For the cover of our Queer Pride Issue, the Guardian rallied a group together to take some photos and ask them about their experiences as queer youths in the Bay Area. Go to the jump to hear more from Angel, Brian, Dennis, and Huitzi.
Angel, Intern, SF LGBT Community Center “I’m really excited for Pride! I’ve never been… this is going to be my first time, so I’m really excited…”
Brian, Recent SF Transplant “I grew up in Texas. By coming out here I’m coming into a new world where it’s ok being gay, it’s ok being you you are, it’s ok me loving Angel, and it’s ok flaunting it. No one is going to say anything about that. I think the Bay Area is where I was meant to be.”
Dennis, Poet/Musician/Queer Youth Educator “What inspires me is adversity, because it’s something that enrages me and something that fuels me to overcome.”
Huitzi, Poet “What inspires me? Seeing other people display their strength. Especially if they want to help people that are going through the same things they did. Seeing people take a stand for what they believe in… I love that.”
In this week’s issue Landon Moblad profiles retro rock purveyor Nick Waterhouse. Here are a few audio clips from Nick’s shoot at the Swedish American Hall with photographer Matthew Reamer. Nick talks about why he’s excited to play San Francisco’s Verdi Club (tonight), and sums up how he’s usually summed up by the press.
Additionally we had to scramble at the last minute to find a guitar for the shoot because Nick’s bandmates had taken his with them in their tour van. Finding the right guitar for someone with such a specific style was no small task but fortunately Nick knew where to look… just one block down 15th Street to Peacock Music. The small 37 year old guitar store is in the process of moving to Bernal Heights and we had the chance to chat with its owner Noah Peacock about the shop’s history and what’s coming up. Have a listen:
In this week’s issue, we talk to Bay favorite musician Meklit Hadero about her latest project, Copperwire — a hip-hop space opera coming to the Rickshaw Stop on Sat/5. Hadero is joined in the project by two Ethiopian-American emcees, Gabriel Teodros and Burntface. Go more indepth (and outerspace) with Hadero about the project below.
MUSIC Singer-songwriter Meklit Hadero’s album On a Day Like This garnered tons of praise and cemented her status as SF’s flower-adorned local celebrity. As a TED fellow and the Red Poppy Art House’s former artistic director, Hadero also established an ability to cross-pollinate her far-reaching talents.
But with her latest project, Copperwire (www.copperwiremusic.com), it now appears that the chanteuse is ready to cross into music’s final frontier. Copperwire’s music tells stories about connection and distance through cosmic metaphors. The group just released its debut album Earthbound and is currently bringing its hip-hop space opera to life-forms across the country.
[You can have a listen to exerpts from the album and more from Hadero on the creative process here.]
SFBG: What is Copperwire?
MEKLIT HADERO: Copperwire is myself and two Ethiopian-American emcees, Gabriel Teodros and Burntface. The whole project started with a song called “Phone Home.” We were sitting on a couch and we just looked at each other and suddenly put our index fingers out, and when they touched we all said “phone home.” We were like wait a minute, because ET also stands for Ethiopia. It started from that spark, and we ended up writing the song in two to three hours.
SFBG: From there you decided to make a full-length album?
MH: Well, we didn’t want to just make a record. We wanted to tell a story in a way that felt relevant and fresh to all of us. Earthbound uses metaphors of intergalactic distances to talk about diaspora and cultural connection and disconnection.
Last December I became a member of the SF Amateur Astronomers. I was hosting the deYoung’s Van Gogh Starry Night event and the Amateur Astronomers were around the pond outside. They had about nine or 10 different telescopes that you could look through. I saw the moon, but I also saw Jupiter and four of its moons. It was an incredibly impactful moment for me, especially since I’d been thinking about the reality of these distances that we talk about.
Gabriel had been reading a book by Neti Okorafor, who’s a Nigerian science fiction writer who wrote a book about the Sudan in the future. And all three of us are total science fiction buffs. I love Star Trek.
SFBG: You’re a Trekkie?
MH: The Next Generation… TNG, that’s my era. Yes, I know that I’m revealing my inner dorkiness. Anyway we’d been talking about making a record together for years, and after being in Ethiopia together we were just like it’s time. Crossing that distance while these metaphors were churning kind of came out in the story.
SFBG: Do you relate Copperwire to intergalactic ’70s acts like Funkadelic?
MH: Definitely. It’s also in the line of Outkast, Janelle Monae, David Bowie. It definitely feels like it’s in an intergalactic lineage.
SFBG: Tell me about the star sounds that factor into Earthbound.
MH: While we were recording I saw a posting by one of my fellow TED fellows about an installation in the Bavarian forest that had been done with star sounds. I sent her an email asking “What are these star sounds and how can I get some?” We figured out how to use them in our beats using a program called the isotope spectrum, and used the star sounds in combination with a whole bunch of instruments.
SFBG: What about the star guitar?
MH: The idea for the star guitar came after we’d stopped recording and I’d been wanting to figure out how to do it live. Jon Jenkins from NASA’s Keppler Mission made the star sounds based on their oscillations of light. You can say I want 50 percent star and 50 percent guitar, or you can say I want 30 percent star and 70 percent guitar. You can also hybridize just the highs or just the lows. I’m still experimenting. There are a bunch of different sounds, but I’ve chosen a few that I particularly like.
SFBG: How many different stars are you working with?
MH: Right now I’m working with two stars.
SFBG: Do you know their names?
