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

This month:

The World's Most Ridiculous Reality Show: The SF Live Music Scene

Unsung Heroes 'n Zeroes

Welcome to 2004, Herald readers! It's a new year and my wish for us all is to move ahead with a renewed sense of purpose and peace of mind. But first, I must share my last nightmare foray in "Gigs From Hell" from 2003. If it doesn't get brought out into the light of day, nothing will change. And change it must...

On November 15, I showed up at Pat O'Shea's to be the acoustic opening act on a three-band bill. The guy who booked me several weeks before, who I will refer to as "T", e-mailed me to be there at 7:30 pm for sound check and I would play at 9pm. When we got there, the staff said there were already two other bands booked, nobody knew who the hell any of us were, and the manager, Johnny Love, and "T" were nowhere to be found.

When T arrived, he seemed totally confused and immediately tried to call Johnny on his cell phone. He finally got a hold of him, and told us that Johnny Love, who also manages the Curve Bar (where I had another horrible experience playing at back in July), had double booked five bands and thought he'd booked us at The Curve down by Pac Bell Park. T told us Johnny said to grab our crowd and our gear and high tail it over to The Curve immediately. I had about 25 people show up, most of whom had never seen me before, and was this guy on crack or what??

By this time, the joint was packed and since all these people had shown up to see me, including a hit songwriter from Nashville, I couldn't just bail, which is what I wanted to do. So I paid for my guitar player's dinner, my illustrious publisher graciously paid for ours, and we sat through over an hour of the loudest female-fronted hard rock band I have ever heard.

Finally, an hour and a half late, I hit the stage (the floor, actually) and took control of the capacity crowd. I had all those yuppies eating out of the palm of my acoustic playin' hand, I must say! But after four songs, T told me I had to "wrap it up", because the next band was "getting pissed". I told him to get lost, played three more songs, and got the hell out of there. But not before T told me all three of us bands that were on his bill were only getting $45 - to split between all of us!!

I was so livid, I e-mailed all the newspapers, slamming Johnny Love and this town's treatment of musicians. I demanded that T go to Johnny and get us more money, this was an outrage! T promised to go to bat for us and said he was "on it" and he was going to get Johnny to "make it right". By Friday, I decided to take matters in my own hands and called Johnny Boy myself. Boy, was I fired up. And boy, did he let me have it. He made me feel like an idiot, like I was wrong to be upset - and basically said this was just a "miscommunication". Said he had an e-mail confirmation that T confirmed The Curve with him and offered to fax it to me. Said it was in all the listings, etc. And said I should be lucky I was "allowed to play" that night - and most clubs would have just kicked us out. Thought it was totally reasonable to have expected us to come down to the Curve at 8:30 that night - and claims the $45 to split between three bands was just fine, even though we were supposed to get 20% of the bar and the place was packed! Meanwhile, T had told us we were splitting the door - and there was no door charge! Johnny said he'd never double booked bands or booked the wrong club in his whole career. Didn't even apologize - just kept saying, "It's not my fault. You were lucky to get to play at all."

And T is still sticking to his story that he booked us at the right club - and I bet they both end up bad mouthing me to let themselves off the hook. Amateurs, all of 'em! I'm sure they didn't set out to screw anyone over - but as long as this type of situation keeps being swept under the rug and accepted as "shit happens", it will keep happening. Somebody needs to do something - it ain't right. We provide a service - and in turn, we get taken advantage of and abused, because bands/artists/musicians don't believe in their own worth or the value of their time and talent and keep taking it. I never had this crap happen in LA, NY, Nashville or London. I am ashamed of my own hometown...

Unsung Heroes 'n Zeroes

K.P. Devlin - Shoot Down The Stars
Manhattan Mule, Inc. and

Americana is alive and well in Manhattan and it s name is one K.P. Devlin. Songs as good as Bob Dylan's or Tom Petty's, like "Sylvia's Song" and "Driving a Stake" with a much better voice to deliver them, are given stellar arrangements that blend the best elements of rock, country and good, old fashioned storytelling. Look at the credits and you'll find players from Bob Dylan's band and all kinds of heavy hitters. This guy sure knows how to turn a phrase and reminds me of a slightly less cynical Tommy Womack, another one of my favorite heroes from this column. They should hook up.

William Brooks - Bitter Circus

Available on CD Baby, Amazon. I guess I'm still in a New York State of mind. Intelligent, heartfelt songs about things that matter to those of us old enough to remember the Jackson 5 (not just that disturbed alien who mutated from them) and The Beatles. Not that this NY guy sounds anything like either of those bands, but his music certainly combines the best elements of good old fashioned soul, rock 'n roll, and tight, snappy arrangements to get the point across. I reviewed Silent Wings, another of Brook's CDs a couple years back, and the same adjective comes to mind when describing his voice now: majestic. Kind of reminds me of the singer from The Little River Band (I loved that band!) with more of an edge. Stand-out tune is the opener, "The Gift", in which he waxes philosophical about his ability to solve other people's problems by being such a good listener - which avoids sounding preachy because it rocks like the dickens. Now that's a gift! The "Muscle Shoals/gospel vibe" on "Try It Like This" is lots of fun (dig that horn section!) and the plaintive, sad truth on "My Love Looks the Other Way" will squeeze the heart of anyone who's been around the block in life more than a time or ten. Good stuff.