When The Bay Bridged approached me to share thoughts on some of my favorite music of 2018, the opportunity to consider the question was a reminder of how lucky I am to produce shows with so many of my favorite musicians in the Bay Area. So this is not only a nod to some of the local musicians I love, a few dear friends, but also a nod to the San Francisco artist community, to good people who produce valuable work. Despite so many challenging changes that confront us in the Bay Area, they’re still here, showing up for one another, showing up for community inside and outside this little city of ours…
At the end of this year, You’re Going to Die put on one of its favorite events ever at the historic SF Columbarium, a startlingly towering structure jutting out of an unassuming neighborhood in the heart of SF’s Richmond District. All told, You’re Going to Die Presents: Love, Loss & Fire — a Camp Fire Fundrasier raised $4,500 for the North Valley Community Foundation. It was a sweet gathering of community clumped intimately together in a spirited container of ash, and oh how very much the spirits of that ash can hold. What a vast presence of absorption drew forth our chills and laughter and tears. We were surely held and held space for community.
But the music held us more surely than anything that night, in the vaulting acoustics of that colossal 1800s neoclassical 45-foot atrium, surrounded by the ashen remains of so many people gone before us — but their spirits were then present, called forth by the heartfelt song of these musicians…
Adam Rubinger — Percussion for Midtown Social, he drums as deep as his heart beats, and his band represents the diverse soul of great music in the Bay Area. They’ll at least make you dance and at most uncover a deeper connection to what it means to live where we do.
The Singer and the Songwriter — I’m encouraging this duo to consider singing people to sleep at the bedside when they’re not touring or playing shows. It’s not only their music that softens my whole being, but their individual presence. Kindness meets chemistry.
Chelsea Coleman — I’ve said it once, I’ll say it again: Her lyrics and song fill in the cracks where my heart is broken and lightens the parts where my spirit deserves lifting. She’s one of my favorite singer-songwriters on earth. Period.
The Feelings Parade — Two of the feelingest musicians you’ll ever invite into your home, and invite them you should. Just try welcoming their music into your life and see if you don’t end up with two new best friends (and new favorite music to boot).
Bobby Jo Valentine — My newest new music find in the Bay Area. I’ve only had the pleasure of listening to him twice since I met him, but he’s created two of my favorite live memorable musical moments of the year.
These musicians played our Camp Fire fundraiser with skillful heartfelt offering, so when the quiet found us, in the wake of their song, we could really hear, as a connected listening community, what that fire took from so many, for the lives lost and the lives it left behind. These musicians don’t just do what they love, they do it for us, this community. And it’s because of them, sometimes, when we find that one show on a needed night, that one song, that we remember, like we so often need be reminded, we are not alone…
Ned Buskirk is the founder of San Francisco arts nonprofit You’re Going To Die. Find out why you’re going to die, and more about their events and programs, here.