MH: I don’t and I don’t know where they are, that’s one thing I want to talk with Jon about. But he’s also posting a whole host of new star sounds so I’ll have a lot more to choose from pretty soon. *
This week, the Guardian examines the issue of whether San Francisco is experiencing a cultural and economic exodus to the East Bay, especially Oakland. Our cover features creative folks from all over Oakland proper. They were asked the question “Is Oakland cooler than San Francisco?” and in return we got some pretty surprising answers (though, spoiler alert: the general consensus was “Hell Yes!”). Have a listen to their responses…
Ali “Chief Saba” Ar Rasheed, Business Manager Easy Bay Dragons Motorcycle Club “People often call Oakland ‘gritty’ compared to San Francisco… what I think they actually mean is more working-class.”
Adam Hatch, Owner Hatch Gallery/Co-founder Starline Project “San Francisco is a visually appealing city but as far as where I’d want to live it’s Oakland.”
HOTTUB, Disco/Rap band (Clockwise from left: Jaysonik, Ambreezy, Lolipop, Funky Finger Mark, and CoCo Machete) “Oakland in some ways is overshadowing San Francisco because artists can afford to live here,” Jaysonik.
Austin Barber, Guitarist and vocalist for Saviours “I’ve always been more attracted to Oakland, mostly because of the music.”
Jessica Hobbs, Co-founder Flux Foundation “I’ve found more openness to the art that I do… San Francisco is kind of a pain in the butt!”
Tanya Holland, Chef and Owner, Brown Sugar Kitchen/B-Side BBQ “You actually know your neighbors which is a different experience than I had in San Francisco.”
Alfonso Dominguez, Architect/Owner Tamarindo Restaurant and Era Art Bar and Lounge “It’s like comparing apples and pomegranates.”
Sam Strand, Artist/Co-founder Starline Project “It’s a little rougher… but the fight is what makes it cooler. It’s like Detroit.”
Tyranny Allen, CEO of Marketing Kings “We’ve got a lot more going on in Oakland. It’s the ultimate place to be in the Bay Area.”
Shot in the Pacific Northwest and featured on the cover of the Guardian’s Green Issue this week, David Hall’s ‘Beneath Cold Seas‘ is the first photographic book to show the colorful and exotic sea life of North America’s cold waters.
Hall spent 15 years diving in British Columbia to gather the images and as he explains in this week’s issue the animals depicted in the book can also be found by our NorCal shores because they “don’t recognize international borders.” We were only able to fit a few images into the print edition so here are some more for you to feast your eyes upon. Dive in and go to www.beneathcoldseas.com for more.
THE GREEN ISSUE Most people associate underwater photography with the tropics, but the beautiful shots that appear in Beneath Cold Seas (University of Washington, $45, 160pp) were shot in the Pacific Northwest. What’s most striking about the book is the color and vibrance that photographer David Hall was able to capture. It’s a bit mind-blowing to imagine that the hooded nudibranches and grasping octopi found in the book live in the inky depths abutting our very own rocky shores. The next time you take a dip at Baker or Muir Beach don’t forget that you’re frolicking with some seriously stunning fauna.
SFBG: Where did you shoot Beneath Cold Seas?
DAVID HALL: I shot Beneath Cold Seas in British Columbia. The water tends to be more clear and there’s less pollution because of the small population density. But the same animals in the book are found in Northern California, they don’t recognize international borders. Technically biologists say the ecosystem extends from Southern Alaska down to Point Conception (north of Santa Barbara). That entire area is referred to as the Pacific Northwest.
SFBG: What environmental issues are facing the Pacific Northwest?
DH: One problem is the introduction of alien species. For instance farm-raised salmon taken from New England genetic stock occasionally escape and interbreed with the five or six Pacific species. So you’re getting a genetic mixture which endangers the original Pacific species. But the environmental issues that most people are worried about are overfishing and pollution, like oil spills. As more Canadian oil is being developed and exported to places like China, it will have to be shipped across these waters. So that becomes a concern, especially after what happened in the Gulf of Mexico last year.
SFBG: When did you start taking photos underwater?
DH: Many years ago I took a trip to the Virgin Islands. I’d never seen a coral reef before and was completely overwhelmed by what I saw while snorkeling. I felt that I had to photograph it because I’m not so good at describing things. I went out and bought the best camera I could afford which was a Kodak Instamatic in a plastic housing with flashbulbs. That was how it all started. In those days the bar was very low, if you got an underwater photograph that was somewhat recognizable you could get it published.
SFBG: What would you say inspired this project?
DH: At first I started going because I loved the diving, I enjoyed being there and getting photographs. But after the first half dozen trips I realized that the material I was getting was good enough for a book. I got the idea for the book about five years ago, but all in all it took about 15 years.
SFBG: What was a typical shoot like?
DH: I was living on a small boat for a couple of weeks at a time, doing three dives a day, and then reviewing photos at night. The days would be consumed with getting ready for the dive, getting all the equipment on, waiting until the current was just right, getting into the water, diving for an hour, getting back to the boat, getting warm — which takes another hour or two — and then getting ready to dive again. Altogether I made about 500 dives from 1995 to 2010.
Photographing underwater is much more difficult than photographing in air, and photographing in cold water is that much more difficult than photographing in warm water. No one had ever published a good book on underwater photography from a cold water destination in North America before. There are plenty of field guides, and fish ID books for fisherman, but no one had ever published a photographic book that tried to show the character of the ecosystem in an artistic way.
The book required getting a lot of wide angle shots to include the scenery as well as the animals. Getting good clear, colorful photographs in cold water is difficult because of visibility issues. Also cold water filters out all of the warm colors in the spectrum (red, orange, yellow) so to see the colors you have to add light back. So I dive with a pair of powerful flash units that attach to the camera by way of articulated arms that keep my hands free.
SFBG: So there wasn’t someone handling lighting for you?
DH: If I were a National Geographic contract photographer I’d probably have had a few assistants holding lights for me, but I wasn’t so lucky. I had to do everything myself. And in most cases I was diving completely alone.
SFBG: People don’t associate such colorful and exotic creatures with our coast. It’s really wonderful that your book is changing that perception.
