(cover art by John Felix Arnold III)
Last winter, the artist collective and living space know as Ghost Ship burned down in a tragic fire that claimed the lives of 36 artists and attendees of an electronic music event, making it the deadliest structure fire in California since the 1906 earthquake. The event started a national conversation about the relationship between local government and artists, and the responsibility to provide affordable housing and event spaces. However, it also sparked a panicked shuttering of similar venues around the country, and evictions that have displaced the very artists that are so integral to culture in cities like Oakland.
For those more intimately connected to the fire, it’s hard to find someone who can’t remember where they were when the news broke. Ed Taylor, a musician and record label owner, remembers picking up cassettes for a local music compilation when he heard the news, worrying that his friend Ara Jo would remain missing.
Taylor had just relocated from Oakland to Los Angeles, and was releasing tapes under his label Loose Grip Records. In an interview with the Bait Shop he recalled, “Within the first few days, I was thinking, what can I do to help? I knew how to do a compilation because now I’ve done two in the last year, these large compilations with twenty bands each. So why don’t I do something like a compilation fundraiser, try to put it on vinyl, see what it happens.”
That’s the story behind Love Oakland: A Benefit for Those Affected by the Ghost Ship Fire, a new 12-track LP featuring a diverse group of artists largely from the Bay Area and LA. Among those included are Tony Molina, King Khan, John Dwyer’s solo project Damaged Bug, and even a song by HGS, the Oakland-based project of which Ara Jo was a member.
Taylor is partnering with Oakland Family Fund to make sure that all proceeds go directly to support artists in Oakland at risk of displacement. According to their site, the Family Fund’s mission includes “assisting current warehouse residents and DIY space operators to stay in their homes and spaces by providing resources and funds as needed.”
Listen to and order the compilation below.
“This album is dedicated to the 36 people that lost their lives on December 2nd, 2016, in what would come to known as the Ghost Ship Fire. Sons and daughters, parents, friends and lovers. You were talented, kind, curious and creative. Oakland lost a part of itself that day, a gap we’ve come to fill with memories, laughter and tears. We will carry you with us always, in our hearts.” – Ed Taylor