Performances Sponsored by:
We thank Kevin Hellman, of San Diego CityBeat, for producing our terrific musical lineup year after year!
Sam Bybee – Sam has spent the better part of 20 years as a singer/songwriter making music his priority, funding his dream with all kinds of jobs ranging from government contracting all the way to managing an upscale bakery. With 3 solo albums under his belt, another 2 along with his successful San Diego group, 22 Kings, and 5 successful tours, Sam has made his passion his full time job.
CalAmity – An all-female acoustic ensemble playing original pop folk rock songs in San Diego, CA.
Cardinal Moon – Dawn Mitschele’s compelling voice grows into more expansive territory with her new project Cardinal Moon. The gifted singer/songwriter has joined forces with lyricist Alfred Howard and the accomplished musicians of The Redwoods Music label to amplify the intimacy of her solo work with picturesque tunes that range from bouncy blue eyed pop songs to immersive Southwestern ballads.
Howard sent Mitschele lyrics from the window seat of a Greyhound bus moving through the western US, challenging her to bring the words to life with her inflective vocal style. The collaboration inspired both artists to create tactile compositions imbued with a sense of time and place, invoking scenes of Americana wrought with emotion and reflection.
Dawn Mitschele has released five solo albums, and her playfully seductive vocal performances have made her an in-demand featured vocalist among So Cal recording artists including Bushwalla, Lee Coulter and 9 Theory. Alfred Howard has lent his songwriting prowess to a number of projects, including several bands in collaboration with the collective of instrumentalists recording with The Redwoods Music label, which he co-founded with Matthew Molarius and Josh Rice in 2015.
Manny Cepeda Trio – Manny has been performing since the age of 7, first as the “Timbales Player” in the highly acclaimed variety TV “Show de Vigoreaux” in San Juan, Puerto Rico’s Channel 4, and then with
other famous bands such as “Babo Jimenez, Ricardo Ray, Willie Colon and others. Manny has performed at festivals and for dignitaries throughout South America, Africa, and Europe.
His passion and love for music was developed as a young boy and is rooted in a rich family history of musical professionals from the famous “Cepeda” family. He was the leader of the famous Navy Steel Band and the world traveled U.S. Navy Show Band, he toured the entire continent of South America and West and South Africa, Caribbean and Europe doing 7 world tours and performing 164 concerts and festivals within each 7 year period. His knowledge and expertise brings the art of Latin music to life. His unique music style enriches your life culturally as well as socially with lives and sequenced music resulting in an amazing blend of technology and live performance unequaled in the entire West Coast.
Lee Coulter – Lee Coulter’s soulful acoustic performances and powerful songwriting have landed him opening for Tom Jones, Chuck Berry and Martin Sexton, on stage with Jason Mraz, and had Sirius XM’s Coffee House channel dub him “the discovery of the year.”
Originally from Brisbane, Australia and now based in San Diego, California, he uses the combined power of lyrics and music to promote the idea that human connection is what separates us from the rest of the matter in the universe. As it is summed up in one of his songs, “Stardust and forces of attraction, that’s all we are.” He is a classic songwriter in the modern age.
Evan Diamond – Nicknamed by some as “The Diamond Girl”, Evan Diamond is truly unstoppable. After leaving her hometown of Calgary, Canada and moving to Southern California in pursuit of her dream to be a musician, she has proved that that was indeed the right choice. With an album release planned for this fall, she is sure to leave her mark. Armed with her acoustic guitar and loop pedal, she’s breathing some much needed new life into the music industry and hoping to inspire others with her music along the way.
Michael J. Dwyer – For more than 4 decades Michael has been playing guitar and singing the music that inspired him from the start. At an early age his influences varied from Bob Dylan to Bob Marley and everything in between. As a singer-songwriter his style gravitates toward Americana-Roots acoustic. Michael’s lyrics are thoughtful, engaging and whimsical with a bit of sarcasm thrown into the mix for good measure.
The late 1970’s and early 1980’s found Michael touring nationally and internationally in the Christian rock n roll band Heirborn. Throughout the latter part of the 1980’s Michael would align himself in various musical incarnations such as the Lehnen-Dwyer Band and The Paradise Highway Band.
