An Interview with My High School English Teacher

Nicholas Lograsso went back to the past to revisit one of his most influential figures. Mr. Lamerto, if you’re reading this, thank you!

Hi readers, listeners? KCRr’s? Never written a blog before but here goes. If you are wondering why I decided to write this now, there is little story behind it. I joined KCR four years ago and looking back I had no idea what I was getting myself into. I ended with such a positive experience and being connected to people through the music. My experience here reminded me of someone influential during my time in high school. My English teacher, Mr. Lamerato, who would always try to make our class more enjoyable by retelling stories of his time in college and exposing us to some of the music he holds dear. Also, I might have used the intro he began class with as the intro for our radio show. This was another reason I wanted to give him a visit as I felt that he had a right to know after four years. 

Nick: So, how are you? 

John: Doing well, sixteenth year at St. Augustine High School and yeah just wrapping up another school year.  

N: So, I have a confession to make…since I know the greeting you use for your classroom is so iconic. I might have, possibly, stolen that for a wonderful intro for our radio show.  

J: I love it that’s great. It’s the sincerest form of flattery.  

N: You’re not going to retract my grade? *laughing* 

J: No, I will not retract your grade *laughs* That’s awesome, I’m glad something I taught you is of use, years later. 

N: There’s definitely more than that*laughs* Cool, glad that didn’t go in a totally different direction. Alright first question, what are some of the artists that shaped your college experience? 

J: In college, I was finally on my own. So I had a little more free time to do what I wanted to do. Also I had friends in different colleges that allowed me to have a reason to road trip somewhere. So I’d say the band that probably defined my college experience would be the Dave Matthews Band and that was because when they released Before These Crowded Streets which I want to say was released in 1998. That became probably their highest grossing album and at that time they were touring and selling out places like Soldier Field, two night in a row. So that was the height of their career and that was the height of me having some money and having the freedom to actually follow a band for the first time. Still a huge Counting Crows fan, during my time that was a big deal and probably the start of Radiohead and Coldplay at that time. So I remember exchanging CD’s with people, which I know don’t really exist anymore, but I remember this girl sent me a package that had Coldplay’s first album Parachutes and Radiohead’s OK Computer and I had never heard of either band. So to get that in one package and be exposed to that was amazing. 

NDo you think you would have had the same college experience if you did not discover those artists? 

J: Um, that’s a good question. I’m probably the wrong guy to ask because to me music is completely intertwined with my life. So any major life moment that has a soundtrack to it, certain songs can immediately take you back to a place. So, as an example, Third Eye Blind’s first album Third Eye Blind that came out right when I stepped onto a college campus and they actually did their first tour and came to my university (Central Michigan University). So whenever I hear that album, I immediately think of studying for honors pre-calculus on a college campus, living with my roommates, getting use to that whole lifestyle. I remember vividly in my sophomore year we went to Dave Matthews in Gran Rapids, which is about two hours away. We were nerds so we were in these honors classes and actually came back the next morning for class. So the whole general connection we had, a lot of that centered on the music. So I think no, I think music intertwines and defines a lot of what we do and becomes a soundtrack.  

N: Has your music taste changed at all? Or do you still listen to the same artists and bands? 

J: I think one of my biggest challenges is being married, having kids, having more responsibilities, not being in college has been staying on the cutting edge of new bands that are coming out. So one of my favorite things is to go to The Casbah (a venue here in Downtown San Diego). The only way you are going to see a show at The Casbah of a band you like is that you have to be on the cutting edge, so it has to be their first tour. They have to be small enough but also big enough, they have to fall in a small niche that fits that. I unfortunately don’t have the time to be as invested in that. I do try to stay open to new bands. Probably my favorite “newish” band is a band is called Lord Huron. They are more of like a folk-type band, love them. The War On Drugs, their last album is when I finally got into them, which is an amazing album. I try to keep an open mind, but I still end up often going back to the bands as previously mentioned. I went to the Metric show on SDSU’s campus not too long ago and I was super impressed by Zoé, which is a Mexican band that opened for them. So still piecemealing a few bands but not necessarily cutting edge.  

N: Would you say music defines who you are? 

J: I wouldn’t say music defines who I am. I think what you say, how you act, what you do, defines who you are as a person. I do say that music influences me, influences my mood, influences what I’m doing. I would say it also provides me the atmosphere I live in. So I wouldn’t say it defines me as a person, but defines the world I live in.  

NIf you had a chance to experience college one more time what would you do differently? 

J: To me one of the biggest bummers of college, but when you’re living it, it’s hard to understand how unique that situation is. What I mean by that is living with your friends most likely or some of the time. You most likely don’t have a full-time job so you’re doing these classes which are challenging and keep you busy, but you’re not obligated to be up at 6:00 am every day. What would I do differently? Not much to be honest, I went to a college where it was a college-town compared to SDSU which is in a major city. The people who enjoy college are the ones that stay over the weekends, who involve themselves. Whether that means going to a football game, whether that means seeing a speaker on campus, whether that means going to a show on campus. The ones who hated college or just didn’t like were the ones that got their cars packed and headed home each weekend. So I think the immersion of it, which is what I did, is something that I think is the key to enjoying or not enjoying it and I really wouldn’t change it. I had an awesome, unbelievable 5 years of college and would love to do it again. At the same time I’m very blessed and happy with where I am in life right now.  

