Compass Rose
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Compass Rose


Band Rock Americana


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"Compass Rose pointing the way when it comes to Americana"

by Bart Mendoza
April 16, 2008
San Diego’s Americana music scene has been expanding exponentially in recent years.
Traditional music has captured the imagination of many musicians locally, but one of the most promising new San Diego-based groups actually got its start in Los Angeles.
Based around the husband-and-wife team of David and Amy Castner, Compass Rose was originally formed in L.A. in 2001 under the name KO-Z.
The new name came after a move to San Diego in 2003, with the addition of John Bordage (drums) and Jeff Dandeneau (bass).
The group will perform alongside Sandi Shaner and The Barbara Nesbitt Band as part of a “Tribute to Americana” show April 19 at Humphrey’s Backstage Lounge on Shelter Island.
While some might find it difficult to work with a spouse, Amy Castner considers it to be the best of both worlds.
“We think, in our case, that it’s actually very easy to work musically together. It’s the core of who we are with one another, and it’s when we’re at our best together,” Amy Castner said.
“[It’s] also easy to schedule rehearsals. Hard to find a sitter sometimes, but you do what you can,” she added.
With music a full-time endeavor and a toddler to look after, Amy Castner admits time is tight.
“We have a 2-year-old, work day jobs and then try to play music daily in some form or fashion, so we get no sleep,” she said.
For the Castners, Compass Rose is the culmination of a lifetime in music.
“We all pretty much come from musical families,” Amy Castner said. “David’s grandfather used to play old standards on his guitar and harmonica while his grandmother accompanied on the spoons.
“Meanwhile, I was raised by a mother who taught choirs and musical theater and her operatic siblings. My father played wind instruments and piano,” she added.
She was only 6 when she began playing violin, inspired by her older sister “who I looked up to and had been playing for a year. My whole family would sit around playing old Broadway tunes from my mom’s old songbooks around the piano.”
She gave her first public performance that same year.
“It went as well as a group of 6-year-olds on tiny violins in their first year of classes at their first recital must sound. We were all so proud,” she said.
David Castner also started out as a young performer, although as a dancer.
“My aunt Patti owned a dance studio and she taught me to tap,” David Castner said.
His first recital was at age 4, with his love of dance lasting until 11th grade, at which point he made a shift to playing and writing music.
He cites “anyone who has ever written a song that makes me groove” as songwriting influences, but when pressed, he singles out The Doors, The Rolling Stones and Paul McCartney as inspirations.
Though the emphasis of Compass Rose is on original material, it does sneak in the occasional re-invented cover tune by such groups as the Cure, David Bowie and Styx.
Though the group released the album “Campfire Songs” as KO-Z in 2002, their first EP as Compass Rose was released earlier this year. They hope to have an album out later this summer.
“The ultimate goal is to be able to keep the family afloat primarily focusing on music as our ‘day job,’” Amy Castner said.
“We’ll get there for sure. As for what’s next, we’re concentrating on the pathway to that end: one more song, one more rehearsal, one more gig, one more fan,” she said.
The tracks on their current disc will be added to new tracks to make up the impending album.
“We’ve already written our next couple of albums worth of songs and are looking forward to starting on those in the studio as soon as humanly possible,” said Amy Castner.
Though times are tough for musicians, the Castners said they are thrilled to have the opportunity to make music.
“We all agree on the enjoyment factor,” Amy Castner said. “There’s the split second after we’ve all just nailed a song together and the appreciation factor of the talent around us.”
David Castner sees the trials and tribulations of life as a music maker to be as good as the effort an artist is willing to put into the endeavor.
“I can’t answer for all musicians, but as far as whether things are better or worse for performers, it’s always been as good as I’ve made it. Everything has its ups and downs, but things seem to be getting better.”
Amy Castner agrees with David’s assessment of hard work and the committment to Compass Rose’s craft.
”I love that the Internet has made so many different types of music so accessible. Influences can come from anywhere,” she said. “There are loads of true talents out there whose music can inspire us. I agree with David, you get out of it what you put in, no matter what the times hold.”
Compass Rose performs at Humphrey’s Backstage Lounge, 2241 Shelter Island Dr., Shelter Island, on Saturday, April 19. Ticket prices are $5. The show is geared for music lovers 21 and over.
For more information visit

- Peninsula Beacon


Self -Titled E.P.



