By John Philip Wyllie
Parking was at a premium and Garnet Avenue was solid sea of humanity as thousands of San Diegans flocked to the annual unofficial beginning of summer, the Pacific Beach Block Party. The sweet smell of carne asada filled the air and the sound of music pulsated up and down the street as the more than forty bands on hand entertained the festive crowd. There was something for everyone. For Latin Jazz fans there were well known local acts such as Jaime Valle, the B-Side Players and Agua Dulce. A block away the always entertaining Steve Poltz joined girlfriend Anya Marina for a spirited set and further down the road the amusing Americana aficionados Jeff Berkley and Calman Hart played cuts from their latest CD “Berkley Hart 12.”
One of the festival’s busiest musicians was no doubt Dylan Martinez. Martinez first shared the Cass Street stage with his Rookie Card band-mates at 11:00 and then made his way down to Fanuel Street in order to perform with wunderkind Derek Duplessie and the Rarities. Music has been a part of his life for more than 20 years.
“When I was about 12, my grandfather taught me how to play the guitar,” Martinez recalled. “I started by playing boleros. When I was a little older, my mom had all of the Los Lobos records. I loved their music. I remember that I learned to play a couple of songs from “How Will the Wolf Survive.” For Martinez however, the Beatles were a much bigger musical influence and for years he has focused on playing Beatles-que rock ‘n’ roll.
Like Martinez, Rarities bandmate Bart Mendoza regularly performs with several other ensembles. The Shambles, perhaps his best known, like the Rarities, has a sixties Beatlesque- British Invasion sound. Like many local musicians, Martinez included, Mendoza has a second career.
“I try to keep busy,” Mendoza said. “I do a lot of music writing for labels in Japan and Europe and a lot of liner notes. It is all a lot of fun.”
Martinez has a similarly hectic schedule. In addition to his Rookie Card and Rarities involvement, he has a full-time job at San Ysidro High School and is pursuing a degree in Psychology at night. That doesn’t leave a lot of free time, but Martinez enjoys keeping busy. He also enjoys performing music whenever time permits.
“Rookie Card is more of a country rock band and plays a little louder,” Martinez explained. “The Rarities plays some of the same songs I have written with my rock band, but we do them in a quieter style and without distortion. It is very clean and we try to emphasize our vocals whenever we can. Derek, Bart and I bring in songs that we have written with our other bands and we also do a few covers.”
Their sound is reminiscent of a number of sixties bands, particularly the Hollies and the Byrds, but the influence of current artists such as the Wallflowers and Fastball can also be heard. With three gifted singers in Mendoza, Martinez and Duplessie, the band is able to capture the harmonies so essential to that music.