Two groups of Bay Area musicians have been meeting at San Francisco’s Crepe House and Oakland’s Awaken Cafe under the name Balanced Breakfast, and recently they've evolved into a 80-plus attendee breakfast-for-dinner grouping that is currently meeting at the Richmond District's Neck of the Woods on Thursday nights. The uptick in Balanced Breakfast (BB) groups is one example of the San Francisco music scene’s fast-growing reputation as an unusually community-minded scene.
According to BB co-founder and SF Intercom blogger Stefan Aronsen and Dave Walsh of ULUV Music, there's an email chain — between ULUV, BB, KC Turner Presents, the San Francisco chapter of the Grammy’s, and music tech start-up Gobbler — on what those groups could accomplish together. One idea thrown around in early discussions has been to approach SXSW about featuring a lineup of quality Bay Area bands at next year’s festival.
[jump] Aronsen, who started BB with audio engineer Andy Freeman told SF Weekly that some organizations that self-advertise as community builders, however, are so in name only. Regarding the Bay Area Music Collective (BAMC) — a group of studios, labels, producers, filmmakers and publicists that give consultations to area musicians — Aronsen said: “Truthfully, I have no idea what they do and I’m actively looking for this kind of stuff… it’s not so public that all the people that are coming to breakfast know what the heck they’re doing or probably haven’t even been.”
Yet, even among the groups there's differing views and opinions — Walsh did cite BAMC as a well-known group associated with ULUV.
These differing views and visions that are at the basis of BB have become so popular with Bay Area musicians that one artist who moved to Boston is starting a BB group there, and Aronsen said there is interest is building around an L.A. and Seattle group as well. Part of the wide appeal around BB in the Bay Area itself may be due to a hole left when The Root, another group that met in the Chapel and held panel discussions on local music issues after outgrowing Amnesia, caved due to reliance on paid staff amidst funding withdrawal. The Root's 2015 residential program planned to allow musicians to live and collaborate together in a low rent living space has been put on hold since the group has been inactive since spring of this year.
Also a great support for Bay Area musicians are Best Frequencies Forever (BFF.fm) and Mutiny Radio, both serve as platforms for playing local music promoting shows like the September residencies put on by BB and ULUV. These residencies will culminate in back-to-back shows this coming Thursday and Friday, Sept. 25 and 26, at Neck of the Woods and Dolores Park Cafe. At Neck of the Woods, Thursday night breakfast precedes a show featuring eight members of the original BB group. Dolores Park Cafe hosts jam band Haberdasher and Americana blues pop duo Robin and the Crow.
Both residencies have already served to connect several instrumentalists with bands that may eventually be part of the potential SXSW pitch. Until then, breakfast continues.