Denise Sullivan

Author, Journalist, Culture Worker

Margaret Cho’s on a Mission: Helping Homeless Youth in San Francisco

“If you have, give. If you need, take.” That is comedian and San Francisco native Margaret Cho’s simple, seasonal message to the people of her hometown and so far the directive is working: Staging impromptu street performances, Cho is devoting two months to raising awareness and much-needed funds and supplies for the homeless here, in memory of her philanthropic comic inspirer, Robin Williams.

Cho for change, Market and Powell, San Francisco (photo courtesy Gerard Livernois)

Cho for change, Market and Powell, San Francisco (photo courtesy Gerard Livernois)

“With Comic Relief he raised 70 million dollars for homelessness causes,” claims Cho of the series of televised charity shows and events hosted for over 20 years by Williams, Whoopi Goldberg, and Billy Crystal. Calling from San Antonio where she was performing her stand up act over the weekend, Cho explained, “He had written into his contracts that a certain percentage of homeless workers had to be employed on the set. He was very conscious of homeless people and he turned in perhaps the greatest performance of a homeless person ever in The Fisher King.” The loss of Williams this year she says, was more than the death of a dangerously depressed fellow comedian and street theater vet. “We lost a passionate activist.”

Read the Entire article at 48 Hills:

Filed under: Arts and Culture, California, income disparity, new article, San Francisco News, , , , ,

Van Morrison: Songwriter

During San Francisco’s notoriously punishing, foggy summers, there are those who find it extremely necessary to leave cityVanMorrisonLo limits and seek sun. On most days, it can be found shining a few short miles from the Golden Gate Bridge in Marin County, known the world over for its rich hippie homes of ’60s and ’70s rock stars. Though several decades have come and gone since Marin’s hot tub, water bed and peacock-feathered days, no matter how many times I drive north, down the long stretch of Sir Francis Drake Boulevard and through San Anselmo toward the beaches, my wandering mind inevitably lands on one question: How could Van Morrison stand it here?

As most Morrison fans know, the redwood chapter of the Irish singer-songwriter’s story was relatively brief, compared to his life in music, now in its sixth decade. And yet the period beginning when he emigrated to America (coinciding with family life and a big burst of creativity) and ending with his three-year hiatus from performing and recording (following the release of Veedon Fleece) is notable: Morrison’s Bay Area tenure produced such an abundance of songs there was a surplus; moreover, they were consistently played on the radio and still are, forever ensuring his place in local music history. Van’s persistent presence, in and on-the-air here, has not only soundtracked our lives: it’s in our DNA, the songs passed on by Irish immigrant and hippie parents, down to their tattooed love children (and their children), even when concerning faraway characters like the “Brown-Eyed Girl” or “Madame George.” Chances are whether you live in Nor Cal, North Carolina, or Northern Ireland you feel this connection too, yet the combination of deep personal content and universal humanity tucked inside Morrison’s songs was largely lost on me until reading the verses as a whole in Lit Up Inside (City Lights, 2014), the first published collection of his lyrics, handpicked by the songwriter.


This one goes out to the City of San Francisco, Inc.

Filed under: Arts and Culture, Book news, California, new article, Reviews, video, ,

Stolen Legacy of Marcus Books Must Be Returned To Owners & The Community

In February: Mayor Ed Lee (center) of San Francisco signs the historic landmark designation for 1712-1716 Fillmore Street, former home of Marcus Books and Greg and Karen Johnson (also pictured).

Since the May eviction of Marcus Books in San Francisco, the speculators who purchased the property have waged a hateful campaign against the historic, landmarked Jimbo’s Bop City building that housed the oldest black bookstore in the US and the Richardson-Johnson family, its longtime proprietors. Theft of valuable store inventory and business tools, destruction of irreplaceable cultural artifacts, displacement of four generations, and most recently a slander campaign against the family who ran the store for 50 years are the contributions made by new owners, the Sweises, to 1712-1716 Fillmore Street. That the City of San Francisco has done little to prevent the attacks, aside from rubber-stamping the building and business as a community and cultural resource with a landmark designation earlier this year, isn’t that surprising: Since the 2009 Mayor’s Task Force Report on African American Out-Migration, few of the recommendations for education, economic development, and cultural and social life have been implemented.  But the City’s negligence and complicity in this recent act of cultural genocide in the black community was so shocking, it must not be allowed to stand unchecked.

