Our Story

The Story of the Innocent Bystanders
The Innocent Bystanders play live music, cover band, in Kensington, San Diego.

From the left: Kaimi Wenger, Eric Lane, Steve Berenson, Steve Semeraro, Chris Saunders, Jeff Slattery

The Innocent Bystanders formed as a cover band in February 2013 when four law professors and the ex-General Counsel of the Thomas Jefferson School of Law gathered at Rock & Roll San Diego Studios for their first practice. Best they can recall, they worked on “I Fought the Law” and “Lawyers, Guns, & Money” that night. They may have played “Ball & Chain” as well. Steve Berenson and Steve Semeraro, both of whom joined the TJSL faculty over a decade ago, had talked about forming a band for years. Both had played actively in their teens and twenties, but had been out of the game for years. Then Associate Dean Eric Mitnick asked the two to finally make it happen so that the band could play fund raisers for the school. The two recruited Jeff Joseph, the recently retired General Counsel and adjunct professor, who they knew played bass guitar. They then sought interest from other members of the faculty and were joined by vocalist/bassist, Jeff Slattery, and guitarist/keyboardist, Kaimi Wenger. Early names floated for the band included Four Chords and the Truth and Hadley and the Baxendales.

The Innocent Bystanders December 6, 2013 - Thomas Jefferson School of Law

The Innocent Bystanders. Semeraro, Saunders, Wenger

In March 2013, Joseph decided that playing in a new band wasn’t in the cards for him. So, the remaining members recruited Chris Saunders, then director of communications at the law school. Chris had been performing in Rock & Roll bands as a guitarist and singer for four decades, but had never played bass. He agreed to give it a try. Over time, each member of the band except Berenson, the drummer, would play bass on various songs. Adding Saunders voice and guitar playing ability to the band, combined with Wenger’s at first hidden talents as a keyboardist, helped the band gel. Initially, they focused on law-related songs, adding Jailhouse Rock and Folsom Prison Blues to their set list.

The band made its debut at a private party at Semeraro’s house on Memorial Day 2013, deciding on the name “The Innocent Bystanders” shortly before that gig. Berenson came up with the name, which has obvious legal connotations and is a featured line in “Lawyers, Guns, and Money,” one of the band’s favorite songs. The first gig included the law related songs as well as “Beast of Burden,” “Ho Hey,” and an impromptu encore of “Stand by Me.”

The Innocent Bystanders Play Leah Christensen's Wedding - February 2014 - Thomas Jefferson School of Law

Innocent Bystanders Chris Saunders and Steve Semeraro with Leah Christensen at her wedding.

The band next performed on December 6, 2013, at an end of the semester party on the 8th floor deck of the Thomas Jefferson Law School building. Performing without Slattery, the band played two sets on a very chilly evening. By this point, they were dividing up vocals among Saunders, Semeraro, and Wenger.
Slattery rejoined the band in 2014, playing in February at Leah Christensen and Patrick Long’s wedding. Again, on the TJSL 8th floor deck. The band opened with “I Knew the Bride When She Used to Rock & Roll,” with Slattery on vocals. Highlights included “That’s How Strong My Love Is,” sung by Saunders, for the bride and groom’s first dance. The band played one long set running about two hours.

On April 3, The Innocent Bystanders became the first Rock & Roll band to perform at the Auditorium at the new Downtown San Diego library. Closing the TJSL talent show with a four song set: Pretty Woman (Saunders lead vocal); Walk in the Room (Semeraro lead vocal); Ball & Chain (Wenger lead vocal); and Jailhouse Rock (Slattery lead vocal). They then performed I Fought the Law as an encore, again with Slattery taking lead. A fan shot video from the show can be found on the band’s Facebook page.

The Innocent Bystanders play live music in the East Village, San Diego

From left to right: Steve Semeraro, Eric Lane, Chris Saunders, Kaimi Wenger

In May 2014, saxophonist Eric Lane joined the band. He first performed with the group at a backyard party in the Kensington section of San Diego on May 24. On June 3, the six member group performed at the Otay Ranch Town Center. This gig would be the last (at least for now) for original Bystander Jeff Slattery. He didn’t perform with the group in the fall 2014. And the band added Ben Neiberg on vocals, acoustic guitar and occasional keyboard. In early 2015, Neiberg performed with the band at Cafe Zucchero and The Bella Vista Social Club & Cafe.

Innocent Bystanders first gig with sax

Innocent Bystanders Eric Lane & Steve Semeraro

In March 2015, the Bystanders played for several hundred people at a corporate event on the field at PetCo Park.
Playing on stage in centerfield below the batter's eye with the Padres retired numbers on top.

Playing on stage in centerfield below the batter’s eye with the Padres retired numbers on top.

In April, the boys played at the Kensington Club as part of Adams Avenue Unplugged. Cover Band The Innocent Bystanders play live music in San Diego.
And in May, they played The Company Pub in Poway, where they have now performed multiple times.
The Innocent Bystanders play live music at parties and corporate events in San Diego, CA.

Kath Rogers on stage at the Thomas Jefferson School of Law.

In early 2016, the Bystanders added Kath Rogers who sings lead and backups, including many songs traditionally sung by men. Her alto voice fits well with the band’s existing vocalists. She performed with the band for the first time in April 2016 at Monte Carlo Night on the 8th Floor Deck of the Thomas Jefferson School of Law.
The Innocent Bystanders play rock, soul, blues, and jazz at parties and corporate events in San Diego, CA

Debute of Kath Rogers with the Bystanders

When Eric Lane returned to his hometown in Rye, New York, Jessica LeFave joined the band adding even more sax to the band’s sets than Eric had. Jess comes to the Bystanders from a background is SKA, and plays with a glorious warm tone that fits the band’s vintage roots.Jessica.ashx
The Innocent Bystanders play affordable live music in San Diego, CA.

Jessica LeFave’s debut with The Innocent Bystanders at the Belle Vista Social Club and Caffe.

2015-05-24 18.43.39

Valarie (bonus live track) // Live Bystanders
  1. Valarie (bonus live track) // Live Bystanders
  2. Highways (bonus live version) // The Innocent Bystanders - Attractive Nuisance
  3. Gotta Get Outta Here (bonus live version) // The Innocent Bystanders - Attractive Nuisance
  4. (What’s So Funny ’bout) Peace, Love & Understanding (bonus live track) // The Innocent Bystanders - Attractive Nuisance
  5. Old Time Rock & Roll // The Innocent Bystanders - Live Bystanders
  6. How Can You Be Sure? // The Innocent Bystanders - Live Bystanders
  7. Yackety Yak // The Innocent Bystanders - Live Bystanders