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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.

Sing Dance Crawl 2016

If you’ve been with us for any time in years past, you’ve no doubt heard us talk about the best pub crawl in town: Sing Dance Crawl. Hosted each year by our friends at The Local over Memorial Day weekend, what started as a modest gathering of a couple hundred people has ballooned in recent years and just keeps getting bigger and better.

This year’s crowd of 1,500+ flooded the House of Blues San Diego with energy, enthusiasm, sex appeal, and a few surprises (cue the marching band)! Rock Out Karaoke is proud to have supported this event again in 2016 (our sixth in a row!). Proceeds from the crawl benefit the Wingman Foundation – a veteran-run, all-volunteer nonprofit that helps support the families of fallen military aviators.

Check out scenes from SDC 2016, and stay tuned for announcements about this event in 2017!

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!

love bus

Six Fun Event & Wedding Ideas

Over the years, we’ve played a lot of San Diego weddings, corporate events, and parties. If you’re struggling to find ideas to make your next bash unforgettable, look no further – here are some of the best we’ve seen:

Themes
This one might sound obvious to some, but you can’t beat a good ol’ theme party. Whether it’s a rock star theme, a 1920s flapper feel, or a Woodstock music festival – people love to dress up. Pro Tip: make sure you put the word out well in advance so people have time to shop for their outfits.

photo boothPhoto Booth
Most of the parties we play these days include a photo booth or a step-and-repeat, and those things stay busy from start to finish. A photo booth can produce party favors for your guests (that you don’t have to put together) and can also serve as a way to commemorate your event online. Today’s photo booths have taken on a completely different look – green screens, props, flipbooks, and more – making them a great option for your next event.

Performers
We’ve seen lots of performers over the years – groups that can warm up the crowd for a band are great. Performances have included traditional Chinese dragon dancers (think Chinese New Year parade), synchronized swimmers (for a poolside party), hypnotists, and acrobatic / juggler / variety performers — they can all spice up your event and make it more memorable.

Other Specialists
One wedding we attended had cigar rollers – how cool is that? Hand-rolled cigars while you wait! Another corporate event featured an artist who was etching commemorative wine glasses with names and short phrases. Caricature artists are always a hit, too. Although we haven’t experienced it, we’ve heard about henna tattoos at some weddings – another great idea!

food truck event photoFood Trucks
We played a backyard party last year for Food Network star Melissa d’Arabian that featured food trucks. We also played a recent party in Beverly Hills for a large retail company that included the In-N-Out Burger truck, a Sprinkles Cupcake truck, and more. Double-double animal style for everyone, please!

Music
Ok, we’d be remiss if we didn’t mention live band karaoke as a way to spice up your next corporate event, wedding or birthday party. But really, where else are you going to find entertainment that is truly interactive? If you’re a bride, imagine the memories of having Dad on stage belting out Journey like he was back in high school. Or Grandma doing her best Katy Perry impression. Seriously, we’ve seen some awesome family moments on stage with us over the years, and those moments will live forever.

So there’s our rundown of just a few interesting and different event ideas. What did we miss?