2018 Musicians

We thank Kevin Hellman, of San Diego CityBeat, for producing our terrific musical lineup year after year!  Here’s a look back at the 2018 performers.  Music for 2019 will be announced a couple of months prior to the festival.

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.

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.

Christine Marie Frey – Christine Marie Frey announces “Fusing Music with Mental Health.” Christine’s music is dedicated to the advocacy of Teenage Mental Health Prevention from the direct perspective of an actual teenager experiencing it.

“I could not face the fact that I was being diagnosed as Bipolar. I would NEVER give my real diagnosis to anyone because I was afraid they wouldn’t look at me or treat me the same. I told a new classmate one time I was Bipolar and the first thing she did was step back & start walking away! It was then I realized what stigma means….and it was then I decided to do what I could to prevent it.”

There is very limited information available on what it’s like to experience a mental illness as a real life teenager. Christine created www.christinemariefrey.com to help other teenagers gain insight, provide coping skills & inspire hope. Christine’s most successful coping mechanism is MUSIC….playing guitar, writing lyrics, singing, creating videos…..a creative outlet that relates to multitudes of teenagers. Her site highlights her music and mental health videos that resonate with other teens trying to deal with similar mental illness challenges.

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!

Ryan Hiller – Ryan is a highly skilled entertainer who delivers memorable performances that are full of passion, energy and truly great music.   He is a highly accomplished, technically-proficient, guitar professional & singer who can bring a crowd to their feet with his own songs or by perfectly rendering a standard cover.  Full of Funk, Soul and whole lot of rock n’ roll, Ryan Hiller is a highly sought-after musician and the only sound of his kind in San Diego, CA. After receiving his degree in music from the University of New Orleans, the birthplace of jazz, Ryan moved to America’s Finest City after Hurricane Katrina and has since established himself as a regularly featured artist both in private and public settings.

Ryan has honed his craft through years of writing, recording, and performance. He has opened up for The Steve Miller Band, The Red Hot Chili Peppers, Guns N Roses, Neil Diamond, The Doobie Brothers, The Struts, Foreigner, Styx, The Brian Setzer Orchestra, Chicago, Lyle Lovett, John Scofield, Chris Isaak, and Don Felder of the Eagles. He has performed at Qualcomm stadium, Petco Park, The Belly Up, The House Of Blues,  among countless others, both in San Diego and nationally. In 2015, Ryan became GigTown Music’s first artist, a testament to Ryan’s involvement in the booming San Diego music scene.

The Liquorsmiths – Through each new release and live performance, The Liquorsmiths seek to expand upon their core ethos – folk rock is the new punk rock. Hailing as they do from the pleasant climes of San Diego, one might have preconceived visions of laid back dreamy beach music, but this three-piece creates songs that are hard-hitting dynamic adventures that can turn in an instant from internal contemplation to cacophonous catharsis and back again with each turn bringing a fresh new layer of surprise to the mix. Their musical journey proves that there is still plenty of room to find new sounds by mixing the rawness and passion of early 90’s alternative and post-punk indie rock with the intimacy and beauty typical of their folk and americana beginnings.

MARAUAK – (Ma-ra-Wak), a singer, songwriter and guitar player, was born in Salvador, Bahia, Brazil to an African father and a Brazilian mother.

Marauak’s music reflects his years performing on stages and streets of Brazil and USA and his exposure to a wide range of music, from folk to popular and from the profane to the sacred. Embedded in Marauak’s soul is the pulse of Afro-brazilian rhythms and the power of chants.

Listening to his music you feel the influences of classic Brazilian Bossa Nova, Samba and Contemporary (MPB) along with a combination of Reggae, Dancehall and Hip Hop. His greatest strength is a rare musical fusion of Brazilian Classics with America’s African-Influenced beats (Jazz, Soul, Funk).  Marauak’s repertoire is made of originals, in English and Portuguese, and reinterpretations of other artists. The result is a unique experience for his audience.

Noah Rickertsen – Based in San Diego, California, Noah Rickertsen is a multi-talented singer/songwriter with a truly unique approach to his blend of pop and indie. His sound is intimate, yet powerful. Noah’s melodies and thought-provoking lyrics are inspired by the work of fellow artists like Jason Reeves, John Mayer and Jason Mraz, only to name a few.

Noah studied at the Berklee College of music, highly regarded as one of the best contemporary music schools in the world, working hard to constantly improve his craft and remaining humble and dedicated to follow his dreams.
Noah’s music consistently receives positive feedback, including his recent position as runner up in the San Diego County Fair Singer-Songwriter competition in late June, 2016.

Find out more and feel free to get in touch for further information, as new releases are around the corner!

Wayne Riker – Music critic Bart Mendoza said it best in December, 1999, about Wayne Riker’s versatile guitar abilities . . . “Fans of great guitar playing would do well to check out Wayne’s current stint with singer Shelle Blue. It’s clear to me he has become a master of the instrument in all genres.”

Between 1967 and 2003, Wayne has played thousnads of gigs, spanning all the pop musical genres and settings.

During 1979, Wayne took a one year hiatus to study with Howard Roberts, Pat Martino, Ron Eschete, Les Wise, Howard Alden, Joe Diorio, Al Bruno, Kimbo Smith, and Don Mock at the Guitar Institute of Technology in Los Angeles.

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

Whitney Shay – A two-time San Diego Music Award winner for Best Blues Artist, vivacious young vocal phenom Whitney Shay sings with a commanding authority that’s usually associated with artists twice her age. No less of an authority than soul legend Candi Staton called Shay “one heck of a singer” and asserted “She really has heart.”  The Beach and Bay Press further stated, “Shay is one of San Diego’s most electrifying artists, with a sassy, brassy stage presence that makes her one of the area’s top performers to watch.”

The excitement that Shay is currently generating, through her live performances and her new album A Woman Rules the World, has its roots in the artist’s lifelong love for music and performance. After witnessing a performance by the Royal Shakespeare Company at the age of three, she immediately joined a theatre company upon returning home. She’s been performing ever since. In 2009, Shay made the leap from performing in theatrical productions to fronting a band and belting blues, jazz and swing material. By then, she’d developed a singularly powerful voice and a riveting stage presence. Those assets have won her an enthusiastic audience on her home turf, where she performs more than 200 shows per year.