Dangermaker To Play San Francisco Fundraiser

dangermakerHey, San Francisco! We know you love good music and a good cause, and with Dangermaker‘s upcoming benefit concert at The Milk Bar, you can combine your two loves into one awesome night. Hosted by Breakup Records, the concert will also feature performances from Sea Dramas, Sweetwater Black, and Margaret The King, with all proceeds going towards the 27th annual Haight-Ashbury Street Fair this June. You can find more information here, and view a flyer below. (more…)

Carlos Santana Reunites With Homeless Ex-Percussionist

carlos santanaDon’t worry, this one has a happy ending. Last week while doing a story on illegal dumping, a reporter from KRON-TV in San Francisco ran into former Santana Blues Band percussionist Marcus “The Magnificent” Malone. Springing into action, reporter Stanley Roberts then reunited Malone and Santana.

Speaking to Santana, Malone said “You don’t know how afraid I am to let you see me.” The former percussionist is said to have been an important influence on Santana’s Afro-Latin sound, and played congas on the band’s first album, before leaving in 1969. “We cherish you.” Santana said. “It’s an honor to be in your presence.” Santana has also promised to bring Malone a new set of congas and help get him on his feet.

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The Sound of Science

In the latest innovation from personal genomics company 23andMe, consumers can not only see their genetic code; they can hear it. The California company is now offering a feature that allows users to convert the information from their DNA into a unique melody. In addition to a complete report on a customer’s personal genetic makeup, the company’s new lab transforms each aspect of a person’s DNA into a musical parameter. The algorithm, developed by San Francisco composer Mark Ackerly, derives musical characteristics from personal attributes, such as height or eye color, and then combines the separate musical facets to create a short, cohesive composition. Each compositional aspect, including rhythm, pitch, and note length, corresponds to a particular portion of the user’s genotype. Hear Ackerly’s example DNA melody below. While this is certainly a really cool technology, we’re looking forward to a time when our personal DNA melodies will sound more like a Led Zeppelin tune than a four“year“old trying unsuccessfully to play “Chopsticks” for the first time.

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Riffs, Rants and Rumors: The Grateful Dead Come Alive in 'Dark Stars and Anti-Matter'

For many people, The Grateful Dead have always been a love-it-or-hate-it proposition. The band’s slavishly devoted army of Deadheads (which still exists today, turning up to see Furthur, the band that includes erstwhile GD singer/guitarist Bob Weir and bassist Phil Lesh) connects to the jazzy fluidity of the band’s instrumental improv, the killer catalog of classic songs penned by Jerry Garcia, lyricist Robert Hunter, and company, as well as the slightly stoned sense of bonhomie that has always emanated from the psychedelic warriors’ core. The Dead’s detractors, on the other hand, deem the band’s jams overlong and sleep-inducing, abhor the hippie aesthetic the group always embodied, and take issue with their hit-and-miss approach to vocal intonation. Apart from those who have never heard them, almost everyone has a strong opinion about The Grateful Dead, winding up either in the love or hate camp sooner or later.

So if someone’s going to write a critically-balanced book about the band, who better than one of the few music fans”and certainly one of the only rock critics”who has found himself on both sides of the fence at various points? Granted, veteran music journalist Gene Sculatti (author of 1982’s seminal Catalog of Cool and 1985’s San Francisco Nights: The Psychedelic Music Trip, among others) isn’t exactly objective when it comes to the subject, but among rock writers, he’s in a unique position to discourse on the Dead”he was there from the start. I always get caught in the middle, says Sculatti, whose new Rhino eBook bears the self-explanatory title Dark Stars & Anti-Matter: 40 Years of Loving, Leavin, and Making Up With the Music of The Grateful Dead. Because I saw them in the beginning, and most of the records I still evaluate in terms of, ˜Does this resemble the way it was then, live?’

Sculatti first saw the band at San Francisco’s famed psychedelic-era venue The Avalon Ballroom in the spring of 1966, about a year in advance of the first Grateful Dead album. That’s one of the greatest gifts anyone ever gave to me, says Sculatti, to be there then and see that. You’re 18 or 19 years old¦this brand new thing that’s never been before is springing up and you happen to be there a couple of feet from it. It’s just incredible to read in the paper about some group with a crazy name like Big Brother & The Holding Company or something and go to this place where it was and see it with light shows and everything that accompanied it. And that’s when I started writing, because there was a little paper there in Frisco. That was my impetus too for writing about the Dead this time”there were things I hadn’t said about seeing them at that time.


