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Celebrating 35 years of the Casbah

 January 25, 2024 at 1:17 PM PST

S1: It's time for Midday Edition on Kpbs. Choreography , live music and black comics round out our arts and culture show today. I'm Jade Hindman. Here's to conversations that keep you informed , inspired , and make you think. The Casbah is celebrating 35 years with live concerts.

S2: One of our philosophies is to make the. The fan and the band have such a great time that they can't wait to come back again.

S1: Plus , Mal Shock Dance will stage its third annual Everyday Dances concert , and Black Comics Day will return to World Beat Cultural Center. That's ahead on Midday Edition. If you're a fan of live music in San Diego , chances are you've been to the Casbah or definitely heard about it. It may not look like much from the outside , but the Kettner Boulevard venue has been home to hard rock , punk music and more for 35 years now. Often associated with the grunge era of rock music in the early 90s , The Casbah has hosted bands like Nirvana , Smashing Pumpkins and local bands like Rocket From the Crypt , who will be performing there tonight. Here's a little of their song on a rope.

UU: Doctor promised and started to run through me and I knew that I couldn't. I want to steal your love. Stop ! Put the ball in my glove.

S1: Tim Mayes is founder of the Kasbah , and he's here to talk about the venue's rich history and how it will be celebrated. Tim , congratulations on 35 years.

S2: Well , thank you , thank you. I never could have seen that we would be here all these years later. Still , uh , still doing what we do. It's great. It's really wonderful.

S1: So , I mean , yes , three and a half decades ago , you opened a music venue in San Diego.

S2: I would use rented halls all over San Diego. And , uh , I opened another bar called the Pink Panther in 1986 with a couple of friends , and at that point , I had gotten tired of putting on concerts because there was a lot of violence back then in the punk rock scene. Um , the opportunity came up in 1989 to buy this little place on Kettner Boulevard , up the block from where we are now. And , uh , we decided to buy it and , uh , start putting in music in there. And it was originally going to be just local bands , and there was a dearth of places for bands to play in San Diego. So we started getting calls from touring bands and bands from all over the country , and we started booking them in about 1990. We started booking , uh , you know , what we do today and the rest is history. You know , I started out doing it as a fan originally , so , you know , that's that's my , my inspiration was just to see sea music that I liked.

S1: Any memorable shows to you.

S2: Smashing Pumpkins and Lemonheads back then ? Um , a lot of the local bands that were really great , like you mentioned rocket from the Crypt and Drive Like Jehu. I think Primus played there and uh uh , no doubt played there for early on. And , you know , there's there were so many shows back then that were just fantastic. And the original Casbah was a very small place. It held 75 people. So , you know , you were right up and right up close to to whoever happened to be playing that night. Yeah.

S1: Yeah. I mean , a lot's changed for music in general since you opened the doors to the Casbah in 1989. CDs and cassettes have largely been replaced by streaming.

S2: You know , there were there's been a lot of different scenes that the early 90s , stuff that , you know , coincided with the grunge era. Up in Seattle. There were a lot of local bands that were all friends together , and all came up at the same time. And , you know , eventually those bands either , you know , got too big to play there or they disbanded or , you know , they they went on to do different things. So we've probably only been through , I don't know , 4 or 5 different types of music scenes over the years. There is all the , uh , cohesiveness of it is all based on bands interacting with each other and creating a scene amongst themselves with their friends and their fans. And then , um , you know , it just we will find some bands and we start them off , you know , when they're young and we try if there's bands we like , we try to get them on good shows and then get them to a point where they can headline themselves. And that's happened numerous times over the years , too many times to even recollect.

S3: You know.

S1: The early 90s. It seems like it was an important period for the Casbah and , and really San Diego music.

S2: And there were a lot of bands in San Diego that were doing similar type stuff. And so the awareness , I mean , record labels would come down and there was a lot of hype. So a lot of people started coming out to see the bands. And like I said , the Casbah held 75 people. Sometimes we fit , you know , 100 in there on a good night. And it was very , very intense scene because everybody knew everybody and everybody. I don't know how people afforded it , but they went out many nights a week and , uh , it just developed like that and it kind of spread in a grassroots manner. Um , after all the hype died down , you know , people just kept doing what they had been doing. And there were a lot of friendships developed and a lot of relationships developed with people who as friends and as as band people that , you know , some of the best friends I have or people I met during that era.

