Locals Only

Locals only: Split Screens


There’s something overwhelmingly dreamlike about Jessie Cafiero’s songwriting, to the point that it makes a listener feel like they’re sleepwalking: The ebbs and flows of cinematic, orchestral pop conjure a surreal sense of nearly floating around one’s city. It’s not surprising, then, to hear that the singer-guitarist often draws inspiration from walking around these foggy hills of ours.

Though Cafiero released a debut EP as Split Screens two years ago, Before The Storm, out Sept. 9, showcases a fuller band, a more confident, brighter sound, and a more lush dreamscape in which Cafiero’s words create an airtight, contemplative mood; this is the perfect sonic accompaniment for a Sunday afternoon, cruising around the city in the early fall air, seeing where the day takes you.

Cafiero released an accordingly pretty, otherworldly video for the LP’s first horn-punctuated single, “Stand Alone.” Check it below, and catch the band’s record release show at Bottom of the Hill Sat/20.

San Francisco Bay Guardian How and when did the band form? I understand it was mostly a solo project to begin with — how is this new record different, and what made you decide to bring in more members of the live band?

Jesse Cafiero The band formed a little over two years ago. I had already written and recorded my self-titled EP under the name Split Screens, but when I got my first show it was time to move the studio solo project into a live setting. With the new record, Before The Storm, I had already started playing a few shows in the area so I could bring members of the band into the studio, which was great!

SFBG What’s your songwriting process like?

JC It depends, I play guitar and piano so I like to write on both to have a little more variety. Since I started writing Split Screens material I’ve always had my phone around to record ideas on the fly, that’s definitely helped. I also love writing in the studio, usually I’ll have the main form of the song together by that point but writing particular parts in that setting is an amazing feeling.

SFBG You’re from the East Coast originally, yeah? How did you wind up in the Bay Area? How do you think it shapes/affects your music?

JC Yeah, I’m from a small town in upstate NY called Pine Plains and I moved to the Bay Area five years ago. It was just a good time to move, I was just out of a long term relationship at that point and had fell in love with California the year before when I visited for the first time. If anything, the natural beauty of the city is inspiring and I’ve found myself coming up with some of my best lyrical ideas just taking walks up in the hills around Sutro Tower.

SFBG I love the “Stand Alone” video. What made you decide to go with stop-motion for this song?

JC I’ve always been a huge fan of animation and for “Stand Alone” the song has this lifting quality that seemed to be a great fit with the kind of movement stop-motion creates. Also the idea that I could create a piece of visual art on my own time on an incredibly small budget was really appealing to me. This was my first time attempting stop-motion so there was a freshness of creativity that I haven’t felt in a while!

SFBG Other Bay Area bands/artists you love?

JC Waterstrider, St. Tropez, Black Cobra Vipers, Doncat, Debbie Neigher, Guy Fox, Bells Atlas, Quinn Deveaux, Lee Gallagher & The Hallelujah…I know I’m leaving some people out. The list goes on.

SFBG Plans for the coming year after the record is released?

JC I’m gonna take a well-needed breather and start writing some new material. After that I’d love to do another little West Coast tour in 2015 and begin working on another music video!

SFBG Where in the Bay do you live? What’s the Bay Area food/meal you think you couldn’t live without?

JC I recently moved to the Castro. I had never had a Vietnamese sandwich until I moved to the West Coast, and the first one I ever had on Clement Street kind of changed my life. Thankfully I live around the corner from Dinosaurs so I’m pretty set on that front!

Split Screens LP Release
With Yassou Benedict and New Spell
Sat/20, 9:30pm, $12
Bottom of the Hill
1233 17th St, SF

Locals Only: Tom Rhodes


There are artists who are known for being shy and reclusive — for producing their best work while holed up in their room, or in a cabin in the woods, or on a solo bender.

And then there are those who feed off the energy of an audience. The magic of a live performance is in the interaction, right? In the knowing that, though you’re just a face in a crowd at a venue like thousands of others across the country, the experience you’re having with a musician live on stage is unique to that evening; whether it’s a drum coming in a millisecond later than it did the previous night or banter that changes based on what the band drank backstage.

With Or Without, the fourth self-released album from East Bay singer-songwriter Tom Rhodes, has taken the concept of a live album — the attempt to capture that specific face-to-face, performer-audience magic — and distilled it like a fine whiskey. Created over the course of four separate live performances in November in front of intimate studio audiences at San Francisco’s own Coast Recorders, the resulting music sounds like you’ve been snuck into something secret and awesome: There’s a particularly liberated-sounding husk in Rhodes’ voice (one could guess he falls into the latter camp of artists), an excitingly un-tucked feeling behind pedal steel man Tim Marcus’ guitar, and the overall feeling of the band playing directly to you; this album would be particularly welcome on a solo road trip.

Perhaps relatedly, Rhodes has traveled extensively, and also swerved between genres a good deal. Ahead of his show with fellow local alt-country/folk heavyweights The Lady Crooners (who also appear on his album) and Kelly McFarling this Wednesday, Aug. 13 at the Freight and Salvage Coffeehouse, we caught up with Rhodes to hear about the inspirations for this album and, of course, his favorite foods.

SF Bay Guardian How and when did you first start playing music? Who are the songwriters you look to for inspiration? What’s the first record you really remember loving?

Tom Rhodes I have been playing music for as long as I can remember. As a very young child I remember my mother teaching me piano, singing at home and at church; instruments were all over the house and I was never told that I was too young or clumsy to experiment with them. My mother is a classically trained singer and multi-instrumentalist (she played the oboe, clarinet, piano, and guitar) and my father is an incredibly passionate music collector. So I wound up in this perfect environment for creating a child who would grow up to be a musician: A kid in a house filled to the brim with instruments and parents who were constantly listening to music on top of the line stereos, and discussing that music with parents who really dove into it themselves. My dad’s record collection numbered in the thousands, we had a room that was filled with shelves of records and I would play them all the time. Then it was tapes, then CDs.

The music that I came of age to was so diverse that I can’t begin to list even my favorites…it’s everything…they all had pretty equal weight, but the first “songwriter” that I remember falling in love with lyrically and musically was (and still is) Paul Simon. It’s really a toss-up between him and the older Jackson Browne stuff for me when it comes to a benchmark that I have always tried to get close to. The first record that opened up huge doors in my head as far as songwriting goes was Paul Simon’s Graceland. It has this scope, and tenderness, and insight that continues to this day to have new and deeper meanings to me, and it was like nothing I had ever heard.

SFBG From your bio, it sounds like you’ve lived all over. Do you think your style has changed with geographic location? How are you influenced by the place you live? What led to the fuller band sound on this album?

TR Living in lots of places has definitely affected my style. Everywhere I go I try to find the music that makes that spot special and dig into it. In the Bahamas I would follow around the musicians in the Calypso bands trying to figure out how their crazy rhythms worked. In New Orleans I fell in love with Zydeco and Second Line…I played with local cats and tried to catch their vibe. I’ve busked everywhere I have lived, and I always check out the local buskers…they will tell you where the heart of the city is quicker than any overpriced bar. San Francisco is a bit different on its influence on me. It has been less musical and much more intellectual. For the first time in a long time I have had the social freedom to explore some concepts about humanity and myself by being surrounded by other people on a similar quest. San Francisco has such a diverse and transplanted population that it’s style seems to be more about what you’re saying than how you are saying it. That has rubbed off on me a bit. 

As far as the fuller sound on the album, that has come from the amazing musicians that I am surrounded by.  The musicianship in the Bay Area is top notch right now, and some very special stuff is going to start emerging from it very soon.  I look at SF as a town on the brink of being a center of music in the next 5-10 years.

SFBG Can you tell me a bit about how the way this album was recorded, using live sessions? How do you think it affects the overall sound/feel of a record?

TR This album was a concept before the first note was recorded. The concept was to create a record that would be the most real and honest piece of art I had ever made.

The record is self-financed, and even the crowd funding was done in a way that didn’t ask for donations but rather I asked people to hire me to do work with the knowledge that the money I made was going into making this album. I wanted to walk away from the process with a piece of art that I would pay $15,000 for, and I have it.

To create that we had to do everything the hard way (i.e. the right way). I brought in Charlie Wilson (SonicZen Records) to help me build a band around these songs that I had labored over for almost three years and record them live in a top shelf studio. We rented out Coast Recorders for four days, invited in a small audience each night, and played the album for them live. We took the best takes and that’s the record that you hear.

Recording live is very hard and very risky, so it is very rare to see artists attempting it these days, unless they are trying to make a record on the cheap.  There are so many variables that can go wrong (you can lose your voice, there can be technical issues that take up recording time, the band can make mistakes, some small thing can be out of tune) and if any of them happen, you wind up with a bad sounding album and no back-up plan.  Most records are tracked separately these days to avoid that, but to me it takes all of the real life out of it, and it tells me almost nothing about the person who recorded it.

Another thing is doing it in front of an audience. I am a live performer by trade really, I spend 90 percent of my time in music with a guitar strapped to my chest and singing to real, live, human beings (and sometimes my dog). Performing is what I do best, so why go into a studio and do anything other than that? I find tracking vocals in a booth takes all of the emotion out of it for me, and I have to put it back into the music in some fake kind of way. Why not just do it the right way and record it? (The answer most producers and engineers would tell you is that most people can’t do that. They make too many mistakes, don’t know their songs, it’s hard to isolate the voice and guitar from each other to edit them later.) One of the amazing things that Charlie Wilson did in this whole process was to not back down from those challenges.

So in the end we have this album.  It is exactly what I wanted.  It is a collection of songs that say exactly what I want them to say, and it doesn’t just sound like what we sound like when we play as a band… it IS us playing as a band.  Performing these songs with our hearts wide open.  But when someone hears the record I hope that they don’t hear that it’s live, I hope that they FEEL that it’s real.

SFBG How do you describe your genre, when forced to? (Sorry.) There have been some pretty real shifts from album to album — is that conscious/intentional/inspired by anything in particular?

TR I’m ok with this [question] now…This album is Americana. It’s a weird term, but it’s where this record sits, probably the last one too. The stylistic shifts aren’t just from album to album, they are from song to song inside of those albums. Those shifts aren’t actually purposeful (other than being strongly guided to have more of a rock record for “No Apologies”) as much as they are a byproduct of the way that I write. I don’t write music to fit a genre, I just write the songs that come to my mind in the most effective way that I can to get the idea across. Sometimes that requires a completely different feel than other songs that I write. Each song needs to be served to the best of my abilities, regardless of what sort of music is expected of me. I grew up listening to and learning such a diverse collection of music that I have a pretty broad pallet in my head to choose from. It’s actually pretty coincidental that this album has such a singular vibe that way. Even on this album there are some genre swings; “Dying is Easy” is what I would call an R&B tune, “Nobody’s Listening” is pretty poppy, but the band and the circumstances gave this record a much more specific vibe, and we recorded it live so we couldn’t go back later and alter that feel. Not that I would do that in a million years.

SFBG Plans for the coming year?

TR This year is all about trying to spread the word about this record. That is the absolute hardest part about being an independent musician, just getting in front of new eyes and ears.  There are some big shows lined up, some tours in the works, music videos to be released…hopefully I can find people who can help me with that. That is my goal for this year, find a team of people who can help to spread this music around. I think that this album has what it takes, now I just need to show it to the world.

SFBG Where in the Bay do you live? What’s the one Bay Area meal/food item you couldn’t live without?

TR I live in the East Bay, in the Emeryville/Oakland area. There is a Mexican place out here that has the best burritos in the area, called Chili Jalapeño. It’s a hole in the wall, but I honestly daydream about their food.

SFBG Other Bay Area bands you love?

TR I love The Lady Crooners (not just because they are on my album!). They have some of the best harmonies in the business, and they make me smile every time I see them. Con Brio is an absolute must-see if you like to dance. Quiles and Cloud destroy me with their tight two-part harmonies and dark beautiful songs. When it comes to local songwriters, Lia Rose, Andrew Blair, Kelly McFarling…there is an awesome scene in this city right now, it’s bubbling under the surface, and someone smart is going to come along and figure that out. When the top blows off of the kettle I just hope to be around to see it.

Tom Rhodes, Kelly McFarling and the Lady Crooners

Wednesday, Aug. 13, 8pm, $17

Freight & Salvage Coffehouse

2020 Addison, Berk.


Locals Only is our shout-out to the musicians who call the Bay Area home — a chance to spotlight an artist/band/music-maker with an upcoming show, album release, or general good news to share. To be considered, drop me a line at esilvers@sfbg.com.