Artist Followup: Hometown Heroes Open For The Goo Goo Dolls

In October, Tulsa, Oklahoma pop-rockers Stars Go Dim won the Grand Prize in the Subway Fresh Artists Competition with their song Get Over It, which awarded the band the incredible opportunity to open for The Goo Goo Dolls at the Star 103.3 Jingle Ball in San Francisco, CA on December 10, 2010.  In addition to the to the performance, SGD will also receive $1,000 cash and a songwriting session with professional songwriter Evan Bogart, famous for writing hits for artists the likes of Beyoncé, Britney Spears and Adam Lambert! The guys in the band got the incredible opportunity to meet the members of the Goo Goo Dolls, as well as share the bill with Hedley and former American Idol winner Kris Allen. Leading up to the show, the band was featured and interviewed on Tulsa’s rock radio station KMOD, which also broadcast their winning single Get Over It  to thousands of listeners. The band later performed at a local Subway in their hometown, drawing a crowd of dedicated local followers.  We caught up with Michael Wittig, bassist for Stars Go Dim, after the show to hear all about their experience.

OS: How did your performance go? What kind of  increased buzz have you guys seen up to and after the show?

MW: Our performance at the Star 101.3 Jingle Ball with the Goo Goo Dolls and Kris Allen went awesome.  We’ve been told we played very well. I don’t know about the other guys, but I rocked the bass that night, ha.

OS: How did the audience respond to your set?

MW: The crowd was very receptive and showed it spending their hard earned money on us after the show. I was surprised by the amount of CDs/shirts we sold. We took pictures with some of them after the show and have kept in touch with some via Facebook since the show.

OS: How did it feel to have the opportunity to open for the Goo Goo Dolls? Did you get to meet them?

MW: We were very excited about the whole thing. The Goo Goo Dolls have had so many hits and great songs. We did get to meet them. They set up a private meeting for us with them and had a photoshoot. The guys were very friendly and encouraging. John even gave us a shout out on stage during their set.

OS: How did you get your fans to come and judge in the competition?

MW: We asked them very nicely 🙂 Many of our fans have become good friends of ours. We made sure that a handful of them were able to attend the show on us. And when that doesn’t work blackmailing sometimes helps get those extra votes.

OS: What do you think is the most important way to market yourself as a band?

MW: Be personable with fans and give them your time. You just might get their time in return and win huge contests like this. Oh, having good quality music helps too!

OS: How do you plan to use this opportunity to further your career?

MW: Every time something great like this happens, it just helps build our story. Not many independent artists can say they’ve played with John Mayer, Chris Daughtry, Jason DeRülo and now the Goo Goo Dolls. Being able to add this to our history just makes it easier to land new opportunities. Being a part of events like this opens doors.

OS: What has been the most exciting aspect of this whole experience?

MW: Being recognized by Clear Channel and the Goo Goo Dolls out of so many other great artists. Also, getting to meet and watch the Goo Goo Dolls perform. It was pretty cool to watch them play Name and their other hits live. We travel so much we don’t really get a chance to “attend” concerts for fun. We definitely look up to them and their songwriting.

Stars Go Dim is scheduled to be interviewed by local radio stations in and around their hometown in the coming weeks, and their story has been picked up by a local paper who will cover their entire experience in the Subway “Fresh Artists” Competition from start to finish. Stay tuned to the airwaves for word from this up-and-coming band. Click below to check out the video of the band’s meet and greet with the Goo Goo Dolls.

Q&A With Jim Henke, Vice President of Exhibitions and Curatorial Affairs at the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame

Located in downtown Cleveland, Ohio, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum, Inc. is home to an invaluable collection of information and artifacts from the world’s greatest rock artists. The nonprofit organization also exists as an educational institution to help teach music enthusiats of all ages.

In January of 2012, the Hall of Fame will be opening a brand new Library and Archives, which will be the world’s most comprehensive collection of documents, music and videos relating to rock music. We had the opportunity to speak with Jim Henke, Vice President of Exhibitions and Curatorial Affairs, to hear all about this incredible new building, as well as the amazing artifacts and educational opportunities at the Hall of Fame.

OS: What do you take into consideration when nominating artists for induction into the Hall of Fame?

