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HICKS WITH STICKS NEWS #196, May 29, 2008

Hicks with Sticks
San Francisco Bay
Area Twang
Calendar Highlights
Bands / Clubs

Fri, July 18: In the Steel of the Night: feat. Bobby Black/Joe Goldmark/David Phillips @ Freight & Salvage, 1111 Addison, Berkeley 8pm

Sat, July 19: 8th Annual Sleepless Nights Gram Parsons Tribute: Sin City All Stars/Elisa Randazzo Band /The Lazy Stars/Real Sippin' Whiskeys/Mountain Bride/Miranda Lee Richards/Marabelle Phoenix/Eric Shea @ Great American Music Hall, 859 O'Farrell, SF 9pm

Sun, July 27: Yard Sale/Shut-Ins + Jan van Swearingen's sock monkey art + potluck @ Rite Spot Cafe, 2099 Folsom, SF 5pm free

Thur, Aug 7: Hacienda Brothers w/Dave Alvin @ Last Day Saloon, 120 5th St., Santa Rosa 830pm $15

Fri, Aug 8: Hacienda Brothers w/Dave Alvin/The Iguanas @ Slim's, 333 11th St., SF 9pm $20

Fri, Aug 8: Wayne "The Train" Hancock/Buckaroo Bonet @ Mystic Theatre, 23 Petaluma Blvd. N., Petaluma 9pm $15

Sat, Aug 9: Saints Car Club 10th Anniv.: The Badmen/77 el Deora/+ @ Country Club Bowl, 88 Vivian St., San Rafael 2pm

Sat, Aug 9: Wayne "The Train" Hancock/Careless Hearts @ Blank Club, 44 S. Almaden Ave., San Jose 10pm $12

Full Calendar


We continue last issue's story by shining an overdue light on the independent music producers who twang our world.  Last month, Hicks with Sticks News covered five independent music producers who help keep the music going in the Bay Area.  This month we turn to five more.

Misisipi Mike (rastaman on left)

Misisipi Mike Wolf, the man of many bands, produces Sunday Evening's Going Down every week and occasional Friday-Saturday shows at Ireland's 32 on Geary near 3rd Avenue in SF.  He's also booking Americana once a month at Bird & Beckett, an SF bookstore in Glen Park that supports writers, musicians and eclectics. 

Well on his way to becoming a music making and marketing conglomerate, he has recently turned poster making for his own bands into a business.  His business tip of the month is to use Walgreens photo processing for fliers.  Artwork from standard graphics formats can be handed in over the counter on CD, or submitted on-line.  Fliers only cost 12-14 cents each in quantities as small as 100, and they are photo quality.   Publicity costs are under control with the one-two punch of Walgreens for fliers and Misisipi Mike for posters.

On the music side of Misisipi, Inc., bands he's in include Misisipi Rider, Country Squires, Starlene, Miss Jean's Country Kitchen, Boiled Peanuts, Swinging Guitars and Ideal Vine, though one or two of those bands might have broken up and he might have started two or three others by the time you read this.

GallagherFrank Gallagher, whose business card boasts "Intimidating musicians since 1975," books a half-dozen or so shows a year into El Rio.   Two of his best known are the Shitkickin' Memorial Day show, which opens the summer and Cowgirlpalooza which closes summer on Labor Day.

Tanoa Stewart's regular show is the Tuesday Night Jump at the Verdi Club featuring the swing band Stompy Jones, who he manages along with Cari Lee and the Saddle-ites, Dave Gleason's Wasted Days and Johnny Dilks and the Barroom Roses.  He produces the annual Blue Jean Bop at the Saddle Rack which this year featured Big Sandy & his Fly-Rite Boys, Deke Dickerson & the Ecco-Fonics, 1/4 Mile Combo, The Royal Deuces, Texas Steve & the Git-Gone Trio and a car show.

Cherry Bomb Productions, the mother-daughter team of Vida Lee and Maya Patrone, had been booking shows into the 23 Club which has been a poster child for the grief that independent produces receive when club owners are less than tuned into the win-win thing.  Cherry Bomb has its sites set on other venues.  They may be down, but as one of the Bay Area's longest running independent production enterprises, they are Bombshell Rachellenever out.

The Bombshells are an all-gal social club that produces shows like their annual Booze, Broads and Hots Rods party.  The Bombshells may only produce 3-4 shows each year, but the quality is usually top notch, and has included imported talent like Marti Brom and Kim Lenz.

Shows don't just happen, they happen because hard working people with little hope for reward but great love for music will them to happen.  Click on "previous newsletter" in the lower right portion of this web page to read part one of this article. 


The Gaff" -- Chris Gaffney was the kind of musician whose nickname had to have a "The" in it.  He was best known as one of Dave Alvin's Guilty Men, and most recently for teaming up with Dave Gonzales of the Paladins to form the Hacienda Brothers.  The Haciendas were on a roll having released two excellent studio CDs and a live CD, but The Gaff was felled by liver cancer at the relatively young age of 57.

This musician's musician developed his wit and chops growing up in the SoCal community of Cypress and playing in every gin joint from San Diego to Santa Barbara.  Career was never a big priority with him.  The Haciendas were too good to be ignored, but as usual, the Reaper doesn't care about our plans.  Read the L.A.Times story at,1,93437.story .

Eddie Arnold had a string of hits in the '60s and 70s topped by "Make the World Go Away," yet he always saw himself as a pop rather than a country artist.  He was more of a gentleman businessman than outlaw, which is not the stuff of legends and part of the reason his music does not resonate particularly well today.   His Bing Crosby/Perry Como approach to country was built for the Beaver Cleaver suburbs and it sold a great many records to people who didn't know they liked country music.  Arnold, who passed away at 89, suburbanized country and in doing so paved the way for "new country" thirty-five years before anyone ever called it that.

Utah Phillips, a story teller, freight hopper, Korean War vet, roots folk musician, man of the people, fighter for just causes, NPR commentator, and union man to the bone went to the great picket line in the sky on May 23rd, passing in his sleep at 73.

Everyone knew Phillips' voice when they heard it on the radio because it came through speakers like a warm, fuzzy blanket. He told stories about catching freights; the difference between hobos, who he liked, and bums, who he didn't; and about how, when the Pinkerton agents cracked union heads, the men's wives stepped up to the line and wouldn't let the scabs into the mill.  Part Woody Guthrie, part Eugene Debs, part Pete Seeger and part Garrison Keeler, Phillips put it together in an original package that was the first and last of its type.


Bands come and go but fortunately there are always more coming than going.  Glen Earl Brown Jr. and the Dickens, Cari Lee and the Saddle-ites, Chickwagon, and the Plain High Drifters are presently in various states of hibernation but ready to reorganize themselves as time and energy permit.  Revival Revue, Sure-Fires and Pete Olson and his Honky-Tonk band have all drifted down the HWS bands page due to inactivity, but again, members of these bands are not inclined to to sit and watch the grass grow for long. 

There are close to two dozen bands we expect to join the Bands page as soon as we get around to seeing them live.  Some have been mentioned in previous issues of HWS News; here are seven more.

The Christine Theberge Trio always knew they needed a different name and have settled on Big Mistake, not Bigamist Take, Big Mist Ache or Big Miss Steak, but Big Mistake.  Their choice of "Big Mistake" is not without irony since there is a Brooklyn punk band with the same name.  In the California version, which has now grown to a quartet, Christine sings, Will Welsh writes songs and plays bass, Big Vic Estrella brings "savor Tejano" to the mix with his accordion, and Brian Tyranny slaps the skins.   Find them at  

The Mighty Lynch-Pins have a good looking, though spare, site at .  Their songs tend to stick in your brain after a few listens, but anything else about the band is something of a mystery since they've put little more than their music on MySpace.  One of the few tidbits of info is that murder ballads make them horny.  One of the songs that makes them less horny is about the X chromosome's carrier fluid turning up in some strange ways.  Another is about a really nice pet except for the nuisance of cleaning up after it.  Does anybody else sing songs like this?  Someone should check to see if the Lynch-Pins' muse has any outstanding warrants.

