Musicians

We thank Kevin Hellman, of SDS Events, for producing our terrific musical lineup year after year!

Gaby Aparico  – Award winning singer/songwriter (most recently nominated for a San Diego Music Awards for Best World Music Album), Gaby Aparicio blends numerous cultural sounds together inspired from her coastal Uruguayan and Italian family roots. Honing her laid-back, sunny style in Orlando, FL, Aparicio headed to San Diego, CA in 2014. Since then, she has become a fixture in the live music scene, performing her signature fusion of Latin, world, pop, reggae, and soul with various configurations of her band, La Buena Onda, at iconic local venues and festivals such as Music Box, Adams Ave. Unplugged, and Chicano Park Day. Other notable performances include singing the national anthem for the NBA’s Orlando Magic, showcases at Gibson and Sony Music Studios in New York City, and opening for Latin Grammy© winners Monsieur Periné. Though no stranger to impressive accolades (she is a two-time winner of Cari Cole’s Signature Songwriting Circle Contest and 2018 winner of the West Coast International Song Contest), Aparicio’s creative mission is quite modest: she hopes to inspire others by spreading positive vibrations and love.

Gaby released her latest world soul album, recorded by Grammy© winning producer, Alan Sanderson, of Pacific Beat Recording, in July of 2019. She was a featured Taylor Guitar player in the February 2020 Wood&Steel publication, as well as at the Taylor Guitar booth at the 2020 NAMM Show. She will also be featured as an official QSC Audio endorsed artist in their YouTube TouchMix Sessions in conjunction with the Ursa Polaris Sessions, later this year.

Be on the look out for her latest release due out on Sept. 24, 2021, Corazon (9 Theory Remix), an electronic collaboration with 9 Theory, the solo music project of eclectic LA-based singer/songwriter, beat-maker, remixer and producer, Gabe Lehner. Follow 9 Theory on Spotify and get notified of his latest releases!

Jeff Berkley – Jeff Berkley has been called a San Diego legend, and it’s easy to understand why. Berkley’s musical contributions include his work in current bands Berkley Hart and Berkley Hart Selis Twang, as well as previous bands like The Cry, The Redwoods & Citizen Band. He is also known for his work with the many musicians he has produced in Studio’s around the world including his own.

The legend continues as he is also an amazing guitarist and percussionist with multiple acts. Soon, he will debut his first solo album. Already an accomplished songwriter – he won the Kerrville New Folk Songwriter award in 1999 – in any way you engage with Jeff Berkley, he puts you at ease with his good humor then engages you with his experience, his ear, and his passion. Jeff Berkley is a native San Diegan who has made music his life.

Amanda Cogan – Amanda Cogan is a San Diego native who has been playing in the music scene for 10 + years and running local open mics for almost as long. She is known for folky originals combining acoustic guitar fingerpicking, story-telling lyrics, and a soulful voice that makes you feel all the feelings. She has been nominated for Best Americana/Blues/Jazz Song in the upcoming 2021 San Diego Music Awards for her original Heart Pocket. You can find her music on every streaming platform.

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 – With a powerful, soulful voice and a three-octave range, Evan Diamond is a two-headed titan of live music, playing 20+ live acoustic solo show a month as well as doing regular plugged-in gigs with her full band, Evan Diamond & The Library.

Evan has garnered a lot of attention for her live performances and music which use live looped guitar, drums and vocals to create an eclectic blend of pop, rock and r&b. She has a unique talent total popular cover songs and put her own spin on them to make them completely her own.

Evan’s, music has proudly been featured on 91x, San Diego’s top Indie radio station, TV’s KUSI News, the Indie Spoonful blog, she recently opened for Broadway star, Megan Hilty at the San Diego symphony’s Bayside Summer Nights concert Series and she has been nominated for Best Singer-Songwriter at the 2019 San Diego Music Awards. Evan and her band have also showcased at San Diego’s House of Blues, Hard Rock Hotel, the Viper Room and the Hotel Cafe.

With her debut EP “Intersections” out now, Evan Diamond is more passionate than ever about inspiring her audience and having her music and lyrics resonate with a new generation of listeners.

Enter the Blue Sky – Indie folk trio Enter the Blue SKy has stories to tell and paints a pretty picture doing it. A blend of poetry and original melodies inspire reminiscing and reflecting, and once you’re there you’ll want to stay. Held aloft by warm instrumentals and three-part harmonies, the sincerity of the lyrics and delivery is subtle and compelling. Their album Wanderlust was nominated best Americana album of the year at the 2021 San Diego Music Awards. The trio won Best New Country Band of the Year with the 2020 Wear Coast Country Music Association.

As rhythm guitarist and lead singer for Enter the Blue Sky, award-winning vocalist and songwriter Sande Lollis has an undeniable glow, a powerful beacon of a voice, that attracts you to light.

Karen Childress-Evans on viola creates innovative and sonorous accompaniments results in a mix of rich ambience, playful motifs, and a unique sound.

Tine Dee sings backing vocals; her voice is smooth and easy on the ears, and suited perfectly to the arrangement of each song and to the rest of the trio.

Each member of Enter the Blue Sky is committed to creating a vibrant and welcoming atmosphere of sound that becomes their own musical universe.

Donna Larsen & Messengers – Messengers is graced with exceptional musicality, from lead vocalist Donna Larsen, lead guitarist Randy Hodge, and drummer Paul McGee. As a sometimes magical unit of spirits, Messengers delivers the message with superb technique and performance. Each member of Messengers is engaged through their heart and creative minds with the music and it shows!

Rheanna Downey – Rheanna Downey is a prolific, original songwriter with masterful guitar skill.  People who stumble into one of her shows for the first time are instantly captivated, realizing that something unique and wonderful is occurring.

Rheanna was born in Albuquerque, New Mexico.  Her affinity for music began on the keys of a piano at the age of eight.  By her tenth birthday she was writing songs. She picked up her first guitar at 13, and began playing shows professionally within two years.  In her late teens, a move within California proved invaluable as the area’s local standout musicians further nurtured her emerging talent.

At 21, Rheanna began playing local venues such as Java Joe’s, a popular venue that gave many noteworthy artists their professional starts. Since then, Rheanna has shared her gift with crowds across the globe, from Seattle to Stockholm.  With several national tours under her belt, as well as 3 international tours (Italy, France, Sweden, Ireland, England, Scotland, Australia), it’s been an amazing ride so far. 

Notable venues include the Belly Up Tavern in San Diego, the House of Blues’ Parish Room in Los Angeles, the Hotel Utah in San Francisco, the Bruxelles in Temple Bar of Dublin, Ireland, Princes St. Stage in Edinburgh, Scotland, and the Rails in Byron Bay, Australia.

Her veins are coursing with melody, and there’s no doubt among those who know her that Rheanna Downey is synonymous with deep, powerful music. 

“I feel it is my obligation to give back to the world the depth of my experiences, hopes, and dreams in the form of music.”

Nina Francis – 2020 San Diego Music Awards “Best Singer-Songwriter” Nina Francis is a versatile singer and an accomplished guitarist. Drawing from personal experience and how she connects to the world, 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).

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.

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!

Jessie Lark – Armed with a commanding voice and a soulful style, Jessie Lark candidly explores love, loss, and life through the universal language of songwriting. She began performing as a child in her hometown of San Diego, honing her skills and performing the National Anthem for professional sports teams before she was old enough to enter most local venues. In 2018, she released an acoustic EP (After Hours) that was praised by reviewers, including being awarded San Diego Citybeat’s prestigious EXTRASPECIALGOOD nod.

Jessie has been nominated for Best Singer/Songwriter at the San Diego Music Awards, and was endorsed by Logitech Ultimate Ears, the top in-ear monitors for musicians. She has opened for artists including Big Bad Voodoo Daddy, Blake Lewis, and Rick Springfield.

