Round XVI - My Continuing Adventures As A San Francisco Rock (and Entertainment Event!) Journalist
Moby, David Bowie, & Busta Rhymes! Allison Moorer! Pink & Lenny Kravitz! Local Color and Events!
Greetings, San Francisco Bay Area media hounds! It's the dog days of summer, and unseasonably cold weather has been upon us, even for us cool San Franciscans. Thank goodness I have lots of hot stuff to share with you this month. Stay tuned next month for a candid and illuminating interview with comedian, actor, author and reigning Prince of Pain, Richard Lewis, who shared his angst-ridden stand-up views at The Great American Music Hall on August 16. (Opening the show with a funny set was Michael Cappazzola, brother of our own Steven Cappazzola, aka "Mr. Fabulous"!) A regular on the Emmy-nominated HBO series "Curb Your Enthusiasm", Mr. Lewis was cool enough to grant me such an in depth look into his delightfully twisted psyche, I've opted to make it the focus of my whole column next month.
Thanks to the wonderful Steve Sodokoff at "Diamonds" (415-647-1860), I attended an opening reception on August 1, held for famed photographer Robert Altman, one of San Francisco's original staff photographers, at Studio Z (314 11th Street at Folsom). The dapper and charming Mr. Altman presided over his visual diary of that groovy time known as the '60's, with shot after candid, one-of-a-kind shots of everyone from a young Joni Mitchell and Tina Turner, to a baby-faced Dennis Hopper and Keith Richards. Legendary music man George Michalski (Nash Bridges musical director) provided period-appropriate entertainment for the hip, eclectic, and colorful crowd of former flower children, including my pal Ben Fong-Torres and his lovely wife Dianne.
Continuing on that '60's trail: the following evening, a 60th birthday bash was held at The Great American Music Hall for concert promoter Chet Helms, kind of a less known but better liked Bill Graham. The vibe was the same, the crowd was the same, and I lasted long enough to have a fun conversation with Bud E. Love (aka Roberts Vickers), who remembered me from my jailbait bar hopping days when he played at the Red Chimney in Stonestown under the name Bubba Lou Vickers. He's just completed a CD of "Bud E. Love" lounge versions of Ozzy Osbourne tunes. Cool! After a fine acoustic set by BFT's pal Laura Allen, which was largely ignored by the hippie meet n greetsters, it was time for this hip-hopper to hop the hell outta there and get back to 2002...
BFT hired me to transcribe his interview with Sheryl Crow, the artist I most often get compared to for a myriad of reasons. Very surreal experience, this. If I can't be her, and I'm not him talking to her, I get to be the fly in their lunch eavesdropping on their conversation.
Fun fact: she used to wait tables at a little jazz club in Sherman Oaks, CA called Le' Café - and so did I!! "Almost Famous" strikes again! Look for it in an upcoming issue of Parade Magazine.
On August 9, I attended the screening at the Embarcadero Cinema of "The Kid Stays In The Picture", the very entertaining Hollywood tale of the life of wildly successful and controversial film producer, Robert Evans ("Love Story", The Godfather") narrated by the man himself. Names dropping from every corner of the sky! Hollywood wheeling and dealing! Bevies of beautiful women! Scandals! Adding to the camp and circumstance was a very special guest appearance by Mr. Evans, who introduced the film. Now a stroke survivor in his late 60's/early 70's, he slowly walked down the aisle with his George Hamilton tan, perfectly coiffed hair, shades, white suit, satin shirt and a young, comely, 20-something blonde on his arm, who towered over him and who he introduced as "my fiancée," who has saved my life". You go, Robert! Still makin' it with da hot ladies, you old devil, you! (Can we say Anna Nicole Smith??)
Update: yesterday the illustrious publisher of this little newsrag and I were down in Palo Alto and walked by the Aquarius Theater, where this film is currently showing. One marquee read, "The Kid Stays In The Picture" under which it said "The Ego Has Landed". The other said, "Bob Evans and His Amazing Sausage."
Yes, sausage. And an amazing one, apparently...
On a personal note: on August 15, at approximately 10 pm, my film editor brother, Kirk Goldberg, was over at my mother's house in Daly City, getting ready for a camping trip, when he somehow mistook a can of gasoline for water and poured it into the sink next to the water heater and furnace. He ran out of the garage with the now flaming can of gasoline, slipped and fell on it, and kicked it under his monster truck in the driveway, which burst into flames! He and the garage became a "hunka hunka burnin' love" - yes, my brother was on fire, ladies and gentlemen. Luckily a neighbor we'd never even met, an angel of mercy named Sam Sivan, was driving home and saw my burnin' baby brother, jumped out of his car, threw him down on the lawn, snuffed out the flames and called 911. Kirk was somehow able to get his oblivious sister out of the house (that would be yours truly), run back into the garage and contain the fire with a garden hose. (My 77-year-old mom, Doris, was out at a county political meeting, bless her liberal heart.) Five fire engines, paramedics, and God knows-who-else later, Kirk was on his way to the ICU at SF General with what we thought were 3rd degree burns. The good news is they're 2nd degree and they missed his face, and the rest of the house was unharmed. The bad news is he's still in the burn unit at St. Francis Hospital, having a tough time. It could have been so much worse. Prayers and good wishes are appreciated. Pay attention out there, boys and girls - scary stuff can happen in an SF minute when you don't!!!