S3: Yeah , in.

S1: Celebration of 35 years. And of all those friendships made.

S2: I mean , we I put together a list back in June of bands that I would like to book for this month , and most of the bands I had on my list. I ended up being able to confirm shows with. We started off at the beginning of the month , after a couple days off after New Year's with uh L-1011 and uh , Star Crawler , and then we did , uh , A weekend of the Dragons. Then we've got rocket from the crib , three mile pilot Lucy's fur coat , a couple nights with the Bronx , a couple nights with Earthlings. Um , it's just been , you know , all of these bands have played the club numerous times over the years. Some have gotten too big to play there anymore. Uh , some just don't play anymore. So , you know , it's it's been a fantastic month. I think we're on pace to sell out. Probably 20 or 22 shows out of the month. So that's pretty phenomenal. It's it's , uh , and it's been really great. You know , people seeing so many friends from the past and so many bands from the past , and everybody's having a really great time. Yeah.

S3: Yeah. You know , the.

S1: Last few years have been challenging for live music. The coronavirus pandemic hit and had a big impact on arts in San Diego , and I imagine the Casbah as well.

S2: And that was great. I mean , the first I remember the first one we did , it was like just seeing a band. I forget what it was. Maybe a few months later , like July of 2020 , and we started doing streaming concerts on a on a Twitch channel that we set up. And I remember , you know , the first one we did , just being there with only a handful of people , the crew and , and my wife and a couple close friends , because everybody was still pretty spooked about being together. But watching a band play on that stage , uh , after , you know , months of not seeing anything was was spine tingling. You know , um , everybody had tears in their eyes. And so , you know , we we learned how to do that. And then , you know , we we sold a lot of merch during the lockdown. I mean , we created a couple different types of , of t shirt designs that sold phenomenally well. And that really helped us pay the bills and keep some of our employees on staff and pay them and let enable them to , you know , continue doing their lives. Also learned a lot on how to , uh , file for grants. We we filed for a lot of different grants and , uh , you know , became pretty knowledgeable on how to do that.

S3: And you're a.

S1: Small venue , right , with an audience capacity of just over 200.

S2: I know fans love it because they can get right. You know , if the Casbah , you're standing right in front of the stage , literally , you can reach up and touch the performer. And I think bands like it too , because it gives them a great energy , uh , rush to be there in front of fans who are singing along to the songs , or shouting and cheering and bumping their fists up in the air and such. There's nothing like it , you know ? I mean , I'm spoiled because when I go to shows , usually I'm able to watch from very close quarters. But going to a big , big show like in an arena , there are so many distractions. If you're sitting in a seat so far from the stage , you know , the people around you , the the security people , people coming up and down the aisles and stuff and you're so far removed from the stage. The image you're watching on a video screen is bigger than the the person you can see on stage. So being in a small venue , there's there's nothing like it.

S1: And it seems like music venues come and go through the years.

S2: I think we've always just treated people respectfully and professionally , and one of our philosophies is to make the the fan and the band have such a great time that they can't wait to come back again. And that's been proven year , year after year with the bands that keep returning and love to play there. And , you know , people keep coming to. I mean , a lot of people grow out of going to see live music as often as they did when they were younger. But , you know , especially over the last few weeks in this month , I've seen so many people who used to who were those people in the 90s who were out 4 or 5 nights a week and , you know , they've all got families and kids and , you know , stressful jobs now. But everybody who comes out , uh , whether it's once a year or once every , you know , a few weeks definitely always has a good time. Yeah.

S3: Yeah.


S2: He grew up in Pittsburgh , and there was a place called the Casbah in Pittsburgh that he had remembered. And he he came up with a name , um , contrary to what a lot of people think , it didn't have anything to do with the clash song Rock the Casbah. Um , but just came up out of my partner's memory of of growing up in Pittsburgh and seeing this place called the Casbah.




