Enter the Blue Sky
San Diego has many wonderful places to hear live music, but there’s nothing like the Ocean Beach Farmers Market. Located at the intersection of Newport and Bacon avenues, a block from the beach, performers play in the open, on the street, practically face-to-face with the passing customers.
Booked by Michael Head, the event is known for its diverse musical performances, with rock, folk, Americana, blues, reggae and even kids bands, well represented. It’s become a coveted gig, both for established acts who want to try out new material, and for up-and-coming talent looking to expand their audiences. Such is the case with San Diego-based Americana quartet, Enter the Blue Sky.
Currently promoting their recent album, “Re-Entry,” the group, led by singer-songwriter Sande Lollis and featuring Karen Childress-Evans (viola, backing vocals), Alberto González, (upright bass) and John Seever (harmonica) is performing at the OB Farmers Market on March 1.
For Lollis, Enter the Blue Sky is the culmination of a life in music, inspired by her family. Although her father did not know how to play guitar himself, “dad had an old beater guitar in his closet that I used to sneak and play,” she recalled.
“He eventually found out about it and gave it to me, along with a series of six guitar lessons for my 13th birthday.” Both parents sang in the church choir and listened to a lot of different kinds of music, so singing was just part of her life. “You know, singing while doing the dishes, just singing all the time. I’ve realized over time that I play guitar mostly to accompany myself. My true love and true instrument is my voice,” she said.
Although now a seasoned veteran of the local music scene, her first foray into live performance was less than confident. “I was 16 and shaking scared, my fingers felt like stones,” she recalled of a talent competition held at Belmont Park in Mission Beach. “They were running all kinds of programs to try and drum up more funding to keep it open, it was a contest and the winner was chosen by applause.”
She played a solo version of the Temptations classic “Just My Imagination” and an original. “Some local band played ‘Hollywood Swinging’ by Kool and the Gang and won first, and then a pair of twins did magic and won second place. That was that, the crowd had applauded and enjoyed it, but I didn’t win a thing, still, I was hooked,” she said. “My dad saw my hand shaking from the audience when I plugged in my Fedmart-bought electric guitar, but I denied it,” she laughed.
Lollis is the band’s sole songwriter. Though she is influenced by the likes of Annie Lennox, she notes that unlike some performers whose shows are as much story telling as concert, this band’s focus is solely on the music.
Enter the Blue Sky rarely plays other artists songs. “We included two covers in the past, ‘Here Comes the Rain Again’ by the Eurythmics, and ‘Crossing the Bar’ by Salamander Crossing. We haven’t done them in a while though because we’re so focused on our own.”
She notes that unlike some Americana performers whose shows are as much story telling as concert, this band’s focus is solely on the music. “I like to keep a good flow going between ballads and upbeat songs, keep it interesting,” Lollis said. “Sometimes I will talk about a song beforehand, but I’m not much for idle chit chat, I want everything to be purposeful and meaningful.”
This year will see the Enter the Blue Sky continue to tour the Southland, with more recording ahead. In the meantime, Lollis feels she has found the perfect setting for her songs. “We find such joy in playing together,” she remarked.
“We are so close, you know, like family, but better. They are each so willing to work together to create what’s best for each song. I just love them, Lollis commented. “Playing together, creating together, is so vulnerable and intimate, it’s just so fulfilling. Getting to share, to perform what we’ve created is the icing’” she said.
When: 5:30 p.m. Wednesday, March 1
Where: Ocean Beach Farmers Market, Newport and Bacon avenues.