Creativity in the Capital: Aaron Carnes and Mendes on underground music scenes and DIY movements to self-discovery 

From left: Anthony Mendes runs Mendes Entertainment, which showcases local musicians, and Aaron Carnes is a writer who has authored a book called “In Defense of Ska.” (Photo by Casey Rafter)

By Casey Rafter

Writer Aaron Carnes fights for the music he believes in. It’s a very niche genre and a necessary fight. His tactics come in the form of his book and podcast called “In Defense of Ska.” The book explores the history of ska as it travels from its roots in Jamaica to the United Kingdom, to the States and explores where it has gone and will go next. 

On his podcasts, he has musicians and fans of the genre on to reveal their perceived taboo fandom for a genre that gets a bad rap for pogo dancing and juvenile lyrics, but Carnes and his guests implore us all to pick it up. In his journalistic endeavors, he’s had work published in Playboy, Salon, Sacramento News & Review and Bandcamp Daily. He’s also written for and been music editor at Santa Cruz’s alternative weekly, Good Times.

Mendes Entertainment celebrates 916 loud and proud. Its owner, Anthony Mendes, who’s known colloquially by his titular surname, is a promoter and booster of local talent with immense passion for these artists and musicians. He makes it his job to spread the word of the great talent he touches in the capital city. Mendes promotes open mic and dance nights hosted by Yumz Awkword at Solomon’s Vinyl Diner and has organized After Party and The Show at the now-closed Slim & Husky’s pizza shop. He’s also organized pop-up flea markets such as Sacked Across the Field in Oak Park and Middaze in Downtown Sacramento.

Mendes and Carnes met up recently to talk about promoting local talent, ska music and self-discovery.

Carnes: I know you’re managing some artists and you do some open mics. Is that what you’ve always done?

Mendes: I started everything that I do about two years ago. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve always grown up around music and loved music, events, shows, party planning but I’ve never actually created anything for people to actually come to or make it a community. …

Listen to their conversation on our podcast, “Creativity in the Capitol,” episode 8, available on streaming platforms.

This podcast episode was funded by the City of Sacramento’s Arts and Creative Economy Journalism Grant to Solving Sacramento. Following our journalism code of ethics and protocols, the city had no editorial influence over this story and no city official reviewed this story before it was published. Our partners include California Groundbreakers, Capital Public Radio, Outword, Russian America Media, Sacramento Business Journal, Sacramento News & Review, Sacramento Observer and Univision 19.

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