Round IX - My Continuing Adventures As A San Francisco Rock Journalist
close encounter w/ Kathryn Crosby!
Unsung Heroes and Zeros!
and the happiest of new years to all of you out there in SF Herald Readerland!
I hope your holidays were healthy and happenin' ones! Mine were primarily
a family affair (without Sly or Buffy), but not without a few
good friends to make it better. On December 2, my talented Taylor guitar player
pal Chuck Farrell and I got to play my tunes all day at the Rhode Island
Alumni School of Design's Annual Holiday Arts & Crafts Sale at Fort Mason,
thanks to SF's hottest new artist, Laurie Jacobs, who was invited to
be part of the show! She personally talked the head lady into having live
music for the very first time, and it was a mutual lovefest between the artists,
the art lovers, and us. People were dropping 5-dollar bills
in our Laurie Jacobs designer tip bowl, I sold a few CD's and we had a blast!
Hey SF artists, let us entertain you! On December 18, I took my 77
year young birthday girl mom, Doris Goldberg, to Yet Wah Restaurant
(5238 Diamond Heights Blvd. 415-282-0788) for delicious Chinese food and karaoke
madness. Friend and fan of the Herald - and Yet Wah regular, Ben Fong-Torres,
serenaded her with a stirring rendition of "I've Got You Under My Skin
(Doris)" inspiring her to rise to the occasion, lean on her cane, and
swoon. Thanks, BFT, and thanks, by the way, for your cool "Lettuce
To The Editor" last month! You rule! On Dec. 23, (her actual birthday),
in the true spirit of Christmas, I took her to the 9th Annual Kung
Pao Kosher Comedy show and dinner at the New Asia Restaurant (772 Pacific
Ave. 415-391-6666 www.koshercomedy.com).
Four Jewish comedians, five Chinese courses, $45.00 per person, such a deal! If you are a Jew, or someone who loves a Jew, Jew must attend this event next year! The Goldberg clan has traditionally spent Christmas Eve with my non-Jewish, half sister's huge brood of kids grandkids, and zoo of animals. But this being the first with our dear, departed dad, Art spendin' the holidays somewhere up there with John and George, and my dear brother Kirk deciding to split town that week (thanks, Bro!), we opted to break tradition this year and lay low. Instead, I opted to deliver an unexpected Xmas gift that helped this year end on a much sweeter note. When in doubt, give!...Resuming Goldberg tradition on Christmas day, we consumed even more Chinese food and actually picked a really good movie this year: "A Beautiful Mind" - at AMC 1000 on Van Ness - and almost got caught in the middle of a riot between obnoxious homeboy and homegirl hip hop gang bangers! Cops everywhere! Deck the @#$%^ halls!! I wanted to deck them with yo', I mean my mama's cane, man! I coulda been a cane banger!! Shoulda been wearing my favorite Xmas gift: a black baseball cap that says "Almost Famous" in white letters, on my head, backwards!! Kimmy G, in da houuuse!!...Played my tunes, as I do the last Thursday of every month, for the residents at Pacifica Nursing and Rehab, one of my dear dad's last digs. Always a treat and always reminds me why I play music...
Toasted December 29, the one year anniversary of Berlin's show at Slim's, where I met the illustrious publisher of this little newsrag ; hence the reason you're reading this column right now...Had a surprisingly FUN New Year's Eve, thanks to my friend, Scrote's very generous, last-minute invitation to see his swingin', "Austin Powers-esque" band Casino Royale at Bimbo's 365 Club! With their sexy go-go dancers, groovy singers, and giant, killer band that play hit after classic 60's hit of stuff like Burt Bacharach and Tom Jones, "it's not unusual" to have a dancin' blast on any night they play. Add the excitement of the last night of the year, providing an even more festive atmosphere in the most beautiful club in this city. Include fun company like San Francisco's hottest new artist, Laurie Jacobs (and her entourage), and our illustrious publisher, Gene Mahoney, and you just could not have found a better way to ring out 2001 and welcome 2002!!! Auld Lang Syne, indeed, boys'n girls!!
Now, let's goooo on with the showwww ....
