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New Recording Studio and Surf Shop Looks to Fuse 2 Very Similar Cultures with a Long, Storied History
By Jake Howard
“I’m glassing boards this morning, I’ll be back at the shop around 11,” read a text from Damien Brawner.
Located in the Shorecliffs zone near the DMV, Brawner Boards isn’t your standard surf shop. It’s a solid dose of soul situated in the nether regions between San Clemente and Dana Point. And the shop, in the words of The Beatles, just keeps getting better every day.
“Glassing surfboards is what my family does, but music’s in our blood,” Brawner explained when we met up at the shop last week. “That’s why I’m expanding.”
Like his father and grandfather before him, Brawner is a drummer at heart. Playing in bands and being around the music scene his whole life, he’s decided to put his experiences to good use and has launched the R&R Music Factory.
Brawner’s dad, Danny, was also a career surfboard glasser for Hobie; hence, the new operation’s name, which stands for “rhythm and resin.”
“There’s nothing like this in the area, and it’s what I’m really passionate about,” Brawner continued.
What he’s talking about is the recording studio and performance space he’s been building out over the past few months. The recording studio has it all: rooms for recording vocal, drum and guitar tracks, as well as a full soundboard and engineering room to put it all together (along with the human talent to make the magic happen).
Soundproofed and cozy, the vibes are right, and it’s going to be fun to hear what comes out of there in the months and years ahead.
They have the full capacity to record and master songs, as well as the know-how and understanding of what it takes to get one’s music listened to, which these days means navigating the confusing waters of online streaming services.
R&R Music Factory also has rooms for lessons. Brawner has recruited a strong group of musicians to share their knowledge. From vocals, to keys, to guitar, he’s even drummed up fiddle and banjo teachers.
“We want to be able to help the music scene grow, and whether you’ve been itching to learn an instrument or are serious about your music and want to record it, that’s what we do. We can also help bands reach whatever their goals may be,” Brawner noted.
The performance space is an extension of Brawner’s original shop. Blowing out a few walls and constructing a small stage, he’s excited to host small musical events, as well as art shows, podcasts and more.
“It’s really a creative space. We can do a lot with it,” he added.
On Dec. 18, he’s opening the doors for an art show hosted by local surf artist Roy Gonzales. He’s also been hosting podcasts with Mitch Colapinto, San Clemente teacher, lifeguard and father to a couple surf stars.
Last week, Brawner celebrated the opening of R&R Music Factory with a little holiday party and is finally ready to share what he’s been working on with the world. There are still some finishing touches to be put on things, but the heart and soul of the place is there.
“Surfing and music, it’s what I’m all about, and this is the vision that I’ve had for a while now,” Brawner said. “It’s been a lot of work to get here, and it certainly hasn’t been cheap and easy, but it’s what I love. I think that the more people that learn about it will enjoy it. We’re really excited.”
For more information, swing by the shop—or factory—at 220 Avenida Vaquero in San Clemente or check out brawnerboards.com.
Jake Howard is local surfer and freelance writer who lives in San Clemente. A former editor at Surfer Magazine, The Surfer’s Journal and ESPN, today he writes for a number of publications, including Picket Fence Media, Surfline and the World Surf League. He also works with philanthropic organizations such as the Surfing Heritage and Culture Center and the Positive Vibe Warriors Foundation.