Sam Sprague is one of our favorite San Diego bartenders when he's not manning the drums for the Donkeys.
No one can dispute that San Diego’s thriving music scene is full of extremely talented individuals, but you may not realize that a lot of the folks behind the bar serving drinks are the same folks taking the stage on any given night.
That’s right, our music community goes hand-in-hand with the service industry -- and when you visit live-music venues around town, the bartender who just doled out your PBR tall boy or Jack & Ginger may have played that very stage pretty recently. Since we like to shine the light on our town’s rock & roll stars and imbibe some tasty spirits here and there, let’s take a look at eight of our favorite San Diego musician/bartenders. These are just eight of many musicians working behind the taps and bottles -- who’s your favorite? Let us know in the comments below.
- Ben Johnson: When he's not rapping as Grammatical B, drumming in Wha? or singing in the Long and Short of It, Johnson is also an accomplished writer (his first novel, A Shadow Cast in Dust, is due out soon via Grand Mal Press). You can find him behind the bar at the Casbah on the regular.
- Jesse LaMonaca: Jesse LaMonaca & the Dime Novels have been wowing crowds for a couple years now with their rollicking alt-country sets. You can find their frontman at the Griffin pretty frequently. He’s charming, talkative and a killer drink-slinger to boot. What else could you want?
- Gareth Moore: The popular local indie-rock quintet Family Wagon (for which Moore plays bass) has got a new record on the way -- please tell us it’s soon, fellas -- and are poised for the big time. Let’s hope that doesn’t mean we won’t be able to hang with Gareth at his other gigs at Seven Grand and Bang Bang.
- Leanna Patterson: Rhythm guitarist for the Whiskey Circle with a singing voice to die for, Patterson makes a mean hot toddy at the Griffin. Take our word for it.
- Justin Rodriguez: A few years back, Rodriguez led the now-defunct hard-rock band Counterfit on bass and lead vocals. We long for the day when the band makes a return (we still remember their last show at Ground Zero with Noise Ratchet). In the meantime, visit the Tin Can Alehouse to chat with him while he's working the bar -- he’s one of the nicest guys around.
- Sam Sprague: If you’ve ever seen the Donkeys, you’ve witnessed Sprague having a grand ol’ time behind the drum kit. And if you’ve ever been to Hamilton’s Tavern, he may have served you a tasty brew as well.
- Doug Thompson: Thompson is widely regarded in San Diego as one of the most personable and loveable bartenders around (he'll punch your drink ticket at Station Tavern). If you go see him perform with his band, the Marsupials, be prepared to view Thompson in a whole different light. He’s awesome.
- Mike Turi: The frontman of the mind-blowing psych-rock group Wild Wild Wets as well as his solo project, Emerald Rats, Turi, has also been spotted working the Bluefoot Bar & Lounge and spinning rad grooves as DJ Mikey.
Who’d we leave out? Let us know! Remember, folks: Playing music often doesn’t pay much – so tip well.
Here's a few of the other lists we've put together: