Strictly speaking


LEFT OF THE DIAL When Slim’s booker Dawn Holliday first met with Warren Hellman in 2001, she had no way of knowing that the quaint little music festival the investor wanted to organize would grow to be one of San Francisco’s most fiercely cherished traditions.

Hardly Strictly Bluegrass, which runs this Friday, Oct. 3 through Sunday, Oct. 5 (featuring this rather impressive lineup of bands, whose music you’ll find in the YouTube playlist below) is special for a number of reasons. It’s free, thanks to an endowment from the late sir Hellman. You can’t buy alcohol. You won’t find huge video screens projecting tweets about the festival in real time. To get distinctly San Francisco on you and use a word I generally avoid, its vibe — yes — is about a solar system away from certain other huge music festivals in Golden Gate Park that shall remain nameless. And it just couldn’t take place anywhere else.

Little story for ya: Four years ago this week, I moved back to the Bay Area from New York. I was unemployed and aimless and temporarily living with my parents again at 26, and the future was terrifying. I was regrouping, but I didn’t know if I was back here for good. The day after I landed — hungover, disoriented by the smells and sounds and lack of sensory overload of not-New York City — I headed to Hardly Strictly with a few old friends. I remember foraging our way into the park, just pushing toward the music, and literally stumbling out of a wall of shrubbery to find Patti Smith just starting her set.

The crowd was insane: people tightly packed in, drinking, passing joints, hollering, bundled in seven layers each, sitting on each other’s shoulders, stepping on each other’s army blankets full of microbrews and organic rice chips and apologizing as they tried to push up closer to the stage.

My eyes darted from the older woman with flowing batik-print pants, eyes closed, swaying joyously by herself, to the young couple with matching dreads who were tripping on god knows what, to the balding-but-ponytailed and potbellied man who seemed to be trying to get a hacky sack game going to the beat of “Because the Night.”

I don’t want to speak for all Bay Area kids, but I’ve always been pretty ambivalent about large groups of hippies — there’s just a saturation point when you grow up here. Unlike so many of my transplant friends, I have never found the remnants of the Summer of Love overly enchanting; this is what happens when you are forced to watch the documentary Berkeley In the Sixties in high school history classes. I am also, for what it’s worth, not the biggest fan of crowds.

I knew I’d been gone a while because I was in love. I’d never been so happy to see ridiculous, stoned, absolutely beside themselves weirdos all doing their own weird things next to each other and nobody caring. Little kids dancing with grandparents; teenagers making out. I felt like I’d stumbled onto some sort of magical island, one where nobody talked about the stock exchange and everyone was incredibly, almost purposefully unfashionable and the thought of waiting in line to get into a club was ludicrous. I wanted to live in this smelly pile of humanity forever, and that was a new one for me. I knew I’d been gone a while because I was seeing SF the way transplants see SF. And I also knew I was home.

That atmosphere, I learned while talking to Holliday last week, is absolutely by design.

“I think of it more as a gathering of music lovers than a festival, really,” says Holliday, who’s booked Hardly Strictly every year since its inception. “I think having no fences — you can walk away at any time — and not selling alcohol makes a huge difference in people’s attitudes.”

As for the task of putting together a lineup each year that appeals to everyone from teenagers to folks in their 70s and 80s — the announcement of Sun Kil Moon, Deltron 3030, the Apache Relay, Sharon Van Etten, and others had many pronouncing this the hippest (read: appealing to folks under 40) lineup in years — Holliday says she actually keeps it relatively simple.

“When it started, and I kind of still do this, it was just with Warren in mind,” she says. “I was thinking about what he hadn’t heard yet. I knew he didn’t start listening to music until later in life, so I wanted to book music that I thought he should be turned on to. As long as there was some kind of roots in it. The Blind Boys of Alabama, Gogol Bordello, all stuff that he would really love to hear, but he’d never go out and see because he went to bed at 9:30. That was my goal for 12 years. ‘What would blow Warren’s mind?'” She laughs, noting that Hellman’s early bedtime is also the reason for the festival ending not long after dark.

“I don’t think [my booking] has changed that much with his passing,” she says. “It’s still music that I feel doesn’t get a whole lot of attention. Nothing’s bigger than the Fillmore. A lot of the bands don’t fill our rooms [Great American Music Hall and Slim’s], so a lot of people get to hear music they’re not normally exposed to. The age range is all over the place. And with bands that usually are a higher ticket, it’s a an opportunity for fans to go see $60, $70 shows for free.”

The park itself also has a lot to do with how she books: “I walk through it and see what I hear,” she says. “The contours of the meadows at different times of the year speak differently to you. Sometimes when I walk down JFK, I still hear Alejandro Escovedo singing, and that was eight years ago now.”

She also has a long-running wish list of artists; Lucinda Williams and Yo La Tengo, both playing this year’s fest, have been on it for some time. And she’s especially looking forward to the annual tribute to those who’ve passed away, which happens Saturday afternoon at the banjo stage — Lou Reed, Pete Seeger, and the Ramones will all be honored this year.

“It’s the best gift,” she says. “I mean if someone were able to give us world peace, I’d say that was the best gift. But since no one’s going to — yep, this is the best.”

Hardly Strictly Bluegrass is all day Fri/3 through Sun/5, for free, of course, in Golden Gate Park. Check for set times, and visit our Noise blog at for more coverage of the fest. Until then — we’ll see ya in the park.


Guardian Intelligence: July 23 – 29, 2014



The annual J-Pop Summit in Japantown drew a lively crowd of anime and other Japanese pop culture treasures to Japantown last weekend (including Shin, pictured). This year’s festivities included a Ramen Festival portion, featuring noodle cooks from around the world — and lines up to two hours long to sample their rich, brothy creations. PHOTO BY REBECCA BOWE


Former San Francisco Mayor and current Chronicle columnist Willie Brown, often just called Da Mayor, is widely acknowledged to be one of the most politically influential individuals in San Francisco. But until recently, he’d never registered as a lobbyist with city government. Now it’s official: Brown has been tapped as a for-real lobbyist representing Boston Properties, a high-powered real-estate investment firm that owns the Salesforce Tower. News outlets (including the Bay Guardian) have pointed out for years that despite having received payments for high-profile clients, Brown has never formally registered, leaving city officials and the public in the dark. Da Mayor, in turn, has seemed unfazed.


On July 20, marked as the deadliest day yet in the Israeli-Gaza conflict, hundreds of pro-Palestinian protesters gathered in San Francisco to march against the ongoing violence. Waving flags, participants chanted “Free, free Palestine!” and progressed from the Ferry Building to City Hall. It was just one of hundreds of protests staged worldwide in response to the bloodshed. As of July 21, the Palestinian death toll had risen to about 500, while 25 Israeli soldiers were killed. PHOTO BY STEPHANY JOY ASHLEY


Last year, the SF SPCA ( assisted with over 5,000 cat and dog adoptions. With its new adoption center near Bryant and 16th Streets, which opened June 13, it aims to increase capacity by 20 percent — saving 1,000 more furry lives in the process. The new facility features improved condo-style enclosures rather than cages, a small indoor dog park, and SF-themed climbing structures for cats. (So far, there’s a Golden Gate Bridge, a Transamerica Pyramid, a cable car, the Sutro Tower, and the SF Giants logo; a Castro Theatre design is in the works.) These improvements make the shelter life more comfortable for the animals, but they also help entice visitors, making the adoption process “a fun, happy experience,” says SF SPCA media relations associate Krista Maloney. See more kitties and puppies at the Pixel Vision blog at PHOTO BY CHERY EDDY


The quarterly SF Mixtape Society event brings together people of all, er, mixes with one thing in common: a love of the personally curated playlist. This time around (Sun/27, 4pm-6pm, free. The MakeOut Room, 3225 24th St, SF. the theme is “Animal Instinct.” You can bring a mixtape in any format to participate — CD, USB, etc. (although anyone who brings an actual cassette will “nab a free beer and respect from peers.”) Awards will be given in the following categories: best overall mixtape, audience choice, and best packaging. Hit that rewind!


