We Care a Lot On Friday, July 18, Miller Genuine Draft will pack hundreds of clueless beer drinkers into little buses in front of the San Francisco Marriott and drive them to what promises to be the marketing event of the summer. (Promises, but doesn't swear.) Miller's flack sheet explains the MGD Blind Date in charming advertising hyperbole: "The world's hottest contemporary rock bands perform 'up-close-and-personal' in intimate settings, to small, exclusive audiences." The event here, scheduled to feed alternative rock to 650 contest winners, is the second of three this summer. At the first, a Hollywood concert last month, Gavin Rossdale and his Nirvana approximation, Bush, played with the ever-coy Veruca Salt at the midsize Palace. After the shower of television and radio ads that began back in May, Riff Raff worked itself into a steaming lather of expectation. Just who will bust onto the stage of this secret venue here? We've got the betting line on the Fillmore and another Nirvana approximation, Dave Grohl's Foo Fighters. Of the few halls in town capable of that crowd capacity, only the Fillmore is open that night. (And of the halls capable, only the Fillmore has a special "marketing and promotions agreement" with Miller.) As for our Foo Fighters guess -- we're basing that on the local industry rumor mill and a loose read of the Pollstar Website, which puts the Foo Fighters in the city one night later on July 19 -- when the Fillmore and most of the other major clubs in town are booked -- at a site to be announced. As for Miller, they're a bit thin on clues. So far, the hints are that the band playing has been bootlegged more than 20 times, has been on the cover of Spin, and has won an MTV video award. All of those fit the Foo Fighters. OK, so we admit we think the Blind Date is a pretty clever gimmick. But we know piss-sellers like Miller need clever gimmicks to make us pay attention to them and to fuel their megabillion-dollar industry. Senior Brand Manager Bruce Winterton is Miller's man responsible for all national and regional advertising. He tells Riff Raff that past MGD commercials and tour sponsorships prove Miller cares about the music, but the company also seems to care about 21- to 25-year-old males -- a lot. "We wanted to have a little more fun with a proprietary event that we own," says Winterton. "It adds some specialness to it since we own all the tickets and invitations and we can reward our consumers." In a gust of adspeak, Winterton says that the Toronto ad agency Encore "developed the creative and refined the concepts" of Blind Date last August, but he wouldn't say how much Miller is dropping on the concerts and the advertising to make them worthwhile. But he claims the three events will cost far less than, say, the Page and Plant tour that Miller sponsored a few years back. "It's an aggressive marketing program, but we're not overly spending," says Winterton. Neither are we. We'll be off developing our own creative. (J.S.)
Late Notice Yes, we saw the press releases that came in a few weeks ago, just like everybody else in the local print media. And yes, we felt happy about the news: "Jello Biafra & the Dead Kennedys vindicated for band's demise, as former prosecutor recants charges in 1985 obscenity case!" (This referring to a recent Washington Post article wherein L.A. Deputy City Attorney Michael Guarino, who was on the prosecution's side in the obscenity case against the DKs and Alternative Tentacles over album art for Frankenchrist, admitted that the suit was basically a lot of hogwash.) Old bullshit must be aired out, after all. Still. One of the releases contained a quote from Biafra. Something along the lines of, "Let that be a lesson to all the Jesse Helms wannabes." Wow. You'd have thought the statement was cryogenically frozen in the Reagan Era and thawed out exclusively for the press release. (Just like Biafra.) At any rate, for what it's worth -- since you're still out beaucoup bucks, and since Guarino basically just admitted what was obvious to everybody -- congrats, Alternative Tentacles. (M.B.)
Heart & Sold Last Saturday, local club owner and executive chef Julie Ring put a wingtipped boot through the heart and soul of San Francisco's jazz scene. Ring recently sold her downtown supper club, Julie Ring's Heart & Soul, closing the curtain on her fourth club in 15 years. Ring has been known as a restaurateur in S.F. since the SOMA opening of Ring's restaurant in 1985, but it was the opening of Julie's Supper Club two years later and Miss Pearl's Jam House in 1988 that earned her the title "Queen of the Supper Clubs" among the martini-sippin' swingers. Many attribute Julie's Supper Club with starting the revival of supper-club-style entertainment. Ring's success continued with Miss Pearl's Jam House, which provided live reggae for many a natty dread. Ring sold both of these to open Julie Ring's Heart & Soul in 1994. Heart & Soul's demise marks the first time in a decade and a half that Ring will not be providing music and food for the masses. The club had a style reminiscent of '30s supper clubs, and featured performances by jazz greats such as Hadda Brooks, Edda Jones, Dorothy Donegan, and Anita O'Day's last show ever. Says club manager Russ Paul: "Julie closed the club to relax, but don't count her out. Entertainment's in her blood -- she'll be back." No word on whether the new owners will be keeping the name or opening an entirely different place. (R.A.)
Riff Raff riffraff: Robert Arriaga (R.A.), Michael Batty (M.B.), Johnny DiPaola (J.D.P.), Karl D. Esturbense (K.D.E.), Jeff Stark (J.S.), Silke Tudor (S.T.), and Bill Wyman (B.W.). Send Bay Area music news, band stories, or petty gripes to firstname.lastname@example.org, or mail it to Riff Raff, c/o SF Weekly. No flack, please.