She will be joined onstage by her husband who writes music and plays guitar. They developed their duo set during quarantine, performing weekly livestream shows, many of which featured other local musicians as guest artists, including Evan Diamond and Lindsey White who are also on the ArtWalk bill this year. Those livestream shows can be found on her Youtube.

Jefferson Jay – Simply put, Jefferson Jay does things that nobody else would even try. On Thanksgiving 2011, Jay completed the largest “365 project” in the history of the worldwide web. He posted three music videos every day; an original song, a cover song and an archive performance by Jay or one of his friends at a live show. He blogged along with this artistic experiment for a full year. His Operation 365 2 is ongoing. He also produced his 24 Hours of Free Music concerts in four occasions.

Whether with The Jefferson Jay Band, or hosting Open Mics and other events, Jay’s showcases are exciting, unpredictable adventures. He is an optimistic idealist with Woodstock-era beliefs, working hard to bring about the positive change this world needs. His 6 CDs are available on iTunes, Spotify, Bandcamp, or at www.jeffersonjay.com

John January and Linda Berry – John January and Linda Berry have been a mainstay in the San Diego music scene for the past 6 years, both as a duo act and with their full band, January Berry Band. They play a unique blend of blues, rock, and funk.

John’s virtuoso guitar and fat slideplaying are a perfect compliment to Linda’s expressive vocals. They are partners on and off the stage, and their chemistry is undeniable.

Israel Maldonado – I have been a musician for hire and have been performing professionally for over three decades. At the age of seven, I was part of Banda Infantil del Dif, a children’s orchestra in my hometown of Tijuana, Mexico. At age ten, I began to train in classical guitar. Shortly after our family moved to the U.S., joined the drum line at Carlsbad High School. During my college years at Palomar College and San Diego State University, I joined guitar ensembles.

Throughout the years, I have been fortunate to open for many popular Latin, blues and rock acts, including Nikka Costa, Los Amigos Invisibles, Ivan Lins, Sergio Mendes and Charlie Hunter. In addition to live performance and D.J’ing events, I also offer private and semi-private music lessons. In 1996 was my first club gig at Café Sevilla playing percussion for Sambrasil. I got to play with the best musicians right away. Over the years, I have accompanied several popular San Diego bands, bringing different genres of Spanish, Brazilian and English music, gypsy guitar, salsa and timba to local clubs, restaurants and events. In addition, I spent two years touring the country with Agua Dulce before returning to San Diego and creating my own group. These days, I use my vast musical experience to bring a blend of Latin and modern music to San Diego events specializing in corporate events and Weddings.

Manny Cepeda Orchestra TrioManny’s musical experience of over 50 years makes him a fountain of knowledge in the Latin Music genre. He has a bachelor’s in music education from Illinois State University and a Master of Arts Music from the Ellington University in New Orleans, Louisiana. 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, the Caribbean and Europe doing 7 world tours and performing more than 3,164 concerts and festivals within each 7-year period. He retired as a bandmaster US Navy after 31 years of service.

Marauak – MARAUAK, a singer, songwriter and guitar player, was born in Salvador, Bahia, Brazil. His 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 an unique experience for his audience.

Lauren Leigh Martin – For the last seven years, Lauren Leigh has made a name for herself as a singer, songwriter, bandleader, session singer and hired gun based in San Diego, CA.

Before the four horsemen of the apocalypse brought their wrath to 2020, Lauren recorded and released a 5 song EP entitled Flare which was nominated for Best Pop Album for that same year. Her most recent single “Trust Fall” was released in early 2021 and is available on all streaming platforms.

She fronts Lauren Leigh and the Low Keys (soul, funk, R&B, pop), and Wild Heart (classic country), and performs frequently in duo format with local guitar legends, Sam Hunt (Ginger Cowgirl), Ben Zinn (Rosa’s Cantina) and Ian Patrick Cler (Pocket Candy).

