The San Diego music scene has a long and storied history. From Tom Waits and Switchfoot to blink-182 and John Reis, some of the more recognized local luminaries are regularly associated with the city. But a more thorough investigation proves that San Diego’s scene runs deep. And there’s no one who knows it better than Bart Mendoza.
In addition to his contributions as a music writer and musician, Mendoza founded Blind Spot Records and has been at the helm of the “Staring at the Sun” compilation album series for the last two decades.
No stranger to booking/promoting – hundreds of bands from the Chesterfield Kings to the Negro Problem have played San Diego as a result of his efforts – Mendoza also curates a “Sounds Like San Diego” concert series.
The concept is simple: current San Diego artists perform songs by local artists that have come before them.
The latest installment of the series will take place on Friday night at the Museum of Making Music in Carlsbad. In addition to a night of music that includes Jack Tempchin, Joey Harris, Patric Petrie, Neon Cough, True Stories, Marie Haddad, Scott Mathiasen, the Comeuppance, Kevin Martin, Kelsea Rae Little and special guests, tickets include a slice of pizza, Stone Beer and admission into the Museum.
Mendoza will also host and provide historical notes between performers, something he considers as important as anything he does.
“I’m a music historian,” he said. “It’s what I’m about. The funds from this will go to help the museum, everyone gets paid, and that’s all good. But for me, I love San Diego music history and that’s what motivates me to do what I do.”
Mendoza provided the artists with an extensive song list and knows that many of the pairings will produce exciting results. But, as always, the Chula Vista-born La Jolla High grad is most concerned with showcasing the history and depth of the local scene.
“I want to cross the past and the present,” he said. “That way, you can get respect for both the new artists and the older performers. I like bringing up the spotlight on people who may have been overlooked by time or the public. Do Tom Waits or the Cascades need my help? No. But still, a lot of people have no idea they’re from San Diego. There are a lot of wonderful things in our backyard and I want to highlight it.”
Friday’s event at the Museum of Making Music will do just that, and potentially, open the doors for Mendoza to produce even bigger “Sounds Like San Diego” showcases in the future.
“San Diego is such a tight-knit community,” he said. “But we’ve all been to the same places over and over again. I think sometimes you need to do something special like this to make people really take notice. And that’s what I’m really trying to do.”