Column: San Diego’s music scene won’t be the same without Louis Procaccino

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It was not necessary to know Louis Procaccino to owe him.

If you enjoyed live performances at nightclubs and concert halls in San Diego in the late 1970s and beyond, your good times probably depended on the one everyone knew as “Louie.” No last name required.

Procaccino died on September 9, after years of ill health following an injury at work seven or eight years ago. He was 68 years old. The longtime concert producer, sound technician, electrician and stagehand leaves behind many grieving friends and family, as well as a vast collection of concert memorabilia that would not exist without him.

“He was involved in everything, it seems,” said Jerry Raney of The Farmers, who dedicated the band’s recent concert to the Grand Ole BBQ at El Cajon in Procaccino. “Wherever there was a concert, he was there. “

That Missing Persons concert in 1982 at the Golden Hall? This might not have happened if Louie hadn’t found someone to treat lead singer Dale Bozzio to a massage before the show.

Amnesty International’s Halloween benefit evening in 1990 at the El Cortez hotel? The Fire Marshal would have shut it down if Louie hadn’t got a pair of bolt cutters and opened a padlocked door in time.

That mid-80s concert series at the Kona Kai Club on Shelter Island? Your view of the scene may have been improved by Louie, allegedly bringing a chainsaw to some misplaced ficus trees.

Whether he provides the Sports Arena headliners with their pre- and post-concert outfits (legal or not), or whether he lets young scenographers enter the Pink Panther bar despite their questionable IDs. (In his defense, he didn’t realize he needed glasses.), Procaccino was the “MacGyver” insider who rocked San Diego music and nightlife. For the stars. For his friends. For everyone.

“Louie made the creation of series possible,” said veteran San Diego reporter Thomas K. Arnold, who met Procaccino in the late 1970s when Arnold was running Kicks: San Diego’s Rock ‘n’ Roll Magazine and that Procaccino was the production manager. for concert promoter Marc Berman.

“Someone else would book them and promote them, but Louie would produce them. He was the leader. He didn’t design the restaurant. He didn’t come up with the name or design the menu, but he cooked the food and made sure it got delivered.

Procaccino’s playful and sociable personality made him a great man on the Oceanside High School campus, where he wrestled and played football. A 1968 Escondido Times-Advocate story credits Procaccino as one of the touchdowns that helped the Oceanside junior varsity team win a key Avocado League game.

The good times continued at San Diego State University, where Procaccino studied journalism, telecommunications, and filmmaking from 1971 to 1978. As chair of the SDSU reunion festivities in 1974, he served also happily chaired the school’s first “Homecoming Person” competition, which gave men and female students an equal chance at the crown.

“That way women can’t complain that we are exploiting women,” he told Union San Diego. “And if a man comes in, it’s intentional and not being made as a joke.”

Procaccino entered the concert world when he was still a student, and he never left.

As Berman’s production manager, Procaccino made sure concerts at venues such as the Sports Arena, SDSU’s open-air theater, and the downtown Golden Hall went as planned. He helped launch the first Humphreys Concerts by the Bay series. He worked on the KGB Sky Show. He was the longtime sound technician for Makeda Dread’s Bob Marley Day Festival concerts.

“Louie could do anything. But he never wanted to be the master sound engineer or the master lighting designer. He just wanted to make sure the mic was working for Henry Rollins at a club with 30 people in the audience, ”said concert promoter Scott C. Pedersen of JazzConcerts.com and Scottland Concerts of La Jolla.

“He was everywhere. You could be in an elevator in Madison Square Garden, and a machinist would say, “Where are you from? And when you say “San Diego” they’d say, “Do you know Louie?”

As a free agent and then as a member of the Machinists Union (IATSE, Local 122), Procaccino has spent his many decades in business working for everyone from David Bowie and Bob Dylan to The Clashes, the Ramones. and Fleetwood Mac. And while dealing with the big names, Procaccino was also looking for people who made the big names look good.

“He’s always been good to us. He always said ‘hello’ to the crew, and he made sure we were taken care of, ”said Carlos Cota, who joined the local union in the late 1980s and is now an international representative of IATSE. “And when he grew up and wasn’t as strong as he used to be, we took him under our wing and looked after him. It was nice to be able to pay him back.

Despite his eccentricities – the cartoon character’s laugh, the practical jokes, the dining table treats he would stuff in his pockets and froth in his van – Procaccino was the guy you went to for all your show-related needs. . Whatever the job, he did it with a shrug ease and a smile.

“I don’t think I’ve ever seen him get angry in all these years. He was always in a good frame of mind and he always used humor and kindness to handle situations, ”said Casbah co-owner Tim Mays, who worked with Procaccino when Mays and Harlan Schiffman put on punk shows. in the early 1980s and hired him as the Pink Panther’s porter in 1987.

On November 2, the Casbah will host a free concert in honor of Louie Procaccino. The Farmers will star, along with The Downs Family, The Touchies, The Tighten Ups and Joey Harris and the Mentals. And because it’s a gig for Louie, everyone will have a great time.

“The last time I saw him was at the Casbah on May 28,” Mays said. “He arrived around 1:30 am, told a few jokes and hit the road. He was larger than life and funnier than anyone you knew.


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