Locals only: Outside Lands edition



LEFT OF THE DIAL Can you smell it in the air? It’s that late-summer, chilled pinot grigio-tipsy, organic ice cream-sticky scent of Outside Lands, just around the corner.

Yes, it’s that time in our fair city’s annual trip around the sun when we get the chance to show Austin and Indio and those warm summer New York nights exactly what we here in San Francisco are made of when it comes to music festivals: Namely, expensive, gourmet food, wine, and beer stands, a commitment to slapping the word “green” in front of everything; and a beautiful, natural outdoor venue in which, should you forget to bring three extra layers in an oversized bag, you will absolutely freeze your ass off by nightfall.

All snark aside, one thing I’ve always appreciated about OSL in its six short summers is that, nestled amongst the sometimes overwhelmingly corporate feel of the thing — something that was maybe inevitable, as Another Planet Entertainment grew from little-promoter-offshoot-that-could into perhaps the most influential promotions company in the Bay Area music biz — is a commitment to bringing local bands along for the ride whenever possible.

Sure, everyone’s excited to see Kanye. I’m excited to see Kanye. Anyone who’s going to see Kanye and tries to say anything more intellectual about it than “I’m really fucking amused in advance and very excited to see Kanye” is lying. But nothing fills me with more hometown pride than watching a band I’ve been rooting for since they were playing living rooms or parklets take the stage in Golden Gate Park in front of thousands of paying, attentive potential new fans.

With that in mind, here’s your guide to a few of our favorite local folks representing the Bay Area at this year’s fest. Show up for ’em. In most cases, they’ve been working toward this for a long time. And if you don’t have the funds to make it to this year’s OSL? Lucky for us — unlike Kanye — these kids play around the Bay all year round.

Nicki Bluhm and the Gramblers

The unofficial queen of Bay Area alt-folk has had a good year since August 2013, when her band’s debut LP took to the airwaves and then to the national stage, with Bluhm’s killer vocals and long, tall mishmash of Stevie/Janis appeal at the helm. Fri/8 at 4pm, Sutro Stage


SF’s own Scott Hansen has also been riding high this year, since the release of Awake in March propelled him from bedroom artist to something else entirely with its lush, ambitious landscapes of color and sound. We still think we prefer him in headphones to outdoor festival-style, but we’ll take it. Sat/9 at 3:40pm, Twin Peaks Stage

Mikal Cronin

If you don’t know his solo stuff (and you should; last year’s MCII was one of the best local records of the year), you probably know him as Ty Segall’s right-hand man. Either way, Cronin is one of the most authentic voices in the Bay Area’s indie scene right now, with just enough power-pop sweetness and strings coloring even his scratchiest garage-punk anthems. Fri/8 at 4:30pm, Panhandle Stage

Christopher Owens

Did you love Girls (the SF indie powerhouse, RIP, not the HBO show)? Of course you did. Did you love Christopher Owens’ solo debut, Lysandre? We did too. He’s giving us another one in September; now’s your chance for a sneak preview of some likely highly emotional and lushly orchestrated songs. Sat/9 at 2:30, Sutro Stage


This 27-year-old rapper and SF University High School graduate has been gaining attention with his whiplash-inducing flow, which he honed in his teens as a slam poetry champion. His most recent album, June’s All You Can Do, is poised to take him from Internet and Ellen-famous to just famous-famous. Sun/10, 2pm, Twin Peaks Stage

Trails & Ways

Bossa nova dream pop, Brazilian shoegaze, whatever you call it: This Oakland quartet (and Bay Guardian Band on the Rise from 2012) draws inspiration from all over the globe for its undeniably catchy, never predictable, harmony-drenched melodies. Sat/9 at 12:40pm, Twin Peaks Stage

Beso Negro

“This is not your father’s gypsy jazz,” warns Beso Negro’s bio, which — while we’re pretty sure our dad doesn’t have a kind of gypsy jazz — does a pretty good job of explaining the modern sounds infused into this Fairfax five-piece’s musical vocabulary. Hell Brew Revue Stage, all three days, check the website for details

Tumbleweed Wanderers

As if we didn’t have a big enough soft spot for this East Bay alt-soul-folk outfit already, there’s the fact that they got their start busking outside of festivals for their first few years — including Outside Lands. Seeing them on the inside will be sweet. Sat/9 at noon, Sutro Stage

El Radio Fantastique

With horns, theremin, and just about every kind of percussion you can think of, this Point Reyes-based eight-piece is a mish-mash of everything dark and dancey and nerdy and weird, describing themselves as “part rumba band in purgatory, part cinematic chamber group, part shipwrecked serenade.” Serious cult following here. Hell Brew Revue Stage, all three days

Slim Jenkins

Sultry, jazzy, rootsy — we’re excited to see what this mainstay of “voodoo blues” nights at small rooms like Amnesia can do on a bigger stage. Hell Brew Revue Stage, all three days

Marty O’Reilly & the Old Soul Orchestra

O’Reilly, a singer-songwriter who’s clearly done his Delta roots, gospel, and traditional folk homework, played OSL last year — well before putting out a debut studio album, the aptly titled Pray For Rain, in March of this year. This is a three-piece with arrangements that make the band seem much bigger. Hell Brew Revue Stage, all three days

Locals Only: Teenager


If the music industry gave out awards for patience or persistence, Bevan Herbekian would have a healthy handful of trophies to his name. The multi-instrumentalist has lent his songwriting and frontman skills to everything from loose punk bands to a highly orchestrated indie pop quartet over the course of the past decade and a half, in addition to playing bass on other people’s songs — at the moment, he’s part of fellow Berkeleyite M. Lockwood Porter‘s band — so he’s no stranger to the realities of trying to “make it” as a musician. But Teenager, the moniker under which Herbekian has decided to release his first truly solo album, represents something new for the songwriter: A chance to blend every genre he’s ever loved, to talk about his travels to New York and subsequent, requisite disllusionment with it, a musical space where he doesn’t have to bend to anyone else’s desires.

The resulting joy is contagious — The Magic of True Love, which comes out April 29, is full of unabashedly earnest, tightly crafted pop songs with seriously big instrumentation. There are head-bobbers, there’s high-flying falsetto, there are shout-along soul choruses. His voice carries the energy of someone very young, but these aren’t songs written by a newbie. Herbekian decided to realease one new song off the album each week leading up to the release, which means you can listen to quite a bit of it online. To be real, though, you should probably buy it. It’s catchy as shit, and the guy’s been at it long enough.

We caught up with him this week to hear about songwriting influences, going solo, and exactly how much time he spent listening to Nevermind.

San Francisco Bay Guardian Your bio says you’re from a small Northern California town. Where, exactly?

Bevan Herbekian I was born in Bennett Valley and raised there until I was 13. It’s that small stretch of countryside/small town between Petaluma & Santa Rosa proper that hides behind the hills off the 101. When I was in junior high, my family moved to Avila Beach, which is a tiny beach town on the central coast. It’s got two streets and a population of a few hundred. It made Bennett Valley look like a real urban center.

SFBG When and how did you first start playing music? What instrument was the first? How many do you play now?

BH I started playing music when I was about 12. My dad taught me the riff to Nirvana’s “Come As You Are” and I urgently learned the rest of the album on an acoustic guitar. It was one of those aha! moments for me. I was totally hooked and immediately wanted to start a punk band, but everyone I knew played guitar, so I hopped over to bass. Since then I’ve taken to the other rock ‘n’ roll instruments — piano, organ/keyboards, simple synth stuff, various percussion — I humor myself on drums and basically anything else I can get my hands on.

SFBG What’s the first record you really remember loving?

BH Unquestionably, Nirvana’s Nevermind. Around the same time I picked up the guitar, I borrowed a cassette of Guns & Roses’ Use Your Illusion from a friend’s ‘cool’ older brother — he was in high school so he was automatically cool. My dad caught me walking through the front door with it and said something along the lines of ‘you don’t want to listen to that garbage’ and took the tape, but not in the normal parents-are-a-drag sort of way. An hour later he gave it back to me having recorded Nevermind over it. I remember sitting on the floor of my room hearing those drums kick in and thinking what is this?! It was so loud and aggressive and passionate and vulnerable and somehow just as catchy as the early Beatles stuff that I loved as a little kid. Overnight, I became obsessed. I couldn’t stop listening to it. I literally listened to it every day before school for a year.

SFBG Can you name some of the bands you’ve been in before? The last time the Bay Guardian checked in with you, you were in The 21st Century.

BH Yeah, I’ve spent much of the last 15 years playing in bands. Prior to Teenager I was leading The 21st Century which was this highly orchestrated Indie-Pop/Rock octet with horns and harmonies and big songs in general. Before that I was working on solo stuff similar to what I’m doing now and playing in a fun experimental art-rock(?) band called The Tea Set and of a band/friendship club called World’s Best Dad. Right now, I’m also playing bass in M. Lockwood Porter which is a really sweet Americana/rock ‘n’ roll band led by fellow 21st Centurier Max Porter.

SFBG How was making an album on your own different from with a group? What made it feel like time to do that? It’s interesting, because so many people, when they decide to “go solo,” put out a really stark and stripped-down album, but this record sounds really BIG on all levels, in the best possible dramatic power-pop sense….got some ’70s arena-rock guitar riffs, soul jams with big backup vocals, some choruses that sound like younger (less cheesy) Billy Joel stuff.

BH Ha, that’s funny and pretty true! Yeah, this album came on the heels of being in a band with a lot of people. As is the case whenever working with a large group, there are many competing ideas and opinions. This can be a tremendous strength, but the songs that became this record were incredibly personal and I just found myself wanting to work on them in a solitary way. I had a strong sense of where I wanted to take them — kind of a ‘more is more’ philosophy — and when you have that sort of clarity, it’s best to do it yourself. It’s true, many of these songs are BIG and that’s been something I’ve been chasing for a few years. These songs grew out of some very big feelings so it seemed like the right way to bring them to life. There’s love and loss and desire and deep disappointment running through them so I wanted them to sound as large as it all felt.

SFBG On that note — how would you describe your genre on this album? Who would you point to as your biggest influences?

BH I love so much music and I like trying my hand at a lot of different types, so there’s a handful of genres represented here. I see this album almost like a mixtape of my life. There’s nods to many of my musical loves. There’s some rock ‘n’ roll, ’60s soul, indie pop, folk, and ’90s alternative (do people still say that?). In terms of musical influences, I gravitate towards songwriting. I love the melodies and arrangements of Brian Wilson and Motown. The literary and lyrical precision of Leonard Cohen and Belle & Sebastian blow my mind. Bands like The Pixies, Big Star, Harry Nilsson, and Beck — they’re all staples too…and like many of us, I was indoctrinated at an early age into the ultimate Beatles fan club by my dad so that’s a part of my musical DNA too.

SFBG Where does the moniker Teenager come from?

BH With The 21st Century, I was unapologetically ambitious. Even the band name was a kind of over-the-top statement of bravado and staking claim on something bold and large. Coming out of that, I veered the opposite direction. I thought, what’s one of the more misunderstood, under-appreciated, and generally dismissed groups around? And I arrived at Teenager. I think it was also a chance to acknowledge how long I’ve been writing and recording music at home. In a lot of ways, I’ve been doing the same thing for about 16 years so I thought in a way, my time as a musician and songwriter is dead center in those teenager years. Given the pair of meanings, it somehow felt strangely appropriate.

SFBG Plans for the next year? 

BH Well, I’ve been putting together a new lineup to play these songs out. I’m quite excited about that. I’m eager to tour come early Fall. Also, because this album was such a labor of love and took such a long time, I’m sitting on a lot of backlogged material. My hope is to get into the studio and cut it all by the end of the year and then whittle it down — maybe to a double album. I’ve never made one and have always been a bit against them in principle — I like editing – -but I think it might be time to give it a try.

SFBG Where do you live in the Bay Area? How does being from Northern California/living here influence your music?

BH I lived in San Francisco for a few years and had a stint in Oakland, and now I’m living in Berkeley. Honestly, I’m not sure how Northern California plays a part in my music. To me, it’s home and sometimes it’s hard to see your home for what it really is. But I love the city and the redwoods and the ocean and the mountains. Being surrounded by all that beauty can really instigate some large dreams and make you feel like the world is an astounding place.

SFBG Bay Area meal/restaurant/food item you couldn’t, hypothetically, live without?

BH Without hesitation, La Taqueria followed by banana cream pie and a cup of coffee from Mission Pie. I’ve dubbed it the ‘double threat’ and there are times when I do it twice a week. No joke, I did it today.


Locals Only: Shareef Ali


Is there anything more punk-rock, truly, than baring your soul in the form of a song? That’s what came to mind the first time I heard Shareef Ali, an Oakland-based singer-songwriter whose debut album, A Place To Remember the Dead, will most likely land in the “folk” section of the record store (er, the iTunes store?) after it drops tomorrow, Feb. 19.