DH: I certainly hope that’s what’s happening. The book has been very well received, largely because nobody was aware of what was down there. I mean marine biologists and divers were, but ordinary people had no idea.
People tend to protect what they know and value. Most Americans and Canadians are familiar with the aquatic species that we eat, but there’s a whole ecosystem there that the great majority of us are completely unfamiliar with. I hope my book will make people aware that these things exist and want to feel more protective toward that whole environment.
MUSIC To be at SXSW is to know you’re missing out on a lot of good music. Fortunately the music you do see makes up for the difference, and very often it’s the unexpected showcases, the things that weren’t on your radar until that very moment, that end up being the highlights of your experience. That said, here are some of my impressions from this year’s slate:
WEDNESDAY, MARCH 14
On the way to the ZZ Ward show I stumbled upon Grupo Canalon playing on a street corner. Incidentally, a friend from SF had recommended it as an act that shouldn’t be missed. The group hails from the town of Timbiqui in Cauca and plays traditional Afro-Colombian roots music, with lots of percussion, a marimba, and a capella vocals. Even the hipsters on Sixth Street couldn’t resist dancing.
Amid an extended sound check plagued by feedback, a frustrated ZZ Ward assured the Bat Bar audience that her performance would be worth the wait. The words seemed cocky in the moment but she and her band delivered. Based in LA, the chanteuse’s “dirty blues with beats” sound has gathered its fair share of buzz and she seems to have the poise and the chops to become a star.
As I walked through the heart of Sixth Street not only was every venue overflowing with showcases but it was hard to swing a stick without hitting an “unofficial” street showcase. I snapped photos of two guys furiously strumming acoustic guitars in front of the Ritz Theater. When asked what their band’s name was, the taller one replied “Well I’m Mike and he’s Gabe… that’s as far as we’ve gotten.”
THURSDAY, MARCH 15
In the afternoon I wandered downtown only to run into Andy and Christian of San Franpsycho. They had a rack of clothes and a mobile screenprinting setup — representing SF style deep in the heart of Texas. As we commiserated about the craziness that is SXSW, SF local Danny Lannon of The Frail happened by.
Then it was off to catch a few songs by the White Eyes at the Taiwan music showcase. Frontperson Gau Xiao-gao was festooned in a nude leotard with fabric streamers while she led her band through the punk and straight-forward rock paces.
Later on I went to Spinlet’s All Africa party at Copa. After some confusion about the schedule, Kenya’s Sauti Sol took the stage. The first thing to notice about Sauti Sol was the band’s incredible clothing. The musicians were all wearing these beautifully tailored kanga-print jackets with beaded epaulets. En masse it kind of resembled an East African Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. The second thing to notice was the great music. It navigated effortlessly from rocking out to singing soaring harmonies, all the while spontaneously breaking into lockstep dancing. The crowd ate it up.
FRIDAY, MARCH 16
At the big SPIN blowout Santigold‘s rhythm section entered the stage wearing Max Headroom-esque caps, her backup singers came out in outfits that were a spin on matador chic, then Santigold herself finally came out donning a crown. While her big hits like “L.E.S. Artistes” sent the crowd into frenzied sing-a-longs, her new material was received almost as enthusiastically, boding well for her album release come April.
At the globalFEST showcase the crowd was enjoying the sounds of Janka Nabay and the Bubu Gang, M.A.K.U SoundSystem, and Chicha Libre. Boston’s Debo Band closed the night with its take on retro Ethiopian pop music. I first caught the band a little over a year ago and since then its live act has grown by leaps and bounds. The band has been working with producer Thomas “Tommy T” Gobena of Gogol Bordello and it seems it learned a few things from the Gogol performance playbook. Keep an eye out for its release later this summer.
SATURDAY, MARCH 17
As I crossed the threshold into Empire Auto’s warehouse space I was enveloped in a complete sensory overload. The room was bathed in a light that made it feel like the crowd was hanging in suspension, and dubstep producer Starkey had that crowd feeling his beats. Literally. The bass was so pounding that it rattled my organs. A few minutes later the bass cut out completely, leaving the crowd adrift as Starkey protested over the PA “Yo, I wasn’t even in the red! Is anyone out there even working?”
The production manager told me that the bass was so heavy that it had knocked Starkey’s laptop off his table, and they were trying to get him to take it down a notch. Yet the thing the manager was even more worried about was that Daedelus was returning to the venue later that evening. Apparently two nights before his bass was so relentless that it had blown two woofers, cracked two windows, and fried the hard drive of the computer delivering the club’s visuals. Hopefully that night didn’t go out with too much of a bang.
Over at the Nat Geo showcase Israeli culture-clasher Balkan Beat Box was rocking songs from its newly released album Give. One track that had particular traction was “Enemy in Economy,” which details leader Tomer Yosef’s experience being taken for a terrorist on an Alaska Airlines flight. The crowd couldn’t get enough of the song’s hook “Welcome to the USA/we hope you have a wonderful day.”
Meanwhile Nigerian-German singer Nneka was inside playing her beautiful blend of politically conscious music. My SXSW experience closed out with Jimmy Cliff‘s set on the patio stage. By kicking things off with “You Can Get It If You Really Want” he wasted no time in giving the capacity crowd what they really wanted. As the patio tent got progressively more hazy it seemed the perfect moment to bid adieu to the festival and make my way home.
During my last day in Austin SXSW reached critical mass. This year St. Patrick’s Day happened to coincide with the big Saturday blowout, and as I made my way downtown the revelry was in full effect. Partiers who looked to be in high school swirled about dressed in t-shirts with slogans like “Hello, My Name is Beer” and “Let’s Get Wasted!!!” In the midst of this I came across a couple contentedly sitting in the middle of the street in complete stillness while staring into one another’s eyes.
