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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.

Summer Break

Harvard, Yale, Cal State San Marcos. Every great institution takes a summer break now and then. The time has come for Rock Out Karaoke to take a little summer break of our own.

We’ll rock the 710 Beach Club for the first two weeks in June before taking a brief hiatus, only to return recharged and refreshed and ready to rock the late summer and fall months with you.

We understand that this ‘announcement’ may raise a few questions. Here’s a little FAQ:

Are you really taking a break for the summer?
Yes.

Why?
Between summer travel schedules, new jobs, and changes for some of the band members; it was necessary at this point to take a bona fide break. Coming off a 2014 that included 104 shows (in only 52 weeks, mind you), it’s time we slowed the pace a bit.

Are you coming back for regular shows at some point?
You can count on it.

Is the band breaking up?
Not a chance.

Are you sure?
Absolutely.

Are you still available for private parties?
Yes, depending on our travel schedules, we could be available for private gigs this summer – and definitely beyond.

So there you have it. Let’s rock the snot out of these next couple of weeks at 710 Beach Club, say farewell to the Skipper, and get ready for a relaxing summer.

Free Things to Do in San Diego

Rock Out Karaoke was recently named one of the top free things to do in San Diego in an article on the website Thrillist.com. We are honored to be sharing the spotlight with other San Diego powerhouses like the Hotel del Coronado, Sunset Cliffs, Taylor Guitars, Balboa Park, and um, the beach.

But we really love sharing the spotlight with YOU each and every week. Thanks for helping us make the list of top San Diego activities – we couldn’t do it without you!

Hotel Del Coronado

Photo Credit: Hotel Del Coronado (Flickr)

See the full article here (and then get out there and do some of these free things!).

PB Idol Is Back!

Remember PB Idol? Yes, that one. The only live band karaoke competition in San Diego? Well, it’s back! Again.

Beginning on January 15 and continuing for eight weeks, you’ll have the chance to compete for more than $500 in cash and prizes! Each Thursday, the contest will feature up to 8 singers aiming for a spot in the PB Idol Finals in early April (exact date TBD). Each weekly winner will win a 710 Beach Club gift certificate and the finalists will win cash prizes for first, second, and third place.

chrisSingers will be judged by an independent panel on three factors:

  1. Vocal performance
  2. Stage presence
  3. Crowd noise + applause

To enter, please email the event organizers at pbidol@710bc.com. Please include three (Thursday) dates you would be able to compete in the preliminary rounds. You will be contacted by email to let you know the date for your prelim round. Please address any questions about the competition to this email address (not to the band).

Remember, this singing competition is for fun and bragging rights (and some cold, hard cash of course!), and the band is not in charge of who sings which night or ANY aspect of the judging. We’re just there to support you in your quest to become the next PB Idol!

Rock Out Karaoke is San Diego’s most dynamic live music performance group, combining the raw power of a live rock band with the fun of audience participation, where individual singers take center stage with the live band! Complete with lyrics displayed on a monitor in real-time with the music, nothing is missing from this unique karaoke show!

2014: A Karaoke Year in Review

2014 has been a banner year here for us at Rock Out Karaoke, and we couldn’t have done it without you, San Diego! Whether it was a Gaslamp or Pacific Beach bar — or a private karaoke event — we loved having you on stage with us. So, we got to thinking (dangerous, we know): what if we added up all the numbers? Here’s how 2014 panned out:

  • 107 shows (charity events, holiday parties, bar gigs, weddings, & campfires*)
  • This also means we likely played “Don’t Stop Believin” at least 106 times
  • 4,000 songs performed
  • 15,458 high fives (some people forget to high five the band on the way out, you know)
  • 2 Bass Dave beard sightings

While there were so many to choose from, here are just a few of our favorite live band karaoke moments in 2014:

ROK Turns 8
We quietly celebrated our 8th birthday this October. Hard to believe we’ve been rocking for the better part of a decade! Judging by the numbers above, we’re only getting started.

4k tv winnerAJ’s Kids Crane
We loved supporting such a great cause with AJ’s Kids Crane this year. One lucky ROK fan even took home a brand new Sony 4K TV!

San Diego County Fair
We enjoyed our 5th year performing at the San Diego County Fair. Editors note: we’re already in talks with them about some surprises for 2015.

The Local Pub Crawl (follow the link for tons of great photos)
We look forward to this rockin’ party that just keeps getting bigger and better every year. Taking the stage at the legendary House of Blues with 1,200 of our closest friends in attendance is always quite a rush.

YOU Joining us on Stage
Yes, YOU! We couldn’t have done any of this without our incredible fans, so thanks from all of us at ROK for supporting San Diego’s best live band karaoke. Special thanks to 710 Beach Club for hosting us every Thursday night of the year – and Tin Roof Bar for bringing us in every Wednesday. Don’t forget to tip your bartenders!

We hope to see you in 2015!

*ROK has yet to land a paying campfire gig (it’s one of our top goals for 2015 in Southern California).

Rock Out Karaoke is San Diego’s number one event band. There’s nothing quite like joining a live band on stage to unleash your inner rock star! Call us today to see how we can spice up your next event.