As a solo artist Michael is known to have an easy, open, playful manner with his audience often times coaxing the crowd to join in to singing along with the more familiar tunes in his repertoire. Michael mixes it up with a generous portion of cover tunes by artists such as the Eagles, Crosby, Stills & Nash, Bob Dylan, Sting, Bruce Springsteen, Simon & Garfunkel, Linda Ronstadt, Joni Mitchell, The Beatles, Neil Young, Fleetwood Mac and many more artists that had an influence on our culture and our lives. As a recording artist and record producer, Michael has a number of projects under his belt with national and international distribution. Michael has moved to the San Diego area and is enjoying the benefits of living “in the city.” Michael’s music works well in the urban café, martini lounge, pub, wine room and supper club environment. His style is intimate and engaging.
Nina Francis – 2017 San Diego Music Awards “Best Singer-Songwriter” nominee Nina Francis is a versatile singer and an accomplished guitarist. Laced with undertones of pop, folk, and jazz, Nina’s music blends timeless songwriting with modern sensibilities to create a sophisticated sound all her own. She is indeed “an artist to watch” (Bart Mendoza, Beach & Bay Press).
In May 2014, the “promising young singer-songwriter” (George Varga, San Diego Union Tribune) received her Bachelor of Music from the University of Southern California’s groundbreaking “Pop Program” (as featured in Rolling Stone), the first of its kind at the conservatory level. At Thornton School of Music, Nina worked with Lamont Dozier (writer of multiple Motown hits by artists such as the Supremes and Marvin Gaye), Randy Newman, Glen Ballard (multiple Grammy award-winning songwriter and producer, notable credits including Jagged Little Pill by Alanis Morissette and “Man in the Mirror” by Michael Jackson), Patrice Rushen, Glenn Frey (for whom she sang background vocals), and Melissa Manchester.
Upon graduating, Nina moved to her hometown San Diego to build her career her way: at the grassroots level. She immediately began to “gig like a maniac” (Paul Hormick, San Diego Troubadour). In a little under three years, Nina has played 300+ shows including premier local venues Belly Up and Music Box. San Diego has quickly acknowledged Nina for her immense talent, passion, and unwavering work ethic. In May 2016, she landed a yearlong well attended monthly residency at San Diego’s most storied singer-songwriter venue Java Joe’s where artists like Jason Mraz and Jewel first got their big breaks. Local radio stations 91X and 94.9 have spun her music. In April 2016, she was the cover girl for San Diego Troubadour magazine. She has opened for national acts such as Sammy Hagar, Tiffany, and Eagles of Death Metal for the 2017 Del Mar Racetrack Summer Concert Series. Nina is well on her way as an up-and-coming artist.Nina’s debut full-length album Between Dreams is now available worldwide.
Ginger Cowgirl – Ginger Cowgirl hit the scene in 2015 after award-winning vocalist Stacy Antonel took a shine to some old country LPs. Already a working jazz and rock vocalist, country music was a new adventure but it paid off. Soon the new band was performing regularly throughout San Diego, from honky-tonk dives to a sold-out show at 98 Bottles to the legendary Belly Up. In 2017 Ginger Cowgirl relocated to Nashville,Tennessee.
The band features eclectic, multi-lingual vocalist Stacy Antonel, who in 2013 beat out hundreds of singers to take home the grand prize of $10,000 in Fox San Diego’s televised singing series “3 Minutes to Stardom”. She’s backed by a band composed of both young newcomers to the genre and seasoned musicians who’ve played with everyone from AJ Croce to Don Williams. A key component of the band’s sound is their traditional instrumentation and excellent musicianship: pedal steel and Telecaster chicken pickin’ are central to their musical approach. Nevertheless, this isn’t strictly traditional country; the band’s song selections, widely varying musical tastes and the unique quality of Antonel’s vocals combine for a distinctly modern take on the classic country genre.
After two years of garnering a strong following, the band is presently working on their debut recording, due in Spring 2018.
Marissa Grace – Talented teen songbird Marissa Grace has been quoted as ‘one to take notice of now’. Having been featured on FOX5, KUSI News, Good Morning San Diego, STAR 94.1, KYXY radio, and multiple publications, this singer/songwriter/musician is most focused on one thing – to share her music and provide a positive and upbeat message towards today’s youth. Last December she was part of Nickelodeon’s ‘YOU BE YOU’ national campaign as a singer/songwriter/musician, and in 2018, Marissa Grace became a SPOTIFY Featured Artist with her recent original, JOURNEY.
Marissa’s introduction to music came at an early age; Piano at age 4, followed by vocals at age 5, fast forward ten years later to include the Ukelele, Acoustic/Electric Guitar, Upright Bass and a full 5 piece band. Much of her songwriting is influenced by Pop/Rock, and injected with some blues and jazz. The Reader magazine’s exclusive interview with Marissa named her as one of San Diego’s up and coming local musicians.
