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Nadine Sez
Friday September 1, 2000  -  The SF Scene Is NOT Dead, Or How Come No One Is Talking About What Is RIGHT With the Scene

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 defeating criticisms.

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.

Get/stay/act inspired.

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