"Designing Man -Designer Woman" - Eugene Anthony's Christmas party with guest of honor Kathryn (Mrs. Bing) Crosby - Eugene Anthony At Home TM, Architectural Interior Design Studio - December 5, 2001
Richard Habib, the charismatic founder and president of Alexander's Decorative Rugs (Showrooms at the SF Design Center
Henry Adams St. #330, SF 415-626-8430 and at 383 Miller Ave, Mill Valley 415-383-3908
www.alexandersrugs.com), whom I had
the pleasure of meeting when I covered the Mill Valley Film Festival, is one
happenin' dude. He's also one of the nicest. Wherever it's hip and cool and
the place to see and be seen in the Bay Area and beyond, that's likely where
you're bound to see him, and he was kind enough to invite me to this
event! Eugene Anthony, interior designer to the SF Bay Area's elite,
has an enchanting showroom called "Eugene Anthony At Home TM", located
at 394 Kansas Street in San Francisco.415-934-9100. In association with ASID
Northern and Peninsula Chapters, he presented "A White Christmas
with Kathryn Crosby", whose Hillsborough home he had just
redecorated. Approximately 150 designers and invited guests were slated to
attend and I knew I had to grab SF's hottest new artist, Laurie Jacobs and
get the hell over there to meet and Season's greet! Trumpeting angels adorning
the front gates, a life-size Santa, and a full bar awaited us on either side
of the red carpet as soon as our feet hit the sidewalk.
My kinda Xmas party, baby! As soon as I ascended the stairs, this magical mystery tour of exquisite Christmas delights, home furnishings, and artifacts from around the world began with a personal greeting by the guest of honor, herself, Kathryn Crosby! Sitting at an 18th Century settee, signing autographs and copies of her autobiography, "My Life With Bing" (proceeds going to charity), she looked like a stunning, perfectly coifed, little porcelain doll in a red Cassini (designer, natch'!) pantsuit. "Hello! Welcome, so pleased you could come!", she exclaimed as she stood up and held out her hand to me, like I was royalty or Liz Smith or something! I didn't know whether to shake it or kiss it. So I took her hand, introduced myself , said I was truly honored to meet her and offered her a copy of the November issue of the Herald with the Mill Valley Film Festival stuff. "Oh, wonderful, I can't wait to read it!", she said so sweetly, as if I'd handed her The NY Times or some important, real paper. I actually do have an "Almost Famous" connection to her - indirectly - and seized this opportunity to bond with Kath. "Ms. Crosby, I believe your son went to school with my cousin! They were friends!" "Really?? What was his name, his parents' names?" , she asked, truly interested or truly acting.
"His name is Jon Friedenberg, his parents are David and Ann." "Oh, I believe I do remember him!" she replied.
"Bing and I hosted a party when Nate was in 8th or 9th grade, your cousin was there, I think. The children turned out all the lights and stood holding each other in the dark!"
"You mean they were slow dancing?"
"Yes, I guess that's what they called it. It was the scandal of the neighborhood!"
This was great stuff. Couldn't wait to ask my cousin about it!
I thanked her and wandered into Designer Winter Wonderland, ooh-ing and ahh-ing over all the pretty stuff while stuffing my face with as many delicious hors d'oeuvres as I could grab off the passing waiters' silver trays. Turns out they were all prepared personally by the host and owner himself, Eugene Anthony, a congenial, fashionably dressed and meticulously groomed man of many talents, it appears! While flame-haired Laurie was working the (designer's) room, Richard Habib was leading me around introducing me to everyone and making me feel more than "almost" famous. As I came out of the ladies' room, right before I was ready to leave, Kathryn Crosby came out from the kitchen, clutching her copy of the Herald and calling after me. "There you are! I've been reading your column. Oh, you're very good. You can tell you really love what you do. I want to talk to you! What movies have you enjoyed? Let's chat!" She proceeded to animatedly discuss all the movies she'd seen recently and wanted to know my opinions, like I was Mick LaSalle (film critic from the SF Chronicle)! Then she told me about starring in the Burlingame Hyatt House production of "Peter Pan" many years ago (???) and how Bing didn't want her to do it, because he didn't think she could cut it, but after he saw her performance, he approved. "Wow! That's wonderful!" I gushed. "You know, I played 'Wendy' in my senior year Serramonte High School production of "Peter Pan" in Daly City!" And we started to sing, "NeverNeverland", and other songs from the show. Kathryn Crosby and Kimberlye Gold - singing show tunes in Eugene Anthony's show room. Where's the paparazzi when you really need 'em??