The Marissa Grace Music Band has performed LIVE at many venues across the county; House of Blues, Petco Park, Liberty Station, Belmont Park, San Diego County Fair, America on Main Street, San Diego Waterfront Park, Balboa Park, the San Diego RocknRoll Marathon, Mission Federal’s ArtWalk and more. Last summer, she and her band had the privilege of performing at America’s Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. Marissa also enjoys donating her time and talent to the local Ronald McDonald House of Charities.
Tom Griesgraber– Developed by musician Emmett Chapman in the early 70s, The Chapman Stick used by Griesgraber combines six guitar strings tuned in fourths with six bass strings tuned in fifths. Notes are “tapped” rather than strummed allowing the player to create separate parts in each hand with a variety of guitar and bass-like sounds. Taking things even further, Tom adds a third synthesizer output on the guitar side and incorporates live looping and synth pedals into his performances.
Today Griesgraber is one of the world’s most respected and active performers on The Stick. He has toured as an opening act and guest for more than eighty US shows with the California Guitar Trio, toured the US and Europe with drummer Jerry Marotta as the duo Marotta/Griesgraber and opened numerous shows for artists like The Tony Levin Band, The League of Crafty Guitarists, The Dixie Dregs, Steve Hackett, Adrian Belew, Al Dimeola, Stanley Jordan, Bill Bruford’s Earthworks, Larry Carlton and Steve Lukather, Muriel Anderson, Tower of Power, Asia, Michael Manring, Tim Reynolds, Jazz Mandolin Project and The Bad Plus. At the request of Recording Academy (Grammy’s) president Neil Portnow, he has also performed for the Academy’s Board of Trustees as well as the Academy’s Holiday Party and the 2004 Grammy Awards Show Post Party. In addition to his solo performances, Tom also performs regularly with his group Agent 22 and as a duo with Bert Lams of the California Guitar Trio.
Sahara Grim – Sahara had her first international success in Japan during the summer of 2017, sharing her work in various venues. Originally from San Diego, she has been active in the local music scene, recording original music with Peter Sprague and performing for Gilbert Castellano’s Young Lions Series. Achievements include leading her own band that performs her original compositions at venues such as House of Blues, Music Box, and many more. Her musical success has led her to study at UCLA where she is now focusing on Indian classical music (specifically in sitar) and becoming a well-rounded jazz musician. Her performance art touches on messages of nature, art, spirituality, and self-empowerment. With inspiration from the Ethnomusicology studies, she plans to collaborate internationally to create a new sound that traces from influences of R&B, world music and contemporary jazz.
The Heavy Guilt – The Heavy Guilt is the embodiment of rock n roll. Six musicians from varying backgrounds coming together to resolve their influences beneath the red lights of the stage. Erik Canzona, the gravel voiced singer, belts with heart, passion and abandon. His voice is timeless and nuanced and yet through some miracle of timing, this is his first band. Drummer Jenny Merullo, a recent arrival to San Diego via Boston, was a craigslist find who could not have been a better fit, she plays hard and dynamic and melts your heart with endearing harmonies. Sean Martin and Jason Littlefield had been playing jazz together for years, shedding and getting their chops sharpened, they bring the infinite palette of virtuosity to paint with. Josh Rice adds vintage keyboard tones from soul’s greatest years, bringing flurries of Fender Rhodes and Hammond swells to the mix. Alfred Howard provides lyrics and a volcanic pocket of contagious energy on stage. He plays found objects like chains, bottle caps, bells, a circuit bent radio, sheet metal and sand paper, he may be riffling through your dumpster or haggling at your yard sale right now.
Marie Haddad – Marie Haddad is piano-based singer-songwriter. It’s been written that she has a voice that “can hold your attention whatever she is singing” (North County Times), and a songwriting and piano style described as “somewhere between Kate Bush and Leonard Cohen” (San Diego Downtown News). Atwood Magazine described her as “a shape-shifter, constantly moving and changing, trying new styles and creating new worlds through music”, and called her newest album “the artist’s most diverse”. Honored with nominations in years past for Best Singer-Songwriter at the San Diego Music Awards, this year finds Haddad’s newly-released album, Stories from Atlantis, as contender for Best Pop Album. Haddad’s music has appeared on several national television shows, most recently for the second time on Lifetime’s Dance Moms.
Robin Henkel – Blues guitarist and two-time winner of “Best Blues CD” at the San Diego Music Awards, Robin Henkel performs slide guitar and country blues with an intensity rarely seen in Southern California. Drawing from the music and the styles of Robert Johnson, Fred McDowell and Elmore James, Robin has molded his own intense and entertaining personal style. Don’t miss this for anything!
