Hillbillies to invade San Francisco

B Stars

B Stars at the Cafe du Nord. Sadly, now closed. (Photo: S. Bloom)

San Francisco’s newest music festival, Hillbilly Robot, returns for round two — February 2015.

The festival runs every weekend in February 2015, and features a variety of urban-flavored Americana; from classic country to alt-country to traditional bluegrass to outlaw bluegrass to raw-n-roll blues to indie-pop with hints of twang. This year’s event welcomes the return of “Portland Invasion” (yeah!), and new show “Songs of ’69: a Tribute to an Amazing Year in Music”, plus popular festival mainstays; “Honky-Tonk Showdown”, “Bluegrass Bonanza”, “Americana Jukebox”, and a CD release show!

At these fine venues; Great American Music Hall, Slim’s, Thee Parkside, The Plough & Stars.

With these awesome bands:

Water Tower – Just Added!

Jon Emery & The Dry-County Drinkers — Just Added!

The Vivants — Just Added!

The Branded Men — Just Added!

Nomad (Featuring Hassan El-Tayyab & Tracey Holland) — Just Added!

Raven Marcus — Just Added!

Casey Neill & The Norway Rats

Hopeless Jack & The Handsome Devil

Misisipi Mike & The Midnight Gamblers

The Earl Brothers

The Creak

Blisses B

Big Jugs

The Blacklisted (featuring Doug C of The Descendents)

The B Stars (above photo)

G Burns Jug Band

The Mountain Men

The Beauty Operators

No Good Redwood Ramblers

Bearcat Stringband

Complete schedule coming soon!

Like the page: https://www.facebook.com/hillbillyrobot

More info: http://www.shelbyashpresents.net/

Courtesy of Shelby Ash

Misner & Smith at Freight, this weekend!

Award-winning Americana/Folk duo Misner & Smith play Freight & Salvage Coffeehouse in Berkeley on Saturday, September 6th, 2014 at 8:00 pm.  Known for their live performances, Misner & Smith will be joined by Josh Yenne (Mazzy Star, The Easy Leaves) on pedal steel and electric guitars.
In October 2013 Misner & Smith released their fourth album, Seven Hour Storm, produced by Jeff Kazor (The Crooked Jades, Richard Buckner), and engineered by Bruce Kaphan (American Music Club, David Byrne, The Black Crowes). This follows the release of three previous albums, Live at the Freight & Salvage (2010), Poor Player (2008), and their debut, Halfway Home (2004), which includes the West Coast Songwriter’s Best Song of 2007, “Madeline (Paradise Cracked)”. The duo was also featured on the newly released cast recording of Woody Guthrie’s American Song (July 17th, 2014) recorded live at the Freight & Salvage in the summer of 2012. www.misnerandsmith.com
About the Band:

Misner & Smith’s music is a search for meaning. The songs yearn for connection, ache for understanding, relish in mystery, and rejoice in creation. In a world that often feels to be crumbling down around us, they dig deep, and find hope in simple things, in the beauty that surrounds us all.

With their newest release, Seven Hour Storm, Misner & Smith created an album of vivid, poetic songwriting, filled with some of the finest harmony singing around. Working with producer Jeff Kazor (The Crooked Jades, Richard Buckner) and engineer Bruce Kaphan (David Byrne, REM, The Black Crowes) they have a penned an album with lush, yet subtle arrangements, filling out an already rich sound that the duo is known for producing live.

 Seven Hour Storm has the same timeless quality as some of the classic albums in folk and rock, and while there are certainly stand out songs on the record, this is an album that begs to be listened to from start to finish. Each song is a story, a journey, a place, a time, an experience. There is nothing general in the songwriting, nothing vague. The imagery is sharp, and the lyrics plumb the depths of emotions with an ease and honesty that is personal and at the same time universal. The album is filled with melodies and harmonies that at once sound familiar and new, matching the lyrics every step of the way. The voices lock in together, and without disappearing into each other, they soar with power.

With more fleshed out arrangements, and added instrumentation, the new record is a logical progression for Misner & Smith. Their music has never been easy to classify or pigeonhole into one genre or another. They’ve lived in between the lines for years. In many ways, this is continuing what they have done from the beginning, and listening to Seven Hour Storm will only make the listener want to hear what came before. This path leads back to their previous releases Misner & Smith Live at the Freight & Salvage (2010), Poor Player (2008) and the duo’s debut album, Halfway Home (2004). All three of these albums are a testament to the strength of their partnership, and draw from the same well as their newest offering, with a pared down feel of the duo at it’s core: two voices, and two instruments—which is where it all began.

 It was an entirely different art form that brought these two together in the first place. Having separately studied and worked for years as actors in theaters around the country, they met for the first time at a Shakespeare festival in California in 2002. Though the seeds for their future collaboration may have been planted then—in an outdoor amphitheater surrounded by the poetry and prose of Shakespeare and Chekhov—it took two more years for the musical bond to be forged, when the two were cast in another show together in the Sierra Nevada foothills of California.