Yes, there’s acoustic guitar; there are poetic and earnest turns of phrase about melancholy, joyful, and romantic feelings. But the underlying current is pure punk defiance — a melodic middle finger of sorts to anyone who might suggest that confessional songwriting means you have to be soft, to anyone made uncomfortable by rough-hewn, sacrificial-sounding love ballads, to an indie music landscape that offers little room for artists who don’t buy into ironic or detached as the road to cool.

Ahead of Ali’s record release show at Bottom of the Hill tomorrow night, I asked him how that sound came about.

SF Bay Guardian: Where are you from originally, and what brought you to SF?

Shareef Ali: I spent my formative years in the Midwest; born and bred in St. Louis, Missouri, schooled in Oberlin, Ohio. In 2006 I moved to LA to start a band that existed long enough to play exactly one show. Then I did a few years toiling away in the non-profit world, which brought me up to the Bay. Eventually, I realized that not only would I not be happy unless I was making music, but that I also believed it was the most valuable contribution I could make. I’ve been focused on music for the past five years, and have never been happier or more sure of my path.

SFBG: How and when did you first start playing music? Who are some of your biggest influences?

SA: I got my first guitar in the 7th grade when my mom accidentally ran over my foot with the car and felt hell of bad about it. I played in a kinda all-over-the-map rock band through high school, messed around with jazz and experimental composition in college, but it wasn’t until I got to the Bay that I really discovered my best assets as a songwriter. As far as influences go, there are the obvious ones that you can detect — Oberst, Cohen, Waits, to name a few — but really, my biggest inspiration these days comes from the musicians in the rich local folk scene here, some of whom can write a fucking song as well as anyone. There are a lot of talents, Brian Belknap and Mr. Andrew being two of my favorites (who both also played as sidemen on my record).

SFBG: How do you describe your sound or genre, when forced to do such a thing?

SA: There’s only one thing more obnoxious than trying to describe one’s music in brief, and that’s listening to a fucking musician hem and haw about how they “don’t want to be pigeonholed.” My roots are in folk, but I feel like a punk aesthetic informs my delivery a lot, even if it’s not a punk-style song. And then stylistically I also draw on country, jazz, pop music, old-time blues, whatever. What ties it all together is that it’s all lyrical music. The song, the story, the poetry of it, is the centerpiece; other musical elements are all supportive of that.

SFBG: Some of your songs are obviously very autobiographical/confessional. How do you decide how much of yourself to put into a song, and what to leave kind of vague?

SA: Some of my songs are definitely deeply personal, especially in a tune like “For the Rest of my Life,” wherein I address, by their real names, both my partner and my ex-lover-still-close-friend. I like to put in little Easter eggs of meaning, inside jokes that only the subjects of the songs will get. There’s one song on the record written about another local songwriter, and I quote half a dozen of her songs back to her. Who knows what other listeners take away from these lines, but there are plenty of lyrics in songs I love that I can only guess at their meaning; that’s part of the fun.  On the other hand: My buddy S.A. Bach put it well when he sang, “Writing songs ain’t for telling the truth.”  Or as someone else somewhere said, “A story doesn’t have to be real to be true.”

SFBG: How do you survive financially in the Bay Area as a musician? If you have a day job, I’m always curious to hear about ’em…

SA: I’m fortunate to have a partner with a stable teaching gig who’s very supportive of my music; we’re currently expecting our first kiddo, and I’m probably gonna get to be the stay-at-home papa, which I’m pretty stoked for. I have a few other odd gigs that I do, and I have also spent some time on the dole, for which I make no apologies.

SFBG: What neighborhood do you live in? And what’s the one Bay Area food you couldn’t live without? I love the It’s-It reference in “Tucson.”

SA: I live in the Lower Bottoms of West Oakland. Bay Area cuisine I couldn’t do without? I’m gonna have to go with the handmade noodles at Shan Dong in downtown Oakland. [Ed. note: Fuck yeah.]


Shareef Ali
With Sparkbox (Kelly McFarling + Megan Keely) and Whiskerman
2/19, 8:30pm, $8
Bottom of the Hill
1233 17th St., SF

Locals Only is our shout-out to the musicians who call the Bay Area home — a chance to spotlight an artist/band/music-maker with an upcoming show, album release, or general good news to share. To be considered, drop me a line at esilvers@sfbg.com.

Locals Only: Steep Ravine


There’s something in Steep Ravine’s music that sounds older than their (fresh-out-of-college) years: It’s a calmness, a soulfulness, a complete lack of pretention — which is not something that can be said for many bands of young dudes who hope to be the Next Big Thing in bluegrass and Americana. These Bay Area natives (Berkeley, Mill Valley, Menlo Park, and Watsonville, to be specific) are far from over-serious, but they take this music and its history seriously, and the result is pretty sweet. Ahead of their album release show at the Starry Plough this Friday, Feb. 7, we caught up with guitarist and vocalist Simon Linsteadt to hear about their influences, burrito preferences, and the difficulties of starting a band while getting hassled by UCSC security officers.

SF Bay Guardian: How did you all meet and when did the band form?

Simon Linsteadt: [Violinist] Jan Purat and I met in high school, where we first began playing music together. We played Django Reinhardt songs like “Daphne” and “After You’ve Gone,” among other things. It was always acoustic. Then Jan went to UC Santa Cruz, and I followed a couple years later after I graduated high school. By then Jan had already established himself as the go-to fiddle player in Santa Cruz and had a band with Alex, our bass player. We would jam at parties and out in the Porter Quad, which was the big courtyard outside of my dorm where all Porter students would hang out. Sometimes we would play way too late at night and the security officers would have to boot us.

It was at the end of that year that we met Andy, a UCSC graduate who lived in town working as a farmer. He was clearly the most slammin’ mandolinist we had ever met, and it was immediately obvious that he had a rare pair of golden ears. We immediately became friends and started to busk down on Pacific Avenue, and we gained a little bit of recognition among the eclectic group of locals and UCSC students. It was around Christmas of 2012 that Alex started playing with us; we had him join us for a holiday show at the Sweetwater Music Hall in Mill Valley. Alex is one of those few individuals who has an extremely “deep pocket” as we like to say, meaning his sense of time is crystal clear and just perfectly on point. We started playing as a quartet around the Bay Area performing original tunes, our spin on traditional bluegrass, and some gypsy jazz songs. After a year, we all at once recorded our debut album, embarked on a 40-day tour across the US, and in October 2013 we all moved into a house together in Richmond.
SFBG: Where does the band name come from?

SL: The name Steep Ravine comes from an amazing spot on Mt. Tamalpais. I personally always liked the name of the Steep Ravine trail, and always saw it as a cool potential band name. A lot of lyrics on our album are inspired by the many excursions I have taken on Mt. Tam. Near the top of the trail is an area called Ridgecrest. When we first got together as a band, we went up there one day to play some music. It is an amazing lookout about 1000 feet up from the ocean and it looks out over the whole Bay Area, out to sea as far as the Farallon islands, and on clear days, all the way north to the lighthouse on the bottom of the Point Reyes Peninsula. Pretty astounding.


SFBG: How would you describe your sound? What did you grow up listening to/playing, and who are some of your mentors?

SL: We’re all uniquely inspired by different musical styles, but it’s safe to say that we all come together around the genre of “bluegrass,” and we all love it very much. It’s some of the most energetic, soulful, expressive music out there. It is interesting though how we all found ourselves there. Jan Purat was classically trained from an early age, and can sight-read crazy classical pieces that look like chicken scratch at most to the rest of us. He has also studied his share of jazz. I picked up the guitar around the age of 10 after listening to Neil Young, who is my all-time hero as a songwriter and musical force, and I have studied my share of jazz as well. Andy O’Brien is a fabulous mandolinist who can play solos with the same sheer power and technicality as the greats in traditional bluegrass. He also has a very unique capability of bringing that energy and classic sound into the songs we compose, with very colorful melodic and rhythmic ideas. As I call to him downstairs asking him what his musical influences were growing up, he responds “Jerry, and The Beatles.” Alex grew up playing the drums, and was inspired by the bands like The Meters and the greats of Afrobeat. He also grew up with bluegrass and folk music in his family. He is a rock solid bassist with an explosive rhythmic feel.  In terms of our sound as a band, I don’t really know how to answer that. What we write is not really bluegrass, or jazz, or singer-songwriter, or folk, or whatever you want to call it. Maybe somewhere in between those.

In terms of influences…the obvious ones that come to mind are Bill Monroe, Frank Wakefield, Kenny Baker, Doc Watson, Norman Blake. This is just a small list, but it represents the folks who were true musical forces back in the day, and who inspired many, many musicans through out the years. But just as we came to bluegrass from a range of genres, when we arrange and write music, all of these genres filter though the genre of bluegrass, and we are left with something that is entirely our own. I was personally turned onto bluegrass by Jacob Groopman, who is a fabulous guitarist, mandolinist, and vocalist. He plays with Front Country and Melody Walker, two really hot bluegrass Americana acts from the Bay Area. He taught me to flatpick and showed me the album Manzanita by Tony Rice when I was 16 or 17, and that was the beginning of the end. Andy O’Brien studied mandolin with Jeremy Lampel in Santa Cruz, and Jan has studied with Chad Manning and Evan Price, to name a couple.  We are also very fortunate to live down the road from Bill Evans, banjoist extraordinaire, who has been something of a mentor to us over the past half year or so. There is a rich bluegrass, folk, and jazz scene throughout the Bay Area, and many of these people live right here in the East Bay. We feel very fortunate to be surrounded by such a friendly and talented community of driven musicians.

SFBG: What’s on tap for the band this year?

SL: We have some exciting touring coming up, from spring to fall. We will be playing at the Parkfield Bluegrass Festival, Four Corner Folk Festival in Pagosa Springs, The Redwood Ramble in Mendocino, Pickamania in New Mexico, The Fathers Day bluegrass festival in Nevada City on the Vern Stage, the Folklife Festival in Seattle, and the Cloverdale Fiddle Festival. And we’re always writing new songs and compiling compositional idea for our next album, which we predict that we hope to start recording in the fall of 2014.
SFBG: Bay Area food item you couldn’t live without?

SL: Jeez, Jan and I would probably say Gordo’s Taqueria or the Cheeseboard. And I think we all could agree upon the fact that there are some amazing grocery stores especially in Berkeley that have great, fresh produce, such as Berkeley Bowl and Monterey Market. We keep our fridge stocked. Also, Andy and Alex are both very experienced gardeners, farmers, and landscapers, and they have planted a very lush garden at our house in Richmond, which is filled with mustard greens, kale, beets, herbs, and some very heady cacti.


Steep Ravine (CD release party), Fri/7
With McCoy Tyler Band and Windy Hill
8pm, $6
Starry Plough

Locals Only: The American Professionals


Locals Only is our shout-out to the musicians who call the Bay Area home — a chance to spotlight an artist/band/music-maker with an upcoming show, album release, or general good news to share.To be considered, email esilvers@sfbg.com.

With all the CDs that come across my desk, the American Professionals‘ latest, We Make It Our Business, caught my attention for a rather weird reason — it looked incredibly boring. At first glance, it seemed like a software or PR company had accidentally sent me some sort of business portfolio in disc form. Upon further review (i.e., actually reading the accompanying materials and listening to the music…this is why they pay me the big bucks) I realized it was anything but. The SF-based trio makes danceable, upbeat but never overly slick power pop with a little gravel in it; the new record should please anyone who can’t afford to see the Replacements at Coachella this year (or even those who can). The band also licenses its music to a couple of shows on Nickelodeon, via a process lead singer Chuck Lindo (also of Noise Pop veterans Action Slacks) still finds mysterious. Ahead of the American Professionals’ record release this Wednesday, we checked in with Lindo to hear about his influences, the music biz, and how he gets his seafood fix.

SF Bay Guardian: How long have you been in San Francisco? How did the band form?

Chuck Lindo: Cheryl [Hendrickson, the bass player/vocalist and also Lindo’s wife] and I moved here from St. Louis in 1991 with my old band, The Nukes. We left behind the humidity, crappy wintertime produce, and a pretty impressive fan base for the possibilities and romance of this freakshow of a place. Still here, but for a brief four year stint in Los Angeles 2003-2007. We got a chance to dry our bones out and re-learn how to drive cars. We met Adam White through another band I play bass and sing with, The Real Numbers. He had just moved out here from Indianapolis and we hit it off like crazy. There’s something about those midwesterners that just feels right. I think there’s some kind of code or dog whistle in there. It’s hard to describe.

