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By Letitia Rogers
I’ve moved around a lot. From where I was born, in El Cajon, to rural Oregon and even more rural Alaska. Wherever we lived, though, we were still San Diegans, listening to the Beach Boys Christmas album — even with snow outside. I spent 20 years in LA and never seemed to settle, always hinting at a return to San Diego.
In 2007 I made the move and while working downtown, my car got towed. The impound lot was near Barrio Logan. Uh oh. I’d never been there and only had vague stories of why not to go there. Danger was implied. We exited at Cesar E. Chavez and driving by old houses with bars on the windows, I wondered: who lives here?
That move didn’t stick and I ended up back in LA. While figuring out my next move after a film job ended, I got a call from a family friend in San Diego about an opportunity. Gayle is a caterer & chef and had decided to open a restaurant in Barrio Logan. Very little foot traffic and a down economy wasn’t ideal but she’d moved her catering kitchen to a building at Newton and Beardsley and taken over the old Guild restaurant space in the front.
She was going to give it a go. I was intrigued. It was to be friendly and relaxed with affordable, good food for the people working and living in the community. I think my ever-on-the-move brain only heard the word “community.” That’s what I was looking for and I said “Yes.”
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by Bob Dorn
“At my jam everyone’s equal; nobody’s better than anybody else.”
What Bill Caballero is really saying is that the floor at Voz Alta Project in Barrio Logan is open to the worst players in San Diego, even if only for a moment. And, so long as they learn from their failures they’ll almost certainly win a few more choruses with the house band if they have the nerve to try and catch Caballero’s eye the next time they come to the jam.
No more than 1000 square feet of space within the building at 1754 National Ave., Voz Alta is where some of San Diego’s best musicians might drop by to sit in with the house band Caballero leads every Thursday night. It costs nothing to get in (tips are appreciated), though musicians often have to leave their pride behind at the doorway. The house band (which sometimes includes local music journeymen Kiko Cornejo Sr. and his son Kiko Jr. on timbales/percussion, Andy Esparza on bass, Ignacio Arango on guitar, Paul Lopez on congas/percussion and others) minus leader Caballero get a part of the tip jar; the hackers and nobodies must await their turn in the appropriate agony of anticipation.