Che Underground turns five!

birthday balloonsFive years ago today, I posted the first entry to Che Underground: The Blog. I’d been talking to some old friends about a place where we could share sounds and images from our musical youth in San Diego, and this turned out to be the handiest solution.

Soon Rockin’ Dog Dave Ellison created our striking design, and contributors including Ray Brandes, Kristen Tobiason, Paul Kaufman, David Fleminger and so many others enriched the site beyond anything I could have hoped. 

And my, how we grew! Hundreds of stories … Tens of thousands of comments and visitors. This little corner of the Web let so many revisit so much and introduced a whole new audience to the things we created back at the dawn of the ’80s.

The earth has made five solar revolutions since then, and most of us are still here on it. Looking back, I think we’ve moved in good directions, and I’m proud of any part this place played in bringing us back together.

Che Underground: The Blog has been a quieter spot nowadays — many of us are interacting now on Facebook or in person. Nevertheless, this digital door is always open to our big circle of friends, and I hope we have new chances to show what we can do when we put our minds to it!

Check out related bands, people, venues and gigs!
Che Underground Trivia Question
The Penetrators

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40 Responses to “Che Underground turns five!”

  1. Mike McCarthy Says:

    The Blog will rise again.
    Facebook is too easy too transient.

  2. Mmrothenberg Says:

    Thanks, Mike — I think there are some things we can do that play to strengths different from Facebook’s. Let’s see!

  3. Paul Allen Says:

    I stop by from time to time. It’s good to hear from people, and see what they’re up to. I’ve got another video of Hair Theatre from the Che Games concert in 2009 to upload soon.

  4. Jeremiah Cornelius Says:

    We’ve got five years,
    Stuck on my eyes
    Five years,
    What a surprise
    We’ve got five years,
    My brain hurts a lot
    Five years,

    That’s all we’ve got…

  5. Jeremiah Cornelius Says:

  6. Paul Allen Says:

    One of my all-time favorite Bowie songs. What kind of synth is that in the wooden case?

  7. Jeremiah Cornelius Says:

    What synth? Hard to say! That’s Mike (AladdinSane/Cracked Actor) Garson. He has a synth stacked on a grand piano here, and what looks to be a Hammond organ, facing the audience.

    Stay. Man. Earl Slick can lay it out, with the Apollo Theater rhythm section.

    Between the Young Americans and StationToStation records, there is the best funkin’ weird stuff. Don’t care it ain’t rockn’roll. Glad that it isn’t. I’ll play Stay, Fascination and Golden Years over and over and over and…

    Hey! Their playing Nilsson in Starbucks!

  8. Jeremiah Cornelius Says:

    Do the BOOGALOO!
    Wednesday Channels James Brown, AND Bowie

  9. Paul Allen Says:

    I wasn’t that familiar w/the Young Americans album, I guess. There’s some great funky stuff there. I had the Stage album, which has funky versions of songs from different albums.

  10. Jeremiah Cornelius Says:

    Yeah. Bowie did to Funk and Philly what he later did to Krautrock.

    It gots somthin’. What I just don’t know… :-)

  11. Dean Curtis Says:

    Good analogy Jerry! Glad to see you’re still checking in here.

  12. Dean Curtis Says:

    And congrats Matthew! This was the best idea for a blog ever!

  13. Bill Williams Says:

    Facebook just isn’t the same as a normal blog.

    Apart from anything you end up getting bombarded in all directions by messages. Hardly very relaxing!

    Personally I preferred reading the posts…

  14. Mmrothenberg Says:

    >>Personally I preferred reading the posts…

    Bill: Thanks for the endorsement! I think there is something significant about selecting some of the old stuff and showing it off in its best light and in some context.

    It’s fun seeing flyers and photos go by on Facebook, but it’s a different experience … Certainly a more democratic one that a blog can’t ever match. I hope people still get pleasure from visiting the stuff we put here — and like I wrote, I’ll happily work with other materials people want to show off this way. (It surprises me how many visitors we still get!)

  15. jbrownell Says:

    I’m bothered that I can’t identify the string synth in the Bowie video. It looks a lot like the Arp/Solina String Ensemble, but not quite enough to actually be one.

  16. Lickona Says:

    Hi I edit Blog Diego for the San Diego Reader. I know this blog is dormant, but it’s kind of a gold mine. Would you be interested in publishing an excerpt in the Reader? If so please contact me.
    Thanks much.

  17. Andy Gilliland Says:

    Ran across this last night. So many names and memories that I had not thought about in a long time. As one of the original “Mira Mesa Mini-Mods” (as dubbed by Charlie Facial Hair) along with Darren Grealish, Richard Walker, and Bert Huerta, the 80s San Diego scene was the best.