S2: Um , you know , I think just continuing to do what we do. You know , it's not broke , so there's nothing to fix , really. We will continue to bring bands there that that we love and that people love and and treat the bands properly so that they want to come back. Or they'll tell their other friends bands that they want a great experience they had. And , and also continue to provide , you know , the same experience for the music fans of San Diego and continue to book shows as bands outgrow the Casbah , will will book them in other , bigger venues in town that share the same philosophies as we do.

S1: All right. Tim Mayes is the founder of The Casbah , located at 2501 Kettner Avenue near downtown San Diego. Check it out if you haven't had a chance. Tim , congratulations on the anniversary and here's to many more years of music at the Casbah.

S2: Thank you very much , I appreciate it.

S1: Coming up a conversation with the new artistic director of Malaysia Dance.

S4: When I look at San Diego and who it is now , I hope that the work we do at my heart can be a mirror that anyone in our community might find at some point in our programming themselves in that work.

S1: You're listening to Kpbs Midday Edition. Welcome back. You're listening to Kpbs Midday Edition. I'm Jade Hindman. Tonight , Malaysia Dance will stage its third annual Everyday Dances concert. It'll feature ten new choreographic works by San Diego based dance artists , including founding director John Malkovich. Performances will run through this Sunday. The contemporary dance company also welcomed its new artistic director , Christopher K Morgan , Kpbs Arts producer and editor Julia Dixon. Evans spoke with Morgan about stepping into the new role , everyday dances , and his intersectional approach to dance. Take a listen.

S5: So you are the new artistic director at Malika Dance , and this is a role that was held for decades by the company's founder , John Marshak. You're new to the role , but you're not new to Marshak in the late 90s. You were a dancer for them. Can you tell us about that and what it means to kind of come home to this company ? Absolutely.

S4: It's a huge , exciting honor to come back and return in this new capacity. In 1995 , at a summer intensive that John Marshak and the company were hosting at Balboa Park , where they used to be in residence at that time , I dropped into a technique class , and that class , and John's invitation to stay for the entire summer intensive literally changed the course of my life. At the time , I was a pretty young and inexperienced dancer , and that invitation opened up a whole new world to me of what concert dance could look like. And so very quickly , it became an all consuming passion. And I spent three years , from 95 to 98 dancing with John , and it just sort of catapulted me into all of these other opportunities that I've had since then. And so The Homecoming feels really meaningful and quite full circle. It literally is a full circle. Here I am , 28 years later , artistic director of the company that my career began in.

S5: I want to ask you about your background , not just as a dancer , but as a choreographer. What is your approach to creating a piece of dance.

S4: As a choreographer ? Usually my inspiration initially comes from the things I'm observing or feeling around me in my own life. That might be the impact of some of the many global crises that we're having. It's often navigating identity as a real multi-hyphenate , both ethnically and also in a lot of other ways that I identify. A lot of my own personal work as a human is to navigate these differences and find my own way and place in the world. And for me , choreography and artistic expression. And what we put on stage is a really interesting and meaningful way to explore that. Most recently , I've been in a really deep research that's reconnecting my own artistry to the hula that I danced as a child with my family and the predominantly Western dance forms of modern ballet and jazz. That became the bulk of my performing career. And so in that intersection , it's not just the physical forms that I'm curious about , but also how do I fully embrace and accept the multi-hyphenate identity that I have as a Hawaiian , Japanese , Chinese , German , Irish person and that , you know , parts of my identity , for example , were the colonizers of the land that I'm so attached to and that my parents grew up in. So this kind of identity work is really interesting to me. And it's not just my identity that folds into the work. The collaborators that I work with also are frequently asked to bring themselves in their own stories to the work. In addition to that , going back to some of what I was saying earlier about sort of what's going on in the world around us. You know , I've done work about global climate change. We did this really interesting work about water , where the county that I used to live in on the East Coast started to tax people that had rain barrels for not using the county water system. So we made a piece that was all about water collection , and it rained on stage with the water that we collected in our yards and balconies. So these types of things identity work , social justice issues , but all with a strong physical background and integrating a lot of different technologies as well projection design , visual art and costume design.

S5: I love that , and I'm wondering how that kind of intersectional approach translates , if it does , into this new work of leading a company as artistic director. Absolutely.

