First Festival


Sacramento's grass roots music festival

SUBMERGE MAG: Jonathan & Melissa

We caught up with Melissa and Jonathan from Submerge Magazine to get a little insight into what's it's like behind the mag. We are excited to feature them as our very first blog post after having their support since First Festival was founded in 2015!

What do you do at Submerge?
Submerge is a biweekly publication available for free all over the greater Sacramento region. We cover music, art, comedy, food + drinks, all that good stuff. My wife Melissa and I started Submerge in late 2007, early 2008, and we still run all the day-to-day operations together. We both wear a lot of hats. I do all of the ad sales, run our social media, I write a column for every issue called "The Stream" and every so often will write feature stories as well, but we usually leave the big stories and interviews to our very talented team of contributing writers. Melissa sets up all of the editorial content for every issue, so that means she coordinates all of the interviews, reviews, preview write-ups, etc. In addition to that, she's also our art director, which means she helps coordinate all of the photo shoots and designs each issue cover-to-cover. We also both co-manage our website,, and we also personally do a delivery route every time we drop a new issue. That's not even all of it, so to say that it's a lot of work would be a drastic understatement. I really can't stress enough how much of a bad ass Melissa is. She's an anomaly. I've never seen someone that can do as many jobs as she does. Without her, there is no Submerge, plain and simple. That's what it's all about being a small business owner, though, you have to be able to do at least five people's jobs if you want to stay alive. I also cannot thank our team of contributing writers, editors and photographers enough. They deserve all the props in the world. They're all so passionate about the same things we are. We're so lucky to have such a killer team.  

What motivated you to start Submerge?
Even back when we started Submerge in 2008, Sacramento was just a really happening place with so much going on that we knew we wanted to start a paper that covered a wide range of the arts and entertainment options going on here. Now all these years later, Sacramento has obviously changed a lot and has grown a ton, but our mission is still the same, to just provide the region with a quality publication for free that can turn people onto all of the rad stuff happening here. If we get people off their butts and into local venues, into art galleries, into local restaurants, get them out and about to experience all the region has to offer, then I think we've done our job.

What kind of advice would you give to people who want to get into your field of work?
Be ready for no sleep, a ton of work, and not a lot of money. The publishing world, especially when it comes to arts and entertainment, is not for everyone. It's tough and it's really easy to get burned out. Running any sort of small business is an emotional (and physical) roller coaster. Most small business owners I know deep down wish we had "regular jobs" with "regular hours" and "regular paychecks." This isn't meant to come off like I'm ungrateful to do what we do, I really am, it's just the reality of running a business. It's hard as fuck.

What do you do when you aren't doing Submerge business?
We really enjoy getting outside when we're not working. We're avid snowboarders, we also love cycling, and a couple years ago we bought kayaks so we like to get out and paddle local waterways. I like to play a bunch of instruments (mostly guitar but also a little bass and drums), Melissa is really good at photography and is a talented graphic artist. So yeah, we've got hobbies, but really running Submerge takes up so much of our time that it's basically all we do.

What's your favorite thing to do in Sacramento?
Go see shows! Last week alone we went to like four concerts. We love to go to local art galleries. Comedy shows are always a good time, too.  Honestly, we do a lot of the sort of shit that we cover in Submerge. We truly live and breathe it.

What kind of books do you read? What's the last book you read? Would you recommend it?
I read all sorts of stuff really. One of the last books I read was "An Astronaut's Guide to Life on Earth" by Chris Hadfield and it was really great, I would highly recommend it to anyone who nerds out on all things space like I do.

Do you have any pets?
Yeah, we have a 14-year-old rescue cat named Lola, and a 7-year-old Boston Terrier named Panda. They're both super spoiled. Panda comes to the Submerge office in Midtown with us every day! 

What's the last song you listed to?
I've really been digging Tycho's new record Epoch a lot lately, so probably something off of that.

According to you, where's the best place to get something to eat in Sacramento?
For sushi, Kru. For a "fancy burger," Roxy. For Mexican food, Taqueria Los Compadres. For Italian food, Cafe Vinoteca. For Thai food, Thai Canteen. For coffee I like Identity, Temple or Insight. For the best tap selection in town, Capitol Beer & Taproom, hands down. For cocktails, Red Rabbit and Bottle & Barlow. For late night eats, Tapa the World.

Is there anything you would like to say to Sacramento other than what we've covered?
Sacramento is rad. End of story. We've got amazing musicians and artists, and it's relatively affordable to live here compared to many other cities. The food, drinks and beer are all just out of control, too. Melissa and I are really honored and humbled to be able to do what we do and to play a small role in helping make this city as great as it is. We love it. We're obsessed with it. I always tell people that Submerge is basically a mirror of what's going on in and around Sacramento. Without the plethora of arts and entertainment options, our content wouldn't be as good as it is. So yeah, Sacramento rules.