This week San Francisco plays host to the Libertarian conference/slumber-party Reboot 2014, aimed at — you guessed it — tech workers. Conservatives and government-decrying libertarians are natural allies, wrote Grover Norquist, scion of the anti-tax movement, in the pages of the Wall Street Journal. Uber swerves around transportation regulations, Airbnb slinks under housing regulations. It’s no wonder politically marginalized libertarians are frothing at the mouth to ally with Silicon Valley’s ascendant billionaires. Reboot 2014 speaker Rand Paul’s recent meeting with Mark Zuckerberg, Sean Parker, and Peter Thiel should have liberals all worried.


BART announced via a press release they’d begin “ensuring safe evacuation” of downtown BART stations. By this they mean they’ll start sweeping out anyone sitting or laying down in the stations, clearly targeting the homeless. Deflecting those accusations, BART said they are one of the few transportation agencies with a dedicated outreach and crisis intervention coordinator, as if that gives them a pass.


At 66, Jimmy Cliff put on one of the most energetic live shows we’ve ever seen on Saturday, July 19 at the Fillmore, high-kicking through newer songs, like “Afghanistan,” an updated version of eternal protest song “Vietnam,” as well as the classics: “The Harder They Come,” “Many Rivers to Cross,” etc. Check the Noise blog at for a full review.


Party Radar: Hardkiss Brothers celebrate 1991, “Flowers Blooming”


It’s a tribute to the resiliency of SF’s classic Hardkiss Brothers — and the soul of the SF house music scene — that, after the devastating loss of musical brother Scott last year, Gavin and Robbie Hardkiss have bounced back with an exuberant tribute to the roots of their legendary collective, new album 1991.

This Fri/20 at Public Works (9pm-3am, $10. 161 Erie, SF), they’ll be bringing the Hardkiss family together to celebrate the release of exuberant floor-stomping single “Flowers Blooming” — a rework of lovely 1980 Change track “Glow of Love.” Free download below!

Besides calling to mind the joyful-disco, Luther Vandross-fronted original — oh man, how I love me some Young and Gay American Luther — plus the Inner City “Big Fun” sound of the late ’80s, and the glowing “Flowers in Your Hair” SF Summer of Love aesthetic, “Flowers Blooming” also slips into a luminous legacy of flora-based raveytime anthems. 1991 indeed.

Anyway, I’m high. Here’s what the brothers themselveshave to say about the track, which boasts a slew of remixes and inclusion in this cool flashback “Megamixx”:

“In the latest single off the album, ‘Flowers Blooming/Glow of Love,’ Hardkiss take Change’s 1980 classic ‘Glow of Love’ out for a driving musical journey. First stopping in ’90s Detroit before putting the top down and heading straight for the California sunshine. The result is sun-drenched track that is both irresistible and feel good- a must have addition to any summer playlist. Featuring vocals by Robbie Hardkiss, there’s enough on the new Hardkiss album to satisfy any dancefloor intent on rising up in celebration.” 




Coachella for agoraphobics: How to do the festival without leaving your house


Fun fact: I’m bad at festivals. It’s not that I don’t enjoy them, per se: there’s live music, the outdoors, fried food, great people-watching.

It’s just that — well, okay, I lied, I usually don’t enjoy them. I’m not 22 anymore. I don’t like waiting in long lines for disgusting Port-a-Potties. The sound is often unpreventably terrible. Trying to see all the bands you really care about becomes a headache-inducing feat of scheduling Sudoku. And the people-watching, while entertaining, often devolves into being so annoyed at/dismayed by the people around me that I’m too distracted to enjoy the music.

I’m great at parties, I promise!

Here’s the thing: I truly love a lot of the acts on the lineup at Coachella this year. OutKast, The Dismemberment Plan, come on. And the fact that I’m not going to see the Replacements tonight makes me feel all kinds of superfan failure feelings (see: the name of my column).

I can’t be alone in my competing excitement about this year’s artists and total lack of desire to physically be on the hot, crowded premises for their shows. Thus, without further ado — before your social networks start blowing up with pictures of your friends having The Time of Their Lives there — a step-by-step guide to doing Coachella this weekend from the comfort of your own home.

Step 1: Get dressed. Ladies, you’re gonna want one of these.


On the bottom, go for the timeless, comfortable class of cutoff shorts that let the entire bottom half of your ass hang out the leg holes (you can Google image-search that one yourself). Pair with tall, furry boots. If you’ve been working out lately — or even following the Coachella diet — and really want to show off your complete lack of self-awareness, try appropriating the rich, storied culture of a persecuted people with your headgear. Guys, you can do this one too.




Step 2. Hit the hardware store and garden supply center. You want a high-powered space heater and several bags of very dry dirt — we’re in a drought here, after all. On the way home, collect a full trash bag of empty beer bottles, used condoms, and other detritus from the street. (Optional, depending on personal preference: Buy drugs.) When you get home, turn the heater on full blast and close the windows; then scatter dirt and garbage everywhere.

Step 3. Invite some friends over. You’re not into big crowds, but come on, you’re not anti-social. Bonus points if you can get a local celebrity, like John Waters, Rider Strong, or the Tamale Lady. Instagram the shit out of everything they do, such as taking selfies, taking more selfies, and sitting on their bodyguards’ shoulders, smoking blunts.




Step 4. Put on some tunes. To get that special “festival” sound, try turning the volume and bass up until every single element is distorted, then wrap your speakers in heavy blankets. Follow up by either standing with your ear smashed against them or walking half a mile away. Here’s a playlist featuring all of Friday, to get you started:

Step 5. Sometime around 5am (your mileage may very depending on drugs of choice), try going to sleep. Hey, look at that — you’re in your own bed! If you want to get that authentic camping feeling, make your friends stay over and sleep in super-cramped positions next to you. Ideally, you’ll wake up to the sound of someone vomiting five feet away from your head. I’m lucky enough to have a bedroom window facing 16th Street; again, YMMV.

But don’t think about that now. Get a little bit of rest. Drink some water. Tomorrow’s another long, glorious day of the best music festival you’ve ever been to, and if you want to have document the Time of Your Life, you’re gonna need your energy.

[More seriously — we do have a photographer at Coachella this weekend, check back here for cool photos that are not the result of me gleefully Google image-searching “Coachella headdress terrible.”]

Bleached offers up Halloween ‘Love Spells’


Just in time for Halloween: LA beach-punk sister duo Bleached released a graveyard and zombie-filled video for the track “Love Spells.” Stick it on your playlist for the ghoulish parties this weekend.

The song is off this spring’s Ride Your Heart, which we discussed with Bleached earlier this year.

