“The Verigolds” Have Deep Roots in Ocean Beach

by on September 13, 2016 · 4 comments

in Culture, History, Media, Ocean Beach


PHOTO CREDIT: The Verigolds

By South OB Girl

An Ocean Beach based band, The Verigolds, will be performing at Kaaboo Del Mar this coming Saturday Sept. 17th. The Verigolds will now be able to say they’ve played San Diego’s biggest music festival along with Aerosmith, Lenny Kravitz, Cold War Kids, Fall Out Boy, Third Eye Blind, Jack Johnson, Jimmy Buffett and more.

The Verigolds story as a band begins in Ocean Beach.

Noodle House on Cable Street is a part of the story. Silver Gate Elementary School, Point Loma High School, and High Tech High are also a part. A tiny studio apartment behind Noodle House is a part of the story. And a gig at an art show hosted by OB artist Celeste Byers on Voltaire Street a few years back is a part of the story. That was a pivotal night when the band went from 2 members to 3, and the band started to take its current shape and things started to get more serious.

This story starts in OB and quite likely will unfold to be a global story. A world wide tour, manager, record deal — the dream of a young band coming true. That dream is getting closer to a reality as the band prepares to take the stage at Kaaboo.

The band is just a few years old. With long time friends and musicians Ben Smedley and Eliot Ross teaming up with Jenna Cotton and Craig Schreiber in 2012.

And their accolades are already accumulating:

  • 2015 SoundDiego Music Award for Best New Artist
  • 2016 Kaaboo Discovery Tour Winner

This will be the second year of Kaaboo Del Mar, San Diego’s biggest music and arts festival, held at the Del Mar Fairgrounds (dates this year are Fri Sept. 16 – Sun Sept 18). After winning 1 of 3 spots for local music on the Kaaboo Discovery Tour, The Verigolds will perform at Kaaboo on Sept. 17, from 1-1:30 pm, on the Tourmaline Stage.

The Kaaboo Discovery Tour, presented in partnership with the live music booking app GigTown, had battle of the bands style competitions starting in June. Hundreds of bands and solo artists submitted for the chance to compete for 3 spots for local music at Kaaboo. Some might call this “the chance of a lifetime.”

This chance to perform at Kaaboo comes after The Verigolds have taken the local music scene by storm.

After showcasing at the San Diego Music Thing in late 2014, The Verigolds have closed out all of the rock radio stations in San Diego (91x, FM949, and Rock1053) and played on Laguna Beach KX 93.5.

They have also performed at San Diego’s premiere venues — Belly Up, Casbah, Soda Bar, Music Box and House of Blues — and opened for national/global touring acts including Finish Ticket, The Boxer Rebellion, PHASES, Hey Rosetta!, Andrew Belle, Magic Giant, Dick Diver, Mother Mother, The Young Wild, and Emily Jane White. And they have also performed on the main stage of Hillcrest Cityfest 2015 and Pacific Beachfest 2015.

Let’s meet the band!

Band Members:

  • Jenna Cotton — guitarist, keyboardist, vocalist
  • Eliot Ross — guitar, strings, vocalist
  • Craig Schreiber — vocalist, drummer
  • Ben Smedley — backup vocalist, keyboardist

Eliot Ross and Ben Smedley, native OBceans, met in the 2nd grade at Silver Gate Elementary School. Ms. West’s class. They have been best friends ever since and interested in music ever since then too. Ben’s first instrument in 4th grade was saxophone. Eliot’s first instrument in 4th grade was violin.

They received music lessons through school and then received private lessons through their families. And the two picked up acoustic guitar in high school (since that was the more “sexy” instrument to play).

After Silver Gate, Correia for junior high. And then Eliot went to High Tech High and Ben went to PLHS. Ben was in the San Diego Honor Band, and also a part of the legendary senior Zeiger show at PLHS, and Eliot was in the San Diego Youth Symphony.

But the two weren’t apart for long — they reconnected and both attended Cal Poly San Luis Obispo for college. Ben left after 1 year at Cal Poly, and Eliot graduated with a major in Business and a minor in Music. When Eliot finished at Cal Poly in 2010, his plan was to pursue music. He and Ben worked at Noodle House and rented a tiny studio right behind Noodle House and Lucy’s.

That tiny studio they fondly refer to as “The Box” or “Man Camp.” They recall it was about 25 feet by 25 feet in size. At one point Eliot purchased a drum set. And they slept in sleeping bags under the drum set and keyboard. That studio is now home to many memories for these young musicians.

Despite cramped quarters — life was good.  Work was a short commute (steps away). Food was good — Noodle House, Hungry Lu’s, People’s up the street. The beach was just a couple of blocks away. They had a cat and 2 turtles. And they were pursuing their dream of being musicians.

