TIME FLANNERY, NICK BINKLEY, BERKLEY HART AND STEPHEN M BAIRD HEADLINE PSB RECORD’S 25TH ANNIVERSARY EVENT AT THE JAI IN LA JOLLA, SATURDAY OCTOBER 21 8PM
Perhaps the best Venn Diagram you will encounter in the next few days is the intersection of someone who has been vice chairman of Bank of America and someone who has played on the storied stage of the Palomino Club in North Hollywood. The latter has hosted everyone from Jerry Lee Lewis and Johnny Cash to Linda Ronstadt, so playing that stage is already a notable achievement. But coupling that experience with a leadership role in the banking world leaves a Venn Diagram overlap with only Del Mar resident Nick Binkley at the intersection.
He managed to blend those two seemingly disparate pursuits 25 years ago when he founded PSB Records…Pin Stripe Brain being the explanatory name.
Binkley will be celebrating the silver anniversary of the record label with an intimate reunion show at The Jai on October 21, bringing together for one night only many of the various artists he signed to the label. The intimate venue (affiliated with the La Jolla Music Society) is a cabaret-styled space located at the Conrad Prebys Performing Arts Center in La Jolla.
For those lucky enough to secure tickets, a splendid and eclectic time is just about guaranteed.
Musicians include Mark Hart, the gifted American musician and songwriter best known for being a member of both Supertramp and Crowded House. The multi-instrumentalist has toured, recorded and collaborated with Ringo Starr.
Steve Dudas has also worked extensively with The Beatles’ drummer, having started his career on the guitar at age 20 on a national rock and roll revival tour featuring Chuck Berry, Bo Diddley Bill Haley & the Comets, The Coasters, The Drifters, The Platter, and the Shirelles. Dudas fits into the eclectic nature of the gathering at The Jai, in his career he has worked with a range of musicians that includes Alice Cooper, Ozzy Osbourne and Eric Clapton all the way to Quincy Jones.
Another great Venn Diagram can be built around Tim Flannery. He played and coached in Major League Baseball while reaching the World Series five times, winning three of them as the 3rd base coach for the San Francisco Giants. His guitar was always nearby, and his songbook reflects the insightful duality of his experiences. Garth Brooks noted that “Tim is like a two sport star, he can do it, and he does them both very well.” While coaching third base for the San Diego Padres, Flannery signed with PSB Records and released to critical acclaim his first singer-songwriter album, “Pieces of the Past.” Expect songs from that album and some amazing stories about his experience straddling the worlds of baseball and music.
Berkley Hart is a duo that signed to PSB Records a couple decades ago, with their label debut “Wreck ‘n Sow” a critical success out of the box, winning the San Diego Music Award for best local recording and the coveted best new artist trophy as well. Before meeting Calman Hart, Jeff Berkley won the prestigious new folk songwriter competition in Kerrville, Texas (past winners of included Lyle Lovett, Shawn Colvin, Jerry Jeff Walker, Hal Ketchum and Nancy Griffith). After departing Utah, Hart settled into the San Diego coffee house scene (which had an illustrious history with the likes of Jack Tempchin and Tom Waits). Berkley and Hart soon discovered not only their affinity for warm harmonies and ace songwriting, but the perfect home at PSB Records. One reviewer tellingly noticed that “sometimes an album surfaces that is so emotionally and musically authentic that it crumbles resistance to its genre.”
At least one more Venn Diagram reference is warranted for Steve Baird, one of the first artists signed to PSB Records. Well known by day as a Professor of Clinical Pathology at UCSD’s School of Medicine, Baird was introduced to Binkley by Francis Crick (the latter best known for the “Double Helix” structure of DNA with James Watson) at Crick’s home one evening during a dinner party. Apparently, Baird would write his UCSD lessons in lyrics accompanied by famous pop songs. Crick asked Baird to sing one of his songs acapella for the group sitting around the table. Baird sang a particularly salacious rendition of “That’s Amore” with new lyrics all rendered in their Latin medical terms. Binkley signed Baird the next day. “Hallelujah! Evolution” was recorded and released by PSB in 1998 and was an instant hit among students at UCSD and throughout the scientific community. George Varga, music critic at the San Diego Union Tribune, quipped that Baird had invented a new pop music genre, “Scientific Gospel.”
The evening at The Jai will include one of the most fascinating and least known aspects of rock and roll history, how the genre had a fundamental role bringing down the Iron Curtain and the dissolution of the Soviet Union. Free To Rock is a documentary about how Western rock music and pop culture contributed to the fall of the Berlin Wall and the collapse of the Soviet Union.
Valery Saifudinov (dubbed the ‘Father of Soviet Rock and Roll’ by Russian rock journalist Artemy Troitsky in his defining book, “Back in the USSR – True Story of Rock in Russia”) is a rock musician who writes and sings American rock and roll. Saifudinov was born in Riga, Latvia, a Republic of the former Soviet Union. The Ministry of Culture severely restricted exposure to the burgeoning genre of rock and roll. Undeterred, Saifudinov formed a rock band at age 14. He played and sang American songs in English that challenged local cultural authority in Riga. He built the first electric guitar from a Fender Guitar factory manual given to him by a Swedish sailor docked in the port of Riga.
Eventually, Saifudinov was able to leave the Soviet Union and secure political asylum in the USA. He formed the first Russian rock band in the USA, performing at major venues including Winterland Ballroom, Oakland Coliseum, the Troubadour, opening for The Band at the Santa Cruz Civic Center and appearing on TV’s Midnight Special. After his band dissolved, he moved to San Diego and set up a recording studio, Flight 19. One of his first clients was a young Eddie Vedder. Saifudinov says he only wants two words on his tombstone: “More groove!”
The Free To Rock documentary is essentially based on Saifudinov’s experience, and was co-produced by Binkley and PSB Records in partnership with The Grammy Museum, the National Endowment for the Arts and the National Endowment for the Humanities. Binkley co-wrote “Novi Mir” with a Russian songwriter 25 years ago during the euphoria in relations between the US and Russia after the fall of Berlin Wall and the collapse of the Soviet Union. Novi Mir means “new world” or “new peace” in Russian. The song is full of hope and at same time now a sad reminder of “what could have been,” given the catastrophic war in Ukraine.
Binkley credits his time in NYC at the Guitar Study Center (managed by Eddie Simon, Paul Simon’s brother), his co-production efforts on his early demos with Barry Kornfeld (guitarist on “Sounds of Silence”), his stint with Peace Corps, his time scaling a banking career as well as his global travels. Binkley’s most memorable live performances include playing the Papagayo Club in St Tropez, the Palomino Club in LA, the Belly Up Tavern in Solana Beach and the Kremlin Palace in Moscow, the latter with co-writer Vyacheslav Malezhik for Russian national TV.
At The Jai in October we can expect several songs from Binkley’s superb fourth and latest album, “Stardust Angels Ghosts,” written and recorded during the Pandemic and the Black Lives Matter protests.
Tickets available here.