SFBG: How would you describe your sound? There are obviously a lot of power-pop influences, some post-punk stuff going on. 

CL: There is a lot of power pop in there, but we do come from the “power” side of that spectrum. I’ve always had a deep desire to hear Black Sabbath playing Squeeze songs. Somebody said we sounded like Cheap Trick on the Foo Fighters’ instruments playing Smithereens’ songs. I’ll take that. My first “real” band, The Nukes, was pretty damn close to being punk really, but not quite. I could never wear the attitude comfortably, but I do like it loud, fast,  and crunchy. Cheryl and I have a funny mixture of influences. We both love heavy rock stuff, but she’s an Elton John freak and grew up on the Monkees and all those musicals like “Oliver!” and “Bugsy Malone.” I got into things like The Descendents and Dead Kennedys and The Clash in my teens and early twenties , but I have a gooey soft spot for early ’70s singer-songwriter stuff, and I’m cuckoo for Cocoa Puffs about Stevie Wonder.

SFBG: How did the “business” aesthetic come about? Where does the band name come from?

CL: There’s an endless  trough of funny stuff in the the faceless corporate ogre world. A lot of the aesthetic comes from observing my sister Nancy’s work. She’s a good old-fashioned family doctor in Wisconsin, and I’ve witnessed the evolution of how big pharma reaches physicians and now the general public itself. At first, I think they couldn’t say exactly what some of these drugs were intended to do, so they used all sorts of evocative imagery to produce the warm-fuzzy take-away. So much of that stuff was just pure creative genius, it’s impossible to not be impressed, even if it is sort of insidious. I just think it’s funny to overlay that ethos on a little three-piece rock band.

The name “The American Professionals” was coined by our friend David Reidy. He was a charter member of the band when I first started writing songs back in the late 1990s. He’s Irish and was working on getting his US citizenship at the time, and he was thoroughly enamored with the gumption, optimism, and resilience of the American people. We were backing an amazing singer-songwriter, Pamela Martin, and at a live show, right before soundcheck, he pointed back at his guitar rig and said something like “Chuck, you see that? That’s the American professional setup right there.” He had his spare guitar, rack tuner, slide, combo amp with road case, pedal board, extra strings, a white towel, the whole deal. It became this sort of rallying ethic: “How do we do it? Think ‘what would The American Professional do?’, and that’s what you do.” So, of course it became the name of the band. That’s what “The American Professional” would do. David’s a partner at Reed Smith now. Not even the least bit surprising.

SFBG: How did you start licensing your music to TV shows? Does it change your writing to be thinking about the possibility of a show wanting to use a song? Are there bands whose model you’re following here? I’m thinking about They Might Be Giants, who’ve done stuff for The Daily Show and Malcolm in the Middle but not, say, beer commercials.

CL: I get to approach that from two angles. We’ve licensed our existing music to several indie films and network TV shows, but I also founded a boutique music house (we call it a “music cottage” sometimes) Jingle This! with my longtime friend John Schulte. We make bespoke music for all sorts of stuff. I love hearing a well-thought out placement, especially when it’s a semi-obscure song or a deep album track, but I do tire of people attaching really famous, popular songs to products. I totally understand the power of it, but it makes me sad to hear people relying on the spectrum of emotions that accompanies a particular song and then sort of jump its train. I think it’s much more challenging, and if it works, rewarding, to make an original piece.

They Might Be Giants are a perfect example of doing it right, yes. They’re so insanely creative and versatile, but there’s always a thread of their sound in there, however intangible that may be. I like the way The 88’s music gets used. They do the theme for Community and they’ve had a ton of stuff licensed, all to great effect, I think.I still don’t know how we initially got approached by Nickelodeon to use our stuff in Zoey:101 and Drake and Josh. It was kind of like manna. Very mysterious. Very, very nice, but still mysterious. So that said, I don’t feel like it serves anybody to go chasing after licensing opportunities by attempting to make music that you think will be in demand. I feel like if you keep your head down, dig in, and make something that truly is a reflection of your own take on things, even if it’s done in character sometimes, it’s going to resonate with somebody, somewhere, and that will make it attractive for total, mind numbing, wealth-creating exploitation.

SFBG: Do you think there’s such a thing as “selling out” anymore, as a musician?

CL: I can’t conjure up what would constitute “selling out” these days, especially for somebody just hitting the scene now. I guess if a band got sponsored by Eli Lily and started writing songs cryptically about the benefits of Cymbalta and passing it off as a real band, that might be a little screwed up. Actually, that kind of sounds like fun to me. Don’t steal that idea.

I do, however, get a little sick of hearing The Who’s songs in every version of CSI, but hey, that’s their business.

SFBG: What’s next for the American Professionals? Touring?

CL: Yes. We like to take little quick and dirty regional excursions. We’re hitting the midwest in the spring, and then up and down our lovely coast after that.

SFBG: What other SF/Bay Area bands do you admire?

CL: There’s an insane amount of world class music here right now. Even just in the circle we run in we have The Real Numbers, The Corner Laughers, The Bye Bye Blackbirds, Agony Aunts, and my band crush, Trevor Childs and the Beholders. Those fuckwads are so ridiculously good, and they keep getting together, breaking up, blah blah blah. It’s maddening. It’s hard not to get puffed up with pride that we have Chuck Prophet walking among us here. I got all fanboy on him and clammed up when I was standing next to him at the Great American a few months ago. I had just been on a Temple Beautiful jag and was in awe.

SFBG: What’s the #1 San Francisco meal you couldn’t live without?

CL: Oh, that’s a toughie. I used to be in food and bev so we ate out a lot. I have so many food memories seared into my brain, it’s hard to pick even ten of those. We live right up the street from Swan Oyster Depot. If I had to nail it down to one experience, it’d have to be just plopping down at that little corner of heaven and strapping on the feed bag. Cheryl doesn’t like any seafood at all (nothing! zip!) so any time we have out of town guests and she’s at work, I grab them by the collar and drag them down there.
The American Professionals
With Felsen and the Tender Few
Wed/29, 8:30pm, $10
Bottom of the Hill

Locals Only: Farallons


Locals Only is our weekly shout-out to the musicians who call the Bay Area home. Each week we spotlight an artist/band/music-maker with an upcoming show, album release, or general good news to share.To be considered, email esilvers@sfbg.com.

You know how people who’ve never been to California sometimes think the whole state is a Baywatch set? That we spend our winters in cut-offs and rollerskates, blasting Snoop Dogg while working on our tans?

To be fair, the past few weeks of Bay Area weather have made all of that pretty feasible, if you’re so inclined (thanks, global warming!). Regardless, being a beach bum in San Francisco has its own unique, fog-seeped aesthetic: I didn’t realize that putting on 15 layers to go to the beach wasn’t “normal” until I went away to college in San Diego. It’s only logical that we’d have a slightly different ocean-influenced soundtrack here, as well.

Enter Farallons, an SF five-piece whose dreamy blend of surf-pop and indie folk has been garnering buzz since their July 2013 debut EP, Outer Sun Sets. Singer-songwriters Andrew Brennan and Aubrey Trinnaman are at the helm with honeyed, seemingly effortless harmonies; there’s liberal use of synth and plenty of peppy surf-rock guitar, but there are dark moods here, too, and more than a little salt. Farallons will play at Amnesia every Tuesday in January, accompanied by a different opener each night. Ahead of the first show, Brennan shared a few thoughts on the Bay Area music scene and living at the beach.

SFBG How would you say living in SF — in particular, the Sunset — has shaped your music?

AB In two major ways. First, exposure to fantastic music being created by innovative artists. The musical community here really helps to facilitate an ongoing state of creativity and collaboration.  My friends are some of my absolute favorite musicians; I think it’s fair to say that I am some of my friends’ biggest fans.

Second, the place. The Pacific Ocean and Northern California environ have a huge influence on my spirit and creative output.  I live on the ocean and get to see the sun set every single day.  The ocean is presenting waves and winds that have traveled for thousands of miles across the biggest wilderness on our planet.  I can step out my front door and take all of that in in a breath of air or by getting into the ocean for a surf.  It’s magic here.  

SFBG You surf, and your music obviously has some surf-rock elements — does that just happen naturally? What’s your writing process like?

AB My music is heavily influenced by my sense of place.  This coastline and this ocean are incredibly powerful sources of identity for me, in both how I interact with them (whether it be through surfing or bicycling, etc.) and how they interact with me (weather patterns, growing seasons) and have no doubt influenced my creativity. So there’s an interplay between place, influence, and creativity, and many of my favorite artists also channel that interplay. Whether I’m influenced by peers or by my environment – it’s tough to pin down. It’s a cyclical process, and it’s self-reinforcing. I think that’s part of the reason there’s a coherence to the art coming out of this region. 

SFBG What are the band’s plans for this coming year?

After the January residency at Amnesia, we will be doing a quick California tour in late February that will bring us to Nevada City, Davis, San Francisco, Santa Cruz, and LA.  Then we’ll focus on getting back into the studio to begin work on our first full-length record, which I hope to have completed and released by 2015.  We’ll be launching a Kickstarter within the month to help fund the album.

SFBG Food-wise, what’s the best-kept secret in the Outer Sunset?

No-brainer: Brother’s Pizza on Taraval, right next to The Riptide.  The vegetarian Indian slice can’t be beat, and the folks that work there are super sweet.

With Mariee Sioux and Soft Shells
Tues/7, 9:15pm, $7
853 Valencia, SF


Fair play



VISUAL ART It’s art fair time again. Last year there were three, this year there are only two, though it looks like artMRKT, which is taking over now defunct SF Fine Art Fair’s slot at Fort Mason, has pretty much absorbed the former’s area galleries. ArtPadSF, the more festive of the two fairs, will again be renting out all the rooms at the Tenderloin’s Phoenix hotel. (Both fairs run Thu/16-Sun/19). I can’t help but wonder, will there be synchronized swimming again in the pool this year?

>>View a slideshow of our fair picks here

Say what you will about whether or not art fairs are a reasonable way to actually engage artworks in a serious way (read: they’re not), they do offer exposure to people that are worth knowing more about. With that in mind, here’s our locals only guide to Bay area artists — some emerging, some established — whose work you can catch at the fairs.



Andrew Benson, Johansson Projects

Benson’s sometimes gooey, sometimes crunkly digital video/experimental software work breathes some ragged, frenetic energy into the standard trope of “relationships between the body and technology.” His piece is scheduled to be projected from the Phoenix onto the six-story building next door at 8pm, Thu/16-Sat/18.

Justine Frischmann, Unspeakable Projects

Frischmann’s paintings look like something that one of those spiders on Benzedrine would make. If it lived inside an Etch A Sketch. And used neon spray paint. During a dust storm. Trust me, these are compliments.

David Hevel, Marx & Zavattero

Hevel makes collaged sculptures and sharp pop abstract paintings, usually riffing on American celebrity. His work at the fair will be very MTV 1983.

Scott Hove, Spoke Art

Will Oaklander Hove be showing one of his intensely drugged up fanged wall cakes, a knotted rope work installation, or a surrealism-on-meth painting? Yeah, it all sounds good to me, too.

Jason Kalogiros, Queen’s Nails Gallery

Kalogiros makes edgy, dense, cerebral, photo-based works, lately by manipulating found commercial images. I’m hoping to see a couple from his series of Cartier and Bvlgari watches.

Ed Loftus, Gregory Lind Gallery

Loftus does photorealism pretty much the right way, by marrying intense attention to detail with an obsessive and neurotic subject matter that crawls under your skin ever deeper the more time you spend with it. While you’re in Gregory Lind’s space, also check out Thomas Campbell and Jovi Schnell.

Matt Momchilov, Unspeakable Projects

Momchilov queers punk and rock fandom in the traditional sense of the word, meaning his paintings and sculpture snatch and redirect standard accoutrements of punk fanboys and girls to point that hardcore laser focus in new directions and at more fey subjects.

Gregg Renfrow, Toomey-Tourell

I won’t blame you one bit if you try to lick Renfrow’s luminous, vibrating color field abstractions. His meticulous, precise, wondrous paintings are like visual everlasting gobstoppers, and I fully expect that by the time I see ’em, they’ll have a layer of saliva all over.

Jonathan Runcio, Queen’s Nails Gallery

Runcio makes incisive 2 and 3D work that takes traditional hardedge abstraction in the art concrete vein, shacks it up with remnants of urban architecture, and has a post-formalist lovechild.




Johnna Arnold, Traywick Contemporary

The fair’s Collector’s Lounge will be showing Arnold’s video created to accompany the richly saturated, haunting landscape photos that will be showing offsite at the gallery.

