Monday, September 10, 2007

A Musical Celebration in San Francisco

I had an interesting evening tonight.

I was fortunate enough to have received an invitation to attend the celebration for Village Music held at the Great American Music Hall in San Francisco.
I flew back to the bay area this weekend to attend one of the several parties thrown to bid farewell to the record store in Mill Valley, California, where I grew up.

Wait. Which - -? Huh? Grew up where? In the town or the record store?
Take your pick.

(Grew up? A matter of opinion.)

I may have made some reference to Village a time or two here on this blog.

It's the store where I got my very first record, (Disney's 'The Jungle Book' soundtrack LP - - still have it) in 1968, when I was five years old.

It's the first-rate collector's shop where my all-inclusive interest in music began and was fostered.

It was where I worked my first job, for several years following my release from high school. A great place to further my education.

It had been something of a 'given', a constant in my life, up until I finally moved away from California in 2006.

Village Music's passing marks the end of an era for myself and many others, and it's a passing that also speaks to the changing state of the music industry and independent retailers.

I'll wager that you might know of a small independent music store or book store near you that's closed up recently, or perhaps soon will. It's a shame, huh?

If I sound like I'm making too big a deal over a store closing, you'll just have to humor me. This place is special, and it'll be gone at the end of this month.

For some background, you might follow these links to some press coverage on Village Music and its proprietor, my old boss John Goddard...

- An Elvis Costello in-store appearance, as reported in the Marin Independent Journal on 5/03/07, with audio slideshow.

- 'The Village Music Story', another small audio slideshow that accompanied an article from The San Francisco Chronicle on 5/08/07.

- More recently, a 9/04/07 article from the SF Chronicle, with further delving and reactions to the impending closing, and a short video showing some of the related festivities that ensued recently in Mill Valley.

I was really glad I was able to attend the affair at the Great American Music Hall earlier this evening. I'd have hated to miss out.

I said hello to some folks I hadn't seen in years and decades, and celebrated the existence of a place I'd had the luxury to grow up thinking was a 'given'.

I also enjoyed some wonderful musical performances that I think do much to illustrate the eclectic spark and spirit of the store, by some artists who recognize that spirit.

Below are some crappy snapshots I took of the concert, from the table where I sat. Mostly I think I got nice shots of that 'exit' sign...

DJ Shadow warmed up the crowd, and spun during some of the short intervals between bands, as well. He was using mostly 45s he'd found at Village.

Sugarpie DeSanto still kicks up a storm and shakes it down to the ground. She's what - - in her early seventies? She's hot! That's bass legend Stu Hamm in the background, playing with the house band.

There's the back of Jimmy McCracklin's head. I was thrilled he did *both* 'The Walk' and 'Georgia Slop'! One of several standing ovations tonight.

Polish tap-guitar viruoso, Adam Fulara, in his first US appearance. Jazz and classical and improvisation, and mesmerizing to watch work the double-neck guitar.

Sammy Hagar and his band rocked hard. He's still just SO good at what he does...

Bob Weir and Rob Wasserman performing 'Maggie's Farm'.
Word is that Weir had been in Chicago with his family at an auto race earlier this same day...

Larry and Lorrie Collins (!!!), speaking of double-neck guitars. Larry still does a bit of the hopping around like he did as a kid.

This shot of The Collins Kids was taken by my buddy Big Dave, another former Village employee there with me basking in afterglow and old stories.

Oh my lord, Betty LaVette wrapped up the show. Spine-tingling. Amazing. She's singing 'Let Me Down Easy' in this little sequence...

ADDENDUM, 9/13/07: Follow the link to a review of the show that ran in the SF Chronicle earlier this week.


irenie said...

Love the pix & review! Thank you!
{{{Village Music}}}}

erik hogstrom said...

That looks like an awesome gig.
Sugar Pie DeSanto rules.
"Straighten it out wit' yo' man."

Brian Hayes said...

Goddard said, "Bottom line is, I can't pay the rent here."

Northern California village culture has taken a beating from development pressures, perhaps more than any similar region as San Francisco quickly and without notice became a global financial center.

Local folks in Marin County have paid skyrocketing prices that today only a mono-culture of the very rich can comfortably afford.

And now the Sweetwater is being priced out of Mill Valley too!

Freshly-stirred links