In the year of worms


TOFU AND WHISKEY That voice. Those eerie, singular vocals that are somehow both alien and intimately familiar. They sound like electric Tesla coils wrapped in whipped silk. San Francisco’s Hannah Lew is most often heard harmonizing by three with her striking post-punk trio Grass Widow. With newer project Cold Beat, it’s her vocals alone above the needling guitars and anxious synths of a different band.

Lew has been writing songs as Cold Beat for some time, in between Grass Widow releases and tours, but this week she releases her first EP under the moniker: Worms/Year 5772, with songs inspired by the trauma of Lew’s father passing away a few years back. While Cold Beat is mainly a Lew production, she enlisted many local rock ‘n’ roll luminaries to both play on the album and back her up at shows.

The record’s sound is rounded out by guitarist Kyle King, drummer Lillian Maring, and Shannon and the Clams’ Cody Blanchard on guitar and synths. The live band features King, the Mallard’s Greer Mcgettrick on guitar, and Erase Errata’s Bianca Sparta on drums. That live version will celebrate the release of the EP with a show at the Night Light in Oakland Tue/5.(Cold Beat also plays Great American Music Hall on Nov. 14.) But before that, Lew spoke with the Bay Guardian about the origins of Worms/Year 5772, her DIY record label and music video projects, and the songs she played at her wedding last week:

SF Bay Guardian What inspired you to write new music as Cold Beat, outside of Grass Widow?

Hannah Lew I always write songs and sometimes they just didn’t totally feel like Grass Widow songs. I just kept collecting them and not really knowing if I should release them. As the tunes started accumulating I decided I should get a band together and figure out a way to share the songs. When Kyle King and I started playing — his energy really enabled the songs to come to fruition.

SFBG Can you tell me a bit about the songwriting process with Worms/Year 5772 and how the themes of “death, Internet surveillance, paranoia and science fiction” translated into the music?

HL “Worms” was written as a response to my grief about my father’s death in 2009. I couldn’t help but imagine worms eating his corpse — which was a very visceral image I couldn’t get out of my head…I think the horror of this was something I couldn’t really share with anyone, and in taking time to write more songs on my own I started realizing that it was good for me to have an outlet for some other concepts that were a bit more personal.

I always turn to science fiction when I am trying to understand or relate my feelings. It gives me a change to explore depths of doom and hope that I can more easily imagine not on this earth. In writing all the lyrics alone for Cold Beat there is a little more of me just in my own head which can be great and sometimes paranoid or depressed. I get really bad insomnia and many Cold Beat songs were demoed at 5 or 6am.

Grass Widow lyrics are always more of a conversation where as Cold Beat lyrics are more like an interior dialogue. It’s kind of like describing a dream to someone.

SFBG Does “Year 5772” refer to the Jewish calendar? Why did you make this connection?

HL My late father was a rabbi and I was raised very religious. I was writing Year 5772 about a dystopian post-apocalyptic dream I had that seemed to take place in some distant future and I started thinking about how the Jewish calendar is already in Year 5772 — actually a couple years later now since the song was written a few years ago — and how our concept of the future is based in what point in time we imagine ourselves in — but the concept of linear time is very relative.

I guess being Jewish is kind of futuristic and ancient simultaneously. I like the idea of collapsing time and writing a song that takes place in a landscape outside of time. I also like thinking about existing in many times simultaneously.

SFBG Did you find the solo songwriting process freeing or more complicated without the group’s input?

HL Some of the Cold Beat songs were written during the time Grass Widow was writing our last record — Internal Logic. Somehow they just seemed more personal and better spoken from one voice instead of related by three people. I think the complicated part for me was deciphering which songs were Cold Beat songs and which ones to give to Grass Widow.

Grass Widow is a great space where the three of us would relate and abstract our feelings and dreams together. But there were some things I was going through that I couldn’t synthesize with anyone else and just had to express on my own. I like having conversations about concepts with bandmates, but I also like working alone.

Luckily I can do both! I think it is important to be able to do things on your own so you know who you are and have something to offer a collaborative project. Just like in love.

SFBG You got married last weekend — what key songs were on your playlist? Are you willing to give up any other details?

HL It’s all kind of a blur. but it was so much fun! Some friends of ours put together a wedding band with Kyle King as the band leader. My husband (whoa!) and I put together a set list for the band to play of all our favorite dancing songs. I think the party really went crazy during the Dick Dale version of “Hava Nagila” and we got lifted up in chairs and everything, but also [the Flamin’ Groovies song] “Shake Some Action” was pretty epic too.

My friend Henson Flye made giant clamshells and Raven Mahon made a moon photo backdrop. We had a choir of friends sing “I’ll Be Your Mirror” while I walked down the aisle. It was really beautiful and a beautiful way for all our friends to express their love and friendship and show us support and for us to throw a fun party for everyone. We’re lucky to have a lot of love. Still buzzing from it!

SFBG As with Grass Widow (HLR), you’re putting Cold Beat out on your own label, Crime On The Moon. Can you tell me about the label, and why you’re sticking with DIY?

HL I really enjoy doing everything myself. HLR has been a great experience and we really took the time to make critical decisions about how we wanted to do business. I figured I could easily do it myself with Crime On The Moon since I had the experience of putting out the last few Grass Widow releases. One drawback is that when you put music out on a label you have an instant fan, publicist, and advocate — so when you’re on your own you have to manufacture your own confidence for what you are doing. But having good bandmates and support from your friends goes a long way!

SFBG You also make music videos — will you make any for Cold Beat? Are you working on any others currently?

HL Mike Stoltz, who made the Grass Widow “11 of Diamonds” video and collaborated with me on “Give Me Shapes,” is in the process of editing a Cold Beat video for “Worms.” So that will be out in the next couple of weeks! I am always updating my site ( with new finished videos I make for other bands.

SFBG Anything else you want people to know about Cold Beat or about other upcoming projects?

HL Well I’m excited for our EP to be released November 5. We’ll have copies at our record release show at the Night Light in Oakland with Screature and Pure Bliss. Then we’ll be touring the West Coast to follow that.

I’m also releasing a seven-inch [that] Raven and I recorded with Jon Shade on drums under the name Bridge Collapse. We recorded with Kelley Stoltz and I’m looking forward to releasing those songs along with a compilation of SF bands writing songs as a response to the tech boom. So a lot of exciting Crime On The Moon projects ahead!


Tue/5, 9pm, $6

Night Light

311 Broadway, Oakl.

Author (and former strip-club DJ) Dee Simon talks ‘Play Something Dancy’


Former SF resident Dee Simon wrote a very funny, very raunchy book of short stories about his experiences spinning tunes at local strip clubs; it’s called Play Something Dancy. Clearly I had to talk to him and get the inside scoop.

San Francisco Bay Guardian Standard first question: how did you become a strip club DJ?

Dee Simon I moved to SF in 2000 to pursue a career in broadcasting. Unable to land a paying radio job, I started hosting Rampage Radio at KUSF 90.3FM and eventually found a job in production at The Industry Standard magazine. The Standard was very successful for about a year and then folded once the crash happened. I was unemployed for about eight months until that fateful day I ran into my weed dealer who hooked me up with an audition at a club on Broadway, which launched my illustrious five-year career as a DJ at clubs across the city.

SFBG When you lived in San Francisco, I used to see you at punk and metal shows all the time. Did you ever get to sneak that kind of music into your playlist?