S4: Absolutely. It does. You know , John Molly , per year , the executive director of Malaysia Dance and the board were very thoughtful about what the future of mass dance would look like and wanting it to shift from its founder driven kind of single choreographic voice to a mission driven organization that's serving many , many folks. And in that , for me coming into this role , I hope that the work that we produce really reflects the broad San Diego community that we're a part of. And that includes , you know , the huge Latinx community that's here , the small variations of identity within that as well , that need to be honored and respected. What is different for a Chicana Chicano person as opposed to like , that broader umbrella term of Latinx ? We also have a really strong LGBTQIa community in San Diego , and I think that's an important thing to reflect in our work as well. And so how can we at Malika Dance provide opportunities for these different voices to express themselves and the curatorial practice that we are embarking on ? Interestingly , I think that the choreographic array that we see in everyday dance is three. This concert that we have coming up at the end of January is a great example of that. Within the choreographers that were selected for this , there are ten pieces on the program. We have a range of pages , a range of points within their career spectrum from sort of earlier career arts makers to quite well established dance makers. We also have a range of identities when it comes to ethnicity and race and even sexual orientation , and how folks identify themselves. So I think when I look at San Diego and who it is now , I hope that the work we do at Malakoff can be a mirror that anyone in our community might find at some point in our programming themselves in that work.

S5: So let's talk a little more about this weekend's performances. It's Everyday Dances three and this will be your first show officially in place as Artistic Director.

S4: It was a title that existed before I joined the organization , and it started with , in its first incarnation , a partnership with the Ming over in Balboa Park , the museum there. Loosely translated , the word minga means sort of arts for everyone , or common art or everyday art. And so I think in that initial partnership , there was this idea to share this title with the program. And here we are a couple of iterations later and it stuck. It's a great question to ask about the title , because it's something that we've just been interrogating. We don't have a new title yet , but we are sort of shifting around the idea of what to call it , and that's because we want to continue to make sure we're reflecting the broader San Diego dance community. And even though dances for everyone and it's common and it should be accessible , we also want to honor the exquisiteness of these artists. It was incredibly difficult to select the choreographers for this , because we had an applicant pool of over 30 , and because there was a commitment to two artists , one from the company and one piece by John Marshak , we actually only had eight slots available. So we had a curatorial panel made up of myself , John and executive Director Molly per year , one of our board members and also an incredible faculty member , Maria Benjamin , and one of the company dancers , Lauren Christy. So the five of us reviewed all over 30 applicants and had a rubric in place to think about a lot of different lenses through which we might look at this work.

S5: So there are some familiar local names in this list of choreographers. There's Jessica Flores and Kamala Sampson , but there's a few that I haven't seen before. Can you tell us about a few of the works in the show ? Absolutely.

S4: So Jessica , who also has a dancer with the company and has a long history here in San Diego with other organizations as well , she's made this beautiful work that's , um , I want to be careful because I'm going to be talking about female empowerment , but I'm male identified. She shared that she's been thinking in her own life about the role of care with and for other women and for herself. And so and reflecting on that and reading a book about womanhood , she conjured this piece and I say conjured because it starts with a solo that she performs , and it does feel like she is conjuring into this space all of these other strong women that are , as she identifies them , her wolf pack. And so then for other dancers , all female identified , enter the space and kind of continue that development of a community. I think it's one just a really beautiful dance to look at , but also to I'm curious and anxious to hear audience feedback in terms of , you know , for other women identified folks , how do they see , feel and resonate with that ? And also , for those of us that aren't female identified , you know , what meaning do we find in this ? What does it bring up for us that might be exciting or uncomfortable or difficult ? And then Kamala's work has just been incredible to witness , both because it's a beautiful work , choreographic be speaking , but also as a fellow choreographer really excited me to see how Kamala was able to elicit things I hadn't seen yet in the two dancers that she's working with.

S5: I want to zoom out just a little bit.