The continual and unrestrained despoiling of predominately black and brown neighborhood resources is not a newsflash:  There has been a concerted effort toward black neighborhood “redevelopment” since at least the early ’60s. Certainly evictions overall have been unprecedented on Mayor Ed Lee’s watch, but the way in which the dismantling of the Marcus Bookstore was carried out was particularly aggressive. Small business owners, especially those of color, know well the lack of protections for their tenant and human rights, but the Marcus Books story was under-reported by local media and the details remained largely a mystery to those outside the community until this response by the Johnsons was published on Friday.

In May: Contents of the Marcus Bookstore in process of being dumped and prepared for hauling away.

Following the store’s eviction, the new owners broke several moving dates, then took hostage the store’s books, art work and equipment. Said to be put in storage, to date the materials have not been returned. Community members suspect most all of what was contained in the bookstore—including 50 years of history and ephemera documenting black San Francisco—was either stolen or destroyed, hauled away in a landscaping truck by day workers. That the historic Marcus Bookstore should be physically dismantled in broad daylight as District Supervisors, various commissioners, Mayor’s Office and the NAACP leadership who supported the motion to preserve the property stood by and did nothing to prevent it is the question that remains shamefully unanswered. That passerby were allowed to rifle through the dump truck and take what they liked is simply further evidence of the uncivil and unjust treatment of a community’s history, co-signed by the City.

As a native San Franciscan, an author, and community advocate for the preservation of our most valuable cultural assets—in this case books and literacy—I support the campaign to return the Marcus Bookstore to its Fillmore location. As witness to the community meetings, in store events, Board of Supervisors and Historic Preservation Commission proceedings, and desecration of the property, I have observed and documented with astonishment the trail of broken promises and lies told by District supervisors, Mayor’s Office appointees, and the African American community’s own faith leaders about the bookstore and its proprietors. These erroneous claims–that a bookstore is an unsustainable model for 21st Century business–entirely misses the point. The campaign to support Marcus Books goes beyond keeping open the doors of a mom and pop bookshop: It is an attempt to shine a light on and preserve African American culture, community and literacy, particularly for readers of the future.  The removal of Marcus Books on the block could once and for all to erase the rich cultural heritage African Americans created in San Francisco—through art, music, literature, civic engagement and action and replace it with a whitewashed version of history that does not include black contributions. Further, it negates the interests of the wider community of black and other interested folks who relied on the Marcus Bookstore’s products, services, warmth, and humanity.

In July: The vacant and vulnerable historic landmark at 1712 Fillmore Street.

I am curious how the City officials and employees who reportedly bought their first books at the store, who sat at the owners feet as teenagers and said they were in support of the store can now step back and refuse to take notice or phone calls and deny their previous public statements of support. But I’m not surprised that the landmarking of Marcus Books was insincere and just another photo op: The City’s allegiance to money and power is well known: Given an opportunity, I can imagine Mayor Lee selling his own ancestors down the river. Expecting him and his regime to understand the struggle waged by Marcus Books as a cultural one was a non-starter from the gate. But there is no doubt Lee and Co. failed to “Provide full support of the Fillmore Jazz Heritage District and to make sure that African American culture is fully respected and highlighted in the effort” according to Out-migration Report recommendations.

Despite the setbacks, the original owners of 1712 Fillmore and its family of supporters continue to fight injustice in their community and reclaim justice for all. We have not heard the last from the Marcus Bookstore.


If you are interested in expressing support and solidarity with the owners of Marcus Books San Francisco, please contact the Support Marcus Books site directly. If you are a bookseller, author, or publishing professional interested in joining a new alliance of Bay Area independent bookstores, please contact and you will be added to an email list.

