On Tuesday, September 6, San Francisco’s Blue Bear School of Music will be taking over The Chapel for a night of funk-fueled fundraising.
White Denim is coming off of their sixth studio album, Stiff, which was released in March of this year. Ten years in the business of making music with each other, vocalist James Petralli and bassist Steve Terebecki reexamined what the current state of White Denim means and if there could be a future.
“The big thing for Steve and I was trying to define what made us want to keep going,” Petralli said. “What’s our partnership about, what’s cool about this? We were trying to get back to some of the things that made us excited about the band in the first place.”
Part of that meant reaching back, even past their own roots and into the old-school traditional roots of the music they love by tracking everything live to 16-track tape in Asheville, NC. At its core, White Denim demonstrates on Stiff that they are still having the time of their life, and they are doing it in a well-focused mutually beneficial manner.
They also are very adept at change: In the midst of Petralli and Terebecki’s discussions, they replaced the drummer and traded the lead guitarist for a keyboard player to further explore the fire of a rejuvenated and redefined rock group.
What better band, then, to emblemize the spirit of how far a positive perspective in music can take you? Renee Richardson, Music Director for KFOG, was named the development director at The Blue Bear School of Music in April of this year.
A strong cornerstone in music education nationwide, Blue Bear School of Music opened its doors in 1971 in San Francisco and is considered by many to be the original school of rock. Since opening, more than 35,000 adults, kids, and teens have received some training through the school with enrollment averaging over 2,200 students per year.
One of the primary tasks of the development director has been continuing to expand Blue Bear’s Community Outreach Programs at schools and community centers across the city. These programs benefit primarily grades 2 through 12 by providing a caliber of musical education that would be otherwise nearly impossible to receive even without the constant reductions or outright elimination of the arts in school budgets.
Although they have had the outreach program for about ten years, they are hoping to revamp it’s reach and further the school’s mission to change lives through music. Check out their promotional video for Tuesday’s show below:
According to Richardson, the outreach prgram grew out of an immediate need as San Francisco began cutting their arts programs. Blue Bear stepped in, and have already grown to over 20 locations in the city alone that offer scholarships.
“The school itself is happily running without extra events to support it,” said Richardson. “We wanted to make money so that we could grow appropriately and soundly should we choose to, especially in under-served communities.”
The idea of a school sponsored benefit came together about the same time as the school’s stepping in where the city of SF fell short, and for ten years a small fundraiser was held at Bimbo’s 365 in North Beach. Last year was the first year they decided to step up their game, hosting Allen Stone and Elvin Bishop. The Blue Bear All-Star band even opened the event.
It was a hit. Now, says Richardson, the school is looking to elevate their status and awareness in the music community to ultimately reach a point where bands want to come and play the fundraisers.
“We try to host the All-Star showcase at a different bar at the end of each quarter,” said Richardson. “In December we’re going to be at The Boom Boom Room across from The Fillmore.”
They are also hoping to encourage a family band workshop by providing rhythm workshops for toddlers and their parents.
“We’re going to have a new event coming late spring that speaks to the inner rock star in all of us,” Richardson said excitedly. “I’m not saying too much about it now, though, I don’t want anyone stealing my idea!”