World Music in San Diego

San Diego is California’s second largest city and the seventh largest in the United States. It includes several attractive neighborhoods and communities, including downtown’s historic Gaslamp
Quarter, Little Italy, Coronado, La Jolla, Del Mar, Carlsbad, Escondido, La Mesa, Hillcrest, Barrio Logan, Chula Vista and more.

Balboa Park, the largest urban cultural park in the U.S., features a world music center, 15 museums, numerous art galleries, beautiful gardens, The Globe Theatres and the San Diego Zoo. The WorldBeat Cultural Center, located in Balboa Park, is a non-profit multi-disciplinary cultural organization. It is dedicated to promoting, presenting and preserving the Indigenous Cultures of the world through music, art, education, culture and technology. its programming includes world music concerts, dance and music workshops, exhibits, etc. Location: 2100 Park Blvd. Balboa Park, San Diego.The Center for World Music and Related Arts is a nonprofit organization whose purpose is to foster awareness and understanding of the world’s performing arts traditions through programs of
performance, teaching, and cultural travel. Incorporated in San Francisco in 1963, the Center moved its headquarters to San Diego in 1979, and continues its long tradition of sponsoring leading
performers in concert and providing instruction by accomplished teachers in music, dance and theater from Asia, Africa, Latin America, Europe and North America. The center produces concerts, provides workshops and dance lessons and it also develops programs for schools. Location: Center for
World Music, 4417 Shade Road, La Mesa, CA 91941 USA. Phone: +1 619-440-7200, Fax: +1 619-447-4949. E-mail:

The Adams Avenue Roots Festival is free and held annually in May. it features Old Time Music, Traditional Folk, Appalachian, Bluegrass, Country, Celtic, Cowboy Music, and Conjunto. The festival takes place at Adams Avenue, 34th to 35th St., Normal Heights, San Diego.

Sadly, another important world music institution in San Diego disappeared in November of 2003. World Music Webcast was not a juke-box or “canned” audio programmed by a single person, but LIVE-hosted programs produced in the station’s own Webcast Studio.
It had a weekly schedule divided into Eclectic Programming and Specialty Shows. Launched on the Internet July 26, 1999, World Music Webcast developed a loyal base of listeners from more than 58 countries on earth.


The Viejas Casino includes world music concerts at the DreamCatcher Showroom. Location: 5000 Willows Road, Alpine, CA 91901. Phone: 1-800-847-6537. E-mail:

San Diego Folk Heritage preserves and promotes acoustic music, storytelling, and contra dances in greater San Diego.


There are several reggae bands in the area: Stranger (Long Beach), the Tribe of Kings DJ collective (San Diego), and Vegitation (Ocean Beach). Ras Charles is an important personality. He has two stores, Yard Records and Earth Culture, at the 100 block of South Coast Highway, which he has turned into a thriving center of Jamaican culture.

Trade Roots Reggae is a great store for reggae in San Diego. Location: 3804 Rosecrans St., San Diego, CA 92110. Phone: +1 (619) 299-7824. E-mail:


There is a small Flamenco scene that includes dancers, guitarists and Spanish restaurants and tapas bars. For more information about what’s happening in the area, the Flamenco San Diego Web site is the best source, provided by Sociedad
Flamenco Cultural,


The best reggae radio show in San Diego is on Sundays from 4 to 6 on 1000 am with host Ras Charles. For a nearly a year, he has run a broadcast on Palomar College’s 1320 AM KKSM. In early 2004 he started a show on Premium Radio’s AM 1000 KCEO.

Reggae Makossa plays Reggae music every Sunday night from 8 to 10 pm and has for the last 22 years on 91.1 XTRA FM. The show is hosted by reggae industry veteran Makeda Dread and is joined by Dangerous Dareka and Carlos Culture.

KCR College Radio has some world music programming. It operates primarily on cable radio systems since its beginning in 1969. This was the only option due to the FM
and AM bands being divided between the United States and Mexico, thus leaving no space for local non-commercial stations in San Diego. Along the way, the station added an AM transmission and Internet streaming, allowing its programs to be heard throughout the world.
San Diego State University,
5200 Campanile Drive,
San Diego, CA . Office: +1 (619) 594-7014,
Request: +1 (619) 594-6982,
Fax: +1 (619) 594-6092. E-mail:

Jazz 88.3 FM has world music and Latin jazz shows. Check the Web site,, for updated schedules.

Record labels

Art Hurts Records has released African Highlife, Brazilian music and Afropop. Location: 3658 Louisiana St,. San Diego, CA 92104. Phone: +1 619 252 9700, Fax: +1 619 294 9491. E-mail:


For music instruments there’s the San Diego branch of Guitar Center at Guitar Center La Mesa, 8825 Murray Dr.,La Mesa, California 91942.

There is also a place called Golden Hill Pawnbrokers at 1038 25th St. Phone: +1 (619) 234-5388. It has a very impressive inventory of instruments including accordions, cuatros, basses, etc.

Author: Angel Romero

Angel Romero y Ruiz has been writing about world music music for many years. He founded the websites and Angel produced several TV specials for Metropolis (TVE) and co-produced “Musica NA”, a music show for Televisión Española (TVE) in Spain that featured an eclectic mix of world music, fusion, electronica, new age and contemporary classical music. Angel also produced and remastered world music albums, compilations and boxed sets for Alula Records, Ellipsis Arts, Music of the World.