Last year, in conjunction with KPBS, Belly Up Tavern kicked off a music-centered program, a kind of “Austin City Limits meets Soul Train” filmed at the famed club in Solana Beach. The first year bookings of local acts Dead Feather Moon, Vokab Kompany, The Grass Heat, Brawley, The B-Side Players, and Bushwalla, to name a few, sparked not only the Friday night audience, but the Belly Up’s thirst for more.
“My friend’s grandma texted me saying, ‘I’m watching your music show on TV right now!’” laughs marketing and promotions maven Meryl Klemow of the Belly Up when explaining the overwhelming and kind of puzzling reach the first season of Live at the Belly Up had. “We had no idea who was watching music, at home, on a Friday night.”
But as the five episodes continued to air on KPBS, the Belly Up knew they were on to something.
“The first season was a lot of fun and very successful, so we were really excited to get back to it and do another season. We had a vision for a long time of what we wanted to do but we just didn’t have the equipment needed to pull it off,” Klemow explains.
Enter San Diego State University’s 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.
“We have become a little family,” describes Klemow. “John Decker , the Director of Programing at KPBS, and Tim Powell, the professor at San Diego State whose students get credit for the course, have really embraced the show. They kind of upped the ante for this second year, stepping up the lighting and bringing in bigger equipment. Most of the same students came back so they know the venue really well.”
So what do the bands think about it?
“At first it was a little bit of a hard sell because some bands have been burned by doing other TV shows that force then to tape at 5am. But once they saw the set-up–the live crowd, all the equipment, the whole big production–they started getting into it. Plus, a lot of these bands we have worked with before so they trust the Belly Up staff and how we go about our business,” Klemow adds.
One of the first acts filmed for the second season was the Paul Cannon Band. Cannon explained his thoughts about doing the Live at The Belly Up show.
“I was hesitant to take the gig, even though there was tremendous amount of exposure involved. I had to weigh out the result in my head sometimes…if a band member is ill or not playing their best or if you know fans won’t make it out…then being filmed for a TV show could be detrimental. But, when I stepped through the curtain my heart warmed tremendously as I saw tons of folks having a good time and ready for my performance! It was definitely a different show; I didn’t expect it to have such a large turn out on a weeknight.
Last year’s KPBS televised shows offered a choice glimpse of the wide range of musical styling San Diego has to offer. And so far, this year’s bookings seem to carry the same theme of appealing to all types of music the area has to offer.
Want your mug immortalized on TV? Call your friends, rally your grandma. Tickets are available for the next two shows–
- Monday October 21 featuring: Stranger, Trouble In The Wind, The Drowning Men
- Tuesday October 22 featuring: Steve Poltz, Earl Thomas and The Rhumboogies w/ Alicia Arogan, Sara Petite and the Sugar Daddies.
Live at The Belly Up season two will begin airing mid January at 10pm on KPBS. Check out last year’s shows here.