N: Ok, one last question, what is music to you? 

J: To me, music sets the mood. So if I’m in the gym, I have a specific playlist. If I am relaxing in the evening, I have a certain playlist. If I’m on a road trip, I have a certain playlist. So to me it is a mood setter and accentuates the situation that I’m in.  

Written by: Nicholas Lograsso 

The Ultimate Summer Sendoff Playlist

Perfect for drives along the coast or lounging by the pool with friends, this summer playlist will put you straight into summer-mode.

As the semester comes to an end and the weight on your shoulders is finally lifted, the summer relaxation begins. Whether your plans include traveling, working, or visiting family, summer is a time to let your hair down and enjoy the sun while the air is warm.

Each year, a summer playlist makes its way into my music library and it’s ends up being the only thing I listen to for my three month break. When I think of “summer” music, I immediately think of upbeat, feel-good alternative songs with catchy guitar lines and lyrics you can shout in the car.

This year, I worked hard to deliver the best summer playlist for anyone who loves alternative, pop, and indie music. Featuring the newest hits from some fan-favorites and a few older tunes that remains classics, this playlist is perfect for beach days, road trips, and everything in-between.

A few of my favorites include:

Talk Too Much – COIN

After hitting no. 8 on the Alternative Songs chart, it is clear that this COIN song fits the “care-free summertime sound” that we are all looking for. They are a rock band making guitar-driven music and they have hit the mark on this hit track.

Tired Eyes – Besphrenz

Besphrenz is a unique group that you’ll be surprised hasn’t blown up yet. With their original style mixing indie, rock, and rap, this band is hitting multiple styles at once, but still keeping it clean. I respect them for being innovative musicians and I’m sure that this song will stay on repeat all summer long. The playlist also features Walking On Ice and their newest single, White Shoes.

Heat of the Summer – Young the Giant

Young the Giant has been a fan-favorite in the Alternative Music world for some time now, and with “Summer” being in the songs title, it surely fits the playlists theme. The song opens with a distorted guitar line and features a catchy chorus you’ll find yourself humming to all day. Young the Giant has done an excellent job in creating new music while sticking to their original sound that everyone loves.

This Life – Vampire Weekend

Released earlier this month, it is clear this song is different from the traditional Vampire Weekend sound. The song is lighthearted, bright, and bouncy, and has even been mentioned it closely matches Van Morrisons “Brown Eyed Girl.”

Hollow Life – Coast Modern

Imagine if Cage the Elephant, Grouplove, and Glass Animals teamed up on a track: this is what it’d sound like. This song was released a few years back, but the chorus is fresh, creative, and exactly what you need to hear all summer long.

Gold Snafu – Sticky Fingers

From the memorable beat and easy-to-follow chorus line, this song is easily enjoyed by any audience. Lead singer, Dylan Frost, delivers unique vocals falling under the reggae/rock genre, and its clear this song needs to be played full volume with the windows down. The playlist also includes one of their more mellow songs, These Girls.

Weekend Friend – Goth Babe

While “Goth” might be in the name, this musician producing anything but gothic music. Classified as surf-indie-rock, Weekend Friend is a care-free summer tune with soaring production. Greeting listeners with a heartwarming combination of keys, drums, and shakes, this song is easy on the ears in just about any setting.

No Going Back – Yuno

From the first drum-kick, this song shines light straight into my heart. After my first listen a few months back, I had the sudden urge to drop everything, go on a road trip, and make a video that highlights this wonderful track. With a weightless melody and vibrant lyrics, it is no wonder this was Yuno’s first single after signing with Sub Pop Records.

Some other favorites from the playlist include songs from boy pablo, LANY, Bad Suns, HUNNY, Local Natives, Empire of the Sun, Still Woozy, Toro y Moi, and many more. Hoping these songs are enough to brighten your mood all summer long! Now, go enjoy the sunshine.

Written by: Brittany Roache

Julia Michaels at House of Blues San Diego

If you want to have a great time at a concert dancing and singing the night away – Go to a Julia Michaels Concert!

You truly won’t regret it. Both Julia Michaels’ energy and her audience’s energy filled the room. I can honestly say that her concert was one of the most fun ones I’ve been to simply because she had the loudest crowd.

Julia Michaels performing at House of Blues San Diego

Julia Michaels sold out her 9th headlining show for her Inner Monologue Tour at House of Blues San Diego on April 20, 2019. She is a very busy artist as she is also currently touring with P!nk on her Beautiful Trauma Tour at the same time as her Inner Monologue Tour.

Many of you may know Julia Michaels. However, if you’ve never heard of her, then you’ve most likely heard her hit single, “Issues.” Before that, Michaels was writing hit singles for other artists such as Justin Bieber’s “Sorry,” Selena Gomez’s “Bad Liar,” Nick Jonas’s “Close,” and many more.