Carol Inez Charney, Slate Contemporary

Charney’s complex photographs were the single most outstanding thing I saw last year at ArtPad. That’s complex like a personality, not like your taxes. A year later, I’m prepared for the brainfreeze again.

Amanda Curreri, Romer Young

Curreri’s precisely conceived conceptual color and abstract works are subtle in that they tend to yield only small nibbles at first pass, but they’re deceptive that way, and usually end up smacking you around by the time it’s all over.

Lauren DiCioccio, Jack Fischer Gallery

DiCioccio has recently been applying her super-meticulous needlework to fastidiously x-ing out individual letters in pages of books, as an act of both scrutiny and physical redaction of the received, mediated world.

Joshua Hagler, Jack Fischer Gallery

Somewhere in the Hamptons summer home where Glenn Brown and Lucian Freud are renting with Mark Tansey and Matthew Day Jackson, Hagler is stoned on the couch making fart noises with his armpits. That is also a compliment.

Claire Rojas, Gallery Paul Anglim

Sure Gallery Paul Anglim shows Barry McGee, but I’ll be looking at the Rojas paintings, whose hard edge and off-kilter abstractions of interior architectural spaces are spot-on and mesmerizing.

Diane Rosenblum, Slate Contemporary

Rosenblum switches up hyperanalytical and conceptual works that incorporate research, crowdsourced interactions, and photography. I’m hoping to see images from a series of recent photos that work Flickr comments into the image.

Dana Hart Stone, Brian Gross

I can’t wait to examine Hart Stone’s paintings up close, which in the past have been made by repeatedly transferring or printing antique images in rows onto canvas. Also at Brian Gross are Bay Area stalwarts Roy de Forest and Robert Arneson.

Esther Traugot, Chandra Cerrito

Traugot combines found organic objects with crochet. I know what you’re thinking, but this is not a Portlandia skit. She does it the right way, promise.


Outer limits



MUSIC Last year, we thought it couldn’t get better, and then it upped the ante. Outside Lands 2012 takes place this weekend, and the lineup is packed with legendary performers, reunited favorites, and flashy newcomers, pieced together (some overlapping) in a masterful Golden Gate frame, outlined by all that glorious flora and fog.

There’s little to debate; our inboxes have been unequivocally flooded with requests to cover the event from the moment the full list roared onto the web. Who’s to say what sparked the revved up offerings and subsequent queries?

The facts: 72 bands on stage, 15 DJs in the Dome, 25 comedy-variety acts in the Barbary, plus 10 night shows featuring 20 performers. Expected attendance is more than 65,000 people per day, according to the organizers.

It’s a lot to take in, even for the seasoned San Francisco festival-goer (keep hydrated, wear layers, duh). So we’ve whittled down the schedule to the must-sees — those with a certain unscientific combination of vitality and vigor, of historical significance and a very-modern presence.

Of course, if you’ve got a one or three-day pass, you’re likely planning on packing in as many acts as possible, with perfectly timed bathroom, wine, and gourmet food stand breaks. But if you’re of the looser sort, one to wander with feckless abandon among those throngs, keep the below in mind.

Here are your must-see Outside Lands performances:


Headliners and icons

Watching an old friend dance with his bride to iconic folk ballad “Harvest Moon,” it dawned on us: despite his gruff persona, broadly influential singer-songwriter Neil Young & Crazy Horse (8:10-9:55pm Friday, Lands End) is for lovers. And his words — and strumming — are deeply personal for a handful of generations. They’ve left a yearning imprint on our collective pleasure center.

This is a grand return for ’90s indie rockers, Grandaddy (5:10-6:10pm Saturday, Sutro). The Modesto five-piece split in 2006, after a respected career that included touring with Elliott Smith (RIP) and a song, “AM 180,” used in a memorable zombie-less supermarket sweep scene in 28 Days Later.

Kill ‘Em AllAnd Justice For All…okay, and we guess St. Anger. The heavy metal — and then some other stuff — back catalogue of Metallica (7:55-9:55pm Saturday, Lands End) is forever drilled into our brains. In a press call leading up to the fest, drummer Lars Ulrich said, “we’re very proud of our…relation and our history with San Francisco,” (does that mean the band will do us a solid and play early tracks?), later adding, “it’s an amazing thing, 31 years into a career to be able to be as busy as we are and to [see] people give a shit and to be able to still tour.” We give a shit, Lars.

As one fan noted, Mr. Superstition, Steve Wonder (7:20-9:30pm Sunday, Lands End), is likely the most creative choice of a headliner in 2012. And it makes the night-map easy for some of us; in the scheduling contest between dub-monster Skrillex and Motown icon Stevie Wonder, there is no contest.


Best of the Bay represented

It’s been five years since Two Gallants (1:50-2:40pm Friday, Lands End) released an album, and this fest (along with the OL night show) are the first local shows for the folk-punk duo touring on the new record, The Bloom and the Blight. Seems they’ll have a lot of stowed away energy to release in the park.

Perhaps never has man and computer so beautifully collided than with San Francisco digi-rock act Geographer (2:10-2:55pm Saturday, Twin Peaks). Swelling vocal melodies blend so evenly with darting beeps and blurps and laser synths, sometimes deepened by floating violin. It’s hard-rocking orchestral pop, operatic robot love, and world travel in a machine. The band paid its dues playing Rock Make, Treasure Island, Live 105’s BFD, and now, Outside Lands.

These San Francisco pysch-surf-punks are notorious for their headspinningly prolific songwriting, unpredictable live shows, and spastic energy. Regardless of what happens during Thee Oh Sees (6:05-6:45pm Saturday, Panhandle) set, it’ll be an act people are talking about.


Who everyone will be Tweeting about

Having just premiered barely pronounceable single “XP€N$IV $H1T” (“I rub my dick on XP€N$IV $H1T” being actual lyrics) it’s safe to assume that Southern African freak-rap trio Die Antwoord (5:25-6:15pm Friday, Twin Peaks) is going to continue down a path of what-the-fuck-did-I-just-witness trashy splendor. There will be rave wear and Ninja’s inexplicable junk-thrusting dance moves, DJ Hi-Tek records spinning, and Yo-Landi’s hyper-high chirp.

When Father John Misty (2:55-3:35pm Saturday, Panhandle), a.k.a. J. Tillman of Fleet Foxes, stopped by Bottom of the Hill earlier this year, folks didn’t know what hit them. FJM was a wild force on stage, engaging in an ongoing and increasingly odd conversation with the audience, with quips and asides a-plenty in between a hectic set of woozy pop and crunchy-hippie psychedelic jams.

Perhaps not since Janis Joplin, have we heard a lady blues vocalist with pipes this powerful. That wail is a show-stopper. And, four-piece Alabama Shakes (3:50-4:40pm Saturday, Sutro), led by Brittany Howard (she of the powerful pipes), is actually born and raised Alabama, as the band name would imply, meaning its a more authentic experience, it would seem.

After a prolonged break, Santigold (5:10-6pm Sunday, Twin Peaks) dropped long-awaited Master Of My Make-Believe this year, with reggae-flecked party jam single “Disparate Youth,” cut through with a machine-gun guitar riff. Clearly, Santigold is no less bold in her return. Both the sound and her avant-pop style will surely absorb those expansive outdoor stages.


Globally relevant bands from far and wide

Sigur Ros is not the only Icelandic band at Outside Lands 2012. If ambient soundscapes aren’t your thing, check out the lesser-known folk sextet Of Monsters and Men (5:25-6:25pm Friday, Sutro), which balances catchy melodies with beautifully harmonized vocals. Amadou & Mariam (3:35-4:25pm Sunday, Twin Peaks) met at Mali’s Institute for the Young Blind. What the African duo lacks in 20/20 vision they make up for in mesmerizing sound — irresistible hip-hop-and blues-inspired world music. We dare you not to dance. Globally recognized Columbian culture-masher band Bomba Estéreo (6-6:40pm Sunday, Panhandle) mixes in the sounds of Latin America, the Caribbean, reggae, dub, and beyond, with bouncy hip-hop beats. Live, lead vocalist Li Saumet (who this year also released a side-project in which she imagines killing her boyfriend) pumps up the energy tenfold.


Explore beyond the music

Imbibe in yeasty concoctions at this year’s first ever Beer Lands (oui, Wine Lands will be there too). And the beer lineup is made up of local craft breweries: 21st Amendment, Anchor Brewing, Magnolia, Pac Brewing Labs, Speakeasy (all San Francisco); Bear Republic (Russian River area), Drakes, (San Leandro) and Linden Street (West Oakland). Oh, and Sierra Nevada is debuting the Outside Lands Saison at the fest, said to be inspired by OL itself. Reggie Watts, Neil Patrick Harris, David Cross, Kristen Schaal, Nerdist Chris Hardwick, the list goes on for The Barbary. The comedy and variety tent keeps getting bigger, and weirder. There are the big names of course (see above) but also some awesome homegrown talent — Jesse Elias, for one. We caught him in the Cinecave last month, and were blown away by his timing. Our cheeks ached from laughing. And he never once looked up at the audience, only moving to push his glasses back up his nose.


Fri/10-Sun/12, noon, $95

Golden Gate Park, SF


Our Weekly Picks




“Dig This! Local Only Live Showcase”: C U Next Weekend

A kick flip here and a hip-hop, indie combo there, C U Next Weekend is hands down the Oakland version of the corporate-backed, top 40 favorite Gym Class Heroes that hit the radio a few years back. The pack of adorable Berkeley boys rock hard and fit into their skate shoes as the perfect party band. Pirate Cat Radio presents “Dig This! Locals Only Live Showcase” at the Uptown every Wednesday. Along with C U Next Weekend, this week’s show includes the ambient, soothing sounds of the Blind plus Black Balloon’s electric rock. (Amber Schadewald)

9 p.m., free

Uptown Night Club

1928 Telegraph Avenue, Oakl.

(510) 451-8100




“Freaks, Punks, Skanks, and Cranks: Target Video Presents”

Kick-starting this five-part film series on weirdos and wackos is a look-see into Target Video’s vast collection of live shows by and interviews with late 1970s and early ’80s underground hardcore, punk, and art bands. Launched in 1977 by SF’s own Joe Rees, these pre-MTV VHS documents offer a much-needed source of inspiration and revitalization for today’s defused and confused punk scenes. But if the distant sounds and visions of Devo, Throbbing Gristle, Mutants, and the Screamers don’t whet your nerves, then surely Rees — a veteran who understands effective affects from defective redux — who’ll be appearing live, in the flesh, will. (Spencer Young)

6, 8 and 10 p.m., $8–$10

Yerba Buena Center for the Arts

701 Mission, SF

(415) 978-2787



Joshua Roman

“The High School of Cello Playing” sounds like a weird mashup of Vivaldi and the Ramones, but it’s actually a suite of 40 lively, adventurous etudes by overlooked Bohemian composer David Popper (1843-1913). Hot-hot 26-year-old cello sensation Joshua Roman is currently updating the piece for a digital age, using his laptop to record himself performing each etude at random spots on the globe. He’ll be joining the SF Symphony to play Haydn’s bracing Cello Concerto No. 1. (Beethoven’s fab Eroica is also on the menu.) But if you hear some expert fingering in one of the bathroom stalls afterward, don’t be alarmed. It’s art. (Marke B.)

2 p.m., $15–$145 (also Fri. and Sat., 8 p.m.)

Davies Symphony Hall

201 Van Ness, SF




The BASSment

Fans of funk, soul, and new directions in hip-hop can take a trip into the BASSment, largely inspired by the innovative Soulive band and its counterpart, Lettuce. Kevin Wong, the leader of this talented quartet, holds down the keys and Hammond sounds with his right hand while his left picks up the bass lines. Guitarist Nate Mercereau adds insight with tasteful nuances and nasty solos. On the drum set, Clarence Lewis IV has his pockets full of funk. Also on the bill is Daniel Casares, tenor saxophonist from SF’s Jazz Mafia. Enjoy an evening of classic Italian cuisine and music that will have you dancing. (Lilan Kane)

8 p.m.-midnight, no cover (reservations encouraged)


504 Broadway, SF

(415) 982-6223




Dessa, P.O.S.