DS When I first started working as a DJ, I mistakenly assumed that all strippers danced to Motley Crue or Guns n’ Roses. Those bands had loads of strippers in their videos. In reality, they don’t dance to hair metal. There might be a few exceptions but most tend to prefer hip-hop and R&B. In the story “Run to the Hills” I talk about how all strip club DJs reserve a special cache of music for girls who choose not to tip. If a girl tipped me, I would play her anything she wanted. But if she didn’t tip, she’d dance to the music I liked — Iron Maiden, Slayer, Gwar, W.A.S.P., Motorhead, the Dwarves — till she realized it was in her best interest to take care of the DJ.

SFBG What constitutes a good versus bad song for stripper utilization?

DS The managers invariably want the DJ to keep the music uptempo. However, there are a variety of factors involved in selecting a song for a dancer. If it’s a Friday night and the club is packed, you don’t want to play a slower song like Portishead or R. Kelly that will decimate the energy in the room. You’ll risk losing the crowd and invoking the wrath of your manager. But at the same time, the DJ also wants to satisfy the dancer, especially if she’s a good tipper.

I would base my decision on the crowd. If the crowd seemed to be really tipping the dancers on stage during rock songs, then I’d persuade her to dance to Aerosmith or Led Zeppelin or AC/DC because she’ll make a lot of money. Conversely, if the crowd was more into hip-hop, I’d choose something old school like Notorious BIG’s “Hypnotize” or Tupac’s “How Do U Want it.” Both songs are recognizable classics and upbeat.

SFBG What was your most-hated song to play? Also, please explain how Weird Al became part of your playlist.

DS I despised the song “Hot In Herre” by Nelly. Try listening to that wretched song 12 times a night, four nights a week, and then see how many times you contemplate suicide. It’s been years and I still cringe when I hear it. Weird Al was only bought out in extreme circumstances when a non-tipping stripper was undaunted by the heavy metal and punk music that I was playing for her. In that case, I had no choice but to play some fine Weird Al tunes such as “Dare To Be Stupid,” “Yoda,” or “Amish Paradise.” Most dancers would usually tip after dancing to “Amish Paradise” two or three times in a night.

SFBG Were you writing down the crazy stories that happened to you all along, or did you compile them later? What inspired you to write a book, and how true to life are the stories?

DS Over the five years I worked at the clubs, I kept a journal to chronicle my mishaps and shenanigans. I had several notebooks filled with amusing stories but never really did anything with them. It wasn’t until two years ago when I moved to Los Angeles and was unpacking some boxes, I found my journals and decided to officially write some of the stories down in book form. Sadly, all of the stories in the book are quite true; however, in order to protect myself from criminal prosecution and civil liability, names, locations, and identifying characteristics had to be changed.

SFBG Strip clubs are often fodder for films (Showgirls, The Wrestler, etc.) In your opinion, which is the most accurate portrayal of what goes on behind the scenes? Which is the worst, and why?

DS I think The Wrestler offered a very accurate portrayal of the depressing reality of a strip club and we got to see Marisa Tomei’s ta-tas. I also thought that Tarantino did an excellent job of showing how much of an asshole strip club owners can be in Kill Bill Vol 2.

I know it’s not a film but The Sopranos delivered a realistic portrayal of strip club life with the Bada Bing! club.

Critically, it might be one of the worst films ever made but Showgirls is a hilarious cult classic that has stood the test of time, and it would be blasphemy to criticize it. In my opinion, the worst strip club movie has to be Striptease with Demi Moore and Burt Reynolds. The name of the strip club where Demi Moore worked was called the Eager Beaver and that’s all I really need to say about that.

SFBG You DIY’d the publication of the book, and are doing your own publicity. How has that process been? How do you get the word out and what has the reaction been?

DS Like the music industry, publishing has radically changed and authors are no longer beholden to literary agents and the “Big 6” publishers to produce their book. Now all an author needs to do is find an editor and a digital conversion tool and he or she can make their own digital book and publish it on Amazon or iTunes.

Instead of spending months collecting rejection letters, an author can put his or her own work out there and see who wants to read it. I’ve found that the most difficult part of self-publishing is publicity and promotion. Since I cannot afford to hire a professional publicist nor purchase ads in the New York Times, I rely on social media, blog posts, podcast interviews, and book reviews to spread the word. From what I can tell, people seem to dig the book. I’ve received a lot of positive feedback and good ratings on Amazon and iTunes, which definitely helps with exposure.

SFBG Have any of the people who figure into your stories read the book and given you feedback? Which story do people respond to the most?

DS Thankfully, none of the people I have written about have recognized themselves in the book, hunted me down, and physically harmed me. I’m rather afraid of one character in particular named Pepper. He was a frightening individual but he didn’t strike me as the type of person who would bother reading a book that didn’t have any titty pics so I’ll probably be all right.

I’ve received the biggest response from the opening story “Lexi” and the final story “Kashmir.” In fact, several people mentioned that after reading “Kashmir,” they have been unable to listen to that Led Zeppelin song again without feeling nauseous.

SFBG What do you think of Tucker Max comparisons? Personally I think you are a better writer than he is, but some of the … racier subject matter might speak to similarities between you two.

DS Though I’m not a fan, Tucker Max is a bestselling author who has legions of devoted readers. I’d love to replicate that success. I suppose the subject matter of our books is comparable but the theme is vastly different. Rather than boast about my various sexual exploits and deviant acts, I regret having had to endure them.

A lot of the stories in the book are humiliating and some involve venereal disease and diarrhea. There’s a definite reason the full title of the book is Play Something Dancy: The Tragic Tales of a Strip Club DJ.

SFBG What are you up to these days? What is the Sick and Wrong podcast all about?

DS I live in Los Angeles now and am writing a follow up to Play Something Dancy. I host a weekly comedy podcast called Sick and Wrong where my cohost and I ridicule inept criminals, dish out horrible advice to callers, and interview some colorful guests. At seven years, Sick and Wrong is one of the longest-running podcasts and ranked among the top 100 comedy podcasts on iTunes. I also just started a new vidcast called the Obscenesters, which is recorded at

SFBG Bonus question — what’s the best rock show you’ve seen lately?

DS My favorite recent show was Graveyard. Their new record, “Lights Out” is fantastic. I highly recommend it.

Dee Simon’s book Play Something Dancy is available on, iTunes Bookstore, and Learn more about Simon and his other ventures at his website.

Party Radar: Terracotta Warriors come out to plaaa-aay


I’ve dreamt of traveling to Xi’an, China and witnessing the ancient army of buried terracotta warriors practically my whole life. The uncanny legions frozen in fired clay, each individual’s features uniquely fashioned, were discovered underground in 1974, a kinda creepy burial accompaniment of the first emperor Qin Shihuang (259-210 BCE), in a tomb complex the size of a city.    

Now, some of those mesmerising warriors are coming to me, via the Asian Art Museum‘s “China’s Terracotta Warriors: The First Emperor’s Legacy” where a selection of life-size figures and related objects will be exhibited Feb 22-May 27.

So of course it’s time to party, electro ’80s cult B-movie style!

In an inspired touch, the everyone-should-be-there opening party on Thu/21 will feature Cheryl, a surrealist disco performance quartet — think retro-future aerobics meets electro Warriors — from New York, as well as DJs Pink Lightning (Stay Gold), Nick, and Bay favorite Hokobo kicking out gritty jams. And, in fact, that staple of ’80s sci-fi playlist movie musts, Warriors, is providing the theme. Although with Cheryl, you never know where that theme is gonna go. Somewhere cosmically Warrior-y, I’m sure.