Filed under: Arts and Culture, Book news, Books, Civil Rights, Editorial, Jazz, new article, , , , ,

Kandia Crazy Horse: Ready For the Country

Kandia useKandia Crazy Horse is on a crusade to become the first black woman to be invited to join the Grand Ole Opry.

Noting that the oval office, hockey, tennis, “and even show jumping” can claim high-ranking blacks breaking the color barrier, Kandia asks, “Why not in country music? I wouldn’t want my children to think the only Black Country singer was Charley Pride.” Creating a black female presence in Americana is Kandia’s personal Kilimanjaro.

Read the entire story of Kandia Crazy Horse by Denise Sullivan posted in today’s SXSW edition of Blurt online.

Filed under: Arts and Culture, Catch a Rising Star, Civil Rights, Concerts, Georgia, Harlem, Interview, Mali, new article, Now Playing, Smarter than the average bear, , , , , , , ,

Remembering Mike Bloomfield

photo by Mike-Shea

Mike Bloomfield died in San Francisco, CA on February 15, 1981

Bob Dylan calls him “the best guitar player I ever heard.” Carlos Santana remembers his distinctive style: “With an acoustic guitar, a Telecaster, a Stratocaster or Les Paul, you heard three notes, or you heard one note and you knew it was Michael.” B.B. King credits him with his own crossover success with young, white audiences. “I think they felt if Michael Bloomfield said if he listened to B.B. King, we’ll listen to him too,” said King, still on the touring circuit at age 88.

So how is it in the age of excess information about guitar styles and rock ’n’ roll, Mike Bloomfield isn’t cited more often as a major contributor to the music’s evolution?

(Read entire article by Denise Sullivan at Blurt online).

Filed under: Blues, Bob Dylan, film, Interview, new article, Roots of Rock'n'Soul, , , ,

Marcus Books: Keep It Lit in the Fillmore District

If buildings could talk, the Marcus Books property on San Francisco’s Fillmore Street, the onetime “Harlem of the West,” would tell a tale of two cities for over 50 years. Once the jazz club Bop City (where John Coltrane, Charles Mingus and Billie Holiday performed), the purple Victorian structure is central to a neighborhood that has survived the internment and return of its Japanese American residents, an urban renewal project that resulted in the permanent exodus of African Americans when promises for new homes never materialized, and a blueprint for a  “Jazz District” that failed to launch. Now, the neighborhood faces a final act as Marcus Books, the oldest seller of books “by and about black people” in the entire US, attempts to uphold black history and culture, a part of which its founders helped create, while the mayor’s office and for-profit developers look instead to the influx of tech companies and their workers as the City’s future.

It’s taken decades, but the Mahattanization of San Francisco is nearly complete: The immigrants, artists and native-born who built the City and gave it its unique flavor can no longer afford to live here; with San Francisco’s African American population largely banished to Oakland and points beyond, alongside the working and artists classes, the freethinking lifestyle that attracted so many people to the Bay Area in the first place has largely been and gone. “What is crucial, is whether or not the country, the people of the country, the citizenry, is able to recognize that there is no moral distance between the facts of life in San Francisco, and the facts of life in Birmingham,” said James Baldwin on a fact-finding trip to San Francisco in 1963 at the height of the Civil Rights Movement, a time at which he would have also visited Marcus Books.