A hip-hop artist, poet, and former medical writer, Dessa (a.k.a. Maggie Wander) is the sole female member of Doomtree, the Minneapolis, punk-inspired collective with a thick hometown following. The pen is her sword, lover, and an extension of her analytical soul. Her first album, A Badly Broken Code (Doomtree), dropped earlier this month, bringing dark ideas and dissected theories wrapped in rust-bitten beats. Fellow Doomtree crew member P.O.S. closes the show. (Schadewald)

8:30 p.m., $12

Bottom of the Hill

1233 17th St., SF

(415) 621-4455





Founded by Ohio brothers Roger and Lester Troutman in 1978, Zapp soon signed to George Clinton’s Uncle Jam Records. In 1980, they released their first single, “More Bounce to the Ounce.” Coproduced by Bootsy Collins, that song put them on the map, peaking in the top 20 of Billboard’s pop chart and No. 2 on the soul charts. Zapp has had a considerable impact on the G-funk era — Roger Troutman’s imaginative use of the talk box and hand-clapped drumbeats make “More Bounce to the Ounce” one of the most sampled songs in hip-hop. “Computer Love” and “Cutie Pie” are still popular staples in dance clubs for a reason. (Kane)

8 and 10 p.m. (also Fri/18–Sat/19), $18–$30

Yoshi’s SF

1330 Fillmore, SF

(415) 655-5600





“L@te Friday Nights @ BAM/PFA: Skank Bloc Bologna”

It isn’t every night you can see a Scritti Politti cover band. If you love pop music at its smartest and most melodic, you know what I’m talking about. And if you haven’t heard them, tonight is your chance, since they figure in the DJ list, and local artists Cliff Hengst, Scott Hewicker, and Karla Milosevich are performing Scritti songs. If that’s not enough, the evening also includes fencing, Pier Paolo Pasolini, and Derek Jarman. (Johnny Ray Huston)

7:30 p.m., $5

Berkeley Art Museum

2626 Bancroft, Berk.

(510) 642-0808




“Renée Green: Endless Dreams and Time-Based Streams”

Renée Green’s art has traveled the world, the past two decades engaging with feminism, history, and the subject of travel itself in the process. This show is a homecoming of sorts for the artist, who lives in SF. It’s her first major U.S. exhibition in 15 years. Wear a blue shirt, dress, or costume to the opening night, which includes live music by Oakland’s Colossal Yes and L.A.’s Wounded Lion. (Huston)

8 p.m., $12–$15

Yerba Buena Center for the Arts

701 Mission, SF

(415) 978-2787




An Evening of Indian Music: From the Classical to Bollywood with Robin Sukhadia

Undeniably the most successful film in Bollywood history, Sholay (1975) follows two small-time criminals hired by a bounty hunter to capture a reckless dacoit. With a soundtrack composed by RD Burman fusing Latin and Afro-Cuban sounds with classical Indian music, it’s no wonder this film became a national sensation. Tonight local tabla musician Robin Sukhadia delves into the work of Burman and discusses how his music made this Western–style flick come to life. A performance of entrancing rhythms and beats on the tablas by Sukhadia and Jason Parmar follows the lecture. (Elise-Marie Brown)

6:30 p.m., free

Southern Exposure

3030 20th St, SF

(415) 863-2141




French musician Vitalic, a.k.a. Pascal Arbez, is no longer as enigmatic as certain French electronic acts. Nonetheless, a scarcity of output lends his releases an air of mystery. Like peers Justice and Daft Punk, he’s known for his use of distortion, coming off a bit more like rock than trance. But in order to remain relevant among Ed Bangers and DFAs, one has to adapt. In his first studio album since 2005, Flashmob (Different/PIAS), Arbez sidestep-tackles a new genre — disco. Not post-Saturday Night Fever cheese, but groovy Moroder-esque rhythms as subtle as they are heavy. Arbez has proven that his selective output is mirrored by his choosiness about playing live, so if you miss him now, be prepared for a long wait. (Peter Galvin)

With Sleazemore and Nisus

9 p.m., $13


444 Jessie, SF

(415) 625-8880





Max Raabe & Palast Orchester

Max Raabe & Palast Orchester take the songs, styles, and instrumentation of the Weimar era into the 21st century. Performing with a clever, coolly detached demeanor, Raabe wows the listener with his vocal abilities, then forces laughter with deadpan jokes between songs. The elegant 14-piece orchestra plays traditional German pieces and classics such as “Singin’ In The Rain,” as well as tongue-in-cheek covers of more contemporary pop tunes. Britney Spears’ “Oops! …I Did It Again,” Tom Jones’ “Sex Bomb,” and Queen’s “We Will Rock You” will get a jazzy makeover. (Sean McCourt)

8 p.m., $25–$75

Paramount Theatre

2025 Broadway, Oakl.

(866) 920-5299




Ragga Muffin Festival: Barrington Levy, Gregory Isaac

Barrington Levy is a reggae legend, having established his distinct brand of dancehall music during the Jamaican industry’s 1970s boom. Despite his sweet sounding vocals and trademark almost scatting, Levy’s workhorse-like output never earned him the U.S. success of other reggae icons like Bob Marley. An unpredictable crooner able to convey romance and rage, he performs at the 29th annual Ragga Muffin Festival, along with a man every bit his equal, the talented Gregory Isaacs. Come prepared to stay Irie. (Galvin)

With Capleton, Cocoa Tea, Tarrus Riley, Sister I-Live

6 p.m., $39.50

Fox Theater

1807 Telegraph, Oakl.

(415) 625-8880




Sonya Delwaide

Ever since French-Canadian choreographer Sonya Delwaide hit the Bay Area in 1996, her work — often seen on AXIS Dance Company — has been striking for its skill and breadth of imagination. This double bill is a welcome opportunity to see what’s going on these days in Delwaide’s head. The two-part Je me Souviens (I Remember) explores personal and collective memories. She choreographed it on Peiling Kao and former ODC dancers Andrea Basile, Brandon Freeman, and Yukie Fujimoto. Delwaide is joined in this concert by L.A.-based, South Korea-born Holly Johnston, whose Politics of Intimacyfor six dancers — examines personal and societal norms. (Felciano)

8 p.m. (also Sun/21), $15–$18

Also Sun. Feb.. 21

ODC Dance Commons

351 Shotwell, SF

(415) 863-9834





TRY! Magazine Fundraiser

In publishing TRY! Magazine every other week for an extended period of time, David Brazil and Sara Larsen didn’t just try to do it, they did it — it being they united an ever-growing bunch of great writers from the Bay Area and beyond in print. TRY! is ready to make a next step into the future, but to do so, a fundraiser is more than in order. It’s hard to think of a local DIY publication that deserves it more, and this should be a hell of a party. (Huston)

6 p.m., $10

21 Grand

416 25th St., Oakl.






For many bands, downtime consists of playing video games, staying out all night, or sleeping the day away. For Fanfarlo, discussing the works of Henry David Thoreau is an ideal way to spend free time. After three years of limited edition singles, these indie darlings from across the pond finally released their debut album, Reservoir (Atlantic/WEA), in late 2009. Reminiscent of Beirut, its blend of mandolins, trumpets, melodicas, and accordions can be astonishing. You might find yourself singing their hypnotic harmonies in your sleep for weeks to come. (Brown)

With April Smith and the Great Picture Show

8 p.m., $16

Great American Music Hall

859 O’Farrell, SF

(415) 885-0750





“Four by Nathaniel Dorsky”

Two years ago, the late, great critic Paul Arthur praised Nathaniel Dorsky as “a formalist with a brimming, elegiac soul.” In the new film Compline, this extends to emulsion itself — it’s Dorsky’s last film in Kodachrome, the stock having been discontinued last summer. His evocations of night — pooling dark, skimming auroras — dazzle. Dorsky has called over a late addition to this program, his first in-color negative, Aubade. Philip Larkin wrote a poem of the same name, and though quite different in spirit from Dorsky’s work, one passage matches my picture of the San Francisco filmmaker: “Waking at four to soundless dark, I stare/ In time the curtain-edges will grow light.” (Max Goldberg)

7:30 p.m., $9.50

Pacific Film Archive

2575 Bancroft, Berkeley

(510) 642-1412


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NorCal nuggets



SONIC REDUCER Now playing: Locals Only II (see part one here). You can’t stop it from happening, even if you crumble to the ground like Keanu, fire your pistol in the air, and scream, "Nooo!" NorCal bands gotta make some noise, Bay-bies.

Hey, what gives? The Fresh and Onlys promised to release their self-titled Castle Face debut in May, yet last week I spied the CD, prominently displayed, twinkling brightly on an Amoeba Music endcap. Could it be an inside job, being that Fresh and Onlys Tim Cohen and Shayde Sartin have passed through the store’s payroll? Whatev, Kev, be happy it’s there, polishing off rough gems like "Endless Love": "Why don’t we live forever /inside this little mirror /so that your eyes and my nose /and your ears and my mouth /and your chin and my beard /they all fit together? / Na-na-na-na-na-na-na!"

Just as you turn to dismiss "Endless Love" as another joke song — albeit one tuned to a staticky channel of surf and ’60s-style garage rock by way of Flying Nun novitiates and Jonathan Richman’s post-punk pop naifs — the group unleashes a mini-nugget of "A Man Needs a Maid" wisdom: "Don’t you know you gotta give yourself / to get somebody else." Happily tucked into an echo chamber of passion-first rock ‘n’ roll, and armed against the apocalypse with a here-to-help sincerity that could stand the test of time ("The Mind Is Happy." "Feelings in My Heart"), the Fresh and Onlys pull off the seemingly impossible: discovering a clunky sweetness and lo-fi grace in a very singular rock primitivo.

"Snap back like a bungee chord — Lord!" Watch yourself, Raw Deluxe. The Bay Area group’s flow is as satisfyingly smooth and substantive as classic Del tha Funkee Homosapien times three on "Can You Spend It," off its new Raw Communication (Reel Deal). MCs Lexxx Luthor and Mic Blake of Alphabet Soup and Soulati of Felonious are unstoppable and at the top of a mix that showcases the sheer delight of word-slingers riding the exact same wavelength. There’s nothing particularly uncooked about the smokily intoxicating old-school jazz-funk gumbo on Raw Deluxe’s third long-player: keyboardist Matt Fleming, saxophonist Tony Jurado, bassist Christ Arenas, and drummer Chris Spano are on point on "Something to Build Upon" — a celebration of the band’s actual music-making process — which would chart in a better world and provide the foundation for a more maximalist hip-hop.

On the post-rock-cum-math side of the spectrum is the far-too-scarce From Monuments to Masses, now SF-NYC bicoastal and back with a new mostly instrumental full-length, On Little Known Frequencies (Dim Mak), possibly the most powerful recording yet by Francis Choung, Matthew Solberg, and Sergio Robledo-Maderazo. Mars Volta and Minus the Bear — MTB keyboardist Matt Bayles coproduced, engineered, and mixed the disc — are obvious referents. though neither band finds its voice via fragments of sampled dialogue like FMTM does, as if tapping directly into the culture’s transmissions. Almost monochromatic in its clear-eyed devotion to alt-rock propulsion, FMTM’s music has the closed-circle urgency and internal fury of a sonic dialectic. Are these frequencies to be plumbed with increased frequency?


Thurs/23, 10 p.m., $5


3223 Mission, SF



Fri/24, 10 p.m., $10

Club Six

60 Sixth St., SF




The punk legends are turning over a new leaf in honor of their new 4 Men With Beards vinyl reissues, including 1982’s Generic Flipper. The battle continues with Flipper’s new Love/Fight albums on May 19. Fri/24, 6 p.m., free. Amoeba, 2455 Telegraph, Berkeley. www.amoeba.com. Also Sat/25, 9 pm $10. El Rio, 3158 Mission, SF. www.elriosf.com


The L.A. combo veers toward the dark, detuned, and deliciously distorted, judging from the music released from its long-awaited, forthcoming second disc, Transit Transit. With Odawas and Mini Mansions. Sat/25, 9 p.m., $18. Great American Music Hall, 859 O’Farrell, SF. www.gamh.com


Is three the magic number for the West Coast indie MCs? Check for lofty concepts on the new Say G&E (Legendary). With Exile and DJ Day and Afro Classics. Sat/25, 9 p.m., $18. Slim’s, 333 11th St., SF. www.slims-sf.com. Also Mon/27, 6 p.m., free. Amoeba, 1855 Haight, SF. www.amoeba.com

Locals only



SONIC REDUCER April showers, worried world powers, CD towers — it’s tough to keep the kite-high ebullience, party vibes, and gotta-jet wings in flight during tough times. Bands come and go, move to Brooklyn (otherwise known as Break-Up-Land), and wither away in day jobs. So dole out a few propers to locals who brave the unofficial buy-nothing year of 2009 with new shiny plastic discs as they bid to become, erm, the next "secret show"-happy Green Day, revving up for Berkeley Rep, or Guitar Hero-hooked Metallica, currently gathering massive TV exposure via that goofy prime-time commercial.