I had to forgo a set by British soul singer Michael Kiwanuka in order to catch CHLLNGR at Karma Lounge. CHLLNGR is the moniker of electronic musician Steven Borth, a native-Californian who lives in Denmark full-time and is one of Spoek Mathambo‘s main collaborators. Backed by drummer Gunnar Olsen, Borth is a talented multi-instrumentalist who liberally played his saxophone throughout a set that was deeply steeped in sexy R&B.
After that it was off to the Nat Geo showcase at Stage on Sixth. British singer Alice Russell and Quantic were in full swing. Russell’s larger-than-life voice and the band’s rolling soul had everyone putting their hands together. “Pushin’ on” was a crowd favorite.
I stopped by the Montreal musician showcase and caught a few songs by Haligonian garage band Each Other. From there it was a several block climb to Empire Auto Garage where I thought I was going to catch some French bands. But I must have read the schedule wrong because MC Kosha Dillz was holding court on the small patio. After he finished his last song he mentioned that his performance was part of the Oy Vey showcase, “The coolest Jewish rap party without many Jewish rappers.”
As I crossed the threshold into the venue’s main warehouse space I was enveloped by a complete sensory overload. The room was bathed in light that was directed in such a way that it felt like the crowd was hanging in suspension, and Philadelphia-based dubstep producer Starkey had the crowd feeling his beats. Literally. The bass was so pounding that it rattled my organs. As I approached the stage the speakers’ vibrations became too intense so I hung in the back of the room to survey the scene. A few minutes later the bass cut out completely, leaving the crowd adrift as Starkey protested over the PA “Yo, I wasn’t even in the red! Is anyone out there even working?”
I asked the production manager what had happened. He said that the bass was so heavy that it knocked the Starkey’s laptop off the table, and that they were trying to get him to take it down a notch. Yet the thing he was even more worried about was that Daedelus was returning to the venue later that eve. Apparently two nights ago his bass was so relentless that it had blown two woofers, cracked two windows, and fried the hard drive of the computer delivering the club’s visuals. Hopefully the night didn’t go out with too much of a bang. Meanwhile the woofers came back online and the crowd commenced thrashing to Starkey’s beats.
Back at Stage on Sixth Israeli culture-clashers Balkan Beat Box were setting up after having spent 24 hours en route from California to Austin. While playing though complete exhaustion they rocked several songs from their newly released album Give. One track that had particular traction was “Enemy in Economy,” which details frontman Tomer Yosef’s experience being mistaken for a terrorist on an Alaska Airlines flight. The crowd couldn’t get enough of the song’s hook “Welcome to the USA, we hope you have a wonderful day.”
Nigerian-German singer Nneka was inside playing her beautiful blend of politically conscious music. Her set took place under the watchful eyes of Willie Nelson, Janis Joplin, and Johnny Cash… all featured on the venue’s huge wall mural.
My SXSW experience closed out with Jimmy Cliff‘s set on the patio stage. By kicking things off with “You Can Get It If You Really Want” he wasted no time in giving the capacity crowd what they really wanted. As the patio tent got progressively hazy it seemed the perfect moment to bid adieu to the festival and make my way home.
My third day at South by Southwest kicked off with the big SPIN Magazine party at Stubb’s. Best Coast was wrapping up their set and everyone was eagerly anticipating headliner Santigold.
Santigold’s rhythm section entered the stage wearing Max Headroom-esque caps, then her backup singers came on in outfits that were a spin on matador chic, and finally she came on donning a crown. She’s been busy working on a new album for the past few years, so her high profile gigs at SXSW seem to be serving as a homecoming of sorts.
Jason Newman of Fuse went as far as to dub her the festival’s “prom queen”… hence the crown. While her big hits like L.E.S. Artistes sent the crowd into frenzied sing-a-longs, her new material was received almost as enthusiastically… boding well for her album release come April.
Later that eve I got to chat with Venezuelan rockers La Vida Boheme before heading to the globalFEST showcase at Speakeasy. Each year globalFEST brings acts from all over the world to New York’s Webster Hall, and this year they’ve taken their act on the road for the first time. As I arrived Janka Nabay and the Bubu Gang were on stage leading the crowd through their high-BPM take on Sierra Leone’s bubu music.
After the Bubu Gang’s set the globalFEST crowd awaited the Colombian sounds of Queens-based M.A.K.U SoundSystem, but technical issues plagued the venue. Nearly an hour later the band was finally able to get going. Most of the crowd stayed on and it seemed like delaying the gratification heightened their excitement.
I stopped in to see Glen Hansard who’s devoted fans were singing along with every word. Then walked back across to the Nacional Records showcase just in time to catch the beginning of Ritmo Machine‘s set. A collaboration between Chilean beatmaker Latin Bitman and Cypress Hill percussionist Eric Bobo, their set was a mix of impressive turntablism and percussion set to music that ranged from blaxploitation-era soundtracks to Tito Puente.
After that it was back to globalFEST at Speakeasy where Chicha Libre were playing a psychedelic rendition of Guns of Brixton. From there it was off to see French-Moroccan chanteuse Hindi Zahra who had the crowd in the palm of her hand.
My night ended with globalFEST’s final set by Boston’s Debo Band. Their take on Ethiopian pop music has garnered notice in the past year and they recently signed on with legendary indie rock label Sub Pop. I first caught the band a little over a year ago and since then their live act has grown by leaps and bounds. They’ve been working with producer Thomas “Tommy T” Gobena of Gogol Bordello and it seems they’ve learned a few things from the Gogol playbook… in terms of the energy and the ecstatic vibe they’re bringing to their performances. Keep an eye out for their release later this summer.
I’m in Austin to blog the SXSW Music festival for the second year. With evening slates that usually have around 50 official showcases happening at any given moment (and many more unofficial shows), one person’s perspective can feel dreadfully unrepresentative.