Every black writer and intellectual in the US and throughout the African Diaspora knows the store; Celebrities, activists, athletes and literary giants, from Malcolm X, Rosa Parks, Muhammad Ali, Walter Mosely, Alice Walker, Oprah Winfrey and Toni Morrison have all passed through the doors of the San Francisco or Oakland stores. Founded by Drs. Julian and Raye Richardson in 1960, their leadership and the store itself served as sanctuary for thinkers, authors and community members during every watershed of black cultural and political movement, from the Voting Rights Act, through the Black Power Movement and historic student strike at SF State in 1968 (resulting in the establishment of multicultural study programs which still exist at universities today).  Many of San Francisco’s African American faith, civic, arts and culture leaders were educated through the program at State, either by the Richardsons themselves or the books they stocked at Marcus; 50 years later, the Richardsons’ daughter, granddaughter and extended family remain in San Francisco, providing black children with their very first books, as well as a safe community space where elders and organizers may engage in discussions on their journeys, from Jim Crow to the first black president. Yet for the past year, Marcus Books, one of those rare brick and mortar stores that operates in the black, has been waging a program for its own survival: The City’s community activists, elected supervisors and appointed commissioners achieved landmark status for the historic building, attorneys brokered a buyback after the property was sold at auction, and the store’s fund drive with a deadline at the end of Black History month is in its final stretch.  But Marcus is not the only community-serving destination that’s been diverted from its core mission to enlighten and educate: If a city’s bookstores are any indication of its cultural diversity and intellectual health, San Francisco is on the critical list. With City Lights the only vestige of the town’s Beat Generation past, the City’s last gay bookstore was laid to rest three years ago; it’s most progressive political book outlet in the Mission District is on the brink. A similar fate for Marcus Books would mean the end to longstanding black-owned businesses in the Fillmore, the so-called “heart and soul of the city,” a neighborhood once so diverse it was dubbed the “Little United Nations.” Seems The City That Knows How has forgotten where it came from and San Francisco is no longer the most progressive place on earth. Baldwin’s 1963 quote may’ve been specifically about Jim Crow ways and law, but a blow to Marcus Books could mean his message remains the same:  San Francisco’s reputation as a kindly city of love, tolerance and diversity will be forever tarnished; in fact, it may have been false advertising all along.

Marcus Books will be holding a hackathon on Saturday afternoon in San Francisco.

Donate directly to Marcus Books 

Filed under: Arts and Culture, Books, Civil Rights, Harry Belafonte, James Baldwin, Jazz, Malcolm X, new article, San Francisco News, , ,

Evolution of an Artist: Eugene E. White

Text of Evolution of an Artist:  San Francisco Appreciation Society Celebrates Eugene E. White, delivered at Elders Project 2013 Special Reception, African American Arts & Culture Complex, San Francisco, CA, July 11, 2013.

I have known of the artist Eugene E. White for decades, but it wasn’t until fairly recently, that I’ve come to know a little more about my fellow San Franciscan as a vital community member, with wisdom and experience to spare, and as a visionary artist. Humble heroes and heroines with rural roots, the people who raised families then sent them away from the South for better lives elsewhere, are the elders Eugene E. White honors in his work. Tonight, we honor the elder as artist.

Eugene E. White

Eugene E. White

From a boy in the backwoods of Arkansas, to a young man in the Cadillac factory of Detroit, Mr. White came to San Francisco in 1958 and made his way as a sign painter and electronics repairman.  He opened his Kujiona Gallery in 1963 and followed with a show in 1964, sponsored by Bulart in Golden Gate Park’s Hall of Flowers; from that start, fine art became his full time pursuit. Traveling across the country and over seas, seeing all the great changes of the 20th and 21st Centuries, he brought his artist’s insights home with him.  Yes, he’s known racism and participated in the fight for equality—and the artwork was part of that, whether at ’60s community meetings in his gallery, at the 1970s original Black Expo in Chicago, or as recently as this year’s Juneteenth festival in the Fillmore.  He also paints great figures from the past—Harriet Tubman and Frederick Douglass—and from his lifetime—Rosa Parks, Malcolm X, Dr. King, and President Obama: They are the portraits of progress. But another story runs alongside that narrative: Mr. White has seen his community and neighborhoods devastated and dismantled. Poverty, violence, and prison statistics grow grim, courtroom injustices roll by and voting rights are rolled back, and yet he doesn’t flinch from these facts.  He is an artist, and as such he holds a vision that we can change history from here—for the good and for the better—by coming together and writing a different script. That is in part why he agreed to show the paintings, so we could better see the here and now.