JH: The only real rule is that they become eligible 25 years after the release of their first recording. From there, we try to take into account things like the longevity of their career, the impact they had on other artists, innovation, superiority in their style and technique and musical excellence. It’s not based on record sales, it’s basically based on how important of an artist they were and the quality of their body of work.

OS: How typically does the museum procure for its rare memorabilia collection? From private collections? Estates?

The exterior of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame

JH: Most of the stuff we have comes directly from the artists and their families or their managers. It varies, but I’d say that 25% of what we have on exhibit here comes from the artists, their families or people who are associated with them. For example, right now, we have an exhibit on Bruce Springsteen. Most of the items came from Bruce directly, but there were a couple collectors out there who had fairly decent collections, so we also borrowed some pieces from them to fill in some of the holes.

OS: What should we expect to see in the new archive/library?

JH: It’s going to operate on two levels. One level will be more of a normal library that the general public can go into, where we’ll have books, magazines, periodicals. People will also be able to access music over the computers, and we’ll also have a lot of videos. The museum itself has been open for fifteen years and we’ve done a lot of events here, and virtually all of them have been filmed. We do a program every year called American Music Masters, where we honor one of our inductees with a week-long series of events and various performances. We’ve done maybe ten of those and we filmed all of them, but that footage has never been available. We also have a program called The Hall of Fame Serieswhere we bring in the inductees and we’ll interview them and often they’ll perform. The archive part of it will be more for students, scholars, historians and journalists. You’ll make an appointment to come in and we’ll have certain collections from various people and it’s their private papers…it could be contracts, correspondence, set lists, manuscripts. So, if someone’s writing a book or if someone’s doing a thesis, they’ll have a private room with an archivist and they’ll be able to go through these people’s papers.

OS: Why, now, is the library starting this archive?

JH: We talked about having a library and archive ever since before we opened and originally it was going to be here at the museum, but we never had quite the proper space. But it’s always been something that’s been on our radar, and we’ve always wanted something where we could preserve the history of rock and roll and allow historians and scholars access to stuff. We looked at other places in the Cleveland area…and there’s a college here called Cuyahoga Community College. Their president has been on our board since day one and has been very active. They also have a program called Recording Arts and Technology and a music production program. It turns out they were building a new building for that program, so their president thought they could build a larger building and we could put our library in there. The building’s complete and we have staff in there now and they’re cataloging everything. It won’t be open to the public until sometime next year, but we’re getting everything up and running.

A look inside the Bruce Springsteen exhibit, on display until February 27, 2011

OS: The Hall has a lot of different educational programs, particularly in classroom settings. How are the topics for classes determined?

JH: We have a program called “Toddler Rock” that’s open to preschool kids. They come in and we use music to teach them, the alphabet and counting. Then we have a program called “Rockin’ the Schools,” which is [offered to students in] kindergarten through twelfth grade. Those classes are taught here at the museum in our theater upstairs. Basically, we take rock and roll and try to use it to each about other things. For our first grade to fourth grade kids, we have a class called “Tell Me Something Good: Music and the Language Arts.” They listen to music and hear some of the stories and they examine how lyrics can establish setting, introduce characters, develop plot and narrative. We have another class called “Rock and Roll and the Science of Sound” and that’s for grades five through eight…it looks more at the audio aspect of rock and roll and how sound travels into our ears. We have another class called “The Message: The Birth of Hip Hop Culture,” which talks about hip hop and what was going on in our culture when hip hop was developing back in the ’70s. We try to go beyond music and talk about sociology or mathematics or science. We also have a distance learning program called “On the Road,” where we use interactive video conferencing technology to go into schools all across the country. We also do college-level classes.

OS: How will the Archive factor into the educational initiatives?

JM: With the kinds of things we’ll have there and having these very personal papers from a lot of people, one of the things we talked about was doing academic conferences and maybe tying it back to an exhibit. It will definitely help us to expand our educational offerings.

OS: What are some of the more interesting,  rare and noteworthy acquisitions you’ve procured?