"My Cousin Jonny"
On the first night of Chanukah, we went to Uncle David (my mother's brother) and Aunt Ann Friedenberg's pad to light the candles, eat latkes and be Jews. I asked them to give me the skinny on partyin' down w/ the Crosbys way back when. Today my cousin Jon Friedenberg is the Executive Director of the Greater Jewish Federation of San Jose. Basically, he's the C.E.O. of the Jewish non-profit world of Silicon Valley (www.jewishsiliconvalley.com). His gig requires him to meet with heads of state, foreign ministers, world leaders and international captains of industry, in addition to handling Bay Area domestic situations pertaining to all aspects of the Jewish community. It's true! I even saw Jonny on the ten 'o clock news a few weeks back, being interviewed about the crisis in the Middle East, from where he had just returned. He's a serious dude, man!
I'm about to tear all that down...
I'm sure few foreign diplomats know that since birth, my cousin Jon has been a closet rock 'n roll fanatic. He can still be found going nuts (in dark glasses and a trench coat, perhaps) at an Allman Brothers concert, says Bad Company is still his favorite band, and he constantly searches the web for new artists, like Jeffrey Gaines, to check out when he's not busy being King of The Silicon Jews. Let us go back to where this madness began... Back in 1974, Jon was a 13 year old Hillsboro rich kid, who attended school with Bing and Kathryn Crosby's son Nathaniel. Everyone in their clique had some goofy nickname: Jon and Nate were affectionately referred to as "Friek" and "Maggot". One night Jon was invited to a party for Nate at the Crosby estate. A large sign was posted outside for the parents coming to get their kids: "Pick Up Your Brats Here. Stay in your car. The kids will come out." My Uncle David, a prominent attorney, was a rebel with a cause, no one was gonna keep him from mixing with the rich and famous. He got out of his car and marched right into the Crosby kitchen and loudly announced, "Hello there, I'm here to pick up my son, Jon Friedenberg!" The butler, Alan Fisher, (who would later become the butler to Prince Charles and Lady Diana) was appalled. No other parent had dared to defy the Crosby directive (or probably even thought about it) but my Uncle David! Jon was found and wished he could have evaporated, but wait, there's more! Wishing to make a grand exit, Uncle David called attention to himself once again to say goodnight to everyone - and walked directly into the pantry closet and closed the door behind him. Young Jon was mortified! Chuck and Di's future butler was horrified! Sheepishly, Uncle David emerged from the closet, took his son and his ruined reputation and hit the Hillsboro road...
"John Squared": John Hiatt/John Eddie live at Slim's, December 11, 2001
"If at first you don't succeed, try, try again..." could be a mantra for both of these talented performers who took the stage at Boz's Tuesday night music club - but it's all in how you present the cards you're dealt. Opener John Eddie, who's CD "Happily Never After" I reviewed so glowingly in the October issue, and who joined the ranks of "people who annoy me" in the November issue, after he failed to follow up on any of his claims to want to work and stay in touch with me (see www.sfherald.com under my columnist link for more info), found it took three attempts at Slim's to charm San Francisco. He couldn't have chosen a more infamous date to play initially: September 11, 2001. Yikes. I still have the press release. Cancelled, obviously. We did meet while he was in town that first time and exchange tunes, music business horror stories, and the like. He's got some doozies. The next scheduled gig (also opening for John Hiatt) at Slim's on October 17, was cancelled, due to Mr. Hiatt being rushed to the hospital with food poisoning! Bum break again! Said he'd call back - and didn't - again! But his publicists did - again!
on December 11, three months to the day tragedy struck in his neck o' the
woods (he's from New Jersey) and around the world, he delivered his long-awaited,
if too brief, opening set. Like I said in my review, this guy is a really
talented songwriter and singer and he can now add live performer with a great
band to my list of accolades. But man, is this guy bitter!!
Every other word out of his mouth between songs was some self-effacing riff
on "You have no idea who the hell I am, do you?!" It was endearing
and funny at first, but soon it got tiresome and redundant and took away from
how cool the music was. He even added a couple sarcastic new songs, "I'm
Fuckin' Forty" and "Play Some Skynyrd", to musically beat the
almost dead horse. Dude, you're like, the poster child for my column, "
World's Worst 'Almost Famous' Stories - Read 'Em and Weep"! So you're
not Springsteen. Or Jon Bon Jovi. Or even John Hiatt. I'm
not Sheryl Crow. Or even Jewell! And I should be! Just play
your damn music - it rocks! You're making a fucking living touring, playing
your own shit, not working some day job, and having to write for a little
paper and play your music on the side for pennies, like some other deserving
people we know. And please stop saying you're gonna be in touch. We hate those
people, remember? They piss us off - don't be like them! You're
way too talented for that, bud. One of your fans bought my CD - they obviously
have good taste in music.
