2015 Wrap-Up: Gary Wilson, R. Stevie Moore, San Diego Music Awards, a New Podcast, and a Devastating Loss

2015 has been a doozy indeed, complete with elating ups, devastating downs, and plenty of unexpected twists and turns. Anyone who is familiar with me or what I do will tell you that music is at the center of my everyday personal and professional life, so let's get right down to the musical highlights. Some of my sonic adventures came through continued collaborations with Gary Wilson and R. Stevie Moore, who are both dear to my heart and soul, while others involved crossing paths with new, kindred spirits in this sixteenth year of the new millennium. Consistent with the trying path of any life pursued with gusto, there was also a fair share of heartache. 

                           Gary Wilson and the Blind Dates at the Irenic in San Diego, CA. Photo by Nick Lane, 2015

                           Gary Wilson and the Blind Dates at the Irenic in San Diego, CA. Photo by Nick Lane, 2015

As drummer for Gary Wilson and the Blind Dates, I had the pleasure and privilege of playing a variety of venues, sharing the bill with some of the most vibrant artists out there. We brought Gary's weird and wonderful world to places as diverse as the San Diego Art Institute, LUX Art Institute, Gym Standard, Pappy & Harriet's in Pioneertown, Broken Flowersthe Observatory (North Park), and Tijuana's Mous Tache. Throughout the course of the year, it was an honor to open for or share the bill with artists like Ariel Pink, Black Lips, Puro Instinct, Dan Deacon, and Shuggie Otis

                                At home, relaxing with Gary Wilson. Photo: Galina Betker, 2015

                                At home, relaxing with Gary Wilson. Photo: Galina Betker, 2015

I also was lucky enough to log some studio time this year, and one of the results was my recording debut with the "Father of Lo-Fi" himself, R. Stevie Moore. The single, released by Bleeding Gold Records, is titled "Boysage", and I've written about it earlier. This is thrilling enough for me, of course, but it is even more exciting for me to write here that my collaboration with RSM is a continuing endeavor. There are new tracks already in the works as I write this, and will be sure to keep you updated in 2016. 

         The cover of the RSM/Boys Age slit 7" single, available (if there are any left!) on Bleeding Gold Records

         The cover of the RSM/Boys Age slit 7" single, available (if there are any left!) on Bleeding Gold Records

In the meantime, here is a video for the track, done by the talented Ken Linck. 

2015 also brought with it adventures outside of the realm of music, however, and I am pleased to write that I am part of a new podcast called the Bordertown Podcast. Working alongside Joshua Emerson Smith and Adam Vieyra, I am happily traversing America's Finest City, picking the creative brains of some of the city's best and brightest musicians, writers, artists, curators, and more, as we explore the assets, advantages, and challenges of working in San Diego. We have already interviewed Yale Strom, Justin Hudnall, Celeste Beyers, and Craig Oliver. We have a crew of exciting names on our list, and as soon as these rewarding dialogues are available, you can count on an update from Yours Truly. 

 Joshua Emerson Smith, Celeste Beyers, and me in front of one of Celeste's most recent murals. Photo by Galina Betker, 2015

 Joshua Emerson Smith, Celeste Beyers, and me in front of one of Celeste's most recent murals. Photo by Galina Betker, 2015

But now (surprise!) back to music. For just about the entire year of 2015, I was lucky enough to man the washboard for San Diego's G Burns Jug Band. During my brief but enjoyable tenure with band, I had the opportunity to explore pre-War American music in a sincere and meaningful way. It was an education and a pleasure to share this endeavor with audiences in Seattle, Santa Cruz, Los Osos, Santa Barbara, and of course - San Diego. The lagniappe reward was a San Diego Music Award for Best Local Recording.

Lastly, it is with a heavy heart that I note one significant, and deeply saddening, event in 2015. This continues to be so upsetting to me that I wouldn't even write about this if it weren't for the fact that it would be a crime to omit mentioning Steve Rodriguez and his passing in any discussion of San Diego music in 2015. First and foremost, he was -and remains- one of my closest friends. Secondarily, Stevie's connection with music was unique, and I will spend the rest of my life life striving to embody the kind of second-nature passion Stevie had for playing and performing. He is in my heart and soul on every gig I play. 

   With Stevie, my friend for life and beyond

   With Stevie, my friend for life and beyond

So, a rewarding, but difficult year indeed. There's no stopping now, though, and I can already feel the momentum of 2015 swiftly carrying me into 2016. I conclude this reflection in the rear-view with an optimistic, curious, and eager eye to the future. 

Backstage at Hollywood's Dirty Laundry, moments before the last Gary Wilson show of the year for the Cleopatra Records/Manifesto Records Christmas party

Backstage at Hollywood's Dirty Laundry, moments before the last Gary Wilson show of the year for the Cleopatra Records/Manifesto Records Christmas party