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R.I.P.

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Remembering Jean Ritchie: The Voice of America

Posted By on Wed, Jun 3, 2015 at 4:38 PM

Jean Ritchie playing autoharp at the Florida Folk Festival - White Springs, 1976
  • Jean Ritchie playing autoharp at the Florida Folk Festival - White Springs, 1976
The first time I heard Jean Ritchie sing, I couldn’t believe my ears. I’d only been listening to folk music for a few months and my friend Lou, the guy who turned me onto Doc Watson, The Greenbriar Boys, and The New Lost City Ramblers, told me that he’d first heard the pickers he’d introduced me to on a program called Oscar Brand’s Folk Song Festival. The program was (and still is) broadcast on WNYC on Saturday nights. I became a regular listener. Brand introduced me to many artists that still inform my taste in music including The Clancy Brothers, Tommy Makem, Oscar Brown, Jr., and Jean Ritchie.

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Friday, May 15, 2015

[VIDEO] Watch B.B. King Play The Blues on San Francisco's Jazz Casual In 1968

Posted By on Fri, May 15, 2015 at 4:35 PM

By now you've surely heard the sad news that B.B. King, the King of the Blues, died late Thursday at home in Las Vegas. He was 89.

King had many memories in San Francisco, including receiving his first-ever standing ovation (before playing a single note) at the Fillmore. We want to share another B.B. King San Francisco moment with you.

In 1968, King performed on National Education Television's Jazz Casual, a TV show hosted by longtime Chron jazz critic (and Rolling Stone founding editor) the late Ralph J. Gleason. The show was shot in San Francisco and produced by Richard Moore of KQED.

NET was the predecessor to PBS.

Watch B.B. in his prime in the clips below, playing the blues in San Francisco.

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Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Shannon Shaw on Lesley Gore: Her Songs Were "Declarations of Independence"

Posted By on Wed, Feb 18, 2015 at 8:20 AM

Lesley Gore, 1946 - 2015.
  • Lesley Gore, 1946 - 2015.
Ed. note: Lesley Gore, one of the first female teen pop stars of the '60s, died Monday of cancer in her native New York. She was 68. The singer was many things to many people — Gore's coming out in her later years led to her championing of LGBT issues; a comeback album, Ever Since, was critically acclaimed in 2005.

Still, perusing the tributes to her online yesterday, a Facebook status from Shannon Shaw, of Shannon and the Clams — one of the Bay Area's best-loved singers, whose retro style owes plenty to the queens of the '60s — jumped out most of all. We asked Shannon to elaborate, and here's what she wrote back.


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Sunday, February 15, 2015

Last of the Psychedelic Pioneers: Guitarist Sam Andrew of Big Brother and the Holding Company Dies at 73

Posted By on Sun, Feb 15, 2015 at 2:36 PM

Big Brother and the Holding Company, with Sam Andrew center.
  • Big Brother and the Holding Company, with Sam Andrew center.

The first time I heard “Summertime,” it wasn’t Ella Fitzgerald and Louis Armstrong’s version from Porgy and Bess. It was on an 8-track tape of Big Brother and the Holding Company’s Cheap Thrills that I’d dug out of a bargain bin at the Roses discount store in my small North Carolina hometown. And it was magical. In the mid-1970s, Big Brother’s “Summertime” sparked an obsession with the late-’60s San Francisco psychedelic sound that would steer me to albums by Moby Grape, Jefferson Airplane, Quicksilver Messenger Service, and Country Joe and the Fish.

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Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Kev Choice on The Jacka: "He Was One of the Dons of Our Scene"

Posted By on Tue, Feb 3, 2015 at 9:31 AM

The Jacka, 1977-2015
  • The Jacka, 1977-2015

[Ed. note: We'll be reaching out to the Bay Area hip-hop community to hear stories about The Jacka following the MC's tragic death last night following a shooting in Oakland. Here's the Town's own jazz/hip-hop impresario, Kev Choice — who told us "This is going to hurt for a minute."]


To say that The Jacka was revered in the Bay Area would be an understatement. In his over 15 years on the scene, he was one of the most prolific MCs in our region. He also had the rare ability to make music derived from street sensibilities but with a contemplative, reflective, and inspirational message that provoked aspirations beyond the street mentality. His smooth and melodic flow was as recognizable and distinctive as any in Bay Area hip-hop history. His collaborations with other artists — from Freeway, to Andre Nickitina, to Zion I, to countless up-and-coming artists local and nationwide — showed the depth and broad reach of his lyrical ability, which can not be overlooked.

