Riff Raff

A Musician's Life Thursday evening, Dec. 4, jazzman Calder Spanier played a show at 330 Ritch with the swing band Jellyroll. He was returning home to Berkeley when his Ford Falcon ran out of gas on the Bay Bridge. According to news accounts, Spanier got out of the driver's seat to refuel. At 12:12 a.m. he was hit by a red Blazer and pinned between the two vehicles. He was 31. He is survived by his wife, Madeline Banks, who is pregnant with their first child. Spanier was best known for infusing the Charlie Hunter Quartet with equal parts energetic alto sax and friendly charisma over the last two years. Last week, members of the local jazz community responded to his death with sadness and disbelief. "He was a person who was so well-liked

and had such a gentle spirit," said producer Lee Townsend, who worked with Spanier on two records with the Hunter Quartet. "It's just a shock; it gets everyone in touch with their own vulnerability." Spanier was born and raised in Montreal, son of jazz trumpeter Herbie Spanier. After studying composition and performance at Vanier College and McGill University and leaving Montreal in 1989, Spanier lived in New York, Toronto, Stockholm, and the Bay Area. The saxophonist met Hunter in Europe, where they both played on the street for tips. Locally the pair worked with saxophonists Dave Ellis and Kenny Brooks and drummer Scott Amendola on two albums, Ready ... Set ... Shango and Natty Dred, a Bob Marley tribute album. As a music fan, Spanier loved Cannonball Adderley and Charlie Parker, the Beatles and the Beach Boys. As a composer, he could take a Bob Marley tune, tear it apart, and make it sound completely different. "He had raw energy live," said Amendola. "We would approach [live shows] like power jazz. We played in the Knitting Factory last June and it was this ball of energy. When we were done, it was just like being high. Calder could drive the band to that." Friends and colleagues are planning a memorial and benefit concert for Banks for the end of January. (J.S.)

A Partial List of Bands -- Both Active and Now-Defunct -- Represented by at Least One Member Attending Last Week's Pair of Souled American Shows at the Make-Out Room and the Great American Music Hall Granfaloon Bus, Fuck, Pell Mell, 100 Watt Smile, Captain Fat Ass, Warm Wires, Beth Lisick Ordeal, Half Film, Pee, A Minor Forest, St. Andre, Snowmen, Thinking Fellers Union Local 282, U.S. Saucer, Camper Van Beethoven, Monks of Doom, Little My, Rrope, Fibulator, Mommyheads, Cat Heads, Flophouse, Gravy Shakes, Guilt Trip City, Virginia Dare, El Camino Cha-Cha Orchestra, Fish or Fry, Carlos, Buckets, Oxbow, Monopause, DJ Snooty vs. Turbine. (J.S.)

Christmas Rush The folks in the concert-promotion business are used to close calls, but Live 105 and veteran promoter Bill Graham Presents were both a little surprised at just how close the Dec. 7 Green Christmas show at Kezar Auditorium came to falling apart. The reason: a few pesky city permits for a pair of year-end holiday concerts. "Of all the shows we've put on in 11 years we've never had any problem like this," says Live 105 Director of Marketing and Promotions Gabby Medecki. The alternative-rock station, which has put on the end-of-year show for the last seven years, reserved two nights at Kezar -- for Green Christmas and the accompanying, more dance-oriented Electronica Hanukkah -- months before the event. The station asked BGP to help out. The promoter did the paperwork, applying to the Police Department for the appropriate permits; at the same time, BGP also applied for permits for a Leftover Salmon New Year's show at Kezar, the indoor gymnasium adjacent to Kezar Stadium in Golden Gate Park. Green Christmas tickets were already on sale when the police informed BGP that Kezar did not have the requisite "dance hall" permits. BGP and Live 105 were caught off-guard; they both remembered a Smashing Pumpkins concert at the venue two years ago. "I have to assume that if I've done business there that everything is in order," says BGP Vice President Lee Smith. The station then had to sit for a permit hearing with the Department of Recreation and Park on Dec. 3. The Electronica Hanukkah wasn't selling very well, so the station was able to move the event across town to the smaller Maritime; but the Green Christmas show was already sold out, and no other similarly sized venues were available. Holding its breath, Live 105 continued to promote the show, hoping that the permit would go through. Came Dec. 3 -- and Rec and Park, faced with neighborhood opposition, denied the permit. "None of us at the station slept," says Medecki. Live 105 found out that it had one option: convince the Mayor's Office to grant a one-day conditional-use permit. On Thursday, three days before the concert, Live 105 prepared to cancel. With the on-air announcement two hours away, the Mayor's Office came through. BGP's Smith says it'll be the last time he uses the room -- "We're not in the habit of going to places where we have problems like that." Live 105's exasperated Medecki agrees: "We don't intend to have any events at that building." (J.S.)

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