Last but not least, thanks to those who attended my lovely little last minute birthday bash on August 27, at Caffé Proust (1801 McAllister St. 415-345-9560). The beautiful and gracious owner "Miss P" made it a very special occasion for me, as did special guests like Steve Sodokoff, SF's hottest new artist and spiky bra creator, Laurie Jacobs, and our illustrious publisher, Gene Mahoney, who showed up with a giant potted planter filled with beautiful hybrid lilies and a large stuffed bumble bee on a stick. Oh, bee-have! Miss P will be closing her doors soon and relocating to a much better location in the very near future, taking her wonderful cuisine and staff with her. We will keep you informed and wish her the best! Thanks, Miss P!!
"Twisted Triple Threat" - Area2 Tour: Busta Rhymes/David Bowie/Moby at Shoreline Amphitheater, Mt. View, August 14
I came to this show as a guest of my old friend from NYC, drummer Fred Elias, now playing for Busta Rhymes. So you gonna git the show I saw, not, the one all the music critics loftily wrote about. (Anybody can write that story.) Fred greeted me before the show to give me my laminate, brought me backstage to hang out with his cute five-year-old daughter, ex-wife and her friends. We watched a bit of warm up act Blue Man Group from the wings, an odd mix of a band of college-age white funksters backing up three of those weird blue men you see in those TV commercials, making sounds come out of bizarre things like tires held together by tubing. Interesting for a song or two.
There was a lot of family drama going on afterwards, so I ventured out in the house to survey the scene. As press, I always get the best seats in town, but Busta Rhymes tour manager had me seated up in the lawn section! This homey don't play that, so I sweet-talked my way into hanging out near the soundboard. Moby, a true visionary who included Outkast and New Order in his last AreaOne tour, put together another interesting mix. Busta Rhymes had the toughest job on this tour, having to win over the still emerging crowd of mostly young white kids who came to see Moby, and the white 30/40-somethings who came to see David Bowie, most of whom hadn't a clue as to who Busta Rhymes was. Backed by a live band for the first time, which included musical director and bass player Doug Wimbish from Living Colour (another old friend from NYC), Busta would not give up until he had the entire house on its collective feet. "We are all about the love. I'm gonna make you all feel my mothaf**king love, even if you don't know who the f**k I am!" Busta proclaimed and he did! Even all the security people were getting' down to Busta's funky, articulate, positive vibe. It was a genuinely cool thing to behold, and I felt proud to have friends who were a part of this bridging of the cross-cultural gap.
After their set, I went back to say hello, and chat with Fred and Doug, both of whom I hadn't seen in years. It was a family affair. But never having seen Bowie live ever, there was no way I was missing a moment of his set. No offense, my brothahs, but Bowie was da man who this homegirl came to see. Some cool security dude offered to take me up to the "observation deck" above the stage to watch the set. We got to the wings just as Bowie and his band were about to go on, and I was like, five feet from this man I have been in awe of since high school. He truly has that "star" aura about him, in the best possible sense, and the excitement was palpable. He went out on stage alone and began to sing acapella to "Life On Mars", while the band waited to follow him, looking as excited as the fans. Bowie just looked amazing: still classically beautiful, like time had not touched him at all, although not as tall as I imagined. Trim, fit and blonde, he was dressed in a black vest, pants and white shirt, with a loose tie around his neck, looking like a model from GQ on a break.
We ascended the stairs up to the deck, and I watched part of the set through a black mesh screen, separating us backstage onlookers from the Thin White Duke and his band, which included another old acquaintance of mine from LA, guitarist Earl Slick. It was surreal and fun, but I had to go out into da houuuuse and see and hear Bowie the way God intended, in full view and properly mixed. I was not disappointed, the whole thing looked and sounded incredible. Bowie was in perfect voice through renditions of hits like "Heroes", "Fashion" and "Fame", along with songs off his new album, "Heathen", which sounded every bit as good.
He was relaxed and smiling throughout, having a great time and cracking jokes "This is so '80's, it couldn't be more '80s!" I was so excited, like the kid I still am when it comes to truly great artists like Bowie, and I was dancing, and "Whoo!-ing" and calling people on my cell phone to listen, like the bass player from a cover band I was in back in the'80s called The Bedrockers. (He used to sing "Let's Dance"). Some moments require you to be less than cool. I was a geeky fan, man! And proud of it!