(I’ll be there of course, but I’m also gonna get to Xi’an someday — the food is supposed to be bonkers good.)

Thu/21, 7-11pm, $15 advance, $18 door. Asian Art Museum, 200 Larkin, SF. party


PS The Asian Art Museum has been doing these cute promotional spots from famous San Franciscans, looking for a lost terracotta warrior:

The Performant: One for the road


Baxtalo Drom’s happy trails — and the Performant’s faves of 2012

With 2012 finally behind us, apocalypse thwarted, we have to get back to the business of preparing for a future we were told not to expect. Stretched out before us, a ribbon of Alfred Noyes moonlight looping the landscape of possibility, the road of the future beckons us onward, final destination unknown. What lies ahead, nobody knows for sure. But at least we know that for the moment there *is* an ahead.

During both the best and worst of times, the heady mystique of the open road is always in fashion, imbued with an undeniable glamour that monthly “gypsy punk cabaret” Baxtalo Drom is all too happy to exploit. Baxtalo Drom translates to “Lucky Road” — happy trails, if you like — and it plays out very much like a quick-and-dirty variety show performed by a high-spirited caravan-load of traveling players. A showcase for pretty girls, hobo bands, and eclectic DJ’s, Baxtalo Drom’s shabby chic and Balkan streak make it a perfect fit for Amnesia’s convivial ramshackle allure, its dark corners and hardwood floors.

The weather was cold, but the action onstage was hot for Baxtalo Drom’s last show of the year. Saucily MCed by Mz. K., and featuring a sizzling playlist courtesy of guest DJ, Wolfgang von Cope, the show starred two very different dancers and one eclectic band, with a cameo by “The Human Cortex” — SF’s most cerebral sword swallower.

First up was Amberetta, billed as a second-generation belly dancer, who first performed to a blues version of “You Shook me All Night Long” and later in the evening to The Prodigy while balancing two curved swords on top of her regally poised head. Burlesque firecracker Bunny Pistol showed off her tasseled pasties and tattooed midriff, and Thee Hobo Gobbelins, armed with squeezebox, banjo, and guitarrón, rollicked their way through a setlist of junkyard anthems and phantasmagoric drinking songs. Swords being somewhat a theme, an appearance by “The Human Cortex” (Hernan Cortez) who gave an impromptu lesson on sword swallowing to an excitable oddience member, was a fitting complement to the evening’s entertainments, infusing the stage with a bit of dramatic vaudevillian bombast.

And as both the evening and the year drew to a close, a momentarily prophetic vision of the Lucky Road lurching forward into the future rose to mind, making said future seem less daunting, more familiar, even worth looking forward to — roadblocks, ruts, unexpected twists and all.


Five for the road: five awesome events the Performant checked out in 2012 that you can still catch in 2013:

1) The San Francisco Tape Music Festival, January:

2) Bay One Acts, TBD:

3) Robogames, April:

4) KC Turner House Concerts, monthly or more:

5) Popcorn Anti-Theater, monthly:

The Performant: Unsilent is the night


Ring the bells

Observant or not, there’s no escaping the Festivus Chrismakwanzakah season, and while you might be grinching it alone with the holiday spirit best known as Kentucky Bourbon, you can’t entirely avoid the pervasive influence that is holiday music. Music, after all, is one of our best tools for communicating intangibles such as emotion, faith, and belief in supernatural beings, and there’s hardly anyone sentient who could fail to be momentarily moved by a rendition of the haunting “Coventry Carol” or Handel’s “Messiah”.

Somewhat unfortunately, Chanukah’s contributions to the seasonal playlist are relatively sparse as compared to those of the big blockbuster holiday it shares the month with: mostly bland, grade school assembly-style songs about dreidels and goofily adolescent ones by Adam Sandler and the Maccabeats.

A pity the Jewish liturgical tradition has failed to produce a Johann Sebastian Bach or even a Benjamin Britten, but at least there’s latkes, which make up for a lot. And also, the material music world does not lack for gifted Jewish bards, so celebrating the sixth night of Chanukah at the Contemporary Jewish Museum with Leonard Cohen cover chorus The Conspiracy of Beards was actually about as perfectly Jewish as it gets.

The Beards have been performing a capella versions of the poetic works of the “High Priest of Solitude” for almost 10 years. Not Cohen impersonators so much as interpreters, the Beards’ approach to the music of Leonard Cohen has always been one of playful exploration — adding simple harmonies, basso profundo, and falsetto trills to Cohen’s weathered range, expanding his often solitary focus into one more piercingly universal. Ensconced in the CJM’s vaulted Goldman Hall, which has recently hosted appearances by Literary Death Match, the Porchlight storytelling series, Dischord Records founder Ian MacKaye, and a screening of The Big Lebowski, the Beards joyfully sang a treasured clutch of favorite Cohen tunes — mostly classics such as “Famous Blue Raincoat” and “Chelsea Hotel No. 2”. For their signature song, “Bird on a Wire” they all broke formation, and stood in a single line, arms wrapped around each other’s shoulders in a show of camaraderie, even as they sang of the freedom of the solitary rambler.

Building on the theme of camaraderie, San Francisco’s tenth annual edition of Phil Kline’s twenty year-old “Unsilent Night” went off without a hitch on Saturday, despite the incessant rain of the day and the small clusters of belligerent Santas that still dotted the chilly Mission District landscape. With the rain serendipitously vanished just before the scheduled go-time of 7pm, a relatively small but hardy group showed up to the corner of Dolores and 18th Street, boomboxes at the ready.

“Unsilent Night” is a four-part soundscape for multiple speakers, the more the merrier, and as the 45-minute piece plays, the four separate tracks weave together into a lustrous tapestry of ambient sound interspersed with golden threads of angel choirs and purposeful bells. Combining the conviviality of a caroling party with the secular appeal of experimental noisemaking, we strolled through the narrow corridors of the Mission’s more tranquil side streets, encouraging stares, smiles, and even spontaneous joiners (including a few Santas who played James Brown at a low volume in conceptual counterpoint). We spent the piece’s final phrases perched hillside in Dolores Park, contemplating the view of sparkling lights and wet pavement, as the music trailed off to whatever realm spent notes are relegated to—the sacred and profane alike.

For pictures and more info of San Francisco’s Unsilent Night check out Mission Loc@l’s slideshow


Nite Trax: Ana Sia, back on home court


For those of you who haven’t been listening: Ana Sia is kind of a big deal. One of those quaintly San Francisco nightlife things — you blink for a hot minute, and someone familiar on the scene blows up, their hard work rewarded with major festival gigs, a large and growing following, and DJ sets being featured on NPR. Heeeey.

I’ve been a fan of the poised yet energetic Ana for a long while, and I must say I’m pleased as punch for her continued success — and to see what she’s got in store for us as she plays again in SF. (She’s one of the headliners, along with the UK’s excellently house and techy Ben UFO, at Friday night’s As You Like It party at Beat Box.) Onstage, the local Frite Nite label head quickly pulls you into her zone, tempering a concentration born of pure appreciation of the music with some playful bouncing and disarming charm. “I’m having a shit-ton of fun!” you can hear her shouting from the decks.

Categorizing her actual sound, however, can prove challenging.

