By Christina Li
By Dave Pehling
By Ian S. Port
By SF Weekly
By Ian S. Port
By Ian S. Port
By Ian S. Port
By Ian S. Port
Things We Did on Grass Now we know why Chet Helms and company waited until October to throw a 30-year anniversary celebration of the Summer of Love: harvest. There was so much weed at the Sunday shindig in Golden Gate Park that you probably couldn't buy a loose joint between Haight Street and Eugene, Ore. OK, take a deep breath: big stanky nugs, kind quarters, handfuls of shredded shake, bongs, joints, blown-glass pipes, pot brownies, pot cookies, pot Rice Krispies treats, "ganja goo balls," hemp oil, hemp clothing, hemp bracelets, hemp macrame, hemp everything. The organizers couldn't have bought a nicer day to smoke marijuana or enjoy the buzz of a free concert. The event, a year in the making, drew all ages -- and a wide disparity of personal hygiene habits -- to the Beach Chalet soccer fields. Cloudless and surrounded by trees, the day looked like a Dead concert parking-lot contingent had wandered onto a pastoral Renaissance Faire. Relegated to the fringes were legitimate vendors and teeming beer pens (hilariously, you weren't allowed to take alcohol out onto the lawn); but that didn't prevent commerce on the field itself: Young hippies plied their wares -- calico sundresses, devil sticks, patchwork jeans, and peacock feathers -- from blankets and card tables. More youngsters with pounds of dreadlocks tried to attract signatures or donations for various political causes. There were plenty of roughshod politics onstage, too. Diane DiPrima, who used to be a talented beat poet, read -- or rather, stumbled through -- something about a war for the imagination. Michael McClure, who also used to be a beat poet, delivered more lyrical lines about hamburgers and rock 'n' roll -- both, he told the crowd, manifestations of, gasp, destructive consumerism. Helms, ever the casual MC, graciously thanked both of them and introduced the Rev. Cecil Williams, who asked the crowd to join hands and sing "Give Peace a Chance." Riff Raff sheepishly went for the paws of our significant other, but nevertheless a smiling middle-aged woman hand-raped the both of us. Jello Biafra's crazy talk went over well, especially when he railed about the United States' foolish drug war. Between speakers, pieces of once-famous rock combos (the Jefferson Airplane, Country Joe & the Fish) played blues rock, which the tie-dyed and twirling-skirted crowd dug big time. At the end of the day, a ton of musicians all stood together on the massive main stage for the "Spirit of Compassion" jam. (Riff Raff thought it was warm beer, but then Riff Raff had just seen Carlos Santana sit in with Prince and Larry Graham two nights earlier.) Still, the Summer of Love concert people didn't come for the music, really. And not all of them came for the dope, either. Some came for the 1960s vibe, a whiff of what people who were there say was a more potent, dramatic time. For them the show didn't end when the music stopped. They wafted across the Great Highway to the beach, and cheered the sun as it dropped into the waves. (J.S.)
Selvin Watch: Get Thee a Fact-Checker The Chronicle's Joel Selvin is on autopilot again. On Monday, Oct. 6, Selvin wrote that Boz Scaggs' extended run at the Fillmore presented a "rare opportunity" for fans to give his music "close-up scrutiny." If only Selvin adhered to his own advice. Instead, Selvin's live review was yet another dust devil of misinformation. For starters, Scaggs was born in Ohio; that makes San Francisco his adopted city, not his hometown, as Selvin wrote. Selvin said that Scaggs debuted in 1970; that particular album, Boz Scaggs, was released in 1969. (Scaggs actually recorded his debut in Europe a few years earlier, and in the interim recorded with Steve Miller.) Next up, Selvin credited Junior Parker with "Drivin' Wheel"; piano bluesman Roosevelt Sykes wrote the tune. Wait, there's more. Selvin claimed the 1994 album Some Change ended Scaggs' "previous 10 years off the boards," which is true if you don't count 1988's Other Roads (we don't). For some reason, Selvin never mentioned the impetus behind the Scaggs concert series: The day after Selvin's review, Columbia Legacy released a nice big box o' Boz called My Time. It contains plenty of dates and songwriting credits in the copious liner notes. If Selvin can't get his own copy, Riff Raff will gladly sacrifice its own (in the interest of accuracy, of course). (J.S.)
Fly Paper When it comes to chronicling hip-hop culture in the Bay Area, no one does it better than 4080 magazine. Publisher and Editor in Chief Lauchlan McIntyre has blown it up to the phat, full-color monthly rag it is today from the one-page, black-and-white trade journal it was in 1992. This month marks the fifth anniversary of the magazine, and 4080 will celebrate in full hip-hop style: beer, blunts, and, of course, beats. Alkaholiks, Beatnuts (bet on hearing "Psycho Dwarf"), Hieroglyphics, and Jamalski will all wish the magazine a hearty happy birthday. To be a part of the celebration, grab a 20 and a 40 ($20 for the door and a 40-ounce for the head) and stumble down to the Maritime Hall on Thursday, Oct. 16, by 9 p.m. (R.A.)
