Round XXV - My Continuing Adventures As A San Francisco Entertainment Journalist

This Month: - This ’n that from here ‘n there & " Unsung Heroes and Zeros"

Greeting, Herald readers! Just got back from New Hampshire and my beloved New York City and had a fabulous time. Went to a wedding for my old guitar player Chuck Farrell, where we all had to wear Renaissance attire. I was a wench and got to sport more cleavage than most of you will ever see from moi’. Met with the music supervisor for the ABC soap “One Life to Live” and two features editors at the NY Daily News, saw old friends, played a gig at The Bitter End. Simon Kirke, drummer for Bad Company, had me put him on my guest list – and he showed up! Now I am truly “Almost Famous”.

Sinatra fans: go check out Bob Dalpe at the Compass Rose at the Westin St. Francis on Powell Street. He’s the real deal, baby!

Definition of ironic: I recently got coerced into joining a Lynyrd Skynrd tribute band as a background singer. The bald guys in the band wore long wigs that would have worked well at a drag show. We mostly played motorcycle shows for some scary ass chap wearin’ biker guys and gals with some the worst hairdos and bodies I’ve ever seen. I even used the bass player in my own pop band and it was a family affair until…the bass player fired me “so I could pursue my own music”. Yes, I moved back home from Nashville, TN to join and get kicked out of a Lynyrd Skynrd tribute band. Sweet Home San Francisco!

Join 103.5FM, last month’s SF Herald cover girl Jenna Mammina, and David Sanborn to celebrate the release of KKSF’s Sampler For AIDS Relief, Volume 14 at a free concert (Union Square in San Francisco on October 18th at 2pm). On November 2nd, head out to Yoshi’s Jazz Club at Jack London Square in Oakland for a Benefit for the Upaya Center for Well Being (2pm and 8pm. For info call 510-238-9200 or visit yoshis.com).

Speaking of Upaya Center, get to Integrative Chiropractic in Oakland (510-444-1777) to heal your mind, body and spirit. Then go directly to stylist Jay and colorist Tracey at one of the three Di Pietro Todd Salons www.dipietrotodd.com or 415-397-0177 to heal the mess on top of your head and come out looking fabulous!

Stay tuned next month for coverage of the 26th Annual Mill Valley Film Festival, where I wore not only my journalist hat, but my singer/songwriter chick hat, as well.

Lastly, a shout-out to my cousin Matthew Remak. A poet in NY’s East Village for many years, detailing the underside of his life there, he recently returned to the Bay Area to clean up his act and reconnect with his family. On September 14th, his bright light was snuffed out by a drunk driver as he was crossing the street on Van Ness. He was 29 years old. You can check out his poetry at bigmagic.com/pages/blackj1remak.html

So long, Matt – we hardly knew ye.

Unsung Heroes ‘N Zeros

Wendy De Rosa – Glow
www.wendyderosamusic.com

This Colorado transplant singer/songwriter opened as a solo act at a show I did at 19 Broadway in Fairfax recently, and I was so impressed I asked her to do the same a week later at Pat O’Sheas on Geary. Live, she has an engaging style in the vein of a funkier Natalie Merchant, and she is an excellent guitar player. I liked her CD, but it was clear she’s come much more into her own as an artist since this was recorded. Standout tracks include “Believe Me” and “This Night” and “White Wine”, which ran through my head like trains for days.

Gypsy Soul – The Journey
www.gypsysoul.com

The illustrious publisher of this little newsrag and I happened upon this Oregonian duo at the Burlingame Street Fair last Sunday, while in search of some badly needed coffee. We were so drawn in by Canadian-born Cilette Swan’s ethereal voice and British transplant Roman Morykitt’s hauntingly beautiful guitar accompaniment that we had to cross the street to listen, where we stood transfixed, unable to move. Coffee had to wait… Reminiscent of Sarah McLachlan, and Celtic singers like Loreena McKennitt, Swan has a soulful style all her own that can cover any genre of music, even country, much like my beloved Eva Cassidy. This CD is a “Best of” their four CDs and it is an eclectic mix. The full band arrangements of well-crafted, romantic songs add color and substance to fine effect, but I much prefer the acoustic tracks like “Test of Time” which showcase just the heart and soul of this gypsy duo. Swan has incredible range and control, but has a tendency to travel a bit too often into her upper register to demonstrate it. Used more sparingly, the songs would have an even greater impact. I hope to hear more about this pair.

Switchfoot - The Beautiful Letdown
www.switchfoot.com

Surfer dudes from San Diego preach to the masses. Their debut release on Columbia Records is a compelling mix of catchy, electronica-tinged alt rock, with some retro influences like the Cure and U2, and a nod here and there to what’s cutting edge currently, ala Third Eye Blind and Coldplay. Songs like the playful “Gone” and the exuberantly youthful “More Than Fine” are laced with glue-like hooks.

But what sets them in a league of their own is 25 year old lead singer Jon Foreman’s uncanny ability to speak to each listener where he or she lives, regardless of age or creed, without preaching. Foreman’s passionate performance on the haunting “Dare You To Move” really does “dare you to lift yourself up off the floor”. Their first single, “Meant To Live”, the hard-hitting opening track, uses a T. S. Elliot poem as a launching pad to question the quality of one’s life and existence --- and urges us to “want more than this world’s got to offer”. Considering the fact that their album entered Billboard’s Alternative and Modern Rock charts at #85, and their single has climbed up to #23 in a few months’ time --– and the current tour is selling out to audiences who know all the words to every song --- somebody must be getting the message. At a recent San Francisco show at the Pound, Foreman proclaimed, “I haven’t given up on myself or the world”, and then threw himself directly into the crowd, which then carried him. Surf’s up, indeed.



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