John January and Linda Berry – John January and Linda Berry have such a unique sound that they are quickly making their mark with the California music scene. Their new album, Chemistry 101, was recently nominated for “Best Blues Album” for the San Diego Music Awards. They were runners-up in the International Blues Challenge here in San Diego. From smooth and silky to rough and tumble, John’s virtuoso guitar is a perfect complement to Linda’s expressive vocals-and vice versa! Their duo act features close harmonies with roots-influenced songs which incorporate elements of blues, rock and funk. Their band, January Berry Band, includes Tim Hempstead on bass, Mel Hintz on drums and Doug White on keys.
That brand of energy and soul is evident when John January and Linda Berry hit the stage. “Linda’s musicality, her singing and stage presence are keeping in the tradition of the great blues artists I’ve played with. We know that fans of blues and rock like to feel that they are in on something special when they go out to see a band, so, Linda and I keep to that idea with every song we write, choose and perform. A great performance moves freely between joy, beauty and exhilaration, says John. January/Berry shows always include a mix of acoustic virtuosity, soaring vocals, funky booty shakers, fat slide guitar, and those steamy blues duets.
From their smoldering vibe together on stage, to their killer band, this duo is fast-becoming a favorite of the swing dance and blues lovers crowd alike. John and Linda’s shows feature both covers ranging from Joe Bonamassa to Joe Cocker, as well as many originals.
Donna Larsen and Messengers – Donna Larsen and Messengers enjoy entertaining the crowds at many Festivals such as Adams Avenue, the San Diego Water Park, and San Diego Earth Fair, San Diego Beer Fest, and always looks forward to supporting the San Diego Community.
Donna’s Original Music brings a fresh perspective and sound to any event or venue. Upon hearing the band, or Donna as a soloist, it’s evident that this prolific songwriter brings with her the strength and passion of the greats and a current style all her own. “PopCoustic” is the term Donna uses to describe her solo performances, and with The Donna Larsen and Messengers her music expands from there to a thoroughly engaging and unique Pop Rock experience for the listener.
This Billboard Award Winning Songwriter can reach into the heart and soul of each listener with her thought provoking lyrics and one of a kind musical style. Never expressively tied down to one genre of music, she writes directly from the heart to the page. You can hear hints of pop, reggae, Latin, and rock throughout an evening of entertainment. Messengers is graced with exceptional musicians, all with superb technique and performance ability, and each member in love with music! Donna couldn’t be happier with her band, and can’t wait to play for you.
Dixie Maxwell – Dixie Maxwell is a singer/songwriter from sunny San Diego, CA, where her outlook on life matches the weather. She is accessible yet intriguing, as she inspires all to search for the deeper meaning, and leads listeners by example through her genuinely personal and creative songwriting. Driven by her desire to create art that’s an uncompromisingly honest form of self-expression, she boldly embodies the archetypal dreamer seeking to share her special gift with others. Dixie spent her early years surrounded by a musical family, in which the love for music was also naturally planted in her heart. She taught herself guitar at age 15, and poems she wrote at a young age evolved into songs. In May 2013, she released her first EP of 5 songs which can be found on iTunes. She is currently working on more recordings to be released soon. A saught after songwriter, Dixie has co-written on other artist’s EPs, one which made it into the top 3 albums under the singer/songwriter category in iTunes. She also co-wrote the rock song, “Monster,” performed by Catrien Maxwell, which became the title track to Lionsgate thriller movie, “Killer Holiday.”
Veronica May – Veronica May is a blend of music. She is a guitarist, pianist, drummer and choral arranger who happens to have bipolar 1 disorder. Her Life’s mission is to bring hope to those who struggle in silence, and to give a voice to those who feel too vulnerable to tell their story.
Sara Petite – Sara Petite is a gritty Pollyanna, Minnie Pearl type Bruce Springsteen rocker with an Outlaw-Classic Country style. Raised in a tulip farming town in Washington, she now resides in San Diego, CA. A gifted singer-songwriter, Sara possesses the unique ability to reach the hearts and souls of fans young and old. She has the rare gift to craft songs that appeal equally, but are interpreted differently by fans of diverse perspectives. This comes through in her live performances as well. A true original, Sara’s music does not conveniently fit into any one musical genre or sub-category, but rather traces her influences in country, bluegrass, rock and folk, and emerges into a sound completely her own. As welcome in senior citizen centers as she is in biker bars, nightclub venues and festivals, Sara is as American as apple pie and Harley Davidson.