portion of A Song For My Lady

portion of A Song For My Lady by Eugene E. White

Mr. White has a calling, not only to paint, but to tell stories through images that help us better see everyday people—ourselves and each other—“the people without titles,” as he describes his subjects. When I came by to see him and his wife Lynnette late last year, it was as a journalist, to inquire about the paintings and the process, to find out what he’d been doing in the years since I first made his acquaintance. Of course he was painting, and had two commissioned portraits in progress, but he wasn’t publicly showing his work outside his own gallery—which is why tonight is a very special occasion. As we take time to admire the canvases and their images of beauty, resilience, and courage, let us also reflect on their maker’s message: Mr. White’s gift is a starting place for a dialogue on life, its sacrifices, and what can be done to improve circumstances, for ourselves and for those around us.  His success as an artist is a demonstration of his passion and dedication not only to art, but to the art of life. May this night inspire a young man or young woman in the room to pursue his or her dreams to pick up a brush or a pen and make art in San Francisco, to become our city’s next fine artist for the next 50 years.  We appreciate the White Family, for letting us into your lives; and especially Mr. White, who has made an indelible impression on our city:  The San Francisco Appreciation Society and those of us assembled here tonight wish to say thank you.

Eugene E. White receives commendation from City of San Francisco  Supervisor London Breed

Eugene E. White received commendation for his art and service to the City of San Francisco from Supervisor London Breed. Later in the evening, San Francisco Appreciation Society honored him with a Proclamation from Mayor Lee declaring July 11 Eugene E. White Day.

Filed under: Arts and Culture, Freedom Now, new article, , , , , , ,

We Take Care of Our Own: Mid-Career Musicians Facing Health Crisis

A benefit for producer Tom Mallon will be held in San Francisco on Sunday March 3.

A benefit for producer Tom Mallon will be held
in San Francisco on Sunday March 3.

Somewhere in the world tonight there will be a benefit held for a musician in need of relief.

According to a survey published by Rock & Rap Confidential there are over 1000 musician for musician healthcare benefits annually in the US.  “I suspect that number has increased,” says Rock & Rap’s resident advocate Lee Ballinger who compiled the stats a couple of years ago, while benefit concerts continue to be on the rise: Given the worldwide economic climate, the cost of individual insurance premiums in the US, and the number of requests my own household receives for participation in such events, it’s clear that grassroots fundraising in the name of healthcare is a reality of 21st Century American life.

And yet, community music events are just one puzzle piece in a complicated jigsaw of a healthcare plan, or more accurately a lack of one, currently impacting mid-career and older music folk now leaving us in epidemic proportions. Sure, we’ll all reach our time of dying, but a swath of a generation and entire class of mid-life professional taken out by illness and the financial burdens that accompany it? That’s the result of neglect rather than natural cause.

The impulse to care for our fellows is born from compassion and human nature, we’re all doing what we can, and the music community is especially proud that “We Take Care of Our Own.”  But some of us are at particularly high risk: Take the example of Paul Williams, the founder of the pre-Rolling Stone rock magazine Crawdaddy! wasting away in an assisted living facility following a long journey with early onset dementia. His wife, singer-songwriter Cindy Lee Berryhill supports him and their son during a now critical passage while subsisting on income derived largely from teaching music lessons. We take care of our own is nice in theory, but who is taking care of them, not one but two of us who gave their lives to rock’n’roll?

Since the birth of the blues, mortality rates for musicians have never looked good:  Rock is well-known to be a high-risk, life fast/die young profession. Toxically drunk and disorderly, small plane crashes, and ill-health brought on by lack of rest and road food are just some of the worst-case scenarios. A recent study  even made the link between fame, premature mortality and childhood trauma. But for every well-documented and woeful tale of what made Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, Kurt Cobain and Amy Winehouse go down, there are dozens more musicians whose problems are not those of wealth, fame, or unlimited access to pharmaceuticals.

