Arts & Entertainment

Lindy Hop with San Diego's Best Swingers

As any avid lindy hopper can tell you, learning how to swing dance in a class is only scratching the surface. In order to practice your moves and get a real feel for the scene, every dancer must go out to a swing club. There are no excuses. Lindy hop is a social dance. Luckily, San Diego is home to some of the best and most innovative clubs this side of the Pacific. With a venue open almost every day of the week, beginner and advanced dancers alike have all the more reason to venture out and get their groove on. The following are some of the best swing clubs in San Diego: Tuesday Nights The Rocket Portuguese Hall 2818 Avenida de Portugal, near Shelter Island in Point Loma (619) 291-3775 or http://www.2toGroove.com One of San Diego’s premiere swing venues, this club also boasts one of the city’s biggest dance halls. At over 3,000 square feet, its wooden dance floor is nicely complemented by a high ceiling, crystal chandeliers and other beautiful ornamentation. Upon arrival, don’t forget to ask about dance lessons from the club’s friendly managers. Jim Cruzen and Margie Adams. The large stage in the foreground makes this one of the few swing venues in the area to consistently feature live bands. Conveniently located nearby are plenty of restaurants and cafes to provide good eats after a long night of dancing. 9 p.m. – Midnight $6 cover ($5 for students with ID) Thursday Nights The Firehouse San Diego Center for the Moving Arts 3255 5th Ave., between Spruce and Thorn in Hillcrest (858) 603-3784 Call Meeshi for more information A favorite among the San Diego lindy crowd, this all-ages swing club is known for its intimacy and underground feel. Just as the name suggests, the venue is actually an old firehouse converted into a dance hall. It features over 2,400 square feet of wooden floor space and a fantastic sound system. Regular DJs such as Meeshi Sumayao like to play music at groovy, moderate tempos, making the Firehouse an ideal place for beginner/intermediate lindy hoppers to get their first taste of social dancing. 9:30 p.m. – Midnight. $5 ($3 students with ID). Friday Nights Cafe Savoy Clayton’s Cafe Corner of 7th and F, in the Gaslamp (next to the Maryland Hotel) (858) 603-3784 Call Meeshi for more information San Diego’s newest swing club is also its smallest and only coffeehouse-turned-swing venue. The relaxed cafe atmosphere allows dancers to chat and socialize more than they would be able to do in a louder, bigger club. In addition, food and drinks are served into the late hours, allowing patrons to enjoy a night of dancing as well as delicious desserts. Unique to this club are its huge windows, giving outsiders the rare opportunity to stop and watch one of San Diego’s most exciting dances. 8:30 p.m. – 12:30 a.m. $5 (swing lesson included) Saturday Afternoons Lindy by the Bay The Hilton San Diego Resort 1775 East Mission Bay Drive, off Interstate 5 in Mission Bay Taking its cue from other big cities that like to host swing dancing next to bodies of water, most notably San Francisco’s “”Lindy in the Park,”” this is San Diego’s own version of outdoor lindy. The venue offers swing dancers a rare chance to dance outside the confines of a club. Similar to Cafe Savoy, Lindy by the Bay is equally friendly to the nonswing dancer. Anyone who wants to see some free entertainment on a weekend afternoon can come out and mingle with the friendliest people in town. 3 p.m. – 6 p.m. Free! ...