To be at SXSW is to know you’re missing out on a lot of good music. Fortunately the music you do see makes up for the difference, and very often it’s the unexpected showcases, the things that weren’t on your radar until that very moment, that end up being the highlights of your experience. That said here are some of my impressions from Wednesday’s evening slate:
Ethiopian/Finnish singer Mirel Wagner played the first set of the night at Red 7. I spoke with her earlier in the day about her haunting songs that tend toward the darker side of existence. While in person Wagner doesn’t come across as terribly morbid, she does have a healthy dose of scandinavian deadpan. When introducing her third song she said “This is a song called Joe… and it’s about a guy named Joe.”
After that it was off to the Mohawk Patio for an outdoor show with French band Anoraak. They delighted the crowd with their gleeful, synth-pop.
On the way to the ZZ Ward show I stumbled across Grupo Canalon playing on a street corner. A friend from SF who’s not here had earlier recommended them as an act that couldn’t be missed at the festival. They hail from the town of Timbiqui in Cauca and play traditional Afro-Colombian roots music, with lots of percussion, a marimba, and acapella vocals. Even the hipsters on 6th Street couldn’t resist dancing.
Amidst an extended sound check plagued with feedback and technical issues, a frustrated ZZ Ward assured the Parish audience that her performance would be worth the wait. The words seemed cocky in the moment but she and her band delivered. Based in LA, the chanteuse’s “dirty blues with beats” sound has gathered its fair share of buzz and she seems to have the poise and the chops to become a star.
As I walked through the heart of 6th Street not only was every venue overflowing with showcases but it was hard to walk 10 feet without stumbling across an impromptu “unofficial” street showcase. I snapped photos of two guys furiously strumming acoustic guitars in front of the Ritz Theater. When asked what their band’s name was the taller one replied “Well I’m Mike and he’s Gabe… that’s as far as we’ve gotten.”
Continuing down 6th Street I ran into a pedicab driver who had rigged a big, boxy speaker to his ride. As I ambled past he was dancing to his latest selection while waiting for a fare. I asked him what he usually likes to blast from his system and he replied “Most of the time I play dubstep, but just now I needed to hear some Jay Z.”
After that it was on to Andres Levin and Cucu Diamantes’ showcase at Speakeasy. As I walked in Mexican singer Lila Downs was just setting foot on stage… resplendent in a flower-covered dress. The word on the street is that she’s working on the score for a Broadway adaptation of Like Water for Chocolate. After breaking out a bottle of mezcal (making sure to point out the worm) and making an offering to “the spirits that have come before us,” Downs broke into a rendition of the ballad Maldito Cariño that brought down the house.
Last stop of the night was the Casa do Brasil showcase at Maggie Mae’s where carioca Tita Lima’s band was playing forro. A lone couple on the dance floor tried to adjust their ingrained salsa moves to forro’s more folky steps, with middling success. As Tita began her last song of the night she told the audience to check out the music of fellow brasileiro Junio Barreto, saying that “his music is comparable to Chico Buarque’s.” Buarque’s music is so revered that it would be hard to give higher praise, so I’ll take Tita’s advice and see what Barreto is up to.
Last week we got to photograph folks from several different corners of the Bay Area nightlife scene for Marke B’s Club Action cover story. Listen to them talk to Guardian art director Mirissa Neff and contributing photographer Matthew Reamer about what they love to do when they’re out and about in the wee hours.
It was the crying jag seen round the world. With seconds left in last Saturday’s divisional playoff game 49ers tight end (and Guardian cover model) Vernon Davis caught the game-winning touchdown, kept the Niners’ Super Bowl hopes alive, and ran headlong into the arms of coach Jim Harbaugh while bawling his eyes out.
While the touchdown incited hysteria at Candlestick, Vernon’s “man tears” left many a couch quarterback verklempt (or at least with something “stuck” in their eye). This fan video captured the drama at the stadium:
This isn’t the first time that Vernon’s cried openly on the field. And he’s far from the first 49er to do so… check out this eerily similar last-second playoff TD followed by Terrell Owens’ teary display back in 1998:
But there was something different about this particular jag. Something that spoke to a feeling of destiny about this season, and the sense that disappointment need not reign supreme at The Stick. Maybe, just maybe things could be different this time around.
The season’s 13 wins never seemed to be enough to override the pundits’ doubts about the Niners. And on Saturday, as the Saints erased their lead in last minutes of the game it seemed the naysayers were about to be proven right.
Yet once Vernon shed those tears it was clear the 49ers had truly arrived. And with this Sunday’s game against the NY Giants they have the chance to lay to rest any doubt of their elite status. As a native New Yawker I’ll be happy with either team going to the Super Bowl… but on behalf of the SF Bay Guardian staff: GO NINERS!
This week’s Guardian cover was illustrated by Eric Drooker. Drooker is best known for creating amazing paintings that have graced many a New Yorker cover and for the fact that he designed the illustrations used in the recent film adaptation of Allen Ginsberg’s HOWL.
The illustrator is also an outspoken supporter of all things OCCUPY. He’s designed several posters for the movement and we were beyond pleased to have him capture our thoughts on how to take back the country. Have a look through some recent illustrations that he’s done for the cause, including one that promotes tomorrow’s Occupy Wall Street West protests…
We spoke with Kelly at Occupy SF on Monday, November 21. Originally from Michigan, she stumbled upon the Occupy camp and has remained for more than a month. Listen to our interview with Kelly after the jump.
We spoke with Derek at Occupy SF on Monday, November 21. He spoke about his Cherokee roots and how he feels like he’s been an activist since he was “in the womb.” Listen to our interview with Derek after the jump.
