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Live music and automobile dealership at the multi-use Centre in Escondido

"The deck is a really beautiful setting. The view of the hills and the sunset."

Carl Verheyen — middle aged but still kickin’ ass — plays at The Centre
  • Carl Verheyen — middle aged but still kickin’ ass — plays at The Centre
  • Mark Nagel

An automobile dealership isn’t the first place that comes to mind when discussing live music. The Centre in Escondido is trying to change that.

General manager Drew Davis describes the Centre as a “multi-use facility with the Lexus dealership on the ground level.” There are shops on the second level along with some separate event venues geared towards meetings. The top-level features a chic restaurant, Vintana, which is part of the Cohn Restaurant Group, and an outdoor deck.

“We do most of our concerts out on the rooftop deck,” Davis explained. “We are building a larger event room that we will have the ability to do indoor concerts going forward as well, but the deck is a really beautiful setting. The view of the hills and the sunset. We do it right at sunset time, so it’s a pretty awesome setting.”

So far, the management has primarily booked jazz bands to play their “Concerts At The Centre” series. In an effort to expand their reach a bit, the venue has recruited longtime local booker Steve Kader and radio personality Mike Halloran. The goal, according to Davis, is to “tap into their influence and find the perfect mix of having a hip show that’s also going to appeal to people in their 20s and people up in their 60s and beyond.”

Past Event

The Mattson 2

  • Sunday, October 7, 2018, 6 p.m. to 10 p.m.
  • Centre, 1205 Auto Parkway, Escondido
  • $30 - $125

With this in mind, the pair booked two initial shows — local duo the Mattson 2 (October 7) and the Greyboy Allstars (October 14). If they go well, more will likely follow.

Past Event

The Greyboy Allstars

  • Sunday, October 14, 2018, 6 p.m. to 10 p.m.
  • Centre, 1205 Auto Parkway, Escondido
  • $35 - $129

“It’s a pretty trippy place,” Halloran said of the Centre. “It’s one of the loudest venues that I’ve ever been to. The view is great enough where the band doesn’t have to be visually powerful. They can get up there and just play and you could sit there and stare off into the mountains and watch the sun go down.”

Not only is the venue out of the ordinary, but Escondido itself is an outlier when it comes to area concerts. Kader and Halloran are hoping that the shows attract a growing population that wants a closer option for live music. “We’re putting it into a place where normally you wouldn’t expect those bands to be at,” Halloran said. “At the same time, we know there are plenty of people in that area that know who these bands are and wouldn’t mind coming to this place to check them out.”

They are also hoping music fans from further north (Fallbrook/Temecula) are enticed by shows in a spot that isn’t as far away as a venue downtown.

As for the auto-tunes, it’s not going to be the first time the Mattson 2 have rocked a dealership. The duo “played a Toyota dealership for me years ago when I was at 91X,” Halloran said. “Stevie Salas, who was Mick Jagger’s part-time guitar player, was inside buying a Toyota. He goes, ‘This is great! I’m coming to buy a car and I get to watch this amazing band!’ He was blown away by the Mattsons. It’s bizarre but, at the same time, it’s just kind of what you expect in San Diego.”

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