There has been so much animosity around the closing of Downtown Rehearsal
Studios that I think everyone has forgotten that there WAS a scene before the
Downtown Rehearsal, South of Market, The Bottom of the Hill and The Paradise
Lounge. Take HEART in this historical fact.
For one brief moment, could we step back and look at a BIGGER picture and
consider everything that is RIGHT with the scene today. I personally feel
there is MORE opportunity now for musicians here and Ięm quite impressed by
what Ięve been observing.
First, there are more groups of like minded musicians putting on successful,
niche marketed shows who are creating very nice, very happening little scenes
which are growing organically, all by themselves, into bigger scenes.
Shows like Foster Johnsonęs Rocktronica (a great scene-really fun, hot, hip
shows), Eric Shea, Bart Davenport and Molly Tuttleęs Monday Night Hoots (a
true artist to artist showcase), and the Ian Brennan shows (the soul of the
city promotes consistently eclectic bills) have been drawing solid,
supportive crowds in the face of this gloom and doom mentality.
AND there are so many more shows out there doing the same: the čDIVAí shows
(every month, at the `Dise or Red Devil Lounge), the Ubiquity Records čNo
Categoriesí (last Fridays of the month at 111 Minna); those OM Records
showcases (Fillmore and Bimboęs) and The Band Summit in Peopleęs Park on
October 14th (twelve bands including Buddhakowski). What about the cool
Oranger stuff (we all know they are off to Europe), Future Farmer Records
and all that Dogday/STRAY Records music? How about Orixa and their Latin
rock shows (packing Slimęs on a Sunday Night)...What about Deborah Pardes and
her fantastic Song Cycles and those Devil in the Woods shows...and of course,
the Rock Never Sleeps parties.
I know I am missing out mentioning even more good events, and I apologize in
advance, but suffice... There is a lot of energy and power out there and
frankly I CHOOSE to see it as a stimulating time for artist development (i.e.
possibly slow/painful or possibly fun/frivolous artistic growth) in all
arenas and genres of music.
Second, let's not forget we are enjoying MORE label success
with Bay Area based bands NOW than ever before (Santana, Smashmouth, 3EB,
Stroke 9, Train). And, Dan Hicks is BACK !
(There must be a GOD somewhere- give thanks.)
This current period of time is reminiscent of ¬94-ę96 before many of those
bands got signed or črediscoveredí. People thought that was a bleak time
too. Those bands all had to dig pretty deep inside themselves to find their
commitments as success certainly didnęt seem to be looming on the horizon for
any of them.
Third, what about the local media support, which has never been stronger or
more focused on local talent and events. The impressive and expanded
Chronicle Daily Datebook coverage, James Sullivanęs perceptive weekend
previews on Thursdays, Neva Choninęs astute observations, Jane Ganahlęs
ballsy coverage and the Weeklies continual coverage are pretty strong
evidence of commitment. And they all made this commitment to cover local
music WAY before the brouhaha with Downtown started.
Fourth, there is more interaction than ever between local bands and the new
media, dot com world. Geezelouise, the dot coms are all staffed by
musicians. Those Digital Music Coalition (DMC) parties seem pretty cool to
me, as they try to bridge the gap into the brave new world, so good for them.
(Please, could we just stop this dot.com witch hunt...itęs so two faced.)
And, because of the disheveled state of the music industry, there is more
opportunity now for Internet sales and exposure, for those savvy band
entrepenuers and thatęs why the dot coms are valuable to you. USE them.
Fifth, there are more shindigs, conferences, festivals, label showcases,
events and conventions than ever, with nighttime showcases for bands. Every
weekend there is SOMETHING...baypop, noisepop, broadband, etc.etc.etc., so
exposure is not a problem.
If musicians can't see the opportunity in front of them, it's because they
don't know how to look and empower themselves. But if you actually look
around, you will see many fantastic examples out there of bands doing just
that-creating their own successes, independent of others expectations or self
Itęs important for all musicians to realize THEY control their destiny, not
the clubs or labels, not the reviewers, not the big bad music industry, not
even bad rents. Sometimes, as in any artistic endeavor, you just have to
keep "doing." You donęt have a choice, you just have to do it. Great music
isn't made in flashes of brilliance, it's made by staying with it and just
playing and playing and playing. That's called hard work and artist de
velopment. It's also called change and challenge. And change and
challenge are good.
Take it from one who knows. When I started in the late 70s, everyone was
dying to play the Palms on Polk Street. We had about three clubs to work
with at the time and the bookers would never be in or call us back...it was
constantly a time of pins and needles and wanting it SO bad. The more things
change, the more things stay the same.
Having survived this long in the rock and roll business, I GUARANTEE you have
some more fun times ahead. They donęt call it Rock and ROLL for nothing...
Itęs the business of music. So if youęre called to it, rock on!
Mark me down firmly on the side of what is happening NOW, chaos and all.
With such little respect or support for artist development in the
entertainment mind set today, I had to let you all know NOT ALL OF US WIZENED
OLD PROS hear that siren song of San Francisco as a death knell.