The house was crammed with 30/40-ish fans by the time John Hiatt hit the stage. With well over a half dozen albums under his belt and dozens of hits penned for stars like Bonnie Raitt ("Thing Called Love"), this prolific, Grammy nominated and award winning, critically acclaimed, Nashville based artist has little left to prove. With his trademark, distinctive, raspy, yet resonant voice and solid band, including guitar virtuoso Sonny Landreth, he delivered a 2 hour set of songs like "Cry Love" from 1995's Walk On, the title tracks from 1989's Slow Turning and 1983's Riding With The King, and a good dose of 'em off his latest album, The Tiki Bar Is Open, all with equal fervor and passion. The man is a pro, he loves what he does, and his fans, other artists and the critics dig him. 'Nuff said.
no mistake: I am a giant fan of this chick. She rocks my world. But I am a
music critic first and foremost, (contrary to a couple of my disgruntled readers)
and I have seen her give some scary performances on TV. I've also seen her
deliver a great set under adverse circumstances, like when she opened for
Dave Matthews at Pac Bell Park last year.(See www.sfherald.com under the columnists link
for my review). So I was prepared for anything when I checked out Macy's scene
at the Fillmore. For those of you who only read James Sullivan's review in
The SF Chronicle, the man was either having a really bad night or needs a
vacation. I have not had this much fun, danced my ass off, or dug every moment
of the whole musical experience at a concert since I used to go to see bands
like Rufus and the Ohio Players at the now long defunct Circle
Star theater in San Carlos in the 70's! Okay, so I'm not 25. So sue me! But
she manages to take what's best from the old and new school in a way that
no other new artist has been able to do that moves me the way she can. And
move me, she did. It was better than a half dozen therapy sessions
and anti-depressants combined, just what the funky doctor ordered for the
holiday blues, baby!
The sold-out house of multi-ethnic 20 to 40 something, eclectic Macy fans (my kinda crowd!) were treated to a surprisingly entertaining opening act, Dakota Moon. A bland name for a cool band of hot lookin', charismatic, young, mostly black (a white and Latino guy in there, too) rockin' pop dudes, who all played and sang their asses off and had some really good songs. Kind of like Living Colour lite. Or 'N Sync meets Creed black - actual musicians and singers. Told them to send me a CD and press kit.
it was time for the kingdom of Macy to descend upon the stage, and it was
SO worth the wait. Her 13 piece multi-ethnic, Sly & The Family Stone-esque
band of 2 keyboard players, 3 horn players, guitar, bass, drums, percussion
player, scratch master/synth dude and 3 background singers danced onto the
stage wearing giant white Afro wigs and started jammin' to the opening of
the first song off her sophomore effort, The Id , "Relating To
A Psychopath". Macy came onto the stage looking sophisticated and classy
in a red pantsuit (Kathryn Crosby's designer label?) and her usual
wild, kinky afro was soft and styled. For well over two hours, Macy and her
funky, funky, kickin' band played almost every song off her ground breaking
smash first CD, On How Life Is ( which was my favorite album of the
last decade) and her almost-as-good new CD, The Id, with heart,
passion, tons 'o soul, humor and flawless, funkified precision.