As a member of the tribute band Pink Froyd, Lauren was able to tour Canada in 2019, opening for Foreigner and featured singing the Floyd vocal juggernaut “Great Gig in the Sky.”

Lauren can be found singing lead and backing vocals for several projects, including Mud Slide Slim (James Taylor/Carole King tribute), guest vocals for Back To The Garden (Laurel Canyon/Woodstock tribute) and frequently provides awkward dance moves and backing vocals for the Jonny Tarr Quintet (dance/pop).

Bart Mendoza – Bart Mendoza is native San Diegan and a longtime veteran of the area’s music scene. Immersed in music since his days at La Jolla High School in the late 1970’s, Mendoza is best known as frontman of eighties mod rockers Manual Scan, nineties era power poppers The Shambles and currently, True Stories. In addition to numerous releases (including discs in Japan, Australia, England, Denmark, Spain, Germany, Sweden and the U.S.), production credits and session work, Mendoza has penned songs for dozens of artists worldwide, recently signing to Pacific Records, with his solo debut EP, 66/68, due to be released on November 16.

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 resides in San Diego, CA. A gifted singer-songwriter who 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, ‘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. She is gritty, she is wild, she is tender with a soul of a child.

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. The same song also won the Portland songwriting contest that same year. In 2008 she put out her 2nd album Lead the Parade. 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. She had gone through personal tragedies and was struggling to come out the other side. 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.

Zach Phillips – Zach Phillips is a San Diego-based folk-rock singer-songwriter. His latest album, “The Wine of Youth,” is a hybrid of folk- and roots-rock, chamber pop, indie country, even ambient. It was nominated for a 2021 San Diego Music Award in the Best Americana / Country Album category. Roots Music Report awarded “The Wine of Youth” five stars (out of five), calling it “a timeless, yet contemporary masterpiece,” and Music Connection magazine wrote, “… Phillips has something special … [a] gift for melodic hooks and affecting poetic imagery.”

“The Wine of Youth” also received global praise, including critical acclaim from U.K., European and Australian music websites. It’s Psychedelic Baby called the album “a stunning experimental roots-rock effort.” Indie-country blog Post to Wire commented on the “sublime vocal melodies that rise and fall, circling those exquisite guitar notes and the subtle rhythm section.”

Zach’s currently at work on his follow-up album. 

Dave Preston – Dave Preston and the Grownups is a reflection of the familiar Folk, Country, and Americana that we all know and love, but also folded into the mix, to taste, is a blend of original songs that touch on the soul of America with its authenticity and earnest delivery by Preston, supported by his band, the Grownups. He is a mere child without them, he knows this, but he does his best to go to bed early, eat all his vegetables, and put on a good show.

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.

Wayne Riker – 2017 Lifetime Achievement honoree at the San Diego Music Awards, multi-genre guitarist,  Wayne Riker, has carved out an international reputation as a guitar teacher and educator since 1972. His ten blues guitar instructional books have been worldwide best sellers since 1994. He has been an instructional guitar columnist for Guitar Player. Premier and Acoustic Guitar magazines since 1998, coinciding with twenty-two years conducting guitar workshops globally. Riker’s performing career is outlined in his autobiography, “50 Years, 50 Bands, 50 Bucks,” on Amazon. He has produced eleven Cd’s under his own name and is currently working on his twelfth CD, “R&B Thunder,”  featuring many top shelf local soul singers.

Corina Rose – Corina Rose is a mystic musician, music teacher, yogi, activist, world traveler, and a native of San Diego. Her latest album, Our Love is Freedom, (available on all digital streaming platforms worldwide), is nominated for Best Pop Album by the 2019 San Diego Music Awards. Rich in musical influences that span from jazz to reggae, her new album is an 8- song journey through the arch of humanity™s love story. Corina™s transcendent love songs capture the journey of finding, experiencing, and connecting with the love that is inside us all. She spreads love and light all over the world with her groovy guitar playing and catchy melodies! Her unique blend of soul-pop will have you singing along, swaying and shaking your hips, and feeling the positive vibes from the message of love, joy, and hope. Playing music with her band is one of her greatest joys in life.

