. A matching 212 speaker cabinet is also available. The amps are available through select authorized dealers or directly from the Fargen website.

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High Gain Classic 50

  • 12AX7 tube buffered FX loop with true bypass switch, 
  • Foot switchable dual master volume (rhythm/lead) 
  • Custom 50W transformer set 
  • SoZo vintage style mustard capacitors 
  • Fargen Custom Shop resistors 
  • DC Filaments for ultra-quiet operation 
  • 1/8″ aluminum chassis for the true vintage British amp sound 
  • Color options: 
  • Vintage elephant red (5) 
  • Vintage bone (5) 
  • Vintage deep blue (5) 
  • Specifications 
  • Dimensions: 25 x 9 x 10" 
  • Weight: 38lbs. 
  • Output Power: 50 watts 
  • Tube Complement: (4) 12AX7, (2) 6CA7/EL34 
  • Will also run KT66,KT77,6550,6L6 
  • Class – Push Pull AB (Vintage Plexi ) 
  • Front Panel Layout & Equalization – Volume, Master 1, Master 2, Treble, Bass, Mid, Presence 

MSRP $3499 USD High Gain Classic 50 head
MSRP $1699 USD matching 212 speaker cabinet

For more information on Fargen, please visit www.fargenamps.com

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Venue Review: Kensington Club

Kensington Club on Adams Avenue, San Diego, CA
The Kensington Club holds nostalgic threads to my heart. Oh, I remember my free-wheeling days when I would head down to that dark creepy bar for karaoke and Rock Band nights. This rural girl was scared and titillated by my first few forays into the "true dive bar" (those are the words of San Diego Reader, not mine). But the vodka sodas and the other crap I used to drink tided me over. Soon, trips to Ken Club were an adventure. My return trip always involved an hour or so on the swings in the park nearby.

Situated right in the heart of "downtown" Kensington, Ken Club is not only a dive bar, but they have shows there too. Ken Club is divided into two sections: on the left, the bar and pool tables, on the right, a stage with ample standing and seating room. The bar slings the usual booze, macrobrews, and occasional craft beer. The bar staff is attentive and quick to serve.

So when you think dive bar, you don't think spacious venue, do you? But that's exactly what Ken Club is. Playing there last week, the drummer of our band Mariel nearly jumped for joy to see how large the stage was. Our five-piece had the chance to spread our wings that night. Not only that, but there's ample standing room in front of the stage and several booths and tables for seating. The space could give Soda Bar a run for its money, but Ken Club is a bar first and venue second. They don't seem to book shows very often, which is a shame. They have a nice space.

The bar is cash-only though they provide an ATM next to the pool tables. My only other hang up is there bathrooms. Although clean enough, it's cramped and I certainly wouldn't want to have an emergency there.

  • Cute neighborhood
  • Cash only with ATM
  • Good range of booze and beer
  • Attentive and quick bar staff
  • Effortless, low-key music set up
  • Spacious venue

Thursday, March 27, 2014

SUN GOD SEVEN - Spend Another Day

Sun God Seven is a group from Metairie, LA ranked #1 in Rock in their area on ReverbNation.  They are definitely worth a moment of your time when you get a chance to check them out.

Sun God Seven was conceived in the summer of 2012 between Sun God and Glenn 7. These two artists go back 25 yrs having cut their teeth in the same music scene in New Orleans.  Sun God moved away from New Orleans to pursue his career in an all original rock act in Houston, TX.  That band Downtown Bruno garnered a huge fan base in The Houston area and attracted the attention of Pace concerts which has gone on to become the epicenter of what is known today as Live Nation.

Steve Lawler and Matt Schulte were able to garnish some great opening shows for Downtown Bruno.  Sun God played guitar and sang backup vocals in this band.  The band had opening slots for Kiss, Pantera, Black Crowes, Circus of Power, Rick Derringer, Cinderella and many more.  Here we are 20 years later and Sun God Seven is following in the same format. Sun God Seven was fortunate enough to be the last act to work with famed producer Andy Johns who worked with Led Zeppelin, The Rolling Stones, Free, Humble Pie, Van Halen, Godsmack and a host of other great talent.  Andy sadly passed leaving Sun God Seven to be the last band he worked with.  The future holds a great timeline for this New Orleans rock act.