S4: When I look at the performing arts and dance , I feel like we hear a lot about the crises that we're all facing , and particularly in the live performing arts , you know , audiences slowly making their way back to theaters , dwindling resources. I sometimes wonder if that's a bit of a overhyped media message that only represents a certain part of the field. And what I mean by that is , yes , many of our largest institutions are big. Opera companies are very large and storied museums. Other large institutions like that are struggling , and I want those places to succeed. At the same time , small and mid-sized institutions that are deeply connected with their community , I think , are actually doing well in both the recovery from Covid and in the wake of the call to racial and social justice that we've seen such George Floyd's murder. To be more specific , even I think what we see in small and mid-sized arts organizations is that if they are deeply connected with their community and that might be students , that might be families , that might be audience members , that might be fellow artists and dancers case. It's all of those communities. If we are deeply connected with them , the desire to come back and engage in person has been strong. And so I think when we hear the crisis mode and the media at large , if we can zoom in , you have to me to zoom out and I'm going to zoom in. If we can zoom in to what's happening in small neighborhoods , communities , parts of a city , small and mid-sized cities that sometimes don't always get the shine of the national spotlight. Maybe it's not so much a crisis. Maybe it's a reprioritization of how we're connecting with one another , and that might just be more well-suited in a smaller midsize venue where we can know our neighbors a little better and our fellow artists than in a large institution where it can sometimes feel anonymous. And even in the wake of Covid , a little scary.


S4: So I see the work of Malika dance as three sides of a triangle , and if any one of these three sides weren't there , it wouldn't work. One side is the company , and I think that's been the longest standing and most public facing part of the organization. And so within that , we've had John's work. We'll continue to have some of John's work adding mine programs like Everyday Dances , creating opportunities for San Diego area choreographers to be supported in their self-expression. And I'm looking into national and international commissioning of choreographers. So that's the company arm. And equally important to that is education. So that's a second side of our three sided triangle. So we have our school here at Liberty Station that serves youth and adults from a wide range of genres. In addition to that , we also have education that we bring out into the community. We have a relationship with San Diego Unified School District and Chula Vista School District , where we bring dance education into the schools where young people are trying to bridge the gap that sometimes has been left between other academic subjects and creative self-expression. Looking forward , as you ask , to continue to grow , I'm really interested in also other opportunities to get into different aspects of the community. What would it look like if we're providing dance classes at community centers , at boys and girls clubs , at places in North County that aren't part of our normal circuit , just to really try and get dance into everyone's lives. And then the third arm of this triangle that I think is so important is what I'm starting to imagine calling professional development with ten community colleges and universities in the broad San Diego area that have dance programs , and not a lot of professionally paid opportunities for dancers and dance makers. I'm curious about if we can be in deep dialogue with those institutions , and more importantly , the students that are studying dance in them. How can we create professional development opportunities for them to really understand and learn what it would be like to have a career and dance in this vibrant , beautiful city ? So we're looking at things like apprenticeships and internships , but also seminar series around peer to peer grant writing , different approaches to arts administration , financial literacy. These are things that sometimes are academic programs and the pursuit of honing craft don't spend as much time on , but they're the real nuts and bolts of living within this , you know , field. So I see these three sides creating the template of what the future looks like. I think it's an ambitious series of plans that we're starting to put together. So when you ask about timeline , you'll see some of that implemented this season and next , and then some of that. I think as we really get to know what the needs are in the community more deeply and find the resources to support these programs , it may be , you know , over the next 2 to 3 years as well , that some of this comes into place.

S1: That was Kpbs Arts producer and editor Julia Dixon Evans , speaking with Christopher K Morgan , Malicious Dance's new artistic director. The company's concert , Everyday Dances three. We'll start tonight and run through Sunday. You can catch it at the Malika Dance Studio Theater in Liberty Station. Coming up , black comics will be celebrated at World Beat Cultural Center.

S6: Let me just make a bat signal for black creators out there that they can all congregate and come to and and even though it's called Black Comics Day , I really emphasized that this is a show for anyone from every culture to come and enjoy.

S1: You're listening to Kpbs Midday Edition. You're listening to Kpbs Midday Edition , I'm Jade Hindman. Despite flooding from recent storms , the show must go on. Black Comics Day will return to World Beat Cultural Center. The now two day event is happening February 3rd and fourth , highlighting black creators in the comics industry. Kpbs arts and culture reporter Beth Accomando spoke with founder Keith and Jones at World Beach Center , as people were still cleaning up from the rain and flooding.