After Bowie's fabulous set and my return to my adulthood, I went backstage again to find my friends. They took me back up to the observation deck to watch Moby and his 10 piece band that included a cute Asian chick string section and a killer African- American female background vocalist. Moby was like a wild child in a playroom with all his favorite toys, running amok between his congas, keyboards, and guitar. The vibe was infectious, and everybody on and off stage seemed to having a grand old time.
Moby devoted much of his set to tracks off his breakthrough "Play" album, and a few off this year's less popular "18". He chatted like a magpie about everything from Southern Gothic literature to wanting to start a cover band to play weddings (I could give him some pointers).
I didn't stay till the very end because my Busta Rhymes pals were taking off and I wanted to go the tour bus and say farewell to my homies. I may not have gotten great seats - but I did get a ride back to my car. It's all about da hook up, babee. Peace. Word. Out.
"Miss Fortune Deserves Hers" - Allison Moorer at The Cellar @ Johnny Foley's, SF, August 23
While many of you hip scenesters were out catching the dozens of trendy bands booked during Nadine's Wild Weekend, I chose to reconnect with my Nashville roots and the timeless, authentic perfection of singer/songwriter Allison Moorer. Remember that scene in the movie "The Horse Whisperer", where Robert Redford and Kristin Scott Thomas were slow dancing in the bar, to a song the house band was playing called, "A Soft Place To Fall"? That was Allison, singing the song she co-wrote that was nominated for an Oscar that year.
You may not know it, but she's put out 2 stellar albums on MCA (one called "The Hardest Part" which, ironically, is title of a song I wrote - and the title of Kathie Lee Gifford's last CD - whoo!) and has a new album on Universal South called "Miss Fortune". Looking like a much more attractive Tori Amos, (without that weird mouth), Allison exudes sensuality and emotion just by opening her much prettier one. There isn't a pretentious bone in her petite body. She has a beautiful lower range that less talented singers ignore, trying to blow everyone away with those notes only dogs can hear most of the time. Quite a solid rhythm guitar player, she just writes great songs - with interesting chord changes and truly heartfelt lyrics that rival anything I've heard on country radio, or much of pop for that matter. Hearing her again reminded me of all the reasons I still love to hear, write, and perform music. Be moved by the real deal, y'all. (Her sister, by the way, is pop/rock artist Shelby Lynne.) Check out more on www.allisonmoorer.com
Several members of her band were old buddies of mine from Nashville, and they were happy to see a familiar face - and to read about their pal, Tommy Womack in the latest SF Herald.
"Love Still Rules" Pink/Lenny Kravitz at
Shoreline Amphitheater, August 26
The crowd was surprisingly full to capacity, and the dudes were digging Lenny as much as the hotly dressed babes who came to check out Lenny's scene. From the moment the band kicked into the first note, the crowd was on it's collective feet and stayed that way throughout the almost two hour, "rockin' da house" set. Lenny, dressed stylishly funky as ever, in denim and chaps, Afro, shades and flashy 70s accessories, was in great voice and vibe from the get-go. His rock solid band since the early 90's, guitarist Craig Ross, drummer Cindy Blackmon (this chick kicks some serious ass, man!) and bass player Jack Daley, (and some sax player) were a well oiled, perfectly mixed, electrifying machine that never faltered once, and Lenny's no slouch on guitar himself.
"Almost Famous" fun fact: Jack Daley's brother Frank was the guitar player in two of my bands in NYC: Life On Mars and Carnival of Souls! I used to see Jack play with bands at the Bitter End on Bleecker Street all the time, the same place I played last year at this time! You go, Jack! (Even if I couldn't get backstage to say hello.)
From the driving hit "Once You Dig In" to the equally driving hit "Get Away", Lenny added a healthy dose of songs that he admits weren't giant hit singles, but that he "loves just as much", like "Beyond the Summer Sky". But he did play all those hit after kick-ass hits, like his remake of the Guess Who's "American Woman" and "Are You Gonna Go My Way", and fared just as well with the more sensitive tunes like "All That I Want" and "If I Ever See You Again", that had the audience singing entire sections. Hearing them back to back, delivered with such intensity, under a starry, starry sky was a clear indication that this guy knows how to write a great song, add the right ingredients, and serve it up hot, baby! Especially when he decided to toss himself into the house and let the audience carry him around the theater, proving beyond a shadow of a doubt that he understood how to "Let Love Rule". Lenny rules!
Fun fact: Before we went to see Pink live in concert, the illustrious publisher of this little news rag thought "Get The Party Started" was possibly the worst song ever written. He has since become a pleasantly surprised fan since he absconded with my CD, and has held it hostage in his car stereo. "It was like expecting someone almost as bad as Britney Spears and getting someone almost as good as Ani DiFranco!" he raved. "Don't Let Me Get Me", "Lonely Girl", "Family Portrait" (my personal favorite), "Dear Diary", "Just Like A Pill", and "My Vietnam" are all reasons why I may never see my Pink CD again, if he has his way. Perhaps the nice publicity department at Arista would be kind enough to send me another one.
To read other articles by Mizz Gold, click here!
Kim can be emailed by clicking here!