    Here we are 30 years later and it still gives us enjoyment even though is came from humble beginnings. Who can forget Sergio’s “debut” singing through an amplifier at somebody’s house party while seemingly making love to a sliding glass door or the infamous “Gloria” gig of Grave Digger Five on somebody’s porch where they could not quite get it right. How about hanging out at Balboa Park near the natural history museum with the wheel chair sax player and the acoustic brothers playing Beatle songs. All of this because we loved music and loved being free.

    Thanks for the blog, the memories, and for being a part of the scene.

  18. Paul.Howland Says:

    For my money “Station to Station” references Rejuvenation era Meters pretty heavily

  19. Jeremiah Cornelius Says:

    Oh! YES!

    Paul, you made my day!

    I have just to follow up with a “Songs Separated at Birth” segment here.

    Exhibit I:
    Bowie: “Look Back in Anger

    Led Zepplin: “Immigrant Song

    BTW: These are BOTH how you multi-track vocals, people! Dump your breath-destroying AutoTune.

    Bonus for the John Paul Jones / John Bonham isolated tracks:

    THAT is how you do Rock’n Roll with a GROOVE! All she needs is a MuTron III…

    Exhibit II:
    Roxy Music: “Out of the Blue

    Now… wait for it… It ain’t just the topline melody that links these.

    The Four Tops: “Bernadette

    The Roxy arrangement is like a Motown listening session, under a controlled substance. Andy Mackay nails -- uses his oboe like a Funk Brother, and Wetton keeps going into Jamerson territory with his bass, despite the springy, 70’s sound over plunk and thump.

    “How can they control themselves?…”

  20. Jeremiah Cornelius Says:

    Fascination, Sho ’nuff…
    Fascination, takes a part of me
    Can a heart-beat, live in a fever?
    Raging inside of me?

  21. Jeremiah Cornelius Says:

    Lookit what I found:
    Jeremiah Cornelius, San Francsico, CA - 1988

  22. Jeremiah Cornelius Says:

    Hey Andy!

    Shouts out at’cha! Yeah! Sergio at Pat W’s. Gravdiggers were still the Shamen, in -- I’m thinking -- it was Lemon Grove, or Mt Helix.

    Is there still such a town? Lemon Grove?

  23. Jeremiah Cornelius Says:

    It all began for us, around 1977. Kids listenen’ to Bootsy in Jr. High, while KCR introduced the mystery of Iggy Pop to the unsuspecting. The background noises would soon move to the center of attention, but for now?

    We had one thing on our minds…

  24. Matt Johnson Says:

    Haha! Just thought I’d peek back in here and see what became of The Underground. Perfect timing. Hey Andy, Jerry, Paul. Was that our debut as The Shamen, also the debut of the Tell Tale Hearts, Jerry?

  25. Jeremiah Cornelius Says:

    Hi Matt. Yeah, that was the exact show.

    Larry Halterman was there -- might have been when I met him. If I remember you played all 5 of the songs the Shamen had. Was most of it Gloria, Wild Thing and Hey Joe? Could be a memory trick.

    The night got cut short by some clampdown. I don’t think that the TTH got to finish but a couple of their songs. Eric decided that was the cue to get bombed…

  26. markmul Says:

    I venture back from time to time.

    Thats what I got

  27. Kristen Tobiason Says:

    I’m coming back here Matt…
    Facebook is mostly political tweets these days, and I need soulful sustenance.

  28. Matt Johnson Says:

    Jerry: Maybe also “Be A Caveman,” “(She’s a) Witch” other Nuggets stuff? My memory is foggy….

  29. Matt Johnson Says:

    Right you are, Kristen.

  30. Jeremiah Cornelius Says:

    Matt, “The Witch”, Yeah. Probably right-on!

    In my mind’s eye, I can see the 17-year-old Leighton, in a black turtleneck and corduroys, medallion swinging…

  31. Jeremiah Cornelius Says:

  32. RSVP Says:

    The Che Underground doesn’t seem to have any information on how live music started at the Che Cafe at UC San Diego. Any idea?

  33. Jeremiah Cornelius Says:

    If I keep putting coins in the slot, maybe something will come out…

    “…you asked for the latest party…”

  34. Mmrothenberg Says:

    RSVP: Check out this story on the origins of the Che Cafe.

  35. Jeremiah Cornelius Says:

    Separated at birth?

    “I was going round and round the hotel garage
    Must have been touching close to 94″

    “Yes you’re spinning around and around in a car
    With electric lights flashing very fast”

  36. Jeremiah Cornelius Says:

    This is what paradise will look like…

  37. Jeremiah Cornelius Says:

    Q: “What were you kids rebelling from?”


  38. Jeremiah Cornelius Says:

    So much for PB. Meanwhile, in Escondido…
    North County

  39. Jeremiah Cornelius Says:



  40. Jeremiah Cornelius Says:

    Crossposted with MondoVanilli thread:

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