Open Oscillator host Jeff Trageser talks sonic 'tronics


Jeffrey Trageser says Open Oscillator is like a “model-rocket club for electronic music nerds.”
  • Jeffrey Trageser says Open Oscillator is like a “model-rocket club for electronic music nerds.”

“We weren’t connected to the electronic scene in San Diego when we started in January 2015, but we really dug the vibe of the ‘singer/songwriter’ events like Grampadrew’s Flim-Flam Revue,” says Jeffrey Trageser, host of the Open Oscillator electronic music open-mic night at Whistle Stop, home to Grampadrew’s folk/Americana jam night. “I’ve always wanted to get up there and play my drum machine. And then one day I found myself jamming out on an old Roland MC 303 groovebox while my roommate Dan ‘the Cat’ Comerford was programming cool beats and bass lines on his vintage Korg Electribe in the other room. We thought it’d be cool to jam in the same room. Then we decided to try to set up an event to bring in all the other electronic noodle-heads like ourselves together to jam. We like to think of the format as a model-rocket club for electronic music nerds. Everybody comes to one big table to set up and play for eight to ten minutes. Nobody is in the spotlight. Nobody is the star. And all styles and equipment are welcome. We asked DJ Glen ‘the Mack’ Gorham to DJ in between sets to keep the vibe going. Glen specializes in retro electronic stuff from the ’70s, like the Moog Orchestra and Kraftwerk.”

Denim Robot

...live at Open Oscillator

...live at Open Oscillator

All this talk of bass lines and grooveboxes may suggest another party night at the club, but Trageser clarifies: “We really didn’t want anyone confusing it with a dance night. We’ve had iPads, laptops, table-top synths, circuit-bent Casiotones, keyboards, samplers, drum machines, and electronic machines I’ve never heard of before. It opened my eyes to the modular synth world. I didn’t know the modular scene existed two years ago.”

In fact, Trageser only knew three electronic musicians when Open Oscillator began: former Rotator bandmate Mark Sgarbossa, roommate Comerford, and DJ Gorham, all of whom were present the first night to play around, drink some beers, and put the project to rest. Instead, the night became a hit, drawing 15 to 20 performers regularly.

Whistle Stop Bar

2236 Fern Street, South Park

“I live on the south edge of Balboa Park and can hear the drum circles at sunset on the weekends. One evening I thought, Man, we should have a drum-machine circle. I put it on the Open Oscillator Facebook page. I’ve seen others use that term since. That makes me happy.”

Join the drum-machine circle at Whistle Stop on Wednesday, March 29.

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