One of the museum's most impressive items: John Lennon's Sgt. Pepper uniform

JH: We have a great collection from Jim Morrison’s parents. It turns out that they kept every piece of paper related to his life, from the hospital bill from when his mother gave birth to him to virtually all of his school report cards. In an interview for Rolling Stone back in the 6’0s, they asked him what the first poem he ever wrote was, and he said it was called “The Pony Express”…they [his parents] actually had his hand written manuscript of that. So that’s one of our great collections because it really is very thorough. It goes through his college years and formation of  The Doors, Jim had a falling out with his father and when he was arrested for allegedly exposing himself on stage down in Florida, the probation officer down there wrote his father a letter, asking what Jim’s shape was. Jim’s father wrote back this really sad letter about how he hadn’t talked to his son in many years. So there’s this gap through part of The Doors’ years and there’s letters between his father and different legal officials, and then there’s the official announcement from the American embassy in France that he had died. That’s a really nice collection. Yoko Ono has been very good to the museum, we have a great representation of John Lennon. We have a Sgt. Pepper uniform, a lot of his handwritten lyrics, report cards, different correspondence, a couple of his guitars. Similarly, we have a very good relationship with Jimi Hendrix‘s estate. As a young man, he was interested in becoming an artist, so we have all these different paintings that he did when he was younger. It’s interesting because there are a couple of rock band pictures, but there are also a lot of sports drawings that he did. You don’t really think of Jimi Hendrix as being a football fan but he did these different drawings of football players. We have a great collection from U2 that goes back to record company rejection letters, when they were first sending around their demo tapes…those are funny. We have some correspondence between the different band members and some lyrics manuscripts, some guitars and stage outfits. There’s pretty much something for everyone, no matter what your tastes are. We have sections that deal with the roots of rock and roll, the blues and rhythm and blues and gospel and country and folk. We have another section that looks at different cities and the history of rock and roll. It starts with Memphis in the ’50s and then includes Detroit during the Motown years and San Francisco during the psychedelic era and Los Angeles during the singer/songwriter country rock era and it ends in Seattle during grunge. There’s a lot of stuff here!

OS: The new library is already garnering some notable media coverage. What do you hope it will do for the Rock  & Roll Hall of Fame’s already renowned collection?

JH: I think it expands what we’re looking for and the fact that we’re actively out collecting for the library and archives. We’re going to musicians and producers and people in the music business, trying to get their papers. I think it will deepen our collection and broaden the extent of what it is. We’ll have many more documents to show how a lot of the music developed.

Check out the video below to watch Dave Grohl and Taylor Hawkins induct Queen into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2001!

Meet The Second Batch Of Winners For The Shout It Out With Hanson Competition In July!

It’s confirmation time for the second batch of winners for the Shout it Out With HANSON competition! Winners for Mesa, Anaheim, Los Angeles, San Diego and San Francisco were announced earlier this week and today we’re excited to announce the winners for Portland, Seattle, Vancouver, Spokane, Boise, Salt Lake City and Boulder! These lucky artists are getting a shot at opening for HANSON on tour stops in their hometown. Check out the bands, their tunes, and their local competition below.

Scene & Heard: San Francisco, CA

The name San Francisco paints a pretty vivid picture. You instantly think steep city streets, sunny weather, trolleys and Golden Gate Bridge. With such a vibrant environment, great live music and unique artistry seem the logical accompaniment. The city’s historic roots in rock ‘n’ roll earned the area the distinction of the San Francisco Sound. The label indicates a style of rock in the ’60s and ’70s that pioneered new chord progressions and unorthodox feels thanks to acts like Sly & the Family Stone, Janis Joplin, The Grateful Dead, and Santana.

Outside of the rock/pop realm, you’ll find many classically-oriented establishments worthy of the San Francisco name. The San Francisco Symphony Orchestra, led by esteemed conductor, pianist and composer Michael Tilson Thomas is a destination for standard orchestral repertoire and new worldwide premiers. The Bay area also recruits worldwide musical talent to attend the San Francisco Conservatory of Music. The school specializes in new music performance and composition. They have boasted notable graduates like Pulitzer Prize-winning, minimalist composer John Adams and internationally-known composer Peter Scott Lewis.

Being a popular sunny destination, San Francisco wouldn’t be a viable music scene without a huge summer festival. Outside Lands fits this bill. With the slogan Music. Food. Wine. Art., the festival certainly has its priorities in order. This year’s festival will take place August 14th-15th  at the Golden Gate Park. Here are some highlights from the lineup: The Strokes, My Morning Jacket, Gogol Bordello, Wolfmother, Kings of Leon, Phoenix, Social Distortion and Tokyo Police Club.

