Entertainment & Events

40 Years of the Belly Up

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This month, one of the most well-known and well-loved music venues in San Diego celebrates 40 years of existence at the same site, with the iconic name of “The Belly Up”. Since 1974, when best friends Greg Gilholm and David Hodges opened a local watering hole offering drinks, billiards and pinball to Solana Beach regulars, the little tavern on South Cedros has been satisfying its eclectic clientele.

The club was given its name, not so much because patrons “bellied up” to the bar, as the owners thought it likely their enterprise would end up “belly up” financially. They were so wrong. What started out as a neighborhood bar eventually added a small stage, and well-known blues performers such as Etta James, John Lee Hooker and Bo Diddley began to include the beach-town spot as a stop on their tours.bellyup2

In the ’90’s, the Belly Up opened up its musical style to any and all comers. Jack Johnson, John Mayer, No Doubt, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Black-Eyed Peas, B-52’s, and many many others hit the scene there. Newest owners Steve Goldberg and Phil Berkovitz have continued this wide-open survey of popular music into the 2000’s, welcoming such acts as Green Day, Death Cab for Cutie, Foster the People, Jimmy Buffet, Vonda Shepard and Joe Walsh.

bellyup3In addition, the local feel of the Belly Up has nurtured the local music scene, providing a place for San Diego acts to thrive. Switchfoot, Blink 182 and Jason Mraz are just some of the names who fall into this category. In addition, all-time legends the likes of Willie Nelson, Tom Jones, Curtis Mayfield and BB King have graced the stage over the years since 1974.

As one way to commemorate the Belly Up’s birthday, KPBS will be continuing its “Live at the Belly Up” feature, to be shown each Friday night next January and February. Check here for more details on acts and for tickets.

So far both Trigger Hippy, a new venture of Joan Osborne and Jackie Greene; and Donovan Frankenreiter are scheduled to appear, the first show to be taped next Tuesday, September 23.

Congrats to the Belly Up! Thanks for 40 years of great music at a great place.

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