I’ve been out more than usual this past week since KUSF was ripped from the airwaves. Can we save the next band from calling it quits or the next venue from closing its doors? Is it too late??
Saturday (1/22) I headed for the Rite Spot. A place I’d been only once or twice before but a place I loved at first sight. It’s the prototypical neighborhood dive with friendly staff, good food, and a great vibe. Columbus Ohio’s Black Swans played the 3rd of a 4 night Bay Area tour there. Jerry, the head swan, is completely dedicated to music and is a walking encyclopedia of obscure songs. He played a great set and even had the new drummer come up to tell a few environmental jokes. The place is small but it was full of an appreciative crowd. I bought the 2007 LP, Change, hand painted by members of the ARC North workshop (for people with mental retardation and developmental disabilities).
I drove south through the mission to check out a record shop I had never even heard of. Thrillhouse Records is a non-profit record store and also a record label. They buy only from indie distributers. The store is run by volunteers. It is mostly punk and vinyl. They support local music in many ways including live music that was just getting going when I pulled in. The Smell, Al Scorch, Michelle Hill and Grass Widow all delivered an infectious energy to the sardine can of a back room. The kids were drinking, groping and seemed generally thrilled to be alive. We couldn’t get through to see the Smell but heard every minute as we looked through the vinyl in the front. We missed Al Scorch to score the tamale of a lifetime at the Nicaraguan restaurant across the street. Michelle Hill impressed with serious pipes. She belted out covers of Rn’B gems from the 50s and 60s, even “Bring it on Home to Me” had a mosh pit! Grass Widow were last. It would be rude to call them polished, but their long history together certainly brought a tight cohesion still underdeveloped in the other groups.
The answer of course, is yes (and no). There is hope for the music scene (it is not too late). There are lots of folks working hard to make it possible, but also many trying to tear it down. We are lucky to have the scene here and we need to fight for it.