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ROK Celebrates 15 Years!

Take yourself back to 2006, specifically, October of 2006. George W. Bush was president. The radio waves were dominated by songs by Ludacris, The Killers, Beyonce, and The Fray. NBC’s 30 Rock had just premiered. Justin Timberlake was still bringing SexyBack.

For karaoke fans in San Diego, it was also the month that Pickford’s Party decided to create our fair city’s first live band karaoke group. With support from the fine folks at R.T.’s Longboard Grill (RIP Longboards), we launched our first live show on October 25, 2006. Our original lineup consisted of Roberto Renovales (bass), Colin Farnell (lead guitar), Nick Vincent-Maloney (drums), and John (Skipper) Ruzicka (rhythm guitar).

The turnout on the first night was, let’s just say, modest. But word quickly spread of our Wednesday night residency at Longboards, and we continued to grow our karaoke fan base as well as our song list. We continued that Wednesday residency through the winter and into 2007. The “regulars” who started to show up week after week meant that we were really onto something with this idea. We gained a lot of momentum in those early months and even played a few private parties and corporate events. Most of all, we had a ton of fun playing gigs every week.

Over the next year or so, life events and career choices meant we would need to replace drummer Nick who moved to Portland. We auditioned a few drummers, but none were a great fit for the group for a variety of reasons. Luckily, we had crossed paths with Eric Ganci previously, who was ready to join immediately.

As Eric puts it, I first saw ROK as an audience member. I’m blown away by the concept…like, I’m giggly with excitement because the concept is so fun. I sing Margaritaville and right after the gig I tell the band “if this drummer chair ever opens, I want the audition.”

Our momentum carried us into 2008, where our weekly Longboard gigs were packed every Wednesday (we put friends of the band on “the list” to get in free and skip the line). We also caught the attention of several other area venues, where we started monthly residencies at House of Blues, played as the “house band” at a battle of the bands event at Viejas, and started growing our list of wedding and corporate clients in San Diego and beyond.

Details and dates are fuzzy, but over the next few years we added more band members to round out our group and create redundancy in each position so that we could commit to more work. Guitarist Rob Wells joined after we convinced him to leave his own cover band (though we think he may have been cheating on us a bit in those early days). Bass Dave Swendsen and guitarist Mike Stoltz had both played in a band called Meld with Eric, so they were a natural fit. Drummer Matt Souza was also a key member for many years before moving to LA.

By the early 2010’s guitarist Paulo da Rosa, drummer Shawn Ballard, and bassist Andy Hinson had signed on to help keep the rocket ship flying high. By that time, we had also established a new weekly residency on Thursday nights at 710 Beach Club in Pacific Beach. That weekly residency lasted for more than four years and after shifting to monthly appearances in 2015, our current data says we’ve played 300 gigs at the venue. 300!

With so many years behind us, it’s hard to pinpoint all the great moments on stage and off. But who can forget the time we had a marriage proposal happen on stage? Who remembers the time we partied with Jack (of Jack in the Box fame)? How many times did we run the PB Idol live band karaoke competition? We could write for days on the 9 years we hosted the “sing” portion of the now-legendary Sing Dance Crawl bar crawl.

If you’re still reading this far down, thanks for taking this walk down memory lane with us. We’re hopeful we can continue to rock San Diego events and bars for the next 15 years and beyond as we bounce back from the pause brought on by COVID last year. Thanks to all those who have supported us over the years, joined us on stage, hired us for your company events, or just followed along from the sidelines. We couldn’t have done it without you!

Mad love 🤘

Rock Out Karaoke

We would be remiss if we didn’t pay special tribute to long-time host and forever supporter of the band, Carlos. We lost Los earlier this year, but he’ll always be part of our story.

Karaoke in a post-pandemic world

What a crazy year-plus we’ve all had. First, we hope you and your family have been healthy and safe throughout the pandemic. Our 2020 was off to a great start, with the usual mix of public live band karaoke shows and big private events in San Diego. Of course, we all know what happened in March: everything came to a screeching halt.

As we emerge from the cocoon of not playing, we’re busy dusting off our guitars and preparing for some late summer and fall events. We’re starting to get more inquiries and bookings as “normal” life resumes.

For those of you wondering how things will work going forward, we’re still working on the details ourselves. Much of what we do will be determined by public health guidelines, local restrictions / guidance, and plain ol’ common sense. We plan to do some of the easy things (like wiping down the microphone between singers), and will be working with venues and event planners to ensure we keep you safe as you rock out with us on stage.

So stay tuned. We are eager to add some public events in the coming months so our local friends can sing some live band karaoke with us! We hope to see you very soon.

Live band karaoke

San Diego Comic Con 2019

One of our favorite San Diego events of the year is Comic Con International. This year, the organization celebrated their 50th convention with what has grown to a 135,000-person multi-day event that not only takes over the expansive San Diego Convention Center, but most of downtown San Diego, local hotels and restaurants, and, increasingly, other parts of the city.

So when the Comic Con organization called us to find out if we would support their own volunteer appreciation event with our unique brand of live band karaoke, our answer was of course a resounding YES!

To pull off the type of event that Comic Con has become, they’ve enlisted the help of a small army of volunteers – friendly faces who help first-timers and convention veterans alike find their way to registration, points of interest, special sessions and more. It was for this group of several hundred kind and generous people we were honored to play.

And they certainly came to party! We enjoyed having the Comic Con staff and volunteers on stage with us, and we look forward to next year. Live band karaoke and Comic Con – it was a match made in heaven! Check out the pics and see for yourself…

Corporate logos

In Good Company

FritoLay, Morgan Stanley, Genentech, TIAA. No, those aren’t the latest ROK stock picks.*

They’re actually recent corporate clients! We’ve quietly been building a roster of happy clients, many of whom call us back year after year (Kia Motors, we’re looking at you!).

Call us for your next San Diego / Southern California corporate event and we’ll add your company logo to the distinguished (and growing) list!

*Past results do not guarantee future results when it comes to investments, but with ROK you’re covered!

Rocking Out with Kia Motors

When Kia invited us to rock some live band karaoke for their San Diego event showcasing the 2018 line of cars, our answer was a resounding YES!

For the third time in two years, we joined an enthusiastic and talented crowd made up of bloggers, journalists, and online influencers who were chosen to test drive some of the new Kia models around town and party with us at the Hard Rock Hotel afterward.

Many thanks to Kia Motors USA for bringing us back for one of our favorite corporate gigs! Take a look at the photos below for proof!