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R.I.P. The Jacka, an Iconic Voice in East Bay Hip-Hop

Posted By on Tue, Feb 3, 2015 at 12:27 AM

jacka-159.jpg
The East Bay rapper known as The Jacka — born Dominic Newton, though he converted to Islam at a fairly young age and went by Shaheed Akbar for much of his adult life — died Monday night of a gunshot wound in East Oakland, according to several Bay Area news sources. Neighbors reported hearing gunshots around 8:15 p.m. near the corner of MacArthur Boulevard and 94th Avenue, and police responded to the scene soon after.

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Monday, December 22, 2014

R.I.P. Joe Cocker

Posted By on Mon, Dec 22, 2014 at 12:00 PM

Joe Cocker, one of the true greats, 1944-2014.
  • Joe Cocker, one of the true greats, 1944-2014.

Joe Cocker, the British blues-rock singer known for his unmistakable, gravelly voice, wild stage presence during live performances, and soulful covers of popular rock songs — most notably his rearrangement of The Beatles' "With A Little Help From My Friends," which reached No.1 in the U.K. in 1968 (though anyone born after 1980 probably first encountered it as the theme to The Wonder Years) — died today at age 70 after a battle with lung cancer, his publicist confirmed to BBC News

Born in Sheffield in 1944, Cocker began singing at age 12 and played in bands throughout college. At the helm of the Grease Band, he embarked on his first U.S. tour, appearing on The Ed Sullivan Show and playing Woodstock in 1969. The following year, after dissolving that band, he formed a new group, allegedly to fulfill contractual obligations for another U.S. tour. Thus began the Mad Dogs and Englishmen tour, a marathon at sprint-pace through 48 cities with 30 musicians, including band leader Leon Russell, three drummers, and highlighting backup singers Rita Coolidge and Claudia Lennear on vocals — a crew that drummer Jim Keltner later described as "a big wild, party."

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Wednesday, December 3, 2014

R.I.P. Bobby Keys: 5 Songs to Honor a Saxophone Great

Posted By on Wed, Dec 3, 2014 at 1:40 PM

Bobby Keys, 1943-2014. - ERIC ENGLAND
  • Eric England
  • Bobby Keys, 1943-2014.
As has been reported elsewhere, Bobby Keys, saxophonist for the Rolling Stones and one of the most in-demand session players of the 1970s, died yesterday at the age of 70. 

Though best known for his work with the Stones, Keys cut a staggering, zigzagging path through rock history, touring and recording with greats like Buddy Holly, John Lennon, The Faces, Marvin Gaye, Dr. John, Harry Nillson, Chuck Berry, Lynyrd Skynyrd, The Who, Joe Cocker, and George Harrison, among many others. At a time of heavy cross-pollination between American and British blues, and rock and soul musicians, Keys and trumpet player Jim Price could frequently be found providing a solid backbone to a chorus or ripping a rhythmic, driving solo. 

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Monday, November 3, 2014

RIP Wayne Static: The Metal World Mourns

Posted By on Mon, Nov 3, 2014 at 9:55 AM

click image AMAZON
  • Amazon

Expressions of shock and sadness flooded social media over the weekend, as the rock world learned of the sudden passing of Wayne Wells, a.k.a. Wayne Static, best known for his work with popular L.A. metal outfit, Static-X. The news was announced in the early hours of Sunday morning via the band's Facebook page, but offered few details about the vocalist's passing. 

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Wednesday, October 29, 2014

There Goes Another One: The Uptown In Oakland Will Close Next Week

Posted By on Wed, Oct 29, 2014 at 3:08 PM

The Uptown
  • The Uptown
In an already sad week for Bay Area clubs, Larry Trujillo, owner of The Uptown on Telegraph (not to be confused with the Mission dive), has confirmed the bar/venue will close its doors for good a week from today, after "the King of Surf Guitar" Dick Dale plays his scheduled show Nov. 5. 

The club, with a capacity of 300, has a prime location in the middle of Oakland's booming Uptown district — though that name wasn't quite so widely used, nor was the area highly attractive to young people, when The Uptown first opened in 2005.

According to Trujillo and financial partners Ray Yeh and Robbin Green-Yeh (who came on board when the club re-opened in 2007, after a rocky first year and a half caused the club to close temporarily), the venue is simply no longer financially viable: Green-Yeh told the Oakland Tribune that in 2014 alone, the team had spent $70,000 in "unexpected infrastructure bills." 

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