If home-grown music is your thing, then the place to be this Friday night is the Cuyamaca College Performing Arts Theater, the venue for the always eclectic and entertaining Winter Wonder Jam, produced by students in the college’s Music Industry program.
Set for 7-10 p.m. Dec. 6, concert-goers will be treated to music ranging from rock, pop, jazz, acoustic and hip- hop.
Headlining this year’s show is the genre-defying group, Lyrical Groove, a 2013 San Diego Music Award winner for best hip-hop artists. Sharing the Cuyamaca stage will be the heavy metal sounds of It All Starts Here; the electronica band, D.L.O.D. (Digital Lizards of Doom) and rock/jazz instrumentalist Jay Williams.
Admission to the annual event is three cans of food to be donated to the San Diego Food Bank or $5.
The entirely student-produced event is designed to teach students what it takes to put on a large-scale production. Every aspect of the concert is handled by the class: auditioning bands, developing a marketing plan, creating posters and fliers, promoting the concert via social media, setting up the event, managing the stage transitions from one band to the next, and running the live sound – all under the tutelage of co-instructors Annie Zuckerman and Taylor Smith.
Music Industry Studies is a transfer degree program that focuses on all aspects of developing a career in the music industry, providing training and instruction in music, technology, and business. Students enrolled in the program’s Music Industry Seminar have been putting on the Winter Wonder Jam for the last four years, and also produce the Coyote Music Festival every May.
When Lyrical Groove’s lead artist and founding band member Kendrick Dial steps foot on the Cuyamaca College campus, he’ll be coming full circle as a community college alum who transferred from City and Mesa colleges to San Diego State University and continued on to earn a master’s in social work from the University of Southern California.
Now a part-time instructor teaching a class in critical thinking at Concorde Career Colleges, a proprietary San Diego institution specializing in healthcare education, Dial’s dream job is one that will allow him to combine his love of music with his professional training. Ultimately, the North Park resident would love to focus solely on his music career, but with a wife and 7-year-old daughter at home, the real-world demands are pressing.
So for now, he juggles music gigs – of which there are many and the audiences varied – with his day job. From fund-raisers, church events, wine-tasting, and music festivals, as well as appearances at local music venues including the Onyx Room, Humphreys, Winstons, the House of Blues and the now-defunct Anthology, Lyrical Groove is diligently striving to expand its musical presence.
Lyrical Groove’s music is described by Dial as a combination of the spoken word and live instrumentation. At its core, it is the recitation of Dial’s poetry accompanied by his band’s jazz-influenced, gospel soul-infused music with elements of hip-hop. The result is smooth, even if the poetry he recites to syncopated rhythms often addresses the grittier concerns of the day: race relations, poverty – life issues he faced as an African-American raised in a single-parent home in his native Dallas, Texas.
After graduating from high school, he immediately entered the Navy, unsure of what he wanted in life. It was during his eight-year military career that he was introduced to poetry. His Navy duty in San Diego led to the discovery of open-mic venues to perform his poetry.
“When I was in the Navy, I would read and write a lot when we were sailing,” the 33-year-old said. “I would email poems to friends and they encouraged me to keep sending them. Around 2001, I went to LA and saw a professional traveling poet named Talaam Acey and decided that’s what I wanted to do.”
Lyrical Groove was formed to have live music accompany his performance of poetry. The collaboration began with friend and drummer, Glenn “GK” Sanders and keyboardist Mike Smith. The group officially formed in November 2010, after a gig at the Ruby Room in San Diego. Guitarist Mike “Token” Benedetto, and bass player Jacob Miranda were next to come on board. In 2012, vocalist Brisa Lauren signed on.
The band is currently working on its first full-length album, which will be catalogue of spoken words and songs that mirror the genres that inspire the band.