Ana’s been through a few transfomations. I first became aware of her as a member of the underground techno scene, then as a part of the crunk-meets-dubstep-meets-Burning Man Bassnectar touring juggernaut — at one point pimping herself with a wink as playing “global slut psy-hop,” a moniker which went well with the gaudy scene of the late ’00s. Then, as part of Frite Nite, she became a brainier glitch advocate, delving into more adventurous realms of broken bass. But she’s always been courageous, forceful, and fun — even now, when she’s adding full-on house and ravier techno to the mix, as you can hear below.

Love it. She took a minute to email me the answers to some questions in anticipation of her Friday gig. Welcome back, Ana.

SFBG You’ve been playing all over lately — how does it feel when you come back to San Francisco?

ANA SIAReturning home and playing shows with my peers and in front of what very much feels like family is the greatest part of my schedule. What makes San Francisco so tight is the diversity and multi-cultural melange of the people, and those acknowledgments certainly carry through to the art scene. Connecting with listeners is easier on the home court — I feel much more safe and secure introducing more challenging music and unfamiliar sounds because everyone is so open here, They genuinely understand and love music. Ask any touring artist this question and I bet they say the same about our community here!

SFBGYour sound has really evolved since you were playing here regularly. Can you tell me where you’re at now, and what we can expect?

ANA SIA I think the one thing that has not changed about my sound is that it’s always different than the last time — whether that’s a yay or nay thing is another issue though. But right now, people can expect the agenda i’ve been pushing for a minute now; classy yet ratchet bass music, stepping on the toes of techno-house. And yeah, i’ve always tried to stay ahead of the curve for DJ sets, but honestly all the latest trends and best music out right now is re-introducing fundamental dance music. It’s nothing really super-shiny and new. It’s all slightly more modernized revisions of classic sounds which i’m grateful for. Because for me, my young rave days began with house. 

SFBG What equipment are you using lately — and can you tell us about some of your recent or upcoming releases?

ANA SIA Ableton Live is still my bandmate, but I have this new bossy future-midi controller, the QuNeo. I’m working on an EP right now, probably music that no ones’ expecting but all the tunes are in the territory of the above mentioned. 

SFBG In my mind, your sound is always evolving, you’ve always been on the cutting edge — it’s hard for a writer like me to keep up with you! Who are you listening to now? And since you travel so much, do you have any good stories from the road? 

ANA SIA Such a loaded question! Presently in my playlist of the last few months : Kendrick Lamar, Detroit Swindle, Bambounou, George Fitzgerald, Bach, 2 Chains, Dj Spinn, Lukid. And road stories? that’s classified information. Mostly because i fear self-incrimination. But i will say that it is shocking how many really great sushi restaurants there are in the most unsuspected of places in the middle of America. 


Fri/14, 10pm-4am, $15, $10 before 10pm, $20 after


314 11th St., SF.

Nite Trax: Re-enter Kingdom


You can’t talk contemporary American bass music without starting right off at Kingdom, a.k.a. LA’s Ezra Rubin. (He appears here Sat/22 at the Lights Down Low party at Public Works, in a bananas lineup that includes Kim Ann Foxman, Miracles Club, jozif, and MikeQ.)

Two years ago, his bounce-rave masterpiece “Mindreader” and the low-creeping, R&Bleepy That Mystic EP popped the top of critics’ lists and club faves, and injected some mad energy into the scene on these shores. That was followed by last year’s acclaimed Dreama EP, which blueprinted some interesting bass possibilities, swinging from cinematic vogue-warps to post-grime gamer spaciness.

Kingdom also provided a crucial link between London’s fantastic label-club Night Slugs scene, in which he came up in the late ’00s, and the somewhat scattered US bass scene that operated outside the Diploshere. His Fade to Mind touring collective and label, launched with Prince William, became a focal point for underground American fractal-bass musicmakers like Nguzunguzu and Total Freedom who could hype a club through their disparate styles, but didn’t mind getting a little arty about it.

Although Kingdom seems to tour constantly and has appeared here a few times over the last couple years, it’s been a minute since he released any new material. I wanted to catch up with him over email about what he’s got cooking, and his feelings about the current direction of the American bass music scene. Also, who cuts his hair?

SFBG That FadeFM live set you dropped in July hit me as a bit darker than expected. We’re all eagerly awaiting the follow-up to the Dreama EP — are you being drawn in a darker or harder direction, and might your future output reflect that? Can you give us any news about upcoming releases?

KIngdom The new tracks I’m working on are just more extreme! I’ll be releasing two projects through Fade to Mind this fall. My new solo tracks are darker and more minimal than my previous releases, and on the other end, the second project will be more melodic than any of my previous work, and will feature vocals from Fade to Mind’s first official vocalist, Kelela Mizanekristos. Can’t wait for the world to hear our first song together!

SFBG The Night Slugs scene maintains its high level of quality, but its been kicking around for what seems like an Internet eternity — a lot of other bass labels have faded in the meantime. What’s the current environment for the Night Slugs (and your own personal) sound — do you find it’s still considered “underground”? Has a different generation taken to it?

KIngdom I think it’s timeless and will always weave in and out of what resonates with a certain type of music fan. Everyone in the whole Fade to Mind-Night Slugs continuum is producing different types music, music that is true to who they are, so regardless of passing trends the music stays true to itself and its maker.

SFBG How has the experience of being a part of the Fade to Mind collective and label been? It’s been pretty amazing to watch artists like Nguzunguzu and MikeQ gain some fame in the broader hip hop and dance worlds …

Kingdom Part of? I created the label, alongside Prince William, and its the best feeling in the world to see them doing so well. MikeQ and Nguzunguzu are also close friends from before the label existed, so that makes it even more rewarding.

SFBG How do you feel about the “trap” moniker being attached to a lot of trippy bass music these days, including music that’s only peripherally influenced by the original Houston trap scene? I’m finding a lot of Night Slugs joints being tagged with the trap genre label, and wondering if that might help wider audiences grasp what the sound is in the dubstep-EDM pop world of these United States…. which may be a blessing or a curse.

Kingdom Many members of the collective have been listening to southern rap music forever and drawing influence from it. When people try to ride any microgenre it makes us all cringe, especially one so terribly and insultingly named. Girl Unit really pioneered the sound a couple years back, but he gave it his own twist and made sure it was produced impeccably. Most of the stuff being made now has no production value and you can tell by listening that it’s made by former hard electro and dubstep producers.

SFBG I think a big part of your image is your great (and consistent) look — can you give us some drop on any labels or designers you favor? Who cuts your hair?

Kingdom Haha! I mainly support my friends who run their own labels like Cassette Playa, Hood By Air, Telfar, and Gerlan Jeans. Aside from that I just hunt through garbage really. As for my hair, that’s a trade secret, but I by no means invented this hair cut.

SFBG You released your own genius twist on a vogue ha track with “Stalker Ha” — and I’m sure you’ve witnessed the rise of vogue beats to the fore of cutting-edge bass music. Can you tell me a bit about the genesis of that track, and how much influence vogue beats have had over you productions?

Kingdom I wanted to make a scary and cinematic “Ha” beat. The original bootleg demo I made had Missy’s rap verse from Monica’s song “Knock Knock” which is about a dude bugging her and trying to come up to her house begging her to take him back, so it fit with the stalker vibe of the song. For the final version I stripped out the rap. Vogue beats have been an influence on my music forever, it’s crazy raw energetic music, but also off-kilter and jagged in its own way.