Kitchen Fire consists of Chris Almond (drums, vocals), Joanna DeJarnett (guitar, vocals), Scott Dougherty (bass) and Curt Olsen (lead guitar, vocals, lapsteel, whiskey flask).  Their brand of alt-country includes different styles from the Grateful Dead influenced "Hinges " to straight up honky-tonk of "Ruby West" to the Dire Straits guitar feel of "Hum of Love" all of which can be heard at

The Country Casanovas feature a retro honky-tonkin' sound powered by veteran players Norman Collins on guitar and vocals; Scott Hill on guitar, vocals and harmonies; Gary Chiappetta playing pedal steel; and Paul Bergmann on bass.  Bing Nathan, who is generally known as a bass player, plays drums in the Casanovas.  This band covers good but less traveled material and has two songs at

The Lonestar Retrobates are an eight-piece western swing band straight out of the Bob Wills school.  These veterans seem to have formed for the admirable reason of getting the heck out of the house to play some danged music.  Bing Nathan also plays drums in this band, though he does give up his stool now and again to let former Bob Wills drummer, 93-year-old Johnny Cuviello, sit in.  Find the Retrobates every third Sunday for their early (3:00-6:00) show at 19 Broadway in Fairfax, and on the web at . 

Ted O'Connell has has played in a number of projects, currently in the Crooked Roads, and has moved up front with The GoldDiggers (one word, capital "D").  This all-Americana band does not fit into any particular style.  Their tracks at on=user.viewprofile&friendid=98104466 include rockabilly ("Wound Up"), the California twang-rock of "Sweet Rowena" and the folksy "Gwendolyn."  Bob Spector plays electric guitar, Russell Bourne is on bass, Rory Judge handles the drums and Dylan Orlando plays piano and mando.

Little Sister, named after one of Elvis' hits, has a fun, if ragged, sound that can be heard at They just finished a high-priced gas and late night chicken dinners tour of central California playing places we've never heard of, sometimes in towns we've never heard of.  Their perseverance has earned them a pass on having to read the next article.


Having a band would be so easy if bookers would just ring the doorbell, throw down a pile of money, and beg the band to play, but that's not how it works, is it?  Some bands complain, "There's no place to play," and of course there isn't if they're not sending out emails, building press kits and making calls.  There are 70 Bay Area places to play listed on the Hicks With Sticks
Clubs page and new ones cropping up all the time on the Calendar page.  Another resource for club contacts is BAB, which stands for Bay Area Booking.  BAB offers a detailed list of club contacts at, and it also has a separate listing for Bay Area house concerts (that tend to favor acoustic bands) at  They have links to bookers in LA and the Pacific Northwest as well.

HWS and BAB offer all the contacts most local bands will ever need.  The real struggle for many is what to do with the contact once they have it.  The rules of engagement vary from club to club, but the Bottom of the Hill has published a handy guide about how to deal with bookers, particularly theirs, at  The reality is that even after learning their ropes, and as HWS recently discovered, we can talk to the bar's owners, send emails and make phone calls, and the bookers still won't get back to us, a problem not unique to BotH.

Contracts are as helpful as contacts.  There will always be hitches, but everybody at least stands a chance of being on the same page with the printable gig contract at

Where to find the bookers, the rules of engagement and a contract are just a few mouse clicks away, so time to go get 'em, tigers.


Gentrification is putting the squeeze on live music in San Francisco where one complaint, justified or not, sets the City into a guilt tizzy. is working on a charter amendment and other legislative avenues to keep music alive in the City... Country Standard Time is a website that provides an good source of monthly news, articles and reviews related to country music at ... Thanks to the RevTones' Marcus "Hot Rod" Edell for a video link to remind us how American pop culture has taken over the world.   This hilarious "Ken Lee" clip from a Bulgarian American Idol clone has been making the rounds.  Mrs. Miller, The Shaggs and Wing have got nothing on this wannabe/nevergonnabe.  Check the expressions on the judges' faces.

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