Art director Mirissa Neff and photographer David Bornfriend had the chance to talk with Adam at Occupy SF on Monday, November 21. The recent Cornell grad discusses why he felt it was important to participate in Occupy as well as the solidarity he feels with the UC Davis and Berkeley students. Listen to his interview here.
(Click here to learn more about the collodion portrait work that appears on the cover of this week’s paper.)
On Thursday November 3rd the Guardian family descended upon Buck Tavern to toast 45 years of “Printing the News and Raising Hell.” The cadre included current and former staffers, as well as SF politicos and friends of the Guardian from over the years. While Chris Daly and his staff kept busy slinging stiff drinks and setting out yummy snacks, the Guardian family was aglow in celebrating four and half decades of representing San Francisco values. Hip Hip Hooray!
The way the daily newspapers are presenting it, the budget that Mayor Ed Lee and the Board of Supervisors Budget and Finance Committee negotiated represents a new era of civility and cooperation at City Hall. The committee, after marathon negotiations, approved the $6.8 billion deal unanimously. Both sides called it a good process and a good result.
And indeed, by any standard, the way Lee worked with community groups was a huge breakthrough. After 16 years of essentially being cut out of the process under mayors Willie Brown and Gavin Newsom, the stakeholders — the people who provide the essential city services — were actually at the table. And the final blueprint isn’t as bad as it could be.
But it’s still a budget that does nothing to restore the roughly $1 billion of General Fund cuts over the past five years, that seeks no new taxes from big business or the wealthy, and that includes spending on a new Police Academy class that even the mayor doesn’t think the city needs.
And from the start, the mayor and his staff were absolutely determined to privatize security at the city’s two big public hospitals — even when it makes no political or fiscal sense.
The privatization plan was the centerpiece of what became a 13-hour shuttle diplomacy session, as staffers and supervisors sought to reach a deal they could all accept. The Mayor’s Office — particularly Steve Kawa, the chief of staff — put immense pressure on the committee members to accept a plan to replace deputy sheriffs with private security guards at San Francisco General and Laguna Honda hospitals. In the grand scheme of things, the $3 million in projected savings wasn’t a huge deal — but the politics was unnecessarily bloody. It’s as if Lee and Kawa were determined to privatize something, whatever the cost.
In the end, Sup. Jane Kim deserves considerable credit for holding firm and refusing to accept the proposal — and since Sup. David Chiu went along with her, they joined Sup. Ross Mirkarimi as a three-vote majority on the five-member panel and shot it down.
Police Chief Greg Suhr pushed for funding for a new police academy class to train 35 officers at a cost of $3.5 million (that’s $100,000 a cop). “I don’t think the department has looked hard enough at how we deploy the existing officers,” Sup. John Avalos told us.
And some key issues are still up in the air — for example, whether the mayor will adequately fund public financing of the November campaigns. With at least eight serious candidates running for mayor (not counting Lee), and most of them looking for the public financing that will help level the playing field, the city’s going to have to come up with at least several million dollars. That’s critical to the fairness of the election.
The bottom line remains: This city has been deeply damaged by years of cuts. And the next budget needs to start with a plan to repair that.
Regular SF Bay Guardian photo contributor Matt Reamer pulled a fast one for this week’s cover. Though the image seems to have been taken on any random sunny day in Dolores Park, it was actually shot in Reamer’s studio. You can see the behind the scenes action and further explanation on his blog.
A few years back Dugan O’Neal was featured in the Guardian’s SCENE magazine to highlight Two Renegade Cops, the retro 70s pulp TV series he’d created with fellow Bay Area artist Leighton Kelly. O’Neal has since moved to LA to immerse himself in directing music videos and short films.
It caught my eye that he’d recently directed the TV On The Radio video “Will Do.” The song is off their latest recording Nine Types of Light, an album that has a video attached to each song. The amalgam of those videos has been pieced together as a Nine Types of Light film that you can watch here.
With the band poised to play two dates at the Independent next week it seemed high time to touch base with former SF local O’Neal to hear about his experience working with TVOTR and other projects he has on the burner. We caught up with him at his studio in Silverlake.
San Francisco Bay Guardian: When did you leave SF for LA?
Dugan O’Neal: Two years ago, though it feels like more. I was coming down here a lot after Two Renegade Cops. Leighton and I had a lot of meetings with our management company and every time I came down it made more and more sense for me to be here. And then he went traveling for a year…
SFBG: Are you still doing anything related to Two Renegade Cops?
DO: No, that was just a limited thing. Fuel TV owns it. But Leighton and I have a whole book of ideas that we want to do. He’s still traveling and has this amazing blog where he creates a piece of art every day. So it just made sense for me and Brandon [Hirzel] to move to LA. We were working a lot with David Myrick who was already down here… he shot that SCENE cover for the Guardian a few years ago and he also shot the TV On The Radio “Will Do” video.
SFBG: Tell me more about working on TVOTR’s video. I hear my NYC friend Ivan Bess was on the project…
DO: Yeah, working with Ivan was great. We shot a bunch of stuff in New York and fortunately he was able to help out with that.
SFBG: Which parts were filmed in New York?
DO: Everything with the band. The shots that were narrative based with just lead singer Tunde [Adebimpe] and Joy [Bryant] were filmed here in Silverlake. Even the outdoors stuff was done in the neighborhood.
SFBG: Who designed the goggles?
DO: These twin brothers named Nikolai and Simon Haas. It was crazy because I turned in the treatment to the band on Friday, got the job on Saturday, and was on a plane to New York on Tuesday. Tunde had seen my “Eskmo” video and it resonated with him. And I’d wanted to use the virtual reality idea to create a narrative. But when I got the job we basically had a day and a half to figure out and make the virtual goggles. My rep Danielle had to fly with these crazy contraptions…
SFBG: Wow, with the wires everywhere they must have looked like a bomb…
DO: Yeah they totally looked like a bomb! I couldn’t believe that they didn’t get checked… she just carried them on to the plane! That was kind of disturbing. I mean I got patted down like 40 times…
SFBG: Because of your beard…
DO: Yeah. But TVOTR killed. Most of the people who directed the other videos were friends of theirs. I was the only one who wasn’t already in their circle. But once I started working with them we realized that there were a lot of connections, especially through Kyp [Malone], to my Bay Area family… the Yard Dogs and the folks at Five and Diamond.