SFBG The last time I saw you was in October 2010, you were playing Mustache Mondays in LA. And I was kind of blown away at how great the combination of a mostly gay freak crowd and your beats was. Do you find yourself playing many queer-oriented parties outside of NYC or LA? If so, how has the reaction been?

Kingdom I haven’t been booked at many queer events recently, mostly straight clubs, and mixed events, too. I find I get a good reaction from both scenes!

SFBG Who are you listening to a lot right now?

Kingdom R&B is always on my playlist, loving the resurgence of a lot of my favorites. Brandy has new material out right now, Missy just dropped two new singles with Timbaland, Ciara’s new song “Sorry” is an anthem, and the new Jeremih mixtape is crazy. Also listening to Beek and Divoli Severe from MikeQ’s Qweenbeat label a lot, as well as the masters we just got back for the next Fade to Mind release, which consists of five new compositions by Fatima Al Qadiri.

Snap Sounds: Bibi Tanga and the Selenites



From the bright electro-funk pulse of the opening track, “Poet of the Soul,” sunlight infuses Bibi Tanga and the Selenites’ latest album, 40 Degrees of Sunshine. An upbeat melange of esoteric samples, funky bass lines, polyrhythmic percussion, soulful, multi-lingual crooning, and Walt Whitman poetry, the twelve tracks distill the best of an array of influences into a potent brew.

Neither the vibrant Afrobeat-ish “Band a Gui Koua,” sung in Sango, the nouveau jazz inflections of “Attraction,” nor even the unsettling tone poem “Happy Dust Man,” would be out of place on dance floors from Bangui or Boston, despite their refusal to be neatly categorized. To this refusal, Bibi Tanga and crew offer a preemptive explanation, perhaps apology, on “Dark Funk”. “If you find a name for the music we’re doing…just call us.”

Snap Sounds: Laetitia Sadier



In her 20 years as the lead singer of Stereolab, Laetitia Sadier has dependably imparted a vital, earthy humanity to her band’s sterile, mechanized productions.

In turn, on Silencio, her newest full-length, Sadier forgoes Stereolab’s rigid aura, in favor of a warmer, airier sound, more relaxed in approach, and endearing in its lack of cohesion.

Jumping between sun-kissed bossa nova tributes (“Moi Sans Zach”), psych-lounge numbers a la Air (“There is a Price to Pay for Freedom”), and breezy, Yo La Tengo-ish pop tunes (“Auscultation to the Nation”), Silencio allows Sadier’s various musical influences to breathe and linger, without being upstaged by the motorik propulsion, and Jetsons kitsch, of the Stereolab formula. An ideal sunny-day-in-the-Mission-with-headphones record.

Snap Sounds: Midnite Snaxxx



Midnite Snaxxx are like the quintessential cool girls of high school, in an alternate garage-punk universe. Clad in tough leather jackets, singing with a Nikki and the Corvettes-cherry-topped snarl (they even played with Nikki Corvette this summer), creating rock’n’roll Ramone-esque pop hooks, and hitting the shit out of those drums — they positively explode on their debut self-titled LP in tracks like “Spend the Night,” and slow things down sweet on noisy rock ballads such as “In Your Eyes.”

And why shouldn’t they? The budget rock trio is made up of musicians who’ve played previously in Trashwomen, Bobbyteens, Cyclops, and Loudmouths (and, full disclosure: Guardian staffer Dulcinea Gonzalez). The album cover already deserves a slot next to iconic covers of yore: the Who’s The Who Sell Out, or, more to the style, Bowie’s vibrant Aladdin Sane. The pop art illustration of a hot dog with a dripping ice cream scoop plopped in the center looks satisfying, sugary, and messy, much like the act itself. Snacktastic.

Nite Trax: DJ Deevice wraps up summer, digs deep


Ours was another SUMMER OF BASS. I love it, of course — who doesn’t like their buns to get a rumblin’ in the club? As an SFer I’m spoiled with low-low riches, and have amazing access to the very first and best in post-dubstep, moombahton, trap, and spooked. And when it comes to more driving, esoteric UK bass house? Oh, I have a very special secret weapon. A very special Scottish secret weapon.

Ay, it’s DJ Deevice, aka Martin Collins, host of the excellent Gridlock radio show on Radio Valencia (, 87.9 FM, Thursdays noon-2pm. The weekly playlist is a veritable feast of cheat sheet for those of us looking for the latest hypnotic bass sounds rolling out of London, Brooklyn, and other woofer-blowing capitals. Here’s his latest radio show podcast:

And here’s an excellent bouncy mix he recently put up:

I’ll be profiling Deevice in the paper next week, where you’ll learn much more about him (and listen to his show tomorrow for some great tunes!). But I wanted to post his current top 10, which doubles as a good “best of summer 2012.” I also asked him to share a couple juicy stories from his long experience as a DJ and international player, which you’ll find below.


1. Makoto “Another Generation” (Apollo)

2. Om Unit “Ulysses” (Civil)

3. Ave Astra “More L (Original Mix)” (Filigran)

4. John Tejada “When All Around Is Madness” (Kompakt)

5. Sarrass “A New Day (Original Mix)” (Third Ear)

6. Steve Huerta “Take Me Closer” (Amadeus)

7. Ripperton, “Let’s Hope (Bicep Remix)” (Mugpie)

8. Ghosts On Tape “Nature’s Law” (Icee Hot)

9. Volor Flex “About You” (Apollo)

10. BWANA “Baby Let Me Finish (Black Orange Juice remix)” (Somethinksounds)



“In about 1995, I was doing a party at the Sub Club on Thursdays, a weekly house-techno night I did with another DJ, his name was Mark Ryal. And back then, we were playing pretty much everything that was coming out of Detroit and Chicago, all the stuff on Balance, Prescription, all the Ron Trent, all the Chez Damier, plus all the techno that was coming out on Underground Resistance, Robert Hood, you name it — basically if it came from Chicago or Detroit, we played it on Thursdays. It was really one of the most popular things that was happening at the the time and it was every Thursday on Jamaica Street in Glasgow.

“We were bringing in guests like Derrick May, who played a bunch of times. The Slam guys (Soma Records), Ralph Lawson, Darren Emerson, Dave Clark and Mark Broom were all playing. And then there was this one time Stacey Pullen was playing the Sub Club for the first time, on a Friday or Saturday and the management of the club asked me to take him around, shopping for vinyl for his set, since I knew all the good spots.

“It was Glasgow, and definitely not exactly the nicest day in the world. I suggested after we’d been to a couple of record stores, ‘Do you want to go get a drink?’ And we went to this place off Great Western Road — nothing special, just a typical Glasgow bar. So we went up to the bar and I asked Stacey what he wanted to drink. What you have to understand is, this was like the worst foggy day in San Francisco, but 10 times wore than that and all rainy and horrible and in Scotland. And here I was with Stacey Pullen from Detroit, the Kosmic Messenger, “Forever Monna,” etc…. in this hole-in-he-wall in Scotland on a shitty day.

“And I kid you not, he said ‘I’ll have a pina colada.’

“Needless to say he didn’t get a pina colada.”


“A couple years back, I played an all-night party, it was a friend’s birthday. We were up still and we had been partying, so a bunch of us decided to go to the End Up. It was me and maybe eight to 12 other people. We pulled up in separate cabs and I got out of my cab right in front of the End Up, and I had two bags of records with me. The door staff were really, really nice, as nice as nice could be, which really kind of shocked me a little bit.