Oakenfold Rocks EMF

San Diego is not known as the bastion of so-called “”rave”” culture. There aren’t very many clubs that cater to big-name DJs, and finding a massive — a party on a gargantuan scale — out in the middle of the San Diego countryside is a bit of a hassle. UCSD prevents the DJs and Vinylphiles Club from organizing an event such as last year’s “”Movement,”” which flooded the Price Center with wonderful music and colorful people. So it was nice, for once, to head down to the San Diego Sports Arena for the Electronica Music Festival, rather than to make my way to, say, Indio to find a comparable line-up. Settled in the concourse of the Sports Arena were two areas of kickin’ breaks and deep house. In the Main Concourse area, Barry Weaver, Nigel Richards and local DJ Jon Bishop entertained a small crowd of people sweating and grooving to the music. Downstairs in the House Arena, Angel Alanis and Jon Williams kept the dancers alive with hard-hitting house and techno. But the two main stages were where all the people were. On the floor of the Sports Arena, thousands of revelers were waving their glow sticks and struggling for room to dance. Main Stage 2 catered to those who know and love Moonshine Records. Veteran DJ Donald Gluade and labelmates John Kelley and Dave Aude played to a packed crowd that was jumping and shouting at every break and every snyth line. Main Stage 1 had the names that most casual fans of electronica would know. VonShock, Taylor and Mark Lewis pumped up the crowd with their eclectic sounds of progressive house and trance. But as 1 a.m. approached, the dance floor became more difficult to navigate; it came time for the world-famous Paul Oakenfold to take his place behind the decks. Appearing in a polka-dot shirt, Oakenfold made his way onto the elevated stage and extended his arms out to the crowd before clutching his heart in appreciation as candy ravers and casual ravers alike erupted into cheers. Oakenfold’s resume is impressive: He has performed in places such as Liverpool, England’s superclub Cream, dropped mind-expanding tracks in Ibiza and even opened for U2. Oakenfold is no stranger to the West Coast, either. By playing massives last summer in Southern California and more recently at Coachella and San Diego’s Club Montage, Oakenfold is definitely trying to stake his claim here in the West Coast music scene. While the first hour of his two-hour set wasn’t very impressive, Oakenfold picked things up in his second hour on stage. The god-like influence of Oakenfold became apparent as he pulled the crowd in closer with each bass line and drum beat. Then, in classic Oakenfold fashion, he dropped in a couple of vocal tracks and closed his set with thick layers of trance-synths that directed dancers into a frenzy. Before the audience realized what had hit, Oakenfold was done, but Dave Ralph picked up the pace and energy of Oakenfold and rocked the crowd until the very end, at 4 a.m. Watching the throngs of people actually dancing until the end was magical. And as you stumbled out of the Sports Arena and waded through the flyers for the next party, your only regret was that Oakenfold didn’t play longer, and your only hope was that San Diego will host more events like the Electronica Music Festival. ...

Swing Kids!