SFBG: How does the “Will Do” video fit into the larger picture of the film?
DO: It’s not like there’s one consistent story or plotline, but all the videos are saying a similar thing in different ways. There’s a cohesive vibe. There are interview parts that tie it all together. The second half feels more like a story because there are about 3-4 videos that lead into one another.
SFBG: Tell me about the other stuff you’re working on.
DO: I directed a video for a new artist on Rhymesayer named “Grieves”.. it’s kind of atmosphere and underground hip-hop ish. It’s an awesome song and I got to work with Kyle Mooney of Good Neighbor Stuff. So I’ve been doing that and writing treatments. But any time there’s a lull I’ll make my own stuff.
SFBG: I saw one of your videos… the one where you’re at the window…
DO: Oh the “Happy Birthday” one… that was fun. But that’s the worst part of this kind of work. You’re always pitching things but then you’re stuck waiting. You have to make sure you’re still producing because that’s how you attract more work. I was really inspired by Leighton’s blog… so I started to created a video every week, just forced myself to hit that deadline. For me it was cool to see the progression, and to see how many times I hit a wall in the middle of producing a video… but finally I just learned to trust the process.
SFBG: And the move to LA has been good for you?
DO: Yeah. I love it down here. Living in San Francisco was super instrumental to finding out what I wanted to say as an artist and a filmmaker. There was such freedom there and less of a focus on commercial work. A lot of people there just want to create art and everyone’s down to participate. But I always knew I would come back to LA.
MUSIC South by Southwest was completely overwhelming, and my feet are killing me. It’s hard to avoid the constant feeling of missing out on something, because you always are. But once you get over that fact, it’s possible to have a really good time. Here’s a highlight reel from my first time at the Austin festival.
Wed/16 Made it to Dallas on the early-early flight from SFO and found the gate for Austin, a hipster ghetto in DFW’s sea of middle Americans. The first musician sighting was Toro y Moi, then it was off to the live music capital of the world. Post-credentialing, we attempted to catch Raphael Saadiq at the much-hyped Fader Fort party … but the line stretched for hours. The first of many scrapped plans. We then stumbled across the Palm Door, where Anamanguchi was playing irresistible Nintendo-core power pop. Later that eve I saw the sweet Icelandic troubadour stylings of Olof Arnalds and caught an amazing version of “Benny and the Jets” by piano gods Marco Benevento.
Thurs/17 Biked straight to a loft party featuring Brasileira MC Zuzuka Poderosa, who was spitting out Funk Carioca lyrics on top of beats by DJ Disco Tits. Tried to go to the NPR showcase, which was done, then tried to see Big Freedia, the “Queen Diva” of Bounce … all I got was a taste from the sidelines. Ran into SF local Meklit Hadero as she and her band tried to find the venue where they were showcasing. Saw Boston’s David Wax Museum at the Paste party and crossed paths with J Mascis on my way out. Caught the tail end of Meklit’s show at Marco Werman’s “All Music Is World Music” showcase, then Abigail Washburn’s stellar bluegrass set. Rode clear across town in the hopes of catching Devotchka at Lustre Pearl, but the line nixed that plan. Came back for the Atlantic Records showcase hoping to check out Lupe Fiasco, but B.O.B was playing in his place. Decided to forgo Janelle Monáe’s show (she’d been subbed in for Cee-Lo) so I could get off my feet.
Fri/18 Ran into Red and Green of Peelander-Z, the outrageously festooned Japanese punk band, who sweetly obliged a snapshot (they’ll be playing DNA Lounge on April 7th with Anamanaguchi). Got dished up a tasty burger at the Alternative Apparel Lounge as my cohort Matt Reamer was summoned to take pics of Linda Perry. We shared our table with Shane Lawlor of Electric Touch, who chatted about his band’s road from getting signed to playing the big festival circuit this year. Checked out James Blake at the Other Music/Dig For Fire lawn party. It was kind of like listening to all the sexy backing elements of a Sade song, without Sade. I loved Tune-Yards’ pygmy-esque vocal layering and percussive fervor. Her last song got everyone to their feet with a Fela Kuti vibe. And !!! brought the crazy dance party. I finally felt like I’d arrived at SXSW.
Later that eve, the Shabazz Palaces set was weighed down by sound issues. Ran into the ladies of HOTTUB as I went to see Toronto’s Keys N Krates, who killed it: two DJs and a drummer juxtaposing amazing sampling and turntablism with live percussion. Cubic Zirconia’s electro funk set at the Fool’s Gold showcase was also great. Singer Tiombe Lockhart held court. The closer was seeing Chief Boima during the Dutty Arts Collective showcase.
Sat/19 Last day in Austin. The hot daytime ticket was the MOG.com party at Mohawk. That meant getting there early and committing the entire afternoon … but the payoff was catching headliners TV on the Radio and Big Boi with just a few hundred other folks. Austin’s Okkervil River was playing the outdoor stage when I got there, and then Brooklyn’s Twin Shadow was playing inside. Even though they’re on the ’80s synth-pop bandwagon, they managed to keep things fresh. TV on the Radio’s SXSW shows officially put an end to their two-year hiatus and previewed their highly anticipated upcoming album Nine Types of Light. Next up on the outdoor stage was Big Boi. Songs from his recent release had some traction, but whenever an OutKast jam dropped, the crowd lost their shit. A funny moment: when he invited a sea of hipster girls to the stage to shake it with his ATL crew.
