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New lineup has Baja Bugs reaching new heights John Philip Wyllie | Thu, Jun 23 2011 11:34 PM

When he formed his Beatles cover band, the Baja Bugs, in 1999, Sweetwater High alumnus  Hector Penalosa had no idea that it would still be going strong more than a decade later. He and co-founding member Javier Anaya (who graduated from Mar Vista High in the late ’70s) formed the band at the request of a friend who was looking for an affordable Beatles cover band to perform at his wedding.

Over the years, Penalosa and Anaya have seen various guitarists and drummers come and go. The band’s rhythm guitar position in particular has been like a revolving door. Each of these former members has had their own unique skills, but the chemistry, determination and focus remained a missing ingredient.

In the last year or so, drummer Nico Peters and rhythm guitarist Jeremiah Silva have become regulars with the band. The skills that both of them bring as singers and on their respective instruments has propelled the band to new heights.

“Nico is a great drummer and singer and he has a great stage personality,” Penalosa said. “His enthusiasm and positive energy have put us in a better place. Jeremiah is the youngest of our bunch but he can really play that guitar and he can hold his notes as a singer. He is also very receptive to suggestions. It’s difficult when somebody in the band is negative or unwilling to be flexible. Now we have four people that are on the same page.” 

The addition of Peters and Silva has also helped the band to expand its repertoire. While the Baja Bugs still primarily focus on songs written in the first five years of the Beatles’ run, the band has enlarged its repertoire to include more of the album cuts from the Beatles’ first several LPs. Unlike most cover bands, the Baja Bugs shy away from playing many of the Beatles’ biggest hits.

With Peters and Silva on board as solid singers, Penalosa no longer has to strain his vocal cords singing the lead for nearly every song. Their presence also allows for the vocal harmony that is so important in capturing the Beatles’ unique sound.

The band’s improvement is resulting in more gigs and its reputation is taking the group  to places they have never performed before. Last week they hooked up with author Daniel Perez Bastidas and performed for more than 400 people at a Mexicali book signing for Bastidas’ newly released “The Beatles Ayer y Hoy.”

In the coming weeks the Baja Bugs will be returning (on June 30) to the Queen Bee located at 3925 Ohio St. in North Park and to La Mesa’s Riviera Supper Club (7777 University Ave., La Mesa) on the evening of July 3. For additional information visit www.myspace.com/bajabugs.

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