What is interesting about Michaels is she’s an intricate person – I’d describe her as a beautiful badass with her signature feminine floral dresses and her tattoo sleeves and nose ring. She has a very distinctive and different sound than most artists and her voice is easily recognizable.  Michaels is also a very open musician, which was the concept behind her “Inner Monologue” – those thoughts that she has that people don’t see from the outside. The stage represented what you see on the outside – everything is happy with smiley faces and flowers, but you listen to the lyrics and realize everything isn’t all sunshine and rainbows.

Michaels attempted to make her tour relatable by letting her fans know that it’s okay to go through depression or anxiety.

Julia Michaels made it clear that it was a judgement free zone and safe space for everyone to let go and sing and dance. Her music has a feel good vibe to it, and it was so much fun letting loose and relieving stress by screaming along to her songs. Additionally, her songs hold a lot of emotion and truth, so it naturally felt as though this was a place to just let everything out.

Julia Michaels has such a strong connection with her audience, she wanted to get as close to them as possible.

At one point, Michaels’ security carried her into the audience as she finished “Happy,” followed by a cover of Cee Lo Green’s “Forget You,” and then a ukulele rendition of her own song “Apple.” She also sat on the edge of the stage pointing out her audience’s posters and making eye contact with fans. I even heard from some fans that the meet and greet took two hours because she’s so genuine and her conversations with each individual were long and personal.

I love how you could tell the audience truly admires Julia as they all had matching floral dresses and sneakers similar to Julia’s. But despite their elegant appearance, they were definitely one of the loudest audiences I’ve ever heard in a venue. Sometimes, you couldn’t even hear Julia because the audience had so much passion and energy! It’s amazing when songs from concerts become your new favorites because of how amazing and fun they sound live – and for me those songs were“Into You” and “Happy.”


I loved getting the opportunity to see Julia Michaels. Her message she imparted that you shouldn’t be afraid to be yourself and let your feelings out deeply resonated with me. If you want to have one of these fantastic nights with an amazing artist, make sure to go see Julia Michaels on her Inner Monologue Tour.

Review By: Alexandra Will
Photos By: Alexandra Will

The Best Parts of Seeing Mt. Joy at the Music Box

Mt. Joy

The Four Best Things We Saw at the San Diego Music Box’s Mt. Joy Concert!

I have never shown someone Mt. Joy’s music and had them dislike it. I would even be as bold to say that mostly everyone who I’ve shown them to has started listening to them and grown their own obsession. The first time I saw the Mt. Joy perform live, I had never heard their music before. My friends had insisted we stopped by their performance on the way to see a different artist at the Life is Beautiful festival in Las Vegas. After that show I could not stop listening to them! To this day, I distinctly remember specific songs from their live performance that gave me a truly intimate connection with their music. Since that festival in September, I somehow have managed to fit at least one song from Mt. Joy’s first self-titled album into my music shuffle everyday. 7 months later, and Mt. Joy made their final tour stop over at the San Diego Music Box . Here’s the best 4 things I saw at that show:

1. New Music

The band premiered 2 new songs “Bug Eyes” and “Ruins.” I am not always the most excited when artists debut new songs at shows but these songs brought me to tears. Lead singer Matt Quinn’s vocals silenced the room as everyone peered onto the stage in complete admiration. I didn’t know if the band’s new music would live up to their debut album which I cherished so deeply but after they performed these songs, I know now that whatever is coming is going to be incredible. The songs mirrored the themes of the first album, topics on loss, life and nature.

2. The Encore

The band left the stage after performing one of their greatest hits, “Silver Lining.” Afterwards, the crowd didn’t budge as they begged for an encore. When the band stepped back onto the tiny stage they played another new track and then concluded with a fan favorite, “Julia.” The song is smooth, melodic and hypnotizing. A simple story of a man too nervous to order food from a beautiful waitress.

“Don’t say you love the old me” Quinn poured out. The song then switched into a cover of the song “Ain’t No Sunshine” by Bill Withers before returning again to “Julia.”

3. The song “cardinal

While listening to this song on any streaming service, the beginning feels nearly recognizable from the whistling melody which introduces the track. Although I anticipated to see this song live, I wasn’t sure if the whistles would be apart of the performance but sure enough, Quinn whistled to the tune as perfectly as the recording. The song builds upon itself and then breaks back into a peaceful melody much like some of the band’s other songs.

4. The live music

Lead singer Matt Quinn’s vocals were more powerful and raw than anything I have heard before. The show was filled with guitar solos and keyboard solos. Performances like these remind me why I love going to live shows. Often, I’ll see a band perform live, and while the performances are still incredible, the music doesn’t sound as great live, but with Mt. Joy that was not the case. Each song live relayed the authenticity of the songs and the stories that were told in each. The songs on the album vary from many different music styles. “Dirty Love” sounds like an upbeat ukulele tune whereas “St. George” feels like a slow ballad. The band’s ability to perfect playing these differing songs live show the full range of talent Mt.Joy encompasses.

Written by: Kelly Kerrigan