That eve, the rumor mill about surprise shows was alive and well. Kanye, Jay-Z, and Justin Timberlake were breathlessly being mentioned around town. The conundrum became one of whether to chase those dragons or stick with a confirmed showcase.
After briefly checking out the Red Bull Freestyle DJ contest, I decided on the confirmed showcase approach. The globetrotting Nat Geo showcase at Habana Bar was stellar. I walked in as Khaira Arby, the legendary queen of Malian desert rock, was rocking the house. Up next was Brooklyn’s Sway Machinery, then Aussie roots-reggae group Blue King Brown. Things really got packed for the closing act of Austin’s own Grupo Fantasma. The recent Grammy-winning group marched the crowd through the paces of their super tight cumbia, salsa, and funk grooves while experimenting with heavier psych rock influences. I enthusiastically made it through about half their set until my feet cried uncle. I made my way through the sloppy Sixth Street madness, dodging teenage lotharios and puddles of sick on the way to my bike, and then home.
A PHOTOGRAPHER’S ADVICE FOR SXSW FIRST-TIMERS
• You have to let go. You will not see half the acts you want to, but there is always a good band within a few hundred yards — so be where you are and enjoy it. Discover some new music.
• Live music photography is best when there’s a mosh pit. It’s much easier to move through a swirl than a dense crowd. I’m not the type to post up 30 minutes before the band starts — but I am the type to push up once they’re on. Sorry, short people.
• Wear comfortable shoes.
• There is a lot of free booze — but not as much as I thought. (Matt Reamer)
Last day in Austin. The hot daytime ticket was the MOG.com party at Mohawk. That meant getting there early and committing the entire afternoon… but the payoff was catching headliners TV on the Radio and Big Boi with just a few hundred other folks.
Austin’s Okkervil River was playing the outdoor stage when I got there and then Brooklyn’s Twin Shadow was playing inside. Even though they’re on the 80s synth-pop bandwagon they manage to keep things fresh. TV on the Radio’s SxSW shows officially put an end to their two year hiatus and previewed their highly anticipated upcoming album “Nine Types of Light.”
Next up on the outdoor stage was Big Boi. Songs from his recent release had some traction, but whenever an OutKast song dropped the crowd became instantly lost their shit. He seemed unfazed by the shift in response and was just having a good time. A funny moment was when he invited a sea of hipster girls to the stage to shake it with his ATL crew.
That eve the rumor mill about surprise shows was alive and well. Kayne, Jay Z, and Justin Timberlake were breathily being mentioned around town. The conundrum became one of whether to chase those dragons or stick with what was confirmed. After briefly checking out the Red Bull Freestyle DJ contest I decided on the latter approach.
The globetrotting Nat Geo showcase at Habana Bar was stellar. I walked in as the legendary queen of Malian desert rock Khaira Arby was rocking the house. A protege of Ali Farka Toure, her voice remains a powerful beacon of Mali’s enchanting soundscape even after decades on the scene.
Up next was Brooklyn’s Sway Machinery and then Aussie roots-reggae group Blue King Brown. The space started to get really packed for the closing act of Austin’s own Grupo Fantasma. The recent Grammy winning group marched the crowd through the paces of super tight cumbia, salsa, and funk grooves while experimenting with heavier psych rock influences. I enthusiastically made it through about half their set until my feet cried uncle. Call it SxSW Syndrome… the feet are the first to go.
I made my way through the sloppy 6th Street madness, dodging puddles of sick and teenage lotharios on the way to my bike and then home.
As we walked through downtown Austin we ran into Red and Green of Peelander-Z, the outrageously festooned Japanese punk band. They sweetly obliged a snapshot and then continued on their way. Just found out that they’ll be touring with Anamanaguchi, the frenzied “Nintendo-core” band I saw on day 1. Make sure to check them out at DNA Lounge on April 7th.
Was dished up a tasty burger at the Alternative Apparel lounge as Matt got summoned to take pics of Linda Perry. We shared our table with Shane Lawlor of Electric Touch (an adorable brit rocker who looked to be straight out of central casting) and chatted about his band’s road from getting signed to playing the big festival circuit this year.
After that it was a walk in the sun to the Other Music and Dig For Fire lawn party. We made it in time to check out James Blake. It was way too packed to even catch a glimpse of him but it felt great listening from a shady spot on the grass. I agreed with Dan that the sound was like listening to all the sexy backing elements of a Sade song, without Sade.
Tune-Yards was incredible. I loved Merrill Garbus’s pygmy-esque vocal layering and percussive fervor. Her last song brought everyone to their feet with a Fela Kuti vibe. And !!! brought the crazy dance party. The party was on a gently sloped hilltop, the crowd was manageable, and there was free ice cream courtesy of the Ice Cream Man. It finally felt like I’d arrived at the festival.
Later that eve I caught a bit of the Shabazz Palaces set which was weighed down by sound issues. Ran into the ladies of HOTTUB as I went to see Toronto’s Keys N Krates who killed it. Two djs and a drummer juxtaposing amazing sampling and turntablism with live percussion. Unreal.
Cubic Zirconia‘s electro funk set at the Fool’s Gold showcase was also great. Singer Tiombe Lockhart held court. One girl in the audience made the mistake of jumping up on stage to show her enthusiasm… but Lockhart wasn’t having it. She quickly initimidated the girl into backing down and gave a speech about respecting her stage. The girl was mortified but Lockhart was right, it wasn’t cool.
The closer was seeing Chief Boima during the Dutty Arts Collective showcase. Oakland’s Los Rakas stopped by for a shout out and Chief Boima played their new single.
Be sure to check SFBG Contributing Photog Matt Reamer‘s slideshow from his Day 3 adventures.