Modern Rock Redux UC Berkeley college radio station KALX-FM (90.7) announced last week that it plans to use the proceeds of its impending on-air fund-raising drive to buy alternative radio giant Live 105 for $30 million. Now, as regular readers of this column know, Riff Raff loves a good hoax, and we laughed like chuckleheaded idiots at the station's phony press release. But there is a point here. Music Director Lawrence Kay says KALX, which began broadcasting on Halloween in 1967, really is doing an on-air fund-raiser Oct. 24 through Nov. 2, and really will try to raise $30 million. ("Why not?" says Kay. "You never know. Millionaires could be listening. ... Ted Turner's giving away money these days.") Kay says KALX already has an agenda for the hostile takeover. "We would deprogram the [Live 105] DJs so they don't sound so boisterous all the time," he says. And KALX will nix the Live 105 slogan "You heard it here first," because KALX listeners know they heard "it" on the college station several years earlier.
Kay says KALX isn't confining the playful nastiness to press releases; the station is already running special recorded spots that incorporate the buyout theme. "We've got one where a Live 105 DJ says, 'And now, another exclusive from Live 105,' and then you hear the KALX DJ knocking on the door and saying, 'Hey can we have our record back? We're doing an oldies show.' "
Raising $30 million during a fund drive and buying out a corporate station are pipe dreams, of course; even if KALX, staffed by more than 200 volunteers, somehow scraped up that huge sum, it still couldn't afford Live 105, which CBS recently bought for a reported $70 million. That purchase, combined with recent shifts in ownership and formatting at KNEW, KMEL, and KSAN -- as is standard, all without any listener input -- inspired the KALX buyout theme.
Besides poking a few holes in Live 105's overinflated ego and keeping listeners entertained during pledge week, Kay says KALX is trying to make a point about ownership of the media. Commercial stations pilfer from college stations like KALX and KUSF, he says, because the college folks take chances on new music. "Without small radio stations," he says, "listeners would be left with a really short playlist." (H.W.)
2B2BDo! Maritime Hall proprietor Boots Hughston thinks his new record company is the perfect synergistic accompaniment to extend his reach into the San Francisco music scene. Last month Hughston and his partners announced the creation of 2B1 Records, which will pump out live recordings from Maritime shows and, Hughston says, eventually release albums by local acts. "The record company has always been a part of the original dream when we opened the Hall," says Hughston. "We just needed time to get things started." 2B1 Records began recording concerts two years ago, first on video and then with a 48-track machine. By contract, the Maritime tapes every performance, but 2B1 has to get permission from both the artists and their record companies in order to make an album. The first release is a live disc recorded at Lee "Scratch" Perry's first U.S. show in 17 years. 2B1 only pressed 2,000 copies, but the label is already gearing up to double the run for the second pressing. Up next: recordings by Yellowman and Frankie Paul and then big plans for the future. Hughston says the ultimate goal is to sign artists and produce studio releases, which could be good news for local bands. "This will come after securing an international distributor, and that's still a little ways off," says Hughston. (R.A.)
It's a Benefit Even though musician and sound engineer Josh Heller sold his Oakland-based studio Guerrilla Euphonics to local jazz wonder Myles Boisen and producer Bart Thurber, he says he's still committed to providing an artist-friendly (read: affordable) studio for San Francisco bands. To that end, he and three partners who share his skills are building an acoustic environment from the bafflers down. Heller says Division Hi-Fi still needs some wiring and a touch more equipment before the 24-track can really hum, so he and his co-founders -- Scott Solter, Desmond Shea, and Alex Nahas -- asked some friends to help out. They have good friends. On Wednesday, Oct. 22, Tarnation's Paula Frazer and smoky goth pianist Jill Tracy will join Nahas' band, Laughing Stock, for a Division Hi-Fi benefit at Hotel Utah. Show up and help save Heller from "scraping and scrounging." A few bucks will get you in, a preamp will probably get you recording time. (J.S.)
Riff Raff riffraff: Robert Arriaga (R.A.), Johnny DiPaola (J.D.P.), Karl D. Esturbense (K.D.E.), Jeff Stark (J.S.), Silke Tudor (S.T.), Heather Wisner (H.W.), and Bill Wyman (B.W.). Send Bay Area music news, band stories, or petty gripes to email@example.com, or mail it to Riff Raff, c/o SF Weekly.