The working musician who has managed to sustain a recording and performing career creating outside the mainstream spotlight lucky enough to reach mid-life is rock’s current unnecessary casualty. Traditionally, these musicians are in it for the long haul, the ones you dig deep to read up on, the innovators who rarely achieve super-fame, or even financial stability, but who are their profession’s workhorses and musician’s musicians. By mid-life, they are more accomplished than ever, but when illness strikes, it will not only sideline them temporarily, it may do enough damage to make sustaining their career as it was once known impossible. These working musicians are especially vulnerable not only due to age and lifestyle, but to the high cost of healthcare and changes in the music industry’s payment model and the toll it’s taking on a generation of favorites is starting to become noticeable. Not taking into consideration gospel, folk, blues, r&b, hip hop, international music and the disaster that struck New Orleans and its music people—in recent years, comeback legend Arthur Lee, songwriting giants Willy DeVille and Alex Chilton, super-rockers Ron Asheton, Sandy West, Buddy Miles and indie-adventurers,

Mark Linkous and Vic Chesnutt made their way to the great gig in the sky. Then there are the musicians whose names you may not recognize firsthand but a glance at your record collection reveals the losses:  Duane Jarvis, Amy Ferris, Michael Bannister, Tim Mooney, your friend, family member, band mate who was gone too soon—their name belongs here, too.  They are not the first generation to be dismissed: Think of what happened to a chunk of the first generation of rockers: Most of them faded into obscurity, penniless, their contracts bunk, their psyches destroyed and their spirits demoralized.

Though the circumstances and causes are as varied as cancer, heart attack and suicidal depression, these musicians were casualties of a healthcare infrastructure insufficient to support their special needs. Combine that with existent assistance agencies bogged down in bureaucracy, a fickle youth-obsessed market, diminished sales income from streaming, the price of gas on the road, the full catastrophe of life after 40 which often includes divorce, raising children while caring for aging parents, and you’re beginning to get a glimpse into the hot mess of the lives of the people who provide us with the so-called soundtracks to our lives. Sure, it’s arguable that some of these players may’ve survived their circumstances and respective illnesses—bodily and mental as the cases may be—if they had been given better information, had better managed their finances or simply had better genes or luck of the draw.  Perhaps it was simply their time. But I don’t buy easy answers and arguments to complicated questions.  Reminiscent of the AIDS epidemic that peaked in the early ‘90s and took out a generation of mid-life men, the conditions confronting mid-career, mid-level musicians is partly a consequence of no-one listening to the voices asserting that we have a crisis on our hands and there is not enough being done to correct it (and most certainly that crisis extends beyond the music communities and into the heart of America).

Foundations like MusiCares and Sweet Relief, two of the highest profile agencies music people of all ages turn to when they are in need of gap and emergency assistance, are overburdened. Last month, MusiCares, staged its annual pre-Grammy fundraiser at the Staples Center and according to Kristen Madsen, Sr. Vice President of MusiCares, “A majority of the net funds raised from the 2013 MusiCares Person of the Year Tribute to Bruce Springsteen will go directly to help music people in need.” I asked specifically how that breaks down but no answer was provided. As for Sweet Relief whom I did not contact, their website reports they are currently supporting direct campaigns to help the elderly Lester Chambers get on his feet, as well as with the healthcare needs of international music pioneer Cheb i Sabbah, among other artists. Both organizations are committed to doing good works, are well-intentioned and have helped countless musicians, though neither can be counted on to be the sole solution for families in crisis. I’m also sad to report that both entities are in need of a little of that human touch when interfacing with musicians and families faced with illness and financial ruin. Applying for assistance is confusing at the best of times, but for artists felled by illness and hospitalization, the filing of complex and binding financial statements can be not only an overwhelming, from a sickbed it is impossible task.

I speak from experience.  In 2009, my husband, Peter Case, was hospitalized for an emergency surgery and the music community rallied: First responders were fans, followed by fellow musicians who donated through a fan-conceived website. Benefits over three nights and in three different cities were organized and the money collected went directly to pay medical expenses due to our then lack of insurance and lost income from his cancelled tour dates and my need to care give. Assistance organizations were contacