As you read this, tomorrow’s rock stars are rehearsing in garages, basements and living rooms across the county. They’re recording albums, comparing notes and jamming with friends.
This summer, Downtown Brewing Co. hopes to introduce these local bands to a brand-new audience: their neighbors.
“There’s so many great musicians who live here, work here, go to school here,” said Korie Newman, who owns the San Luis Obispo brewery and concert venue with her husband, Todd. “A lot of locals haven’t seen some of our talent on the Central Coast.”
San Luis Obispo’s The Shamblers take the stage Tuesday as part of the newly created Grass Roots concert series.
“It’s a great opportunity to showcase local talent,” said Mike Marotto, who plays bass and lead guitar with the folk-rock trio. “(The concerts) have all been a really fun time.”
Tuesday night for locals
Created this spring, the Grass Roots series features area bands every other Tuesday for a night of locals-only music and down-home fun. Series sponsors include Numbskull Productions, Boo Boo Records and the Pozo Saloon.
Downtown Brew makes the twice-monthly concerts into affordable outings with a $2 cover charge and $1 brews. All money collected at the door goes back to the bands.
“The affordability factor helps out a lot in getting people out on a Tuesday night,” said Marotto.
Like Downtown Brew’s regular concert series, Grass Roots showcases a wide range of sounds, from reggae and rock to funk and folk.
Blind Melon singer Travis Warren kicked off the concert series in April with an acoustic solo show ‹ bringing a couch, coffee table and lamps onstage for an intimate living-room feel.
May saw shows by The Playbacks with local openers A.F.R.O. and Butch Boswell and a CD release party with rock powerhouse Axia. Local singer-songwriter and surfer Shane Stoneman opened for Hawaiian acoustic guitarist John Cruz on June 12.
According to Newman, the concert series’casual vibe encourages bands to call their friends onstage or break into an impromptu jam session. “It truly is about them and their night,” she said.
So far, organizers have had to bump the schedule once ‹ to accommodate a Mad Caddies CD release party. “Sometimes we can only catch these huge acts on the off-nights,” Newman explained.
Otherwise, she said, Tuesdays belong to the area’s best.
Besides wider exposure to local audiences, bands have an extra incentive to join Grass Roots, thanks to Downtown Brew soundman Kip Stork.
Stork, who owns Avalon Digital Recording Studio in San Luis Obispo, records each concert and offers the bands a digitally re-mastered copy at a reduced rate.
“That’s one thing that all of the bands have been really excited about,” said Newman.
The Shamblers agree.
“We have a lot of new material that we’re really excited about,” said Marotto, most of it written since the band released its self-titled album in November 2006. Chances are, they’ll also trade licks with their opening acts, The Wedding Industrial Complex and singer-songwriter Joe Koenig.
Tuesday’s concert marks the last performance by The Wedding Industrial Complex for a while, Marotto added. Drummer Melanie Senn, the wife of guitarist Derek, is pregnant with their second child.
The Grass Roots concert series continues July 3 with San Luis Obispo metal quintet Esoterik, and openers Sad Lisa and Pennyjar.
“The musicians all have the same goal,” Newman said. “They want to generate music and they want to have a good time.”