The best news of all is that my girl Macy was in top form: she looked radiant, especially when she smiled, did not miss a note or a beat the entire set and that one-of-a-kind Billie Holiday meets Daffy Duck voice could not have sounded better in all the ways that make you love her if you do. And I do. Any memories of weird, off-key, seemingly drugged-out performances were erased forever after witnessing this one. She made a point of completely connecting with the audience, talking to "San Francisco!", grabbing people's hands in the front of the stage and picking fans to directly serenade. Hell, she even caught my eye, 'cause you know I was all up in there. Whether it was a mellow groove, like "I've Committed Murder" off her first album, or a wild, disco anthem like the infectious "Sexual Revolution" (you should see me on my power-walk when this comes on my Walkman), or a smooth, sexy ballad like "Sweet Baby" off The Id, she had every one of us completely in the palm of her groovin' hand. (Except James Sullivan). Speaking of Mr. Real Music Critic, one of the coolest touches of the set was the very thing he dissed: Macy generously turned the stage over to every member of her stellar band to strut their seriously funky stuff and gave each of her very talented background singers room to riff and solo and get up and git down. At one point, she even took a seat near the back of the stage and just grooved out and sang a few background parts while they took the stage and sang lead. Fabulous. It just added to the whole party atmosphere and love vibe we were all diggin'. She changed outfits three times, each one more spectacular and diva-like, and yet retained that classy thang she began with. After a full half hour encore, the entire band left the stage and she ended the evening with an acapella version of the song that put her on the map, "I Try". Tried and true - to this music critic and music fan: Macy Gray is the real deal, baby.
Unsung Heroes 'N Zeroes:
CD reviews of this 'n that 'n from here 'n there. They may rock! They may suck! I'll be the judge!
And now the moment you all have been waiting for: what I think of your music! I've got a gazillion CDs that you've sent to my illustrious publisher or to me and I intend to listen to as many as I can with conviction. Please be patient. I want everyone to know that being a struggling musician, artist and songwriter myself, I know all about the pain and passion required to put your heart and soul out there for all to witness. You can listen to my stuff and say whatever you want! And I do want to love your stuff, every one of you, and if I do, you will feel my love! But now I'm gonna tell it likes I hears it, and if I think it sucks and you disagree or get mad at me, write your own damn column! And keep rockin' in the free world, like Neil Young, and some of us who write for this paper...
Dirk Hamilton - "Sex, Spring, Everything"
People in the clubs in Texas probably love this guy. His Kris Kristofferson/Rod Stewart gravelly, soulful vocals are cool, the Dwight Yokam/Charlie Sexton-sque arrangements and production are simple and do the job. But for some reason, this CD didn't move me the way I wanted it to. I kept wishing a smooth voice like Chris Issak's was singing the stuff. Some of the lyrics were pretty good, but the songs as a whole just aren't killer. Maybe he kicks ass live.
Odor Of Pears - "Crown Of Thorns"
Souxsie and The Banshees meets Concrete Blonde w/o any hooks. Like some Gothic Middle Eastern music to kill yourself to - or to sacrifice the neighbor's cat. Who are they praying to? (One of their songs is called "Fuck Christianity"). Actually, this stuff would be good for a B horror movie soundtrack, local filmmakers, check it out! But be warned, these people are having a permanently bad day...
Jonathan Robbins - "Just One Arrow"
This guy is so damn good, I just can't stop listening to this thing! WHY isn't he a huge star?? The songs, co-written with partner Nadine Arel, evoke all the best parts of The Beatles, both musically and lyrically, but nothing about them sounds derivative to me. Sometimes humorous and sarcastic "Loserville", sometimes heart wrenching "Here Comes Tomorrow" (which literally made me cry), it all moves me. Plus the fact that Jonny sings his ass off and looks like a teen idol babe doesn't hurt. How old is this guy?? Sometimes he even reminds me of that '70's band, The Sweet! But the crisp production and contemporary thread weaving together the 12 songs on here make it sound like a hit record today that could easily put him on the map. Somebody grab this kid quick and do something.
Theresa Davis - "Someone You Want To Love" www.theresadavis.com
If you are a fan a of adult contemporary artists like Anita Baker, Diana Ross, Chante Moore and Deneice Williams, you might want to love this CD. Ms. Davis was actually a member of the 70's group, The Emotions (although not one of the original ones when they had their hits). Her voice is very pleasing, the vocal arrangements are lovely and there are some good songs on here, like the stand out track, "Winter's Here", which is what the whole record should have aspired to live up to. But what I did not love and had a hard time getting past was the very dated production quality with cheesy, distracting drum sounds and bad rhythm tracks that just gave the overall feeling of listening to a 80's pop demo tape. (I know, I used to make them!) Find a producer who understands and listens to what's hot in cool jazz, cabaret, and AC/R&B and has the capability to make a modern sounding record (or tell the one you have to get with the program!) and you'll have something here.
Okay, folks, that's it for this month. Come see me some Wednesday at the open mike at Nickie's on Haight St. Call the club for info.
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Kim can be emailed by clicking here!