Petite has been putting out albums since 2006. Coming Home, a single from her first album Tiger Mountain was in Universal Music of France’s COUNTRY compilation album alongside of artists such Lucinda Williams, Tim McGraw, Reba McEntire and more. In 2008 she put out her second album Lead the Parade. In 2010, Doghouse Rose climbed to #22 on the Americana Charts and #9 on Roots Rock Report. In 2013, Circus Comes to Town came out which was an honest look at a live well lived but full of heartache. The title track won her a songwriting award at Merle Fest and for the 4th time she was a finalist in the International Songwriting Contest. Road Less Traveled, her newest CD comes out May 19th. I Will Rise, a song from the album, is currently a finalist in the International Songwriting Contest.
Alicia Previn – Over the past four decades violinist Alicia Previn has been a part of dozens of acclaimed recordings, toured internationally several times over and established herself as a first call musician with great improvisational skills. An inspired live performer, her ability to play across genres has made her a fan favorite at venues big and small. Previn has been part of numerous major label groups including The Young Dubliners, In Tua Nua and Hothouse Flowers as well as recorded with a varied list of artists, including folk legend Richard Thompson, indie rockers, Cracker and heavy metal hit makers, Great White.
Although best known for her work as a session player, over the years she has recorded numerous demos for a proposed solo projects that have fallen by the way side. For this collection – the first in a series – we gather ten demos from the early 1980’s, recorded just as she was first making an impression as a studio player. The tracks showcase Previn’s songcraft, mixing plenty of melody with a kaleidoscope of influences, from dance to indie pop/rock. Currently working on her second solo album, as well as a series of environmentally themed children’s books, whether you catch her live performances as a solo artist or with any of the musicians she accompanies, Previn’s music is a wonderful listening experience.
Gary Santo-Pietro – “The Music I am Currently working on is meant to further what I call my ‘solo realm.’ I do solo acoustic music as either background music for any type of event or for your listening enjoyment. I use a looping device to sound like 2 people playing together, recording and erasing parts as I play live. I have some of my original music on the sight.
I have been currently doing music for Art shows and private parties, farmers markets, restaurants, really any situation then can use music up front or for background music.
On my electric side I have done a lot of casual gigs backing up various artists, or backing up various worship leaders in Churches all around the San Diego area.” -Gary Santo-Pietro
Bri Schillings – Weaving music through the heart, Bri brings a sense of healing, wonder and adventure into her music through the richness of her sultry soulful voice.
Tolan Shaw – Tolan Shaw is an award-winning artist who has risen in the Southern California music scene as a pop/soul singer-songwriter who will stop at nothing to build a career with his original music. Both a solo acoustic troubadour and the frontman of his own band, Shaw’s music is catchy and soulful, bluesy and melodic, poppy and sincere. It is also highly inspired by his yearn to travel and to learn about the world and its people.
In the last year, Shaw won “Best Singer-Songwriter” at the 2017 San Diego Music Awards, became a Taylor Guitars official artist, wrote music with notable hit writers, and took a 4 month journey to Southeast Asia (endorsed by Taylor and GoPro) to write music and create a travel-music video series called “Wandersong.” Having shared the stage with international acts such as Gavin Degraw, Nate Ruess, and Switchfoot, toured nationally and internationally, and achieved success placing and licensing songs with various TV networks and music libraries, Shaw is well positioned to become a career artist and a songwriter.
“Shades” is Shaw’s newest project; an EP consisting of sets of songs or “shades” with different moods and production. Shade 2 is the second stage, with 2 new songs out now.
Drew Thams – Drew Thams is An indie rock and folk artist out of San Diego, Ca, known for dynamic arrangements, intriguing melodies and powerful story-telling lyrics. Since signing with Inhesion Records out of Atlanta, GA, Drew has established a national fan base as well as received international acclaim as a result of their inspired performances, independent radio play and full band releases with The Liquorsmiths.. Sound via albums have been compared to Wilco, Delta Spirit and Neil Young; while live performances have become improvisationally driven, exposing the band’s capabilities.
True Stories – True Stories is comprised of two native San Diegan’s, guitarists Bart Mendoza and David Fleminger, both original members of early 1980’s mod rockers Manual Scan. True Stories performs classic three minute pop songs, mixing power chords, folk, rock and 70’s AM pop, into short sharp burst of melody. Mendoza has penned or co-penned songs for numerous artists including the Kingpins “Plan of Action” (Canada) and Daniel Hall’s “Survive” (Germany) which won a 2003 EMI Publishing Award in Berlin.