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LIVE AT THE BELLY UP: B-Side Players And Maren Parusel

Maren Parusel
Courtesy of Chris Maroulakos/Mario Escovedo of Requiemme Management & Music
Maren Parusel

Friday, April 28, 2023 at 11 p.m. on KPBS 2 / Stream now with the PBS App + Encore Monday, May 1 at 10 p.m. on KPBS 2

San Diego has long been known as a hotbed of great musical talent. What’s more, San Diego is home to one of the best music venues on the West Coast. Since 1974, the Belly Up has been featuring great local bands from the Cedros Design District. This episode features performances by B-Side Players and Maren Parusel:

A photo of the San Diego band B-Side Players, a group that plays Latin-flavored soul music.
Courtesy of B-Side Players/Belly Up
A photo of the San Diego band B-Side Players, a group that plays Latin-flavored soul music.



B-Side Players have been laying down their own inimitable latin global funk since they came together in 1994. Their incendiary live shows have defined them as local favorites with nine San Diego Music awards. Their albums showcase a band with restless musical intelligence, effortlessly blending genres to fashion their own forward looking, latin flavored soul music. As an eight piece band the players are known for igniting crowds with their fierce rhythms and uplifting message of unity and consciousness. Meanwhile always keeping their focus on the political climate of the world and nation. The B-Side Players are a living and breathing cultural art experience for the mind body and soul.

B-Side Players are on Facebook.

Graphic cover for the "Revolutionize" album, released 2012 by B-Side Players.
Courtesy of B-Side Players/℗ 2012 Global Noize Records
Graphic cover for the "Revolutionize" album, released 2012 by B-Side Players.


When San Diego pop songwriter Maren Parusel’s gear was stolen on tour in New York City, she took the opportunity to revamp her guitar-driven sound with synths and a new resolve to overcome anything that stood in her way.

It’s in this spirit that her sophomore full-length, "Tightrope Walker," draws inspiration from two stories of triumph over forces both external and within: Nietzsche’s pivotal novel "Thus Spoke Zarathustra" and "Man on Wire," a documentary about legendary high-rope walker Philippe Petit, who traversed a line between the World Trade Centers (not far from where Parusel lost her gear) in 1974.


“Metaphorically, life is you walking on a tightrope,” says Parusel, a Tübingen, Germany native whose debut Artificial Gardens (produced by Black Heart Procession’s Pall Jenkins) won Best Pop Album at the 2011 San Diego Music Awards. “You’re balanced on your own rope. You can slip and fall. This album is about believing in yourself rather than looking up to figures. It’s about living your own dream.”

Graphic cover of "Tightrope Walker" - Requiemme Records/BMG Chrysalis.
Courtesy of Requiemme Records/BMG Chrysalis
Graphic cover of "Tightrope Walker" - Requiemme Records/BMG Chrysalis.

On "Tightrope Walker," Parusel finds her balance with Christopher Hoffee (Chaos Recorders), whose penchant for analog synthesizers, vintage plug-ins, and programmed beats makes for Parusel’s most polished and danceable collection of dreamy pop anthems to date.

The opening and title track establishes the album’s tone with straight-ahead drums, a ‘verby guitar lead, and Parusel’s falsetto voice (alternately reminiscent of Blonde Redhead’s Kazu Makino and Phantogram’s Sarah Barthel) proclaiming, “When I wake up, here I am. Dreaming again.”

The whimsical mood continues in the phaser-laden “Castle in the Sky,” where Parusel dreams into the distance only to remember that “You belong where your heart is from.”

Adorable pop jingle “The Morning Belongs to the Birds” is the album’s slowest and most naked celebration of Parusel’s bright-eyed optimism carried by a tom-heavy beat that invokes the first-kiss scene of every ‘80s movie ever made at once.

Backed by a live band of Eric Brozgold (drums), Josh Cass (guitarist from Get Back Loretta), and Christopher Hoffee (bass), Parusel’s lilting and occasionally coquettish melodies recently garnered attention from R.E.M.’s Mike Mills (“I loved her set”) and renowned photographer BP Fallon at South by Southwest, where she was invited to an intimate 2 a.m. Mumford and Sons acoustic set also attended by Johnny Depp.

Runaways manager Kim Fowley also took notice of Parusel at Alejandro Escovedo’s (brother of Requiemme manager Mario Escovedo) SXSW day party in 2010 and invited her to an audition.

Parusel’s track “Days in Universe” from her debut EP of the same name (produced by Brian Karscig [Louis XIV] and released on 7” vinyl via Jackson Milgaten’s [Vision of a Dying World, Cuckoo Chaos] Single Screen Records) was featured in the 2011 comedy "Conception" starring David Arquette.

In an open-ended expression of self-assurance and honest ambition, Maren Parusel reiterates the heart of "Tightrope Walker" on the album’s closing song, “I’m Ready,” when she declares, drenched in reverb as if imploring the fates themselves, “Hey! I’m ready for you!”

LIVE AT THE BELLY UP: B-Side Players & Maren Parusel

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All episodes of LIVE AT THE BELLY UP are available for streaming on demand.

Belly Up brings the best in new, up-and-coming artists as well as established legends in genres ranging from alternative rock, rock, reggae, and hip-hop to blues, folk, jazz, Latin & more! Visit their online calendar of shows. Belly Up is on Facebook, and you can follow @BellyUpMusic on Twitter.

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