Belly Up

KPBS, in conjunction with The Belly Up, will kick off the new year with a music-centered program filmed at the famed club in Solana Beach. One of San Diego’s hottest bands, the three piece blues/rock outfit The Grass Heat was tabbed to film the first episode last week. Being described as “Austin City Limits meets Soul Train” by the Belly Up’s Meryl Klemow, the show will be part one of a series of four to five shows being aired on KPBS.

“We were looking to do something that captured the feel of the Belly Up and the artists that come through here, but didn’t have the means as far as a crew and equipment goes,” shared Klemow.

Enter the San Diego Film Program, who approached the Belly Up about being able to put together a show that can take advantage of the Film Program’s students’ talents, the Belly Up’s setting and sound, and of course, some of San Diego’s finest bands.

Live taping can sometimes drag on due to the mic placement, lights being moved for more effect, or repeated takes until everyone is satisfied. None of that was going on at the taping once the Grass Heat hit the stage. The band was in fine form right out of the gate and they didn’t flinch once the bright camera lights hit them as they launched into their set.

“I have done this kind of stuff before,” lead singer Chris Torres explained. “I know the footage can look great after a great edit so I’m excited to see the end results since I know all three of us were feeling great that night and really playing with some fire under ass!”

Though Torres and lead guitarist Billy Clements have done live taping before (Clements even played a guitarist in a David Spade movie), this was a first for drummer Mike Stone.

“The shooting of the PBS pilot was a totally new experience for me. The extra attention to detail and effect was a stark contrast to our typical live performing experience, where it’s ‘get on, rock out, and get off!’ It really put a little extra adrenaline in my performance, for sure.”

The band’s enthusiasm was evident in their performance. Stone’s drumming kept the loose blues jam sound together with enough power for the rockers and the perfect finesse for the sneaky funk they drop into their groove. Lead singer Chris Torres’ vocals moved through the multiple styles the band can explore in a single song with ease. Belting it out when he has to or dropping back and squeezing every drop out of the blues, Torres’ laid back style is the perfect front to this three piece. Throw in Clements’ guitar work, which snaps back and forth between Torres’ bass and Stone’s beat, with bursts of southern rock, blues, and attention-grabbing solos, and you have a powerful combination.

“We have worked with The Grass Heat for many years , and the band is really great friends with The Belly Up,” Klemow responded when asked why The Grass Heat was chosen to be the first band filmed. “They are so good and very professional, and a show like this would give them some recognition that they deserve…a wide range of different musical styles will be explored during the series, even some electronica if the right sound and feel can be found.”

If the Belly Up’s first choice, The Grass Heat, is an indication of the quality of performance the show will spotlight, Austin, Texas is going to be jealous.

  1. [...] is filming a new series called “Live at The Belly Up” (read more about that here at And they picked some awesome groups to appear for this [...]

  2. Jen Van Tieghem
    October 31, 2012 | 11:12 pm

    I’ll be there on Monday! The Styletones are playing too! I can vouch for The Heavy Guilt & Old Tiger together being a great bill!!! :) Exciting to see more support of local music!

  3. Rick
    October 31, 2012 | 4:15 pm

    Meryl at the Belly told me sometime in January. Dead Feather Moon is next up, filming Monday Nov 5. Two great choices to start. She told me they would like to do all different styles of music. Old Tiger and Vokab Kompany would make for some diversity. But would love to see The Heavy Guilt and The Silent Comedy just because of their powerful live shows.

  4. Jen Van Tieghem
    October 31, 2012 | 1:11 am

    Any idea when they’ll be airing these? Such a cool idea!

  5. Steve Button
    October 29, 2012 | 8:34 pm

    What a great idea! And there couldn’t be a better venue in San Diego for this program. Way to go KPBS! Way to go B.U.T.! Can’t wait!

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