Posted on August 30, 2013
(La Mesa Courier, La Mesa, CA) – The idea of dinner and a show might seem old-fashioned, but Riviera Supper Club and Turquoise Room in La Mesa is keeping the spirit of this kind of night out alive with modern-day flair. Known for do-it-yourself steak dinners, the restaurant and bar possess a mid-century charm. As one of the few venues for live music in the neighborhood, it presents shows several nights a week without a cover charge. A tasty meal and lack of entry fee make The Riv one-stop shopping for music lovers and diners. For nearly a year, talent buyer Jason Rammelsberg has been in charge of booking shows and entertainment at Riviera, or, as locals affectionately call it, “The Riv.” Music has always been part of this spot’s draw and as part of the new ownership team, Rammelsberg has worked to improve upon that while keeping well-loved parts of it intact. The eclectic lineup includes rockabilly, blues, jazz-fusion and rock bands, according to Rammelsberg. But something somewhat surprising to The Riv’s regulars is the recently added karaoke night every Tuesday. “Karaoke has been fabulous, actually,” Rammelsberg said. “When I brought it in here, I was just like, ‘Let’s give it a try.’ There isn’t a lot of karaoke around here.” The idea is a spillover from its success at Rosie O’Grady’s in Normal Heights, which is also owned by Rammelsberg and his family. Karaoke may not be his personal favorite but he’s happy to see loyal patrons return week after week. “Chino, our bar manager, has even sang a few times now – and he was one of the biggest haters on it in the beginning,” Rammelsberg laughed. “He’s now one of the biggest advocates.” Another important part of bookings at Riviera are bands that will come back regularly once it’s established they’re a good fit. Some bands have residencies and appear once a month. Beatles cover band and 2013 San Diego Music Award nominee Baja Bugs have played monthly since before Rammelsberg started here. Many of the bands performing now are new additions since his arrival. The Sure Fire Soul Ensemble is another group appearing regularly blending elements of funk, jazz, and, of course, soul. Led by keyboardist extraordinaire Tim Felten, the group manages to fit upwards of seven musicians on the bar’s relatively modest stage. “They’re awesome,” said Rammelsberg. “And I get tons of compliments about them when I’m out and about.” Another band he’s excited to feature is Mudgrass who describe themselves as “country fried rock.” Between the bands Rammelsberg mentioned and a look at their lineup, it’s easy to see they keep a wide variety on their bill, which in turn keeps patrons very happy. Rammelsberg and company are happy to keep the eclectic line up coming and offer La Mesans and their neighbors the opportunity to enjoy a full night out. Plus it’s family friendly with kids allowed in the restaurant and bar areas, and only restricted from sitting at the bar top. “You can pay for one cab here, spend five hours, have dinner, go the bar and do that whole thing,” he said. “You don’t have to go anywhere else and there's no cover!” In addition to music four to five nights a week, Riviera also gets to host two outdoor events a year. The parking lot is shut down, multiple bands are brought in, and the enjoyment of good music gets a bigger venue for more folks to enjoy. The next one of these events is still in works but should combine the fun-loving spirit of The Riv with a dedication to community. “We would like hook [the next event] up with some charity so that we can raise money for what we feel is a good cause,” said Michael Rammelsberg, owner of The Riv and Jason’s father. Sounds like a winning idea for The Riv, music fans, and the neighborhood at large. Music on the menu at The Riv All shows are free and start around 9:30 p.m. Sept. 7 – Baja Bugs: rockin’ Beatles covers. Sept. 12 – Mudgrass: country-fried rock celebrating classic styles. Sept. 13 – Sure Fire Soul Ensemble: fusion band with lots of members and lots of heart. Sept. 27 – Chess Wars: hard-hitting rock duo nominated for the 2013 San Diego Music Award for Best New Artist. Sept. 28 – Three Chord Justice: true country featuring lap steel, dobro and a mixture of covers and originals.