“They were like, ‘Hey, how are you doin’?’ and asking me all these questions, ‘How’s things’ and everything. And I was, ‘Yeah, I’m fine.” And they asked me ‘Are you on your own?’ and I said, ‘No, I’ve got a bunch of people with me.’ So basically, we all just rolled in for free. And I thought, ‘That was nice of them!’

“So I’m coming in the door and going by the DJ booth, and the guy who’s spinning — this is a Saturday morning — says, ‘You’re early!’ It was only then that I realized what was going on — they thought I was the replacement DJ.

“So I answered, ‘Yeah, I suppose I’m a bit early!’ I went out on the patio and hung out with some of the people I came with and told them, ‘Hey, I’m actually going to go on in 15 minutes’ — they were stoked, and said they’d keep the party going.

“I ended up going on, played for half an hour, 45 minutes — and then the guy turned up, and he was pissed at the fact this was happening. He was late, so who cared. Basically what happened was I wasn’t banned or escorted out of the club.

“But I’m banned from the DJ booth. Not from the club — they still managed to get a lot of money from me at the bar, but I’m apparently banned from the DJ booth. For impersonation.”

Best of the Bay 2012: BEST EDIBLE PLAYLIST


We’ve heard the phrase “chefs are the new rock stars” enough to make us (s)cream. Turntable Kitchen both embodies this sentiment and finely chops it to pieces. Husband and wife duo Kasey and Matthew put together the website, with occasional help from a drop-by musician or chef. A typical visitor might stop by the Turntable Kitchen to hear “three belly-burning covers of the Clash’s ‘Guns of Brixton'” in the Served Three Ways feature, or to get the ingredients for the perfect asparagus frittata in the recipe index — musically paired to Field Music, thanks to the dishes’ festive and delicate notes. Or maybe they’ll sign up for the popular Pairings Box, which arrives each month with recipes, dry ingredients, and a limited-edition vinyl seven-inch single meant to match the mood of the meal inside.

Snap Sounds: Guantanamo Baywatch



Thick, wet reverb lays the sexy underwater groundwork for most Guantanamo Baywatch songs. Those surfy chords echo forever then build to dissolving fizzy chaos on the sleazy Portland, Oreg. trio’s full-length Chest Crawl, which veers towards the Ventures on uppers during mostly instrumental songs like opener “Barbacoa” and the title track, or rises to unintelligible screams like Dick Dale on crank on tracks such as “Frizella” and energetic doo-wop standout “Baby Please.”

There’s also some Phantom Surfers and our own nasally King Lollipop/Shannon and the Clams underpinnings, but this is under such a haze it’s difficult to make those direct comparisons. Despite all the racket, the record has the right timing for aliens go-go dancing on mars. Or better yet, San Franciscans surfing an urban packed bus.

Exchange is good


MUSIC The heyday of the mixtape was the 1990s, when a mix required a gentle touch with the pause button, careful calculations to make sure the songs fit on the cassette, and a delicate winding of the tape spool with the pinky finger, advancing the clear tape to the magnetic. They took hours to complete. They were fragile, often made in a torrent of teenage lust and given with sweaty palms.

With the San Francisco Mixtape Society, you get a semblance of that experience.

Every few months, the group holds free mixtape exchanges at the Mission District’s Make-Out Room. What happens is this: people come to the event with a mix (cassette, CD, or USB stick), and everyone gets a number. When your number is picked, you give your mix to the person who called your number. Then, you pick a number, and you get a mix in return. Each event has its own theme, to give attendees a spark of inspiration.

Most mixtape exchanges occur by word of mouth, or by invitation-only. Co-founders Annie Lin and John Verrochi, Brooklyn transplants, met by attending similar events in Brooklyn, which were low-key, “just hang outs in bars. We wanted to create an event that could accommodate more people, and make it easier to participate,” Lin said in an interview last week. The two of them started the exchange partly because there weren’t any events like it in San Francisco at the time.

“When I moved here I felt like there wasn’t really a channel for people that like music to meet other people that like music. When you go to a show, you really can’t talk to people. Part of it grew out of wanting to meet cool people as a newcomer to the city with no established clique. The nice thing is that a lot of people have actually come together,” said Lin.

“There’s two connections that you’re forced to have,” explained Ashley Saks, a member and organizer of the society. “One is with the person you’re giving your [mixtape] to, and one is the person you’re getting the mixtape from.”

“There is a dating aspect,” said co-founder Verrochi, “though we don’t promote that. You usually make them for someone you care about, so it kind of has this courting thing to it. People have definitely hooked up.”

The society gives a free beer to those who make a mix on cassette, and awards prizes in categories such as Best Art.

“We were thinking we would get to see cool graphic art, like really cool album covers,” Verrochi said. (He works by day as an art director.) “But it’s turned into these art objects. Tiny sculptures.”

Cases have been hand knit, papier-mâché’d, and encased in world globes. One person made a 3-D dollhouse. Another made a lemonade stand out of Popsicle sticks. The winner of the last event — the theme was “Under the Covers” — made a coffin. Inside was a collection of mixes that together formed a skeleton. The track listing came in a funeral booklet.

“You never know what you’re going to get,” said Lin. “You know you’re going to get something. You might get something huge and crazy, like a Noah’s Ark.”

Besides winsome cover art, coveted mixes are well-sequenced and tell a story. “Editing is the secret,” said Lin. “In this era it’s so easy to say, ‘Let’s get on Spotify and do a search for titles that have the theme in the name.’ With a really good mixtape, someone really thought about the tone or the flavor of the theme, and how the songs come together over all. It’s more than just an algorithmic search for songs, which is easy to do.”

One memorable mixtape was made for a Treasure Island Music Festival event. The theme was “Hidden Treasure,” and the tape was called “Pirate’s Booty.” “Every single song on that mixtape was about ass,” Verrochi said.

Interest in the SF Mixtape Society has grown beyond its own events. Music festivals like SXSW have asked the group to run exchanges, and mixtape enthusiasts in Toronto and San Diego have asked how to start similar groups. It’s a reflection of people’s desire to do more than share music on the internet.

“We live in a curation culture,” said Lin. “People make playlists and share them on Spotify. Like, ‘Here’s all the songs that I’m listening to right now on this playlist in random order.’ A mixtape is sharing, yes, but it’s also selecting exactly what it is you’re going to share.”

“I think why people like our event is you actually have to show up in person, you have to create an object and hand it to them. And there’s this really tangible quality to it,” Verrochi said.

The SF Mixtape Society’s next event, themed “American Summer,” occurs Sun/15 at the Make-Out Room; a smaller exchange will take place as part of the California Academy of Sciences’ “Mixology, Mixtapes and Remixes at NightLife” event July 19. *

Snap Sounds: Sébastien Tellier


By Irwin Swirnoff


His last record was called Sexuality, and tapped into the most up front and direct body moving songs of his career, but Sébastien Tellier has always made music dripping with raw sensuality. His latest album sheds the immediate dance-pop sensibility of his last offering and finds him delving deep once again in a more nuanced, textured, and left of center romantic pop approach.

Much like one of his French forefather, Serge Gainsbourg, Tellier has the ability to play with genre while always keeping his signature vision and infectious charisma. My God Is Blue sounds like the sensation of soft touches across your body in bed with a window cracked and slight clouds of steam flowing up and down around you. Others try so hard to be suave, but with Tellier it flows naturally.