While working at Noodle House as waiters and bartenders, Ben and Eliot met Jenna Cotton. She and her friend were regulars at Noodle House. And as is the nature of OBceans, Ben, Eliot, and Jenna became friends.

Jenna is the lone female of the group and brings some femininity to the otherwise all male band. Originally from Ft. Lauderdale, FL, she moved to San Diego to go to acupuncture school. One night she was having a party with some friends and invited Ben and Eliot to come over and play music. As many an OBcean has done — Ben and Eliot didn’t make it out of OB that night.

Some of her friends at the party knew Jenna could play guitar and literally forced her to play that night, in the absence of Ben and Eliot. And in those moments she really felt the music and the euphoria of performing. She had grown up around music, growing up with her dad playing the guitar and singing with him, and then learning to play herself. The guitar she plays now on stage, a Martin HD, was originally her dad’s. It was that night with friends around a camp fire that she ventured center stage with her sweet and ethereal voice.

A couple days later after a few drinks at Noodle House it came up with Eliot and Ben that she could sing, and she played a song for them (which at the time took a lot of courage for Jenna because the guys had always talked about wanting to be in a band).

A couple of days later, Ben and Eliot suggested she sing with them at a gig they had coming up. That gig was at an art show hosted by Celeste Byers at Greg’s Surf and Art on Voltaire. That was Dec 19th, 2012. And the rest is history. As Jenna reflects, “It hasn’t stopped for a minute since then.” The show with the three of them went amazingly. From that point on Jenna became a part of the band. And then Jenna’s friend and roommate Craig Schreiber joined the band.

How did Jenna know Craig? They were roommates in a house in Crown Point where Jenna had rented a room (from a Craigslist ad) and she and Craig had bonded over music from the get go. Craig had been living at the house for some time as a student at UCSD. Craig, as do all the band members, has a long history with music. He started on stand up base in middle school, played tenor sax in his high school marching band, and was with a progressive rock band in his college days too. He moved from the San Fernando Valley to attend UCSD, where he, like Eliot, majored in Business and minored in Music (UCSD, class of 2006). Jenna and Craig bonded over music while getting to know each other as roommates, and shortly after Jenna partnered up with Eliot and Ben, Craig joined the band on drums.

Practices for the four of them occurred regularly at “The Box.” They had a weekly, consistent schedule. They were driven and disciplined, and they started to flourish creatively and play at more and more venues. Their infectious and unique blend of indie rock, pop, folk, psychedelic, and alternative rock blossomed out of “The Box” and is a blend of all of their musical talents and histories.

Ben and Eliot have since moved out of “The Box” and moved into the Crown Point house with Jenna and Craig. The band lives together and works together. They are all vegetarians. And they practice in a converted garage space behind the house.

Every corner of their house and practice space exudes the eclectic, dreamy, hippie vibe that comes out in their music. Bohemian fabrics and retro furniture. In the front yard is a “teleporter” made by Celeste Byers. It is a teepee shaped figure made from expanding epoxy and was made as an art installation for the music and art festival, Desert Daze. You can climb inside the “teleporter” and lounge on blankets and pillows. It is an ideal setting to meditate or listen to the music of The Verigolds.

Even though Craig and Eliot are focusing on music professionally while working “day jobs,” their business majors have no doubt been helpful and played a role in the band achieving success. They have learned that it takes a lot of work and business skills to succeed as a band. Currently they do all their own bookings, publicity, and PR. Quite possibly exposure at Kaaboo will land them a manager and take the band to the next level.

In answer to the question how did they choose the name The Verigolds?

It’s a secret. And just like the sound of their music there is a sense of mysticism and other worldliness in their secret name.

{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

South OB Girl September 13, 2016 at 1:30 pm

We can expect great things from this up and coming band!!

The Verigolds website (web design by Jenna):

Music video (“Crossfire” music video directed by Celeste Byers, filmed at Black’s Beach): http://www.theverigolds.com/video

Soundcloud; The Verigolds album “For Margaret”: http://www.soundcloud.com/theverigolds


judi September 14, 2016 at 12:52 pm

Very impressive.


South OB Girl September 14, 2016 at 4:57 pm

Thank you to Craig Schreiber for pointing out the writer’s misspelling of “bass.” Craig’s first instrument was stand up bass in middle school. “Bass” not “base.”


South OB Girl September 14, 2016 at 5:04 pm

And a huge thank you to all the members of The Verigolds for answering all of my questions!! And reading through the final story. YOU GUYS ROCK!!!!!


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