As far as local venues go, one of the most eclectic calendars we found was at the Argus Lounge. This venue caters to electronic acts, live bands and DJ’s all in the same setting. With a simplistic Web site and a knack for booking up-and-coming acts with a great show, this place makes our list. Of course, in a city with such a pool of classically trained musicians and high-class instrumentalists, we had to find a viable jazz club. Look no further than Yoshi’s Jazz Club and Japanese Restaurant. This unique combination creates a distinctive flair at either their SF or Oakland location. SF Weekly supports this club as one of the best jazz lounges in the city.

There are so many venues, in fact, that San Francisco-based indie rock/instrumental specialists The Union Trade couldn’t pick just one. “It is a split between a few that we’ve played a bunch of times: Bottom of the Hill, Cafe Du Nord and Rickshaw Stop,” commented the band. “Anytime we play one of these venues we are excited, and fans love seeing bands at all of these venues.” These choices are no surprise as the venues are known for hosting rock, indie or electronic talent no matter when you stop in.

Of course, the band also recommends musicians  network on the Internet to secure shows as an out of town band; a common practice when touring through a major market like SF. If you’re a visitor, The Union Trade recommends checking out an online publication like SF Weekly or The Bay Bridged for some good venues.

The Union Trade at Cafe Du Nord

“[The SF music scene is] phenomenal and completely underrated,” said The Union Trade, “[But], we’ve for sure created quite a network of local bands and regional acts that help make the scene tighter and make getting shows in other cities easier.” They mentioned that the average listener craves a driving electronic indie song or an upbeat pop/rock act.

While The Union Trade defines themselves as a “post-rock, instrumental indie” act, they’ve flourished in a non-instrumental scene. They write instrumentally structured songs that usually contain extended sections of vocal melodies and lyrics to maintain interest and add diversity to their music. This is quite the opposite of a normal rock song where the instrumental sections are the ones that add diversity to the vocally driven structures. “We always want to have at least one purely instrumental song, because instrumental music is a foundational part of what The Union Trade is,” concluded the band. Hear it for yourself:

The Union Trade boast numerous OurStage badges,  and has opened for notable acts like The Appleseed Cast, Two Gallants and Morning Benders. They even earned a featured spot during the 2009 SXSW music festival. The band just finished tracking their EP which will be released in the fall at which point they’ll do a nationwide tour in support of the release.

If you’re in San Francisco, be prepared to visit a bunch of different venues as the city is full of opportunities to hear some of the best indie/rock, experimental electronic, and yes, instrumental music in the country.

Generation DIY: Send Your Team To The Streets!

The other week I was in Cambridge, MA grabbing a bite to eat with some friends when this young college girl stopped our group to ask us to preview some music on her iPod. After a 30 second listen, she asked our thoughts and inquired if  the band was one we’d personally enjoy. At the end of our conversation, she handed each of us a postcard with information on how to reach the band on the net as well as a plug for an upcoming show. This was quite possibly one of the best interactions I’ve had with someone promoting a band, especially someone doing it for free. Since I began the marketing campaign outline last week, I thought a talk about how to create and manage a street team was a likely next step. So let’s get some more work under our belt to help kick off this campaign stronger than ever.

For those of you who do not know, a street team is a collective group of dedicated people who work under a less structured setting to help promote a product or brand ”in this case your band. Now, these teams aren’t the easiest to put together, especially if you’re not in a band that’s been around for a little bit and gathered a strong fan base. Usually, the street team will consist of close friends and fans from different areas”to ensure your efforts and promotional materials don’t go to waste. (more…)

Pity Party


We Three Kings: Geographer

Dancing to a somber song can be a strange sensation, but one that’s oddly cathartic. San Francisco’s Geographer offers unlikely material for hipster dance parties in the form of triumphant indie rock drenched in reverb, electronics and introspection. West Coast by way of Jersey, the trio is comprised of singer/guitarist/keyboardist/bassist Mike Deni, bassist, cellist Nathan Blaz and drummer Brian Ostreicher. It’s Deni’s lyrical content ” broken promises, emotional dissonance and all the trappings of human relationships ” that gives what would otherwise be effervescent melodies a sobering counterpoint.

In Each Other’s Ghosts, a rock steady beat is brightened by keys and the urgent whinny of guitars, while the low rumble of cello provides the only hint of unrest. Rushing In, Rushing Out also begins with a cheerful Casio keyboard sequence, anchored by the cello and Deni’s deep and languorous singing style. Like the instrumental echo of Deni’s heavy heart, the cello brings a little ache to the upbeat electro-rock arrangements, gently reminding that sometimes even the happiest melodies can come from sad experiences.