Even the least likely to hunker down and deliver — namely the hard-smokin’ party hearties of Still Flyin’ — are casting aside the bakin’ dog lethargy and finally issuing a first album, Never Gonna Touch the Ground (Ernest Jenning). Love ’em or hate ’em, the brazenly silly 15-plus supergroup has finally found its footing amid the current wave of indie rock fun-seekers, a phenom (the Polyphonic Spree, Of Montreal, Tilly and the Wall, Broken Social Scene) characterized by collective-minded sprawl, theatricality, audience-friendliness, and dance jams (Still Flyin’ likes to call theirs HAMMJAMMS, but never mind that). Is "happy gang-bang Muzak" too raw a phrase to lay on it?

Headed by Athens, Ga., refugee Sean Rawls and boasting such members as ex-Aisler Set-ees Yoshi Nakamoto and Alicia Vanden Heuvel and former Architecture in Helsinki-ite Isobel Knowles, Still Flyin’ flies in the face of perceived indie elitism with a sound that fuses group-vocal pale-faced two-tone and lilting, ’80s-era Haircut 100 and Tom Tom Club lite tropi-pop. It’s present on the band’s title theme, on the anthemic ska workout "Forever Dudes," and on the bubbly vaca-rock of "Following the Itinerary." Yes, Still Flyin’ has an antidote to the economic woes that ail ya — the oughta-be-a-pop-hit "Good Thing It’s a Ghost Town Around Here" embraces the darkness that the Specials once dreaded. Ignore throwaways like the self-mocking "Act of Jamming," and you start to believe that the infectious Never Gonna just might achieve liftoff, especially if the group continues to get live crowds onto its party bus.

Never Gonna was partly recorded on weekends by Jason Quever at his Excelsior District home studio, Pan American, and it shows: the disc sounds just as toasty warm as the new You Can Have What You Want (Gnomonsong) by Quever’s Papercuts. Thanks to its Clientele-like mid-’60s folk pop, 2007’s Can’t Go Back promised to be Quever’s breakout recording, landing on Devendra Banhart and Andy Cabic’s Gnomonsong imprint with a hushed splash. You Can Have is a new mode of dreaming — one prone to bouts of levitation. Helped by Beach House’s Alex Scally, Lazarus’ Trevor Montgomery, Skygreen Leopards’ Glenn Donaldson, artist-filmmaker David Enos, and Helene Renaut, Quever conjures haunted carousels and the drift of spooked spaceships on tracks like "Once We Walked in the Sunlight," "A Peculiar Hallelujah," and "Jet Plane." Obsessively analog-centric and bewitched by dream pop, yé-yé, Floyd, and an earthbound breed of Krautrock, he makes it impossible to resist the surprisingly light-hearted charms of "A Dictator’s Lament" and You Can Have‘s overall stately high. Papercuts, we are floating in space …

The rock ‘n’ roll rave-ups and in-the-red rawness of the Sir Lord Raven’s new Please Throw Me Back in the Ocean (Happy Parts) tap into a whole ‘nother brand: screw-it-all naughty snotty. "Maybe I’ll jump in the river /Maybe I’ll cut out my liver … I’m tryin’ /I keep on tryin’," sneers frontman Eric Von Ravenson, once of the Time Flys, on — yeah, you got it — "I Keep on Tryin’." Recorded by indispensable organ and guitar pinch-hitter Greg Ashley, with producer Jay Bronzini on drums, Please Throw Me slices the cheesiness thickly, with a sense of cut-and-run fun. It’s throwback — hence a cover version of Fats Domino’s "I’m Ready" — but not necessarily throwaway. I like a band unafraid to pay tribute to its true, unlovely loves, but I prefer originals like "Take It or Leave It," "Spit on Your Grave," and "PC Action," the latter two of which intentionally subvert the garage rock, allowing glitter to seep in. How many times can these zombie riffs rouse themselves and return to life? A little spit, piss, and vinegar should do ya.


April 24, 9:30 p.m., $10

Cafe du Nord

2170 Market, SF



May 9, 10 p.m., $10

Cafe du Nord



Iron oar: check the rosy-cheeked, country-cabaret charm on Tippy Canoe and the Paddlemen’s Parasols and Pekingese (self-released, 2008). With Blue Rabbit and Chelsea Wolfe. Wed/15, 9 p.m., $6. Hemlock Tavern,1131 Polk, SF. www.hemlocktavern.com


Italians do it better — meaning, play their way to Coachella. With Bloody Beetroots and Congorock. Wed/15, 9 p.m., $18 advance. Mezzanine, 444 Jessie, SF. www.mezzaninesf.com


The vitality of the SF psych-rockers’ "cactus flower romanticism" (as Todd Lavoie once put it) is evident on their self-released, self-titled EP. With Golden Animals and Broads. Thurs/16, 9 p.m., $6. Thee Parkside, 1600 17th St., SF. www.theeparkside.com


Indie slow jams that include a dose of Morodor-esque synth seduction, anyone? With Sebastien Tellier. Fri/17, 9 p.m., $15. Independent, 628 Divisadero, SF. www.theindependentsf.com


Expect mega intensity when the Xiu Xiu mastermind ventures out for his first solo tour in five years, drawing from 80-plus tunes including rarely-heard older numbers and new songs from 2010’s Dear God, I Hate Myself. And get ready to pose for Stewart and artist David Horvitz as they photograph every person at every show for their blog-book project. With Dark Holler and Lady Genius. Fri/17, 9:30 p.m., $12. Cafe du Nord.

Back to school


› culture@sfbg.com

Let’s face it: 2008 was not great. Two wars, lots of political BS, and an economy that’s seen better days. But if our president-elect is to be believed, things are about to change. Why not bring some of that change to your personal life by learning a new skill? Here are some of my favorite offerings in our fair city by the Bay.


Perhaps you love those old Robin Hood movies or actually know the names of all three Musketeers. Or maybe you just think it’d be fun to hit someone with a steel stick. Whatever your attraction to fencing, Golden Gate Fencing Center is the place for you.

On the day I visited, a number of young fencers were working out. Some were junior national champions; some were just out to have fun. And that is the vibe that permeates the place, which has been serving fencers of all ages and levels since 1997. Although the sport is physical, coach Paul Soter says strategy is equally important. In fact, some fencers have been known to compete and train well into their 70s.

As for gear, the expense is minimal. Aside from the cost of the class, the only thing you have to buy is a glove that will run you about $20. Golden Gate will provide the rest.

Golden Gate Fencing Center, 2417 Harrison, SF. (415) 626-7910, www.gofencing.com


More of an artist than an athlete? Get yourself down to Public Glass in the Bayview. Founded 12 years ago as "the Disneyland of glassblowing," this organization is the only one in the city that teaches novice glassblowers. The space is ample, as is the curriculum. But classes are small, with a ratio of three students to one carefully screened instructor.

The experience of making glass is magical, and almost spooky. The heat coming off the glory holes — the giant furnaces that heat glass into liquid — reminds you that the beautiful orange glow is powerfully dangerous. But it might be the danger that keeps people coming to Public Glass. "It’s a primordial rush," says Manigeh Bridget Khalaji, the operational manager.

But another part of glassblowing’s appeal seems to be that it requires teamwork. Though glass in liquid form shifts shape easily, it only stays malleable for a few moments. Thus, it takes more than one set of hands to perform all the tasks necessary to shape a glass piece.

When I was there, I saw two men working in tandem — almost as if they were one person with four hands — sculpting, cutting, blow-torching the glass before it hardened. One of the artists called the process "controlled chaos," and he wasn’t exaggerating.

Glassblowing isn’t cheap, and learning the skills necessary to make a decent piece requires a real time commitment. The staff recommends four four-week classes to get you up and running, and the classes are a little on the expensive side. But if you can get the money together, and if you want to experience something truly unique, creating glass objects fits the bill — and then some.

Public Glass, 1750 Armstrong, SF. (415) 671-4916, www.publicglass.org


Take a trip to Buenos Aires — via Potrero Hill — on the first three Fridays of each month, when Gary Weinberg and his partner teach two walk-in tango classes — one for beginners and the other for more advanced dancers. Afterward, he hosts a milonga (or dance social) where you can practice what you learned. And you get all of that for $15.

The Monte Cristo is just one of many places in the city where you can learn tango, but there are few places as friendly to newbies. During the week, it’s a social club for Italian Americans, and it’s been around for more than 100 years. As you might imagine, the vibe there is old-school, with an emphasis on old. There’s a lot of fake wood panels, black-and-white photos on the wall, and plastic tablecloths like you see in North Beach’s older, "locals only" cafés. That said, tango at the Monte Cristo attracts dancers of all ages.

Unlike other styles of dance, there is no basic step to the tango; you just walk. So beginners can get a real taste for what the dance is like after one lesson. Still, tango ain’t easy. If you’re leading, this means walking without stepping on your partner’s toes; if you’re the follower, then you’re walking backward, often in heels. From there, things get increasingly complicated. Think mobile, upright Twister and you start to get a feel for how difficult the dance becomes.

Maybe because of its complexity, tango lends itself to overachiever types. Gary is a retired English professor, and many of the people I met at his class were engineers, doctors, and teachers. That said, tango is not only an intellectual exercise. If you like a physical challenge, and if you like to surround yourself with interesting, passionate people, you won’t go wrong spending a Friday night at the Monte Cristo.

Monte Cristo Club, 136 Missouri, SF. www.sanfrantango.com


One of the things people tend to lose as they get older is the ability to play. So imagine a place for adults where the whole point is to rediscover that part of you that’s been buried under all the worries you carry around. That place exists right here in San Francisco, at the Clown Conservatory.

When you enter the building, which was once a boy’s gymnasium for a now-defunct high school, you forget the world outside. It’s a bit like Willy Wonka’s factory, without the calories. There are rainbow-colored lockers and some of the students do wear clownlike clothing. Most notable, though, is that everyone brings a real earnestness to what they do.

The biggest surprise to me was this: clowning is not only fun, but an art. Jeff Raz, the Clown Conservatory’s founder and a professional clown, has developed a curriculum that trains every level of performer, from the recreational trapeze student to people who want to go on to careers in Cirque du Soleil.

But it’s the students who work tirelessly at their craft that make the space come alive. The cost is a few hundred bucks for a 12-week class, but learning to be a clown might just be the thing to make your 2009 a year of wonder. *

The Clown Conservatory, Circus Center, 755 Frederick, SF. (415) 759-8123, www.circuscenter.org

Loose canon


› kimberly@sfbg.com

Pet Sounds (Capitol, 1966) not Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band (Capitol, 1967). For that matter the Plastic Ono Band rather than the Beatles, and Brian Wilson before Paul McCartney. Scott Walker, not Paul Simon. Arthur Russell, not David Byrne — though regards to the Talking Heads. ‘Fraid no Bruce Springsteen but plenty of Neil Young. The Band not … well, Bob Dylan hangs on despite the unfortunate I’m Not There (2007), the seeming party-stopper in a never-ending stream of Dylan books and arcana. Prince, in lieu of Rick James, bitch.

Low-budg bedroom production, not Chinese Democracy (Interscope). Not reggaetón but Krautrock. Not Afro-Cuban but African. Not doo-wop but girl group. Nope to Phil Spector but yes to Lee Hazlewood or, better, Lee "Scratch" Perry. Stock on the Replacements and Hüsker Dü is way down, but Bad Brains and Black Flag shares are up. Sorry, the Who isn’t all right but Zep’s song remains the same. Nevermind Nirvana but hello, Sparks — and no, not Jordin Sparks. And oddly enough, not the Tubes or Huey Lewis and the News, but Journey — and specifically "Don’t Stop Believin’."

Now repeat, twirl around, pat your head whilst rubbing your stomach, click your heels together twice, and commit the aforementioned to memory: this is your new rock canon.

Just trust me on this. I’ve read a lot of music stories and CD reviews in ’08, and since I’m missing the crucial math gene, I can’t quantify the exact number of times the hallowed names of Arthur Russell, Neil Young, or Brian Wilson have been invoked, but believe me, they have, more times than group-think-phobic music writers care to admit. And that’s not to say the artists and recordings these canonical creators have displaced are now worthless: even admitting that a canon (or three or four) exists, let alone articuutf8g one, can be a dicey proposition — whether you’re among lit professors or cruising music crit circles. The very idea evokes exclusivity, hierarchy, neocon grandstanding, worries about exclusion, and allusions to dead white men. "I think most professors would not want to say there’s a canon but if you teach a course on American literature there are still things you want to teach," opined one tenured prof pal. "They’re critical of a canon but they still are creating a canon. It’s very implicit and unconscious in some ways."