Location: Freight & Salvage Coffeehouse

Address: 2020 Addison St., Berkeley 94704

Date: Saturday, September 6, 2014

Showtime: 8:00 p.m. (doors open at 7:00 p.m.)

Tickets: $22 advance/$24 door

Telephone: 510-644-2020

Website: http://www.thefreight.org


Make a stand, San Francisco

B Stars at the Cafe du Nord. Sadly, now closed.  (Photo: S. Bloom)

B Stars at the Cafe du Nord. Sadly, now closed. (Photo: S. Bloom)

Over the last three years, San Francisco has seen the gradual loss of venues for live music.  At the end of 2013, the venerable Cafe du Nord closed its doors for a lengthy remodel.  According to the new owners of the building, music will return, but most likely it will be upstairs at the Swedish American Hall.  The days of honky tonk shows in a subterranean speakeasy are over.

Word is that the Elbo Room is also facing closure.  The Elbow Room is not known as a country venue, but it has been an important part of the Mission District music scene for many years. It’s loss would be devastating for a city already reeling from the loss, rehabilitation, or forced relocation of historic establishments like the Gold Dust Lounge, Rasselas jazz club, Schroeder’s German rstaurant, Joe’s of Westlake, Gio’s Bar, Joe’s Cable Car, Da Pitt on Divis, Moishe’s Pippic in Hayes Valley, Fior d’Italia and a long list of others old-timers.

The only thing you can do is make a stand. How? Fill the remaining venues every night, and show the owners that live music has a fighting chance in a city where condominiums do better than country music.  What is a city without live music?

I’ll tell you what it’s not….it’s not San Francisco.

Sleepless Nights is Back


Credit local musician Eric Shea, of Hot Lunch (and Sweet Chariot), for keeping the Gram Parsons flame alive in the Bay Area.  Shea has organized his 12th Annual Sleepless Nights benefit concert, scheduled for January 18 at the Great American Music Hall.

The concert benefits the South San Francisco Unified School District Elementary Band, a worthy recipient if you love music and want to see it passed down.  Shea has put together a bill that includes Red Meat, Midnight North (Grahame Lesh), Sweet Chariot, Sour Flower, Kelly McFarling, Sonny and the Fuckaroos, Sweet Felony, and Paula Frazer & Friends.  Show starts at 8 pm, tickets here.

It’s back! Westside Hillbilly Hoot at the Riptide December 1

Red Meat's Smelley Kelley at the Riptide.  Fireplace not shown.

Red Meat’s Smelley Kelley at the Riptide. Fireplace not shown.

A rag tag band of musicians on a lost train to the edge of the Western United States.  A final stop somewhere between Ocean Beach and the Farrallones, looking for a small bar featuring a fire place described by SFist.com as one of the best in the city.

But wait, there’s more!  On December 1, the Westside Hillbilly Hootenany returns to the Sunset District’s venerable Riptide. Expect local luminaries like Maurice Tani (77 El Deora), Mitch Polzak and Joe Goldmark.  You can guarantee a few guests will show up as well, so be sure to check it out.  Music starts at 7:30, never a cover.

Kit & the Branded Men: Vaya Con Dios, my darlings

Kit & the Branded Men: guitarist Darryl Pretto adds a bit of twang to Kit Lopez and Glen Earl Brown Jr's vocals.

Kit & the Branded Men: guitarist Darryl Pretto adds a bit of twang to Kit Lopez and Glen Earl Brown Jr’s vocals.

It’s inevitable, but never pretty: Kit & the Branded Men have called it a day after five years. The band’s last gig was October 5, at their spiritual home in Alameda.  The band was probably doomed after lead singers Glen Earl Brown and Christina “Kit” Lopez ended their personal partnership earlier this year.  Both are likely to make a comeback in short order, but it’s never a good moment when a band ends.  Thanks for the music, guys.

Glen Earl Brown, Jr. and Christina "Kit" Lopez of Kit & the Branded Men: classic California country.

Glen Earl Brown, Jr. and Christina “Kit” Lopez of Kit & the Branded Men: classic California country.

77 El Deora – new album and big show at Freight & Salvage


We’re back!  We’ll be posting a review soon of the new 77 El Deora CD featuring the words and music of Maurice Tani.  In the meantime, 77 El D has a huge show coming up at Freight & Salvage.  This is really the Bay Area’s premiere venue for folk, country and Americana of all stripes.  The show is August 18 at 8 pm at Freight & Salvage, 2020 Addison Street in Berkely.  The band will be playing music off Maurice’s two new albums, Blue Line (with 77 El D) and Two Stroke (with bassist Mike Anderson).  It’s a great chance to see and hear the new album in the perfect environment for listening.


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