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Arts & Culture

The Indefatigable Jam Of ElectricLouieLand

Louis Valenzuela is behind ElectricLouieLand, a livestreaming outlet for musicians in San Diego. In a recent stream, Valenzuela and vocalist Jessi Carr performed duos and standards together.
Julia Dixon Evans
Louis Valenzuela is behind ElectricLouieLand, a livestreaming outlet for musicians in San Diego. In a recent stream, Valenzuela and vocalist Jessi Carr performed duos and standards together.

Jazz musician Louis Valenzuela supports local musicians — and audiences — by hosting weekly livestreams.

What at first was a way of keeping live performances going in San Diego's vibrant jazz scene during the pandemic quickly developed into a welcome distraction.

Louis Valenzuela is a guitarist and music teacher, and also runs the ElectricLouieLand streaming platform. Most Mondays, with occasional bonus performances, he features livestreamed shows on YouTube, Facebook Live and Twitch, filmed mostly from a studio at the Avant Garde Music Company in Chula Vista.

During the pandemic, the streams started with just Valenzuela and his girlfriend, singer Jessi Carr. And then, they ramped up. Soon, it seemed like a viable way for artists to continue to perform, share their work, and collect tips, so he started booking others to join in virtually.

"I became obsessed," Valenzuela said, who spent hours teaching himself how to operate the technology, how to upgrade his computer and pull off hosting and streaming an event at once. "It's been worth it, long story short, this epic trial for me," he said.

But it all started with the Monday Night Jazz Jam Valenzuela would host, generally at Rosie O'Gradys in Normal Heights, a chance for busy gig performers to come together and play music with friends, for fun.

Over the past few years, Valenzuela had been helping open up the Avant Garde Music Company music school and studio, and they've also been transitioning that work to the virtual spaces during the pandemic. Eventually, they started inviting musicians to wear masks and follow AGMC safety protocols to perform live sets together from the studio.

He's also hoping that the streaming series will help the music school stay afloat too. Donations collected from QR code scans during the shows support AGMC as well as the artists.

In the last few months, he's hosted the Irving Flores Quartet, Leonard Patton, Joshua White, Ed Kornhauser, Kilikili, Gilbert Castellanos, the Nathan Hubbard Trio and Whitney Shay, among others, and most recently Israel Maldonado.

In January, 2021, ElectricLouieLand kicked off the first in the "Anthology Series" jazz sessions, featuring the Gilbert Castellanos Quintet.
Julia Dixon Evans
In January, 2021, ElectricLouieLand kicked off the first in the "Anthology Series" jazz sessions, featuring the Gilbert Castellanos Quintet.

Last month, Valenzuela kicked off a new series in partnership with AGMC and Blind Lady Ale House. For the Anthology Series, musicians perform works by an iconic artist in tribute. The first was the music of Horace Silver, featuring the Gilbert Castellanos Quintet.

On March 11, the second Anthology Series show will feature the music of the late American jazz saxophonist Cannonball Adderley, with Christopher Hollyday on alto sax, Gilbert Castellanos on trumpet, Joshua White on piano, John Murray on bass and Tyler Kreutel on drums.

While Valenzuela is as tireless about continuing to support the live music industry as he is obsessed with the project, he said it's not unlike how everyone in the music world copes and hustles, pandemic or not.

"People are just doing whatever they can," Valenzuela said of jazz performers and gig musicians trying to survive during the pandemic. "They're used to it. They live in that mentality already, just doing whatever they can. And I think some of it is they are trying to lay low. This new reality… like, ah this is kind of nice," Valenzuela said.

He's still creating music himself, writing new work and building visions for bigger projects. He also feels lucky to have teaching work, through SDSU and local community colleges. And while during most streams, Valenzuela himself is in the control room, handling the tech side of things, occasionally he'll pick up his guitar and sit in on a performance.

In the coming weeks, ElectricLouieLand also plans to host performances from Karlos Paez (Monday, Feb. 22), Psydecar with Tim Pacheco (Sunday, Feb. 28) and Mikan Zlatkovich Trio (Monday, Mar. 8).