Yet anyone who’s cared deeply enough about pop to critique it can’t help but notice the seismic shift in the ’00s — even as the state of criticism seems to wax and wane with the fortunes of a music industry still searching for an uploadable business model; music mags busily folding or scrambling for lifestyle advertising; and newspapers gutting their staffs and substituting arts criticism with reviews wrought by, say, sports copy editors. Meanwhile blogs generate a still-fluid mixture of earnest criticism, bracing truth-telling, and hands-free promotion. A canon — or the very idea of classics and common musical references that all agree on — presupposes a foundation of critical thought, and who can afford to judge amid the hand-wringing desperation of today’s music marketplace?

Who instigated this changing of the guard, this revised rock ‘n’ roll canon? Tastemakers, tastefakers, marketing minons, and branding blowhards? Writers, DJs, musicians, music store staffers, promoters, and Robert "Dean of American Rock Critics" Christgau? All Tomorrow’s Parties, Arthur, Pitchfork, and the Chunklet writers who dreamed up issue 20’s music journalist application form ("Would you admit to not actually being that familiar with your frequent points of reference you name-drop [e.g., Captain Beefheart or Gang of Four]?")? This very humble independently owned, independent-minded rag? We’ll never admit it — because the very notion of forging a new pop canon in this fragmented, un-unified, de-centered vortex of music-making, consumption, and collecting seems utterly ridiculous, if not downright moronic. Yet a generational aesthetic realignment has occurred, and as a wise friend once told me, shift happens.


BEAT SUITE Benga, Diary of an Afro Warrior (Tempa); Flying Lotus, Los Angeles (Warp); Portishead, Third (Mercury/Island)

EXOTICA Gang Gang Dance, Saint Dymphna (Social Registry); High Places, High Places (Thrill Jockey)

J-HEAVY Acid Mothers Temple and the Melting Paraiso UFO, Recurring Dream and Apocalypse of Darkness (Important); Boris, Smile (Southern Lord)

LIVE LOVES Fleet Foxes at Bottom of the Hill; High on Fire at Stubb’s; Jonas Reinhardt at Hemlock Tavern; MGMT and Yeasayer at BOH; My Bloody Valentine at the Concourse; Nomo at BOH; Singer at Rickshaw Stop; Stars of the Lid at the Independent

LOCALS ONLY The Alps, III (Type); Faun Fables, A Table Forgotten (Drag City); Tussle, Cream Cuts (Smalltown Supersound); Dominique Leone, Dominique Leone (Stromland); Mochipet, Microphonepet (Daly City)

PLEASANT NODS Beach House, Devotion (Carpark); Growing, All the Way (Social Registry); TV on the Radio, Dear Science (Interscope)

POP NARCOTIC Crystal Stilts, Alight of Night (Slumberland); Magnetic Fields, Distortion (Nonesuch); Times New Viking, Rip It Off (Matador)

PSYCHED Guapo, Elixirs (Neurot); Mirror Mirror, The Society for the Advancement of Inflammatory Consciousness (Cochon)

PUNX Fucked Up,The Chemistry of Common Life (Matador)

YESTERDAYS La Dusseldorf, Viva (Water); Graham Nash, Songs for Beginners (Rhino); Linda Perhacs, Parallelograms (Sunbeam); Rodriguez, Cold Fact (Light in the Attic); Dennis Wilson, Pacific Ocean Blue (Sony)


Not for locals only


› a&eletters@sfbg.com

The Botticellis stick to the coast like gulls. Until recently, they all lived a few blocks from the ocean in an Outer Richmond flat, but drummer Zach Ehrlich decided to move into a beachfront apartment so he could have easier access to the surf. Before moving, he used a telescope pointed out his window to check for waves at Ocean Beach, but he gave that up after realizing the overall creepiness of the set-up, and he never could get to the beach in time to catch the waves he saw from his window.

Earlier this month, the band performed at Aqua Surf Shop on Haight Street. Beside surfboards propped against the walls and surf videos playing in the background, the Botticellis delivered a short set, bundled in sweatshirts and jackets against a door open to the San Francisco night. Afterward two men from the small crowd approached lead vocalist Alexi Glickman and said, "Dude, your music totally made us wanna surf." To Glickman, this was the ultimate compliment.

Their very name originates in surf culture — a botticelli is a tightly wound wave distinctive to the Southern California coast — but don’t assume the group is just a Beach Boys rip-off. While the Botticellis borrow from those hitmakers as much as any jangly indie-pop band does, their lyrics never come close to those of blatantly beach-themed tunes. The Botticellis are classier than that.

Glickman and Ehrlich grew up together in the Los Angeles area, where they developed a shared enthusiasm for music and surfing. They both began training in the Suzuki violin method in kindergarten, and have performed in original rock bands since age eight: first as an instrumental duo called Powerstrike, a recording of which Glickman says "sounds like Sleater-Kinney before Sleater-Kinney."

Now, almost two decades later, the pair is climbing toward indie stardom with their friends and fellow surfers Burton Li, Ian Nanson, and Blythe Foster as the Botticellis. Their new album, Old Home Movies, will be officially released next month on Antenna Farm Records. Local fans have a chance to grab an advance copy at their release party April 18.

Although they’ve begun headlining at SF’s larger clubs, they say they still prefer the lower-key atmosphere of spots like Aqua Surf. For these performances, the outfit brings their own sound system and mixes the vocals high to their soft-pop liking. "Every venue that we go to, we try to explain," Glickman said. "Usually people are totally unreceptive and say ‘Fuck you! Don’t tell me how to do my job!’ — which is probably why we like doing these house shows and small shows because we don’t have to go through some fucking huge PA system." With the vocals mixed down and the bass and drums cranked up, they metamorphose from a detailed, modern evocation of a ’60s pop group into a blaring indie-rock combo.

The Botticellis made a conscious decision to refine their sound: two years ago, they were a rock band with a self-released, self-titled EP showcasing guitar-driven power-pop. The transformation didn’t come easily. Some songs have been reworked and rerecorded multiple times before making it onto Old Home Movies. Seven of the new disc’s 10 tracks were laid to tape at Tiny Telephone in SF, and from the start, their goal was to re-create the crackly feel of a vinyl LP. They even toyed with the idea of releasing the recording on cassette before a quick survey of friends found that none of their pals owned a tape player.

"We were listening to Big Star records and Big Star side-project records, like Chris Bell," said Glickman. "We tried to get that sort of chewy analog mid-fi feeling." To round out that sound, the Botticellis sought out Matt Cunitz of SF’s Vintage Keyboard Repair for unusual instruments: Mellotron, folding pump organ, Minimoog, bassoon, and toy piano can all be heard at some point in the recording, beneath the fuzzy, light guitars. While Blythe Foster does not perform live with the band — she usually puts her voice toward work as an actress in local theater — the addition of her winsome vocals alongside the three male singers is nothing short of captivating.

The resulting Old Home Movies fully realizes the Botticellis attempts to bring wonder to the simplicity of California pop. And with summer coming, now is their chance to shine. One listen to Old Home Movies transports the listener back to a time when the state was known for cheerful sounds that matched clear skies. Still, the Botticellis aren’t deluding themselves. San Franciscans know that California isn’t all sun and fun, and the group’s nostalgic, delicate numbers match the melancholy nature that a July day in the Bay often holds. *


With Papercuts and the Mantles

Fri/18, 9 p.m., $10

Cafe Du Nord

2170 Market, SF


Going back


Pay no attention to the feathered and paisleyed, freaked-out and gentled-up flower child batting his bejeweled lashes behind the ruby velvet curtain. Despite the neo-glam-hippie network enmeshing his label, the Devendra Banhart– and Andy Cabic–owned Gnomonsong, and the narcotic dream-folk wafting around his San Francisco indie pop project Papercuts, songwriter-producer Jason Quever would never call himself a hippie, though heaven knows he’s tried to be one. "I have too much anxiety to be a hippie," the thoughtful Quever free-associates as he settles into his Excelsior District digs, now that his springtime rambling — spent performing with and opening for Beach House on their recent national tour — is done.

"There was a moment when I was younger when I thought maybe that’s what I am," the 32-year-old continues, sounding a wee bit wistful. "But no, I’m not very free. I have to be moving and wearing shoes — I’m just not relaxed enough to be groovy with anything. I have too much inner turmoil to pull that off, and bummer hippies are the worst — so negative."

He knows of what he speaks, as the child of "burnout hippies" who retreated to Humboldt County ("Yeah, it was funny. To get away from drugs, they lived on a Christian commune"). And though he’s always admired genuinely, "extremely relaxed" folks, Quever, by his own admission, only gets truly blissed out while writing songs.

The music making started at 5, when Quever and his friends wrote their first song: a video game ode titled "Dragon Slayer." "I still remember banging on an LP cover with chopsticks," he recalls. Songwriting became an anchor of sorts when he bought a four-track at age 15, following a summer spent adrift and alone after his mother died suddenly of a brain aneurysm.

Still, the past — and sounds redolent of tube amps, ’60s pop, magnetic tape, and a certain exquisite melancholy ornamented with chapel chimes, shivering strings, arpeggiated guitars, and thumping toms — pulls him back, although Quever appears to have built a kind of community around his current home studio, unofficially dubbed Pan American Recording "just to make it sound classy." There he’s tracked or mixed such local players as Vetiver, Casiotone for the Painfully Alone, the Skygreen Leopards, the Finches, the Moore Brothers, and Still Flyin’ — artists, Quever says, who "can handle analog recording and don’t need editing, and people who are into that sound too. People who want perfection — I can’t give them that."

Quever sounds a little dejected, much as he did while discussing reviews of Papercuts’ most recent full-length, Can’t Go Back (Gnomonsong, 2007), and writers’ focus on a perceived ’60s-vintage sound. But the singer-songwriter just as quickly cheers up: "That’s the fun thing about analog — it automatically weeds out a lot of people I don’t want to deal with. Most people who come over are relaxed and just want to have fun. The OCD obsessives just can’t obsess about it, and I do. When I mixed my last record, I obsessed over it the way you shouldn’t with analog."

Quever will have to see what the future holds now that he’s back home and writing songs, after his April 18 show at Cafe Du Nord with Papercuts’ current lineup, which includes filmmaker David Enos and Lazarus’ Kelly Nyland and Trevor Montgomery. Taking a cue from the title of Can’t Go Back, he knows there’s nowhere to venture but forward. "I’m just keeping out of jail," Quever says cheerfully — so every day, he agrees, is a success.

For more on the Papercuts’ April 18 show, see "Not for Locals Only," page 30.

Locals only?


BOOK REVIEW Not for Tourists Guidebooks has just released the fourth edition of its Not for Tourists Guide to San Francisco. Besides having a mad grip of inaccuracies, the title is problematic: this tome is definitely not not for tourists.

The first thing I found wrong with the book was its only foldout map. It’s a highway map, which is weird, since most city dwellers tend to stay clear of the damn things. They’re for the bridge-and-tunnel crowd and, uh, the tourists. And the map isn’t even detailed enough for you to see where on- and off-ramps are or tell which is which. And with San Francisco’s grand total of four highways, it’s hard to imagine why the NFT folks didn’t devote their largest page to a Muni map – just one of many things this book doesn’t have.

In all fairness, Muni routes are included in the 120 minimaps that comprise most of the book. But the layout is incredibly daunting! To follow one bus route, you might have to flip back and forth 20 times to see where the line will take you – shit most locals just don’t have friggin’ time for. I became further discouraged by the decision to devote pages to Ghirardelli Square, Fisherman’s Wharf, and Pier 39. (If not for tourists, for whom?) But despite this and despite noticing an ad for Segway Tours of the Marina Green (insert sound of me retching here), I still gave the rest of the guide a whirl, determined to get some practical use out of it.

I attempted to find a liquor store when I was trapped in SoMa without rolling papers – only to discover the intersection I was at, Fourth Street and Mission, was on the corner of three maps. The bar I was in (my favorite) was nowhere to be found. I was in minimap limbo. Next I tried to wax nostalgic with the maps of neighborhoods where I used to live – only to discover that some bars listed on the neighborhood directories weren’t dotted on the maps.

So I tried using the guide to call my neighborhood grocery store, Eight-Twenty-Eight Irving Market, to see if it carried printer paper. Apparently, it falls somewhere between liquor store and supermarket, because it’s not in the book. (BTW: it carries college rule but not printer paper.) Finally, I called the Hotel Utah – only to lose an eardrum when that killer "bee-doo-eet!" sound alerted me to the fact that the number listed in the guide was disconnected.

Maybe, maybe buy the Not for Tourists Guide for first-year college students or other new SF transplants. But if you’ve been here for longer than six months, just hang on to your Muni map and your BART schedule and save the $14.95 (suggested retail) for 411 charges.