Compass Rose is an organic rock and soul combo based in San Diego, ranging from 2-5 players or more. The band's accomplished musicianship and free-flowing improvisation complement strong songwriting and taut arrangements. The primarily acoustic instrumentation belies a rocking edge and a dynamic range, that at once synchs the kinetic energies of the body and the mind.

Compass Rose - Two creative spirits in a cosmic collision, David and Amy Castner burst forth with music and lyrics that both draw the listener’s mind, and compel his inner drummings to join them on their journey. Equal partners in this collaborative endeavor, their songs alternatively feature David’s earthy, soulful voice and Amy’s strong, yet silky, reflective tones. Their repertoire includes original creations and unique covers of others’ art. They take the stage with joy and enthusiasm and their listeners become ensnared in their rich melodies, harmonies and instrumental accompaniments. Their concerts are more than a musical experience, taking the listener on a journey through their spiritual reflections, their political commentaries, their joys, their sorrows, their loves. At the core of this synergistic experience are lyrics based on the ebb and flow of life on both coasts, in landscapes urban, rural and coastal. Frequently joined by creative friends, their music works equally well with the dynamic acoustic duo, or the various enhanced versions. The rhythm section of John Bordage (drums) and Seth Blumberg (bass guitar) provide a solid and intricate foundation for the emotive lead vocals and dynamic harmonies. Ben Peters' soulful lead electric guitar along with Amys folk-influenced violin render color and texture to the mix, at times chiming in as voices of the vocal harmony. Since no two concerts are ever the same, one inevitably leaves their concerts a new or renewed member of the Compass Rose family.

The current goal of this band is to tour globally and to distribute our product to the public. We would like to broker a deal with a label that would provide marketing, distribution and touring support for the band, and that would allow us to provide a substantial financial return for us as well as our backers.


Originally From Maine, and after attending college in Boston, John Bordage has been playing drums in various San Diego bands since the mid-90's, with such diverse formats as rock, blues, country, hip-hop, funk, surf and alternative hard rock. His ultimate goal (besides performing a surf-opera version of Rossini's "The Barber of Seville") is to make as much groovy noise possible with a kit that will fit in the trunk of a Honda Civic.

BEN PETERS (Electric Guitar) -
Ben has been a musician for many years, and comes from an artistic family. His interest in music surfaced at an early age when he began playing violin in kindergarten in Oklahoma. In high school, Ben traded his violin for a guitar, and never looked back. He eventually ended up at USC studying music.

Ben met David and Amy Castner in 2001, and formed the band Ko-Z. They gigged around Los Angeles and San Diego for four years. Eventually, after a full rhythm section transplant, the band became Compass Rose.

Ben hopes to give the people listening to this music at least some of the joy he feels playing this music. Influences include Eric Clapton, Jimi Hendrix, the Beatles, Pink Floyd, Led Zeppelin, Tori Amos, and his dad.

AMY CASTNER (Vocals/Violin/Songwriting for The Blue)
Amy was born into a klan of opera singers and musical theater performers. Singing was an inevitable future for her, and the violin came along for the ride in the first days of grade school. She spent many years performing musical theater and comedy in and around her hometown of Austin, TX. After graduating from the University of Texas in 1998, she fled to Munich, Germany to reward herself with a year abroad. While there, she studied voice under Vicki Hall, the director of the Musical Theater department of the Bavarian Theater Academy.

Upon her arrival back in the States, she set her sights westward to California, where she met and married David Castner. They soon realized that the harmony of their relationship expanded well into a quite literal form, and they began to play and sing sweet music together. From 2001 to 2005, they played together in Ko-Z, which would become Compass Rose later in 2005.

Amy is extremely honored to collaborate with and to accompany such an insightful and soulful lyricist. Her almost Celtic, often bluesy violin playing is a perfect complement to the melodies inherent in David's songwriting. She dedicates all of her artistic endeavors to her daughter and inspiration, Jadyn Castner.

DAVID CASTNER (Vocals/Songwriting)
David grew up in tap, chorus and band, with an early love of music and the stage. His first ever performance was at the age of five for his Aunt's dance studio. As a teenag