S7: Keith and you are on the eve of your sixth black comics day.

S6: And I'm ready to get the sixth annual show going here in San Diego at World Beach Center.

S7: And what do you have planned for this year's Black Comics ? You usually have panels.

S6: On Saturday we're going to discuss anime and manga. So how black culture has been portrayed in the anime genre or platform , because obviously Japan , it's a whole other country. And so a lot of what they learn about black culture , like a lot of people , is through popular media. So there's pros and cons to that. So we're going to discuss how we're being portrayed internationally. And I think it'll be an interesting panel. We have Brian J. Lambert publisher for a company called Wingless Entertainment. We have Robert Roach who writes and draws a comic called Roach , and we have Matthew Jones all the way from Virginia. So he actually does a quote unquote black manga. So we're going to pick their brains and get their thoughts on how they feel about the whole crossover of black culture and anime in Japan and all that , all that good stuff. And Sunday we have a panel with Cheryl Morrow , who is the daughter of William Morrow , the inventor of the California curl , commonly known as the Jerry curl. He also is the publisher and founder of San Diego Monitor , which is a black paper that's been in San Diego for many years , even before I was around. And so he's passed now. So she's continuing his legacy , and she's also an expert in black haircare. And so she has a lot of insight on that as it pertains to business and the black community and black folks in general , as our history is here in San Diego. So I think that's going to be a great panel that not only features her history , but also hurt the information she can impart on up and coming entrepreneurs.


S6: I felt that Black Commerce Days is a way for me to create a platform for creators of color that don't necessarily have opportunities in the more mainstream zones. As far as getting their work out there , I thought black comics would be a beacon to bring the audience to them , versus them reaching out and hoping someone bites or whatever. So I just thought , let me just make a bat signal for black creators out there that they can all congregate and come to and and even though it's called Black Comics Day , I really emphasized that this is a show for anyone from every culture to come and enjoy. So come on down and enjoy a day , a couple of days of black culture free of charge. Free parking here at the World Bee Center.

S7: People may think of comics as superheroes , but talk about the artists that you have represented here and the fact that the kinds of comics they're creating are a really diverse lot. Jeez.

S8: Jeez.

S6: Again , they cover the gamut as far as themes. Obviously you had the superhero element , and then you have autobiographies and you have characters based on real historical figures. Obviously there's Malcolm X , there's African deities. They are culturally important to folks in Africa and obviously across the world. So their stories based on those deities , there's comedic stories , you know , satires , basically. I don't want to say making fun , but highlighting some of our colorful characters in the black community , let's put it that way. And so , yeah , there's just , uh , just just , you know , whatever you're into , I'm sure you'll find it as far as genres and subject matter , I mean , there's men and women and young folks , older folks creating these comics. So I'm sure you'll find something that you can relate to.

S7: Well , I think last year alone , I picked up a comic book set in a strip club , the The Roach , which was kind of like a film noir detective. Right ? And Rodney Barnes's Blacula , which is , you know , based on a 70s blaxploitation film.

S6: We even have Kevin Grievous. He's here with his , uh , personal creations , comic book creations , and , gosh , I can't even name this stuff. He's got , like , a gamut of stuff. He's worked for Marvel's DC. All the major companies working on books like Spiderman , Ironman , Black Panther , The Avengers , you name it , he'll be here on hand. So yeah , like you said , there's just smorgasbord of subject matter , you.

S7: Know , and you are a comics creator yourself , and putting on this event must take a lot of time. So how do you juggle both of these things and manage to , I don't know , find the time.

S6: I don't I really don't know how I manage it. It's , uh , I know it's a lot of work , and it's a challenge that I'm still trying to figure out. Balancing work and in life , you know , and and , you know , being married with kids , that's another element that I have to keep in check. It's been a challenge , but I love doing this. So it's work , but it's also not work. I draw energy just from the love of doing it. I'm managing , I'll put it that way. I'm managing. But I really do want to figure out a way to get back to my personal book , which is The Power Nights , and I apologize to the fans of the Power Nights because it's like really late getting that last issue installed. I'm working on it. It's it's there's pages there. It's happening. But it's it's , you know , I'm trying to help out a lot of the other folks and open up doors for us before I go full on with my own projects. Um , but but they're happening.

S7: And tell us a little bit about kid comics.

S6: Uh , kid Kids , that stands for The Kid and You Never Dies because , um , a lot of the stuff I was into when I was ten years old , 11 years old , little , little squire. I'm still into it. I'm just now at the point where I can implement some of my imagination into the real world in the form of books or films or what have you. Back in the sixth grade , my teacher asked the class to write if we could have anything we wanted for Christmas , what would it be ? Right ? So I wrote a paragraph about how I would like to have my own comic printed one day , and she surprised me by actually making that happen , because she knew a local San Diego printer and I went to Los Altos Elementary School , by the way. Yeah , she surprised me with that. And I went and made a I made my own sequel to , uh , Star Wars Empire Strikes Back had already come out. So it was it was a follow up to Empire Strikes Back , called when When Monsters Pray. And so she had them printed up and they had the news media coming. Interview me , just like you're doing now. And I was super shy. They kept asking me why I like drawing and I it confused me because I was like , because I like drawing. What's why are you asking me this ? But anyway , the paper at the time had the headline that they did for me was called Kid Comics. And so that kind of just stuck with me. So fast forward to 2013 when I was putting the company together. Uh , I was like , what should I call it ? And then I remember that headline. I was like , yeah , maybe I'll just go with I'll go with that. Yeah , kid. And then I came up with the acronym The Kid and You Never Dies based around that whole story. And the kid is basically a publishing company that my vision for it is not only to publish my own comics , but eventually license other folks work and help them get their work out there. And not just black folks , but just artists in general that I feel that they have a good. If I feel that your project has legs and it has a chance to really be something big , and I'm in a position to help you do that , that's that's what kid is going to be about.


S6: So what I hear is the aftermath. I get the word of mouth after it's over , and I have not heard one negative thing about the show yet. People are seem to be ecstatic about it. They're really surprised that it exists. They're surprised to see artists like myself doing this stuff because like I said , it's not really reported on that much. You hear about. Obviously , you hear about people like Stan Lee and Marvel and Disney and everything they're doing on the larger stage , which is which is fine. But there's a whole slew of creators out there , particularly creators of color , which is what this show is based on , that are chugging away , trying to get up to that level. And they just need a chance. They just need some sunshine put on them. And , um , so people basically are just happy that this , this show exists. And personally , I've seen people come up to me really emotional about it , like , wow , I can't this is so fantastic. And I can't believe that this is this is here and I love it and all this stuff , which is kind of I wasn't really expecting that kind of response myself. I'm like , really ? Well , okay , okay. So it just encourages me to keep going. So I guess that's why I'm on my six years just , you know , based on that response.


S6: I don't feel like I have to work as hard. To convince people to be a part of it. I guess to answer your question is trending in the right direction. I would like the school system to be hip to it a little more , and because I would love to run some some programs for the for the school , the kids , because I know there's a lot of artists like me that are out there that probably don't know that there's outlets for them to show their stuff and maybe even possibly get work. If I can get a little work with the school system a little more in that respect , I think it would be great to have an annual program where young artists can know that they can go , and hey , that's the place I can go and show my work and get my career going. Because like I said , there'll be professional artists here , not just people who draw , but people who write , people who produce. And you never know , you might be that talented kid that sparks their interest and want to keep in touch with you and get your career going. Because I got started at age 16 , I sold my stuff at San Diego Comic-Con , and that the year before that , I didn't even know how to get into the industry. I didn't even know there were there were conventions until my dad surprised me by taking me to one when I was 15 and walking around , I people kept telling me , oh , you got to put a portfolio together to show these editors. Oh , really ? Okay. So the next year , um , that's what I did. I gathered all all my little what I thought was good. And I walked around and got actually got hired by Apple Comics at the time. And they put me on a Dracula story and I was off to the races , you know , a lot of bumps and bumps and ups and downs on the way here , but , uh , but it was a good start , you know.

S7: And for people coming to this , especially young people who maybe want to have a career in comics , people are very accessible in terms of the artists and publishers who come to your convention , for sure.

S6: That's how the San Diego Comic-Con first started , when it was smaller. Um , and comic cons in general , they were more intimate. You can sit there and have long conversations with the artists , but obviously , as time has gone on , San Diego Comic-Con has become this huge event. So it's hard for the artists , for them to just sit there and conversate with folks because you got a line of people who want to have their chance to meet them as well. So I understand that. But this is very this is still a small show where you can come in and get personal with the artists and like I said , develop relationships with them that may lead to whatever , you know , some kind of magic in the future.


S6: You know , the tables and the the setup and the the space and everything that's attached to putting the show on. So it's just the finance part , because I don't want to put too much of the burden on the artists themselves. I know every convention you have to pay for your table and your chairs and your whole thing , you know , to use the space. And I try to keep it reasonable and affordable for the artists because I know how it is being an artist myself , that just artists don't generally have a lot of money to throw around , and they're struggle. You know , the term struggling artists. Is.

S9: Is.

S6: Fortunately , it's a real thing. And so I try to make it affordable for them. But , um , at the same time , I do have to pay for putting this thing together. And so I a lot of times I have to come out of my own pocket. But like I said , I believe in it. So it's a gamble I'm willing to take.

S7: And you are getting a lot of support here from World Beach Center.

S10: Oh for sure , man. Carter.

S6: Carter. Dred Cheatham , who owns the place , see , saw what I was doing and she caused me to bring it over here to the world beat. And , um , I'm glad she did , because it's a great location. Where ? Right next to the San Diego Zoo and we have Balboa Park. Uh , the show itself is free , so we're not taxing you to show up and , uh , come in and support the artists with all that extra money you've saved. I think San Diego general supportive when it comes to the arts. For some reason , San Diego's been a strong , has a strong comic book community. I don't know why. Maybe because it's import , you know , with the Navy , the military folks here from coming from all over the world , there's just been a strong culture in the arts as long as I've been here.

S7: Well , thank you very much for talking about Black Comics Day. Thank you.

S1: That was Beth Accomando speaking with Black Comics Day founder Keith and Jones. The free event takes place February 3rd and fourth at the World Beat Cultural Center in Balboa Park. Thanks for joining us today. Don't forget to watch Evening Edition tonight at five for in-depth reporting on San Diego issues. The roundtable is here tomorrow at noon , and if you ever miss a show , you can find the Midday Edition podcast on all platforms. Before we go , a big thanks to the Midday Edition team producers Giuliana Domingo , Andrew Bracken and Brooke Ruth , art segment producers Beth Accomando and Julia Dixon Evans , technical producers Rebecca Chacon , Ben Red Lusk and Brandon Truffaut , who just joined the team. Welcome aboard Brandon , the theme music you're hearing is from San Diego's own Surefire Soul ensemble. I'm Jade Hindman. Thanks for listening and have a great weekend , everyone.

The Casbah nightclub is shown in an undated photo.
Courtesy of Casbah
The Casbah nightclub is shown in an undated photo.

Fans of live music in San Diego might be familiar with the Casbah, the now 35-year-old venue on Kettner Boulevard. The venue has a storied past — even the city of San Diego recently designated Jan. 12 as Casbah Day. Founder Tim Mays sat down with Midday Edition to talk about the venue’s rich history and how it is being celebrated this month.

Plus, Malashock Dance will stage its third annual “Everyday Dances” concert. KPBS/Arts producer and editor Julia Dixon Evans spoke with the company's new artistic director.

And Black Com!x Day will return to WorldBeat Cultural Center to highlight Black creators in the comics industry. KPBS arts and culture reporter Beth Accomando spoke with its founder.


  • Tim Mays, founder of the Casbah
  • Christopher K. Morgan, artistic director at Malashock Dance Company
  • Keithan Jones, comic book artist and founder of Black Comix Day
This weekend in the arts in San Diego: Malashock Dance's first performance with a new artistic director, "Lady Day at Emerson Bar and Grill" at Cygnet Theatre, the Mingei's jewelry exhibit, French harpsichord, live music picks and more.