By Sara Butler
Band earns spot at Adams Avenue Street Fair
Third time is the charm as Enter the Blue Sky band will finally join the lineup of the Adams Avenue Street Fair.
The 36th annual Adams Avenue Street Fair — sponsored by the Adams Avenue Business Association — will run on Saturday and Sunday, Sept. 30 and Oct. 1.
The local band was rejected the past two years, before getting the good news that they would get to perform on Oct. 1 at the popular street fair.
“This is special,” said Sandé Lollis, Enter the Blue Sky’s vocalist, guitarist and songwriter who founded the band several years ago. “We submitted two years in a row previously and were not chosen.
Enter the Blue Sky — which has a sound best described as “all original Americana” — has been playing the San Diego music circuit since 2014. The majority of the band’s gigs have been in East County, including Julian and La Mesa. However, the group’s debut at the upcoming street fair isn’t its first Uptown appearance.
Uptown gigs have included Adams Avenue Unplugged, University Heights’ Summer in the Park Concert Series, DiMille’s Italian Restaurant in Normal Heights, and Rebecca’s Coffee Shop in South Park. Their next show at Rebecca’s is on Saturday, Sept. 30 and they will also be featured at Art Around Adams in 2018.
Enter Lollis, who formed the band three years ago. Although there have been a few personnel changes since, three other musicians currently share the stage: Karen Childress-Evans on viola, John Seever on harmonica and Alberto González on bass.
Although the band is usually considered Americana, the label often morphs depending on who you talk to.
“Americana [is the] big umbrella … we’re very organic,” Lollis said. “[There’s] storytelling in it. Some call it 100 percent country — but they compare it to old country, such as Johnny Cash.”
Seever adds that they have been referred to as “new country,” and Childress-Evans describes the sound as “fun, eclectic, original, [with] something for everyone.” González simply noted, “It’s got soul.”
“Our sound is kind of weird actually,” González continued. “Weird in a good way. We all have such different musical backgrounds but somehow everything fits and flows.”
With distinct influences and a wide range of histories, González’s statement rings true — all four band members contribute something different.
In addition to being a gifted songwriter, Lollis is also an award-winning performer. She recently won the Best Female Vocalist of the Year and Best Female Entertainer of the Year at the West Coast Country Music Association competition.
Lollis also works freelance as a graphic artist, photographer and webmaster. Much of her work is with historical preservation groups such as Save Our Heritage Organisation (SOHO), because “they know I’m sensitive to their issues.”
Childress-Evans, who comes from a classical training background, plays viola for the band in a way Lollis describes as “so fulfilling.”
“My previous musical experience has been orchestral, chamber and small ensemble plus a bit of solo work,” Childress-Evans said. “Back in the ’70s, I did a bit of bluegrass.”
Harmonica player Seever said his sound is a “jazzier, country blues thing” and often draws on his past experiences playing music in other cities he’s lived in.
“I play more of a ‘jam’ background [and] almost never play anything twice the same way,” Seever said. “I was influenced by the unusual music scene in North Carolina.”
With a rockabilly background, bass player González provides a solid foundation for the band’s sound. He lists Simon Gallup, Vic Yamasaki and Julia Whelpton as influencers of his personal style and technique.
All of the band members have day jobs as well as perform solo or with other music acts. Yet when the four musicians come together as Enter the Blue Sky, their separate sounds merge into something magical.
Despite their differences, there is no band drama. “[The group is] surprisingly loving and amicable,” Seever said. “Everybody cares about each other as people. As far as music, there’s no conflict there.”
The diverse foursome has even formed a makeshift family. “We’re close — kind of like siblings,” Lollis said with a laugh. “We each have our quirks.”
In that quirky family, Lollis — the only parent among the four — often takes on a mothering role.
While the group has a very collaborative dynamic, the others agree that the frontwoman always has the final say.
“Every member gets a chance to show off during our performances, but for the most part we prefer to blend and support the music that Sandé writes,” Childress-Evans said.
Lollis is looking forward to the Adams Avenue Street Fair as an opportunity to give the band’s music more exposure and expand their reach. “I would like to see it as a gathering lasso around the whole county [to have] a presence everywhere,” she said.
You can see Enter the Blue Sky perform at the Adams Avenue Street Fair on Sunday, Oct. 1 from 12:30–1:30 p.m. at the Roots and Rock Stage. While there is no confirmed set list as of yet, audience members can expect music from their November 2016 debut album, “Re-Entry,” which includes the crowd favorite “I Really Want You.”
Although the band is relatively new to the neighborhood, it seems that the Uptown community has welcomed Enter the Blue Sky with open arms.
“I find the [Uptown] audiences to be enthusiastically receptive and so delightfully Americana like our band: lots of families, people who love and support the arts, and lovely people who greet you as if you are part of the neighborhood,” Childress-Evans said.
–Sara Butler is the web editor and social media manager at SDCNN. Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Sara is the editor of San Diego Uptown News.