Julia Sage – A songwriter since very early childhood, Julia Sage presently lives and plays in the greater San Diego area, where she performs both as a solo artist, as part of “Grampadrew’s Flim Flam Revue” (with a residency every first Saturday of the month at The Whistle Stop Bar in South Park), and with her band, “Julia Sage and The Bad Hombres”, an eclectic ensemble of musicians, guest musicians, and unusual instruments.

If you are ready to let your ears explore some Chilean Folk/Blues SouthAmericanaTM, make sure to check out one of their shows around town.
With her soulful vocals, witty and heartfelt bilingual songwriting as well as her cheeky stage personality, she will draw you in and keep you entertained during the entirety of the performance.

Nominated for Best New Artist by the San Diego Music Awards, 2019.
Nominated for Best Folk Song by the San Diego Music Awards 2021, for her solo album “Midnight Songs in the Time of Corona Vol.1”

Amelie Simpson – Amelie Simpson is a 17-year-old singer, songwriter and guitarist. Born in London, England and raised in California, she earned an international following at an early age. She is known for her bluesy-style vocals and rhythm guitar playing.

Amelie made her debut at the San Diego County Fair in 2017, at the age of 13, playing a 90-minute set on the Showcase stage. In 2019 she wrote and recorded her first original song, What My Name Is. The song was released on Spotify and iTunes, and is currently available on all streaming platforms.

Simpson has played with numerous professional musicians, including YouTube guitar star Marty Schwartz, jazz drummer Myron Cohen, blues guitar player Larrie Noble, Sr. and percussionist Jon Otis. In 2018 she performed in Cajon Valley’s Got Talent, along with The Voice finalist Michael Sanchez.

Sheila Sondergard – Hi, I’m Sheila. I leaned on music in my youth. I have six sisters that I’m close with and they all enjoy the arts. I was introduced to the trumpet at nine years old, guitar at 11, and the piano many years later.

Since 2003 my music ambitions have increasingly become known in the Southern California music scene thanks to many people and friends. This gal has had the opportunity to emcee and perform aside many noted artists at several diverse venues mapped throughout. I am grateful for every one of these happenings.

I was raised in over 20 different locations, bananas I know, including New Jersey, Colorado, the Black Hills of South Dakota/Wyoming, Maui, Guatemala and currently in San Diego. My cultural family gave me many styles of music to absorb.

Lineups with talented artists such as: Susan Gibson, Ben Taylor, Tristan Prettyman, Bret Michaels, Sprung Monkey, Bohemia Suburbana, Shawn Mullins, Chris Stills, Anais Mitchell, and Ani DiFranco, SXSW, San Diego Indiefest, Baja Bash and several fundraisers.

Jess Wright – Jess was born and raised on a beautiful island off the coast of Maine, and at 18 left for Nashville to pursue an education at Vanderbilt University. Music City quickly deepened her existing passions for all things music – in particular, Jazz and songwriting. Jess got her start in California straight out of college, singing with local Jazz legend Tony Ortega. In 2019, she ventured into the singer-songwriter music scene and never looked back. She started writing relentlessly and pushing the boundaries of what she knows – with new venues, new music, and working alongside renowned musicians. An Americana singer-songwriter, she draws from Jazz, Country, Rock, and Soul to create a sound that is both classic and new. She is influenced by storytellers such as Joni Mitchell and Leon Bridges; Jazz icons Ella Fitzgerald and Etta James; plus Patsy Cline, the Spinners, and Fleetwood Mac to name a few. Jess is currently choosing music from her personal catalog to be developed for digital release. Her voice can be found on all streaming platforms, singing classic Jazz tunes on the newly released album “Jess & Albert.” Jess can be found on Instagram (@jesswrightmusic), Facebook, and at jesswrightmusic.com .