There was a time not too long ago — about five years ago, in fact — when you could hardly walk down the street without seeing something about swing, the newest dance craze to sweep pop culture. The neo-swing fad of the late ’90s quickly made household names of such swing things as Big Bad Voodoo Daddy, Brian Setzer and even the Gap, with its omnipresent “”jump and jivin'”” commercial. But times have changed and I am sure most of us are left to wonder, “”What the hell happened to swing?”” Well, for anybody out of the groove, rest assured that swing is alive and kicking, albeit in the underground. One of the most vibrant forms of swing just happens to have the strongest presence right here in San Diego. What could I be talking about, other than that unabashedly joyful dance with its constant eight-count rhythmic pulse flowing to the music of the ’30s, ’40s and ’50s? Lindy hop. This original swing dance of the ’20s began at the famed Savoy Ballroom in Harlem, N.Y. Although lindy hop existed before the opening of the club, it was not until dancers such as “”Shorty George”” Snowden, Leroy “”Stretch”” Jones and the legendary Frankie Manning revolutionized the scene that the dance really began to soar. Snowden is often credited for naming lindy hop after Charles Lindbergh’s triumphant 1927 “”hop”” across the Atlantic. According to myth, shortly after Lindbergh’s famous transatlantic flight, New York City hosted a charity dance marathon. Among the many people in attendance that day was Snowden. After seeing Snowden performing an eye-popping maneuver, a reporter covering the event asked him, “”What was that?”” to which the dancer replied, “”The lindy hop.”” The rest is history. One fundamental thing to remember about swing is that there are distinctions between the different dances. By now, most people are probably familiar with the terms West Coast and East Coast swing. A myriad of other styles exists — far too many to list. At the risk of making too gross a generalization, all other forms of swing dancing are simply variations on lindy hop, since it was the original swing dance. San Diego’s current lindy scene traces its origins directly from the neo-swing fad of the mid ’90s. Swing had always been around, but you would be more likely to find your grandfather carrying on the tradition instead of your dormmate. The dramatic resurgence of youth in the culture did not occur until after the media embraced swing. Before you knew it, swing was everywhere — on television, in the movies, even in clothing. Clubs existed in San Diego, most notably the rockabilly club Tio Leo’s, but ones that were lindy-friendly were either rare or nonexistent. Not until the efforts of two pioneer dancers — Johnny Lloyd and Lisa Conway — did the lindy scene in San Diego take flight in the late ’90s. Following their lead were other prominent instructors who cranked out even more dancers. Among these teachers were the self-proclaimed “”swing jack of all trades”” Meeshi Sumayao; instructors and current managers of the Rocket swing club Jim Cruzen and Margie Adams; and UCSD’s very own distinguished recreation class instructors, Tan Huynh and Valerie Yau. In many ways, UCSD has played a large part since the beginning in contributing to San Diego’s lindy community. The rec. classes constantly feed dancers into the scene. Indeed, on any given night, the majority of people in one of San Diego’s many swing clubs is often made up of UCSD students. Presently, the swing scene in San Diego remains small but loyal. So loyal, in fact, that the dedicated ones would never let swing die. Most local lindy hoppers are in their late 20s to mid-30s. Unlike other cities that serve alcohol at swing clubs, San Diego typically does not. The reason is not hard to figure out. Dancing while drunk, especially to something as challenging as lindy, is dangerous. Practically every dancer knows this and prefers to remain sober on the dance floor. The vast majority of the city’s venues are sponsored by dancers instead of bars, making big-time marketing an impossibility. This may explain why swing has become such an underground culture. Unlike San Francisco and Los Angeles, San Diego has a more diverse mix of music and style. The City by the Bay is known traditionally for its slower tempos. Los Angeles, by contrast, is famous for its fast and frenetic rhythms. San Diego’s music varies greatly from fast to slow, allowing dancers of all levels of expertise to enjoy the experience. This is unique to our city. Not surprisingly, out-of-town dancers appreciate the mix, regularly commenting on how much variety San Diego has in terms of its music and dancers. They never fail to remark on the genuine friendliness of our small yet dedicated swing scene. With the neo-swing fad came a record number of new dancers, particularly when the craze was at its height. However, today’s swing regulars would attest that most newbies left the scene rather quickly. A lot of them found the dance too difficult and intimidating, while others were more interested in the superficial “”Swingers”” style, which did not embrace dancing at all — its participants chose instead simply to dress up and go out, martini in hand, mingling old ’40s style. Nowadays, while some dancers still get dressed up and play on all of swing’s nostalgia, the opposite is usually more common. The current scene in San Diego is far more laid back. Over the years, the swing scene has made a progression from bars, where people dressed up in vintage outfits, to today’s underground clubs, where comfortable attire is preferred. Without all the frills, dancers today choose to focus more on the dance alone. The emphasis is on feeling the music and connecting with one’s partner. Everything else is just details. Only a few dancers ever get beyond the beginner’s hump, but those who do master the basic steps eventually stick with it. Dancers often remark on how they like the dance for its complexity and athleticism. Of course, there’s also the social aspect. Few dances are as playful but at the same time as complicated as lindy hop. Some liken it to playing chess with a partner. Another interesting feature of modern lindy is its many influences. Lindy hoppers like to spice things up by incorporating other dances, including Latin, tap, jazz and hip-hop. Although not as visible as it once was, the swing scene in San Diego continues to resonate. Most lindy hoppers are certain of one thing — while it is true that fads come and go, swing will continue to live and evolve. ...

Sun God 2001

The Sun God is disappointed. If this majestic creature could shake its immobile head in frustration, it would. In order to please the Sun God, UCSD students must pull together and make the 2001 Sun God Festival one to measure the success of all other festivals to come. Otherwise, the Sun God will smite the entire campus of UCSD. The Sun God was fairly happy with the turnout at FallFest, especially since the weather forced the concert to move into the Price Center Ballroom. The Long Beach Dub Allstars, Mix Master Mike and Dial-7 put on a high-energy show that impressed the students. The Sun God was pleased for the moment. Then Winterfest fell short of expectations. The concert’s headliner, Juvenile, was stricken with an alleged ear infection. Lucy Pearl’s strong set was hampered by technical difficulties that cut out some of their speakers, F.o.N. stepped in to fill the shoes as the opening act, and Sprung Monkey rounded out the show. The Sun God watched on, disappointed. Now, the Sun God looks ahead to Sun God Festival 2001. It still remembers last year, when F.o.N., Rahzel from The Roots, The Aquabats and Dishwalla came to UCSD to perform. Local favorite F.o.N. came through with a solid set, and those goofy Aquabats were mildly entertaining. Although we only got one Root out of five, Rahzel stepped up quite nicely — but the one-hit wonder Dishwalla failed to carry the festival. And the low turnout showed it. The Sun God also remembers when Los Lobos entertained the masses in 1985. English chart-topper Blur was here in 1992. Although that was long before the “”woooo-hoo!”” era, Blur was on the wave of the Brit-pop invasion and was backed by its classics such as “”She’s So High”” and “”There’s No Other Way.”” No Doubt was at UCSD in 1994 and 311 rocked UCSD in 1995. Rocket From the Crypt performed Sun God 1996. The Sun God hopes these glory days can return. With the 2001 Sun God Festival looming ahead, let’s hope the students and the bands do not disappoint. Local band Ping Pong Mafia hopes to get things warmed up. Naughty by Nature will be down with O.P.P. and just the thought of hearing that song alone should be enough to keep the crowds down for it. So-Cal punk band Face to Face should give us rockin’ covers from their most recent albums, which feature their renditions of “”What Difference Does It Make”” by The Smiths, “”Don’t Change”” by INXS and “”That’s Entertainment”” by The Jam. Old favorites played a new way should set up the show for hip-hop act Xzibit, whose work is respected by underground rappers. Xzibit has gained more popularity through performances on the Up in Smoke Tour and collaborations with Dr. Dre, Snoop Doggy Dogg and Eminem. In the tradition of more European-style festivals, a DJ tent will have DVC DJs spinning from 6:30 p.m. through the end of the event. The Sun God wants to get that sour taste out of its mouth. The Sun God wants to erase memories of Dishwalla trying to headline a festival. With a nod to dance music (DJ tent), a familiar name for casual fans (Naughty by Nature), a hard rocking punk group (Face to Face) and a well-respected and talented headliner (Xzibit), the Sun God finally sees some potential for an amazing time. Now it is up to us to sacrifice our livers for the almighty Sun God and all will be good. ...

Sun God Schedule

Daytime: 11 a.m.-1:15 p.m. Pep Band 11:15 a.m.-11:30 p.m. Sigma Gamme Rho 11:45 a.m.-12 p.m. Triton Cheer Squad 12 p.m.-12:25 p.m. Capoiera 12:25 p.m.-12:35 p.m. Konfusion 12:30 p.m.-12:50 p.m. Hawai’i Club 12:50 p.m.-1 p.m. Alpha Phi Alpha 1 p.m.-1:15 p.m. Ascension 1:15 p.m.-1:30 p.m. Triton Twirl Flags 1:30 p.m.-1:45 p.m. UCSD DOT Womens Choir 1:45 p.m.-2 p.m. Tritones 2 p.m.-2:15 p.m. UCSD Ballroom Dance Team 2:15 p.m.-2:30 p.m. Triton Co-ed Spirit Squad 2:30 p.m.-2:45 p.m. 220 2:45 p.m.-3 p.m. Dance Team 3 p.m.-4 p.m. Voice of Reason Nighttime: 7 p.m. Ping Pong Mafia 7:50 p.m. Naughty by Nature 9:10 p.m. Face to Face 10:30 p.m. Xzibit Plus: A new area has been added to this year’s Sun God with DVC DJ’s spinning throughout the night. 6:30 p.m. Sauron 7:15 p.m. DJ XL 8 p.m. Degenerate 8:45 p.m. Tommyboy 9:30 p.m. Ladykilla 10:15 p.m. Crime Lab 11:30 p.m. Devastator ...

Xzibit

Rap fans throughout the country are unfortunately overwhelmed by an abundance of artists who either go “”Hollywood,”” or worse, are too afraid to be unique. Many rappers today are faced with a dilemma: maintain their integrity and stay underground or sell out and compromise their style in exchange for fame and fortune. Very few rappers can keep it real while at the same time enjoying commercial success. Xzibit, the Sun God headliner, is that rare artist who has accomplished this difficult task. Born in Detroit, Xzibit lived there until his mother passed away when he was 9 years old. When his father remarried, he moved to Arizona with him. He remained in the Southwest until age 17, when he moved to Los Angeles. In L.A., Xzibit hooked up with producer Broadway, who introduced him to Tha Alkaholiks. His impressive appearances on the Liks album “”Coast II Coast”” grabbed the attention of Loud Records executive Steve Rifkin, who in turn offered “”X”” a record deal. Xzibit burst onto the scene with his 1996 album “”At The Speed Of Life,”” and the single “”Paparazzi.”” His harsh, raspy voice is unlike any other in the industry, and is his most valuable asset. With an orchestra and a catchy drum beat mixed together, “”Paparazzi,”” is one of the most creative rap songs ever released. He calls out the fakers in the chorus: “”It’s a shame, niggas in the game only for the money and the fame.”” “”The Foundation,”” is a song written to his son, warning him of the hardships of growing up. Produced by Muggs, who has produced for Cypress Hill, it features a mesmerizing loop of ghostly wails and a rhythmic piano beat, making it a classic. He also works with Mobb Deep in “”Eyes May Shine,”” and shows off his versatility by blending in seamlessly with the dominant East Coast group. Everybody wanted a piece of X on his 1998 sophomore album “”40 Dayz & 40 Nightz.”” Method Man, Ras Kass and Jayo Felony make guest appearances. “”Chamber Music”” is a bangin’ hardcore track that samples its background from Ice Cube’s 1992 song “”When Will They Shoot?”” “”Recycled Assassins”” and “”Handle Your Business”” are two other standouts from the album. While known by some underground rap fans, Xzibit didn’t really blow up until 1998, when he teamed up with Snoop Dogg in “”Bitch Please.”” Produced by Dr. Dre, it has to be one of the smoothest songs ever made. Snoop and X complement each other perfectly, and Nate Dogg finishes off the song in his usual amazing form. With newly found fame from “”Bitch Please”” and the Up In Smoke Tour, Xzibit’s third album “”Restless”” received plenty of hype. Released in 2000, his first single, titled “”X,”” got instant air play across the country. “”Front 2 Back”” is my personal favorite, and I know a lot of people bought this album because I hear people quoting “”Alkaholik”” here at UCSD. Students chant: “”Call it what you wanna call it, I’m a fuckin’ alcoholic.”” In a 5-year span Xzibit has emerged as one of the most prominent West Coast rappers around. He has stayed true to his fans who supported him from the word go, and at the same time attracted a new audience that has just discovered him. The future looks very bright for the “”X to the Z.”” ...

face to face

Hailing from Victorville, Calif. (the armpit of the world), these So-Cal punk rockers are veterans of the road. For the last 10 years they have consistently put out some of the best power-pop punk, and are respected by fans and critics alike. David Pilz Guardian Along with many other bands coming out of the early ’90s, Face to Face brings an edgy, but pop sound to punk that is all their own amid so many bands that sound seem to just imitate one another. Face to Face’s seven full-length albums the past decade has seen have reflected some change to their sound, but they remain true to their roots. Still mainly a punk band, they turned away from the path of more mainstream, success-minded groups. Forming in 1991, Face to Face began as a three-piece of guitar, bass and drums. The coming years saw a series of line-up changes, with the addition of a second guitarist. Along with a number of label switches, they now reside with their own label, Lucky Lady. This offers them the freedom to record the way they want to. Their most recent release, “”Standards and Practices,”” is a disc of covers. The album is a tribute to both their punk influences and to other “”great bands.”” It features the standout cover of Social Distortion’s “”The KKK Took My Baby Away.”” Face to Face relies more on the D.I.Y. attitude of the hardcore. The previous album of new material, “”Reactionary,”” had its track listing chosen by fans’ votes on MP3.com. Notably less recognizable than similar sounding bands like Blink-182 or NOFX, Face to Face has kept a closer tie with the underground. With no memorable MTV play and short nationwide radio play for the 1996 self-titled album, the main support has been their touring. The past five years have found the quintet selling out shows in the United States, Europe, Japan and Australia. San Diego has been no stranger to Face to Face’s touring — they were just here March 3 at ‘Canes. Face to Face also kicked off one of their national tours here. It really is unsurprising that they are willing to play Sun God — they put fans and music before money. Could these punks be signaling a change in the recent trend of hip-hop dominated Sun God concerts? Is this a sign of a future of rock at Sun God? Arguably the first real punk band since … well, just about ever, this year’s line-up is far more likely to please a very wide range of people. ...

Band Theory

Every spring, the major question on everybody’s mind is “”Who’s headlining Sun God?”” In recent years, there have been many complaints about the quality and popularity of the bands that have played at Sun God and UCSD. Scott Mantell, A.S. co-festivals coordinator with Priya Mohan, emphasized the increasing difficulties in booking bands these days. Artists are no longer willing to do one-night events such as Sun God; rather, they prefer to be booked on long tours. Many performers consider it a hassle to fly out, bring their crew and perform for one night. Their fees have also increased; a good artist used to cost anywhere from $5,000 to $10,000 per performance, they now go for between $50,000 to $75,000. Safety is also another issue taken into account when determining bands. Mantell stressed the necessity for safety as a key issue. Since RIMAC Field does not have walls, fencing has to be brought in, adding to the cost of the festival. “”The goal is to have fun, but it also needs to be a safe event,”” Mantell said. Compounded by the fact that RIMAC Arena is a smaller venue compared to San Diego’s Cox Arena, Coors Amphitheater and the Sports Arena, bands typically do not find colleges the best place to perform. Unlike UCSD, these other venues also serve alcohol, which brings in a good percentage of the profits. These factors place A.S. programming in an uphill battle to hire famous bands. This year’s Sun God Festival budget, the largest in Sun God history, is approximately $140,000, with $85,000 coming from A.S. The remaining portion comes from corporate sponsorship, ticket sales and miscellaneous revenues. Not all of the $140,000 allocated to the festival goes toward the performances. Approximately $15,000 goes to daytime programming, $20,000 for the lights and stage, $5,000 for the inflatable games, and $10,000 is used to cover security, leaving about one-third of the entire budget for the nighttime bands. In terms of cash, A.S. programming has little to work with in order to get extremely famous and popular bands. One complaint about the band-hiring process attacks the timing of Sun God Festival planning. Historically, it takes three-and-a-half months to plan the festival. The planning cannot begin too early since bands cannot plan far ahead. “”Bands don’t know what they’re doing early, most are booked within three months,”” Mantell explained, “”For example, summer tours were booked in April.”” With the budget in mind, the programming and festival committee brainstorms and plans for potentials bands. Surveys and questionnaires are given to the student body for greater input and to get a better knowledge of what students want to hear. Also taken into account are the band’s previous performances, ticket sales and references. Potential headline performances are flagged and offers are given to the management agencies. The waiting game then begins, as programming cannot know how much can be given to the secondary performances until the lead has been chosen. Once the offer is accepted, a contract is made and the band in then part of the UCSD Sun God Festival. For a brief description of the A.S. programming process, check the A.S. Web site at http://as.ucsd.edu/ editorial/ed12701.shtml ...

Naugthy by Nature

A Decade Later… Can you believe that it’s been 10 years since Naughty By Nature released “”O.P.P.?”” Back in 1991, the virtually unknown New Jersey trio, composed of Treach, Vinnie and Kaygee, exploded onto the rap scene, capturing the Grammy for best rap performance with “”O.P.P.”” That song and “”Ghetto Bastard,”” the top two singles off their self-titled album, vaulted them into instant stardom. Their follow-up album “”19 Naughty III,”” featured the anthem “”Hip-Hop Hooray,”” which enhanced their popularity to immeasurable proportions. The song was played on MTV eight to 10 times a day and is still considered tight today. Naughty By Nature’s third release, “”Poverty’s Paradise,”” again topped the charts, and also won another Grammy, this time for best rap album in 1995. “”Craziest”” and “”Feel Me Flow”” headlined the album, while “”Hang Out And Hustle”” and “”It’s Workin'”” are prime examples of the album’s depth and quality. After pumping out three albums in five years, Naughty decided to take a break. This time off allowed each member of the group to branch off into his own ventures. Along with doing some modeling, Treach has become more and more involved with acting. His film career began in 1990, when his friend Tupac Shakur helped land him a role in the movie “”Juice.”” Treach has had roles in “”Jason’s Lyric,”” television’s “”New York Undercover”” and most recently, HBO’s prison drama “”Oz.”” He also found a bride — Pepa of the famous female rap group “”Salt-N-Pepa.”” Vinnie is the brains behind Naughty Gear, which is the group’s official line of apparel. He is also working with the East Orange School District in New Jersey to implement a comprehensive, district-wide multimedia and communications facility and training ground. Kaygee, Naughty by Nature’s DJ, has branched out as well. He founded and runs Divine Mill Records and signed artists Zhane and Next. He also collaborated with Queen Latifah, Run DMC and Shabba Ranks on this label. After their four-year hiatus, NBN released “”19Naughty9: Nature’s Fury,”” on their new label, Arista. This album is different from any of their previous releases because it features many guests, including appearances by Master P, Big Pun and Mystikal. With a couple of exceptions, the group’s three previous albums have concentrated on Treach and Vinnie. The new album changes that formula. With all their experience in the rap game, Naughty by Nature are not afraid to adjust that formula, and their 1999 release reflects that attitude. Naughty By Nature is probably the most well-known of all the Sun God performers. They’ve put in 10 years of work, and there seems to be no reason why they can’t be successful for another 10 years. ...

Ping Pong Mafia

Battle of the bands winner Ping Pong Mafia will bring their folk-country flavored rock to this year’s Sun God Festival. Although front man Satish and guitarist Dan Ornduff first met at the University of Arizona about 10 years ago, the current lineup — which includes bassist Sean Rose and drummer Brendan Concannon — has only been together for about five months. Unlike many bands that play immediately after forming, Ping Pong Mafia waited until the right time to debut their music. “”All of us are sort of obsessive about perfectionism,”” Satish said. “”We kind of didn’t want to start playing out until we had everything down to a science.”” Now the band is ready to open for Face to Face, Xzibit and Naughty by Nature. With a name such as Ping Pong Mafia, one might expect a typical Limp Bizkit-esque, hip-hop flavored, aggressive rock band. This is not the case. As many band names were, Ping Pong Mafia was chosen on a whim. “”Probably the biggest problem we’ve had is that we just couldn’t agree on a name,”” Satish said. “”So finally I got to the point where I said, ‘I’m just going to pick the next thing that comes out of somebody’s mouth in this room,’ and Brendan, just as a joke, said, ‘Ping Pong Mafia.'”” Musically, Satish, who is the band’s primary songwriter and a UCSD student (he’s working on his Ph.D. in Biology), draws upon everything from Bob Dylan to punk to influence his music. “”[The music is] kind of a 50/50 mix between classic rock, some folk stuff and also, I guess, a smattering of ’80s punk stuff,”” Satish said. Out of that wide spectrum emerges a sound that is both a throwback to classic rock and a new sound entirely. Satish describes the group as an “”all-original rock `n’ roll band … there’s kind of a slight folky edge, a lot of it is pretty blues-based … somewhere between country rock, blues, folk and just original rock `n’ roll.”” In the short time that it has been together, the band became good enough to win UCSD’s battle of the bands, a feat that even surprised Satish. “”Even when it came to battle of the bands, I was like, ‘Oh, I’m sure we’re going to get blown out of the water,'”” he said. “”I’m just psyched that somebody liked us and gave us a chance.”” Although Ping Pong Mafia would not mind becoming as successful as the bands for which they will be opening at Sun God, they play music because they love it. “”I’d like to get to the point where I could really just comfortably support myself, and have a steady flow of gigs, and maybe get on the radio,”” Satish said. With his band’s spot at Friday’s Sun God Festival, it looks like Satish and his band are well on his way. ...