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HICKS WITH STICKS NEWS #205, April 28, 2009

San Francisco Bay Area Twang Calendar Highlights
Bands / Clubs

Dave Gleason @ Down Home Music, 10341 San Pablo, El Cerrito 2pm free in-store

Dave Alvin & the Guilty Women/Dave Gleason & the Golden Cadillacs @ Great American Music Hall, 859 O'Farrell, SF 9pm $20

The Robber Barons/Ledbetter & his Best Bet/Gayle Lynn & the Hired Hands @ Hotel Utah Saloon, 500 4th St., SF 9pm $6

77 el Deora @ Smiley's Schooner Saloon, 41 Wharf Rd., Bolinas 9pm

Fancy Dan Band @ Café Royale, 800 Post St., SF 8pm free

The Hi-Rhythm Hustlers & the Hustler-ettes @ The Verdi Club, 2424 Mariposa, SF 9pm $10

Last Originals Car Show @ Pacifica Sea Bowl , 2:00 with cars, pin ups, and bands. Free

Cassidy Crowley & the Buckshot Boys @ Russian River Brewing Co., 725 4th St., Santa Rosa 7pm free

The Potholder & the Lid/5 Cent Coffee/TheGoldDiggers @ El Rio, 3158 Mission St., SF 8pm $5


The Cottonpickers @ Lake Merrit Dance Center, 200 Grand Ave., Oakland 830pm

The Royal Deuces @ Fourth Street Tavern, 711 4th St., San Rafael 10pm

1/4 Mile Combo @ Murphy's Irish Pub, 464 1st St. East, Sonoma 2pm
Red Meat @ The Riptide, 3639 Taraval, SF 9pm free

Joe Goldmark & the Seducers @ The Riptide, 3639 Taraval, SF 7pm free

Real Sippin' Whiskeys/The Family/Lady A & her Heel Draggers @ Starry Plough, 3101 Shattuck, Berkeley 9pm $8

Dave Crimmen Band @ Mojo Lounge, 3714 Peralta Blvd., Fremont 930pm $5

The Honeybees/The B-Stars/The Hi-Rhythm Hustlers @ Blank Club, 44 S. Almaden Ave., San Jose 930pm $10

The Burning Embers/Diego's Umbrella/Axton Kincaid/Bob Harp @ El Rio, 3158 Mission, SF 3pm

Yard Sale (CD release) @ Café Royale, 800 Post St., SF 8pm

Full Calendar


It's been ten years since a 19-year-old Mitch Polzak tip-toed around the "21 and over" signs at the bars where his Royal Deuces (v1.0) were playing.  V1.0 was mainly about self-discovery and figuring out who would play drums from one gig to the next.  V2.0 grew from a trio into a quartet, releasing their first CD and breaking big at Viva Las Vegas in '04.  Less became more in v3.0 as they scaled back to a trio with Mike Walz (Stillmen) on bass, and Ricky Quisol (Ricky Q and the Infinite Configurations) on drums.  Now v3.0 has its first child, a new CD named Heck of a Catch.

The CD gets off the line with three rockabilly boppers: "Heck of a Catch," "Love Is Never Easy" and "Hammer Down."  Then it settles down with "I Want to Come Home to You," a western swing love song from the "Laura boxed set."  It's one of the change-ups that helps to keep the CD out of the rockabilly vortex.

The traditional "Black Mountain Rag," even though they play it at warp 11, is another.  Chad "Speed Bow" Manning was brought in to play fiddle on the Deuces' version which clocks in at a record 1:41.  Ray Harris' "C'mon Little Momma" has held up particularly well since it was released back in Sun Records' heyday.  The song was too sexy for radio play back then, but it's just plain fun now. 

Drummer Ricky Q makes his presence better known with one of his songs, "One Day You're Here," as does Chad Silva, indirectly, with the Deuces' take on "Till I Get My Fill." Haywood Chad Silva Your text hereMitch Polzak played in Silva's Haywoods for two years until they disbanded in 2006.  "Till I Get My Fill" was a great rockabilly anthem when the Haywoods did it and it's also one of the strongest tracks on the Deuces' CD.

Heck of a Catch gives a nod to the past with four tracks from the veterans, a nod to western swing, another nod to bluegrass with Ralph Stanley's "Clinch Mountain Backstep," and a nod to the present through all of the Deuces' home grown tracks.  There's more than enough rockabilly to satisfy the Greasers and Betties, and there are enough change-ups to keep everybody's toes tapping.


These imaginary CD's were submitted by HWS News readers who followed the guidelines published in the
last issue about randomly accessing Wikipedia for the name of their invisible band, Flickr for cover art and Quotations Page for CD titles.  It is surprising to see just how authentic looking random can be.

Wikipedia named reader Steve Bern's band Toolesboro Mound Group after a native-American burial site in Iowa.  His CD's title comes from the quote "Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: The last of his freedoms -- to choose one's attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one's own way," from Viktor E. Frankl who wrote Man's Search for Meaning.

Rappotenstein is an area of Austria that Wikipedia chose for Wild Billy's faux band's name.  His CD's title is from a quote attributed to the legendary Don Juan. "The basic difference between an ordinary man and a warrior is that a warrior takes everything as a challenge, while an ordinary man takes everything either as a blessing or a curse."   Billy wants HWS News readers to know that Rappotenstein, should it ever exist, will be a Yanni tribute band, which, considering how Yanni influenced John Tesh who was in Yanni's band for awhile, does seem like more of a curse than a blessing.

Angie O. Plasty's faux band Tap Tap is named after a Guitar Hero-type game for the iPhone.  Its title comes from romantic poet William Wordsworth, "That best portion of a good man's life: his little, nameless, unremembered acts of kindness and of love."

Follow the links in this story's first paragraph and you too can create a band and CD in no time.  The only thing missing will be your music.


The name Yoshi's is synonymous with jazz in the Bay Area, so it was a surprise to find Dan Hicks and his Hot Licks with mando-man David Grisman, Rhett Miller from the country-influenced, alt-rock band the Old 97's , and the The Waybacks performing back-to-back-to-back shows at Yoshi's-SF over the last three days of March.  

SF doesn't have the audience to support full-time live jazz at a 300-capacity venue, so Yoshi's-SF is diversifying its musical menu.  The trouble is that this puts Yoshi's on a collision course with Slim's, Great American Music Hall, The Warfield and The Fillmore (which is just down the street), and at a price point far above those clubs.

In 2005, Yoshi's was lured into the mid-Fillmore area by the San Francisco Redevelopment Agency which was making a pitch to re-establish the San Francisco jazz district; a "district" that never really was.  Sure, there were a couple of jazz places on Fillmore after WW2,
but in the '50s Turk Murphy and, of course, the Beatniks, ruled the city's jazz roost from North Beach (where, incidentally, patron-starved Pearl's jazz club recently closed.) 

The Redevelopment Agency put up a $5.7M loan to help Yoshi's build a palatial restaurant and music facility.  Yoshi's, along with Rasellas, a jazz-favored Ethiopian restaurant that had been at Divisadero and California, and the new Sheeba Lounge all opened shop to bring jazz to the redeveloped blocks of Fillmore between Geary and Turk... and nobody cared.  Then came the recession. 

A March 17th
Chronicle item picks up the story.  "Today, the agency will ask the Board of Supervisors to approve a proposal to give $1.5 million to Yoshi's to help with construction debt, $90,000 to Sheba Lounge for tenant improvements and $251,000 to Rasselas for tenant improvements."  The article also notes that Yoshi's has never made a payment on the original $5.7M loan.  The additional $1.5M has been approved since the Chron story was written.

The City is cutting services and running a deficit yet it continues to use tax dollars to fund a never was, never going to be, project like Yoshi's-SF to the tune of $7.2 million.  $251,000 to Rassalas and $90,000 to Sheeba Lounge, on top of who knows how much else, is hardly chump change either.  Meanwhile, Pearl's in the heart of SF real jazz district (such as it is), the Pound SF which was SF's premier punk venue, and 12 Galaxies which was the largest club in the Mission, never received a penny from SF when they opened, or closed.

SF's clubs and bars are taking an economic beating these days.  They're cutting hours, some are closing on Mondays and Tuesdays, and some are closing forever, yet Yoshi's-SF and the clubs around it hang on thanks to multi-million-dollar taxpayer-supported bailouts.  $7.2 million to Yoshi's-SF smells even worse when compared to the $3.5 million that constitutes the entire 2008 music budget for
San Francisco Grants for the Arts, which HWS News took to task in the last issue.   (See "City of SF's Narrow View of Music as Art") 

Responsibility for this injustice is due to SF City Hall's dilettante-inspired bias toward classical music and jazz, and the pampered Redevelopment Agency, which has been irresponsible, negligent and flat-out incompetent for decades, yet never once been called to account. 


San Francisco, like any complex organization, is going to get some things wrong and some things right.  Providing health care on a musician's budget is something The City does right.  The program is called Healthy San Francisco and all that's needed to qualify is proof of SF residency and three months worth of moderately low bank statements.  At this point, half of the musicians reading this are thinking, correctly, that this is a good deal.  The other half are wondering, "What's a bank account?"  Co-payments go up the more one makes, but for most the coverage is only $20/month, $10-20 co-pay to see a doctor, and $5 co-payments for medicines.  Test and lab visits do not require any co-payments. 

And, unlike private health insurance, SF's "socialist menace" health care doesn't jerk people around about previously existing conditions, deny services or try to foist people off on low-cost, ineffective alternative placebos.  Healthy SF provides real care at neighborhood clinics around SF, and at SF General Hospital.  Quality of care is high and reasonably timely because SFGH is a teaching hospital for UCSF's highly regarded medical school.  On rare occasions a person might have to share the waiting room with a guy in an orange jumpsuit, but that's no big deal.  He'll be handcuffed to the gurney.  Besides, any working musician would have shared a stage with worse at one time or another and that person wasn't handcuffed to anything.


How about that big hunk of cowboy grit from Rusty Evans and Ring of Fire with Evans taking the stage just three weeks after quadruple by-pass surgery!  The event, which also featured Rancho Deluxe and Danny Montana and the Bar Association was a fundraiser, held at Peri's in Fairfax, for Marin's Lagunitas School District.  Peri's itself was all decked out in bunting, red cowboy kerchiefs and a barn door backdrop that gave the place a Grand Ol' Opry feel...  
Danny Montana and the Bar Association is a Bay Area band that isn't new, but has been flying under the HWS radar for years.  We've known about them, but hadn't seen them at a show for so long that we'd thought they'd broken up.  In fact, this 70's-country-influenced band has been playing fairly regularly at Peri's and at Smiley's in Bolinas.  They're hiding out in plain sight as so many do in West Marin...  As for new bands, Hicks with Sticks wrote about 32 of them in recent issues and they keep coming faster than we can get to see them or add them to the HWS Bands page...  Go great with lawsuits!You can't keep a good tart down.  Emily Stuckey and Joni Reuter, late of the Whoreshoes, are putting a new band together: Emily Bonn and the Sweet Tarts.   This may be just a working name since a candy brand and another band are named Sweet Tarts...  Laura Benitez and the Copperheads are a new East Bay quartet with plans to play some country music...  The Lovin' 44's, who never took their group much beyond house band status at Amnesia, have retooled and are branching out as the Local 44s.  New members and new directions gave them the opportunity to shed The Lovin' 44s name which was so cool that another band was already using it...   Nobody else is using the name Jay Lingo and the Kick Balers who are a new band out of Santa Cruz and hell, yeah they'll play some Dwight Yoakam for you...  The Brothers Comatose are marching to their own music.  Like so many these days, they may not fit into any specific Americana niche though they are a roots band.  Find them and their comatose cover of the Rolling Stone's "Dead Flowers" on MySpace... Ticketmaster and Live Nation have merged, thus completing the stinkiest music deal of the new century.  Senator Herb Kohl (D-Wis), Chairman of the Judiciary Subcommittee on Antitrust, Competition and Consumer Rights, doesn't like it and several Republican Senators agree.  They've vowed to huff and puff, but Congress has been notably impotent when it comes to blowing down mega-merger monopolies.  Emily Osborne's op-ed piece in Wisconsin's Badger Herald lays it on the line calling the deal," a ridiculously blatant attempt to screw over customers."  Yet live music remains the best entertainment value as long as consumers avoid Ticketmaster.  Most shows listed on the HWS Calendar range between free and $10...   The Sweet 'n' Lo's have called it a day, leaving a gap in the country sweethearts department and relieving the Bay Area of the honor of having the only band in the world with three apostrophies in its name...  HWS thanks Miss Vikki for this YouTube link to the amazing Ennio Marchetto who, in six highly entertaining minutes, plays the quick changing paper doll to just about every pop star and musical style in western civilization.

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