By Nathanael Rodriguez
For The Signal
American Legion Post 507 in Newhall is one of the lesser-known venues for up-and-coming local music artists, but the hall is looking to change that every third Friday of the month.
As a way to build up the local music scene, Andrew Martino, of Andimal Productions, is hosting free shows, he said in a recent interview.
Martino, the drummer of a band known as Character Assassins, is familiar with the music scene here in the Santa Clarita Valley, and the talent that often gets lost. With the help of the American Legion Hall, Martino hopes to help these talents with a practical venue.
“We used to have places like The Vu but that changed to Eighth and Rail,” Martino said. “It’s kind of hard to fit four or five local bands there.”
Martino also feels that other locations — such as Howie’s Pub in Castaic — don’t provide a central spot for Santa Clarita residents. Martino’s wife, Allison Grass, who bartends at the American Legion Hall, originally proposed the idea of putting on shows there.
“She got the wheels turning and got me meeting with them, and it went from there,” Martino said.
The hall made contact with Martino and in August 2018, Character Assassins played alongside several other local artists at the first show put on by Andimal Productions. All shows since then have been free for bands and attendees.
Martino then began networking with other artists through his friend Nick Love, the drummer of another local band known as Unsound Madness.
“Nick was the first guy to step up to help,” Martino said. “I had been out of the local scene for a while, and Nick helped me pull in more bands.”
Now, coming up on one year of hosting shows at the American Legion Hall, Martino has built up a network of bands that regularly play at the hall.
“We love it,” said Jesse Medina, the bassist of post-hardcore band Legions. “Any time they invite us, we always want to be there.”
Legions has been involved in most of the shows put on by Martino. They continue to return to the venue for more reasons than one.
As an organization that benefits veterans, the American Legion Hall takes all of the bar sales generated by the shows and puts it toward the events that the hall hosts. With Legions’ lead singer Jordan Ortega having served in the 82nd Airborne and drummer Trevor Condon as a former Navy diver, Legions finds the American Legion Hall to be the perfect marriage of their love for music and their support of the military.
“The fact that it’s pro-military really sets it apart,” Medina said.
Along with his network of bands, Martino is constantly looking for new artists of various genres to play at the hall. The past April 19 show welcomed Amoureux, a post-alternative band with indie and hip-hop influences. They heard about the venue through their friends in Legions and immediately saw the appeal.
“It’s definitely a Santa Clarita staple,” said Devin Pro, lead singer, guitarist and composer of Amoureux. “It’s the hotspot you want to play at.
“It’s a really good thing for all the up-and-coming bands in Santa Clarita,” Pro said. “What Andy is doing for veterans and new artists is pretty cool.”
Since his first show in August, Martino has seen a rise in the venue’s publicity. Despite having a full-time job as a union electrician, Martino continues to take time to plan for the next show.
“I have five bands on the bill for May, and I’m in the process of booking June,” Martino said.
Martino is also thankful that the American Legion Hall is working with him to make the venue better. They are making improvements to the room and have bought various equipment for bands to use, such as vocal microphones and cables.
This August will also mark one year of free shows put on at the American Legion Hall. Martino plans to have an anniversary show with some of the biggest bands that have played at the hall and a few extras.
With the anniversary show landing on Saturday, Aug. 17, Martino plans to have an all-day event with music starting at 1 p.m. and running until 1 a.m. Bands that are interested in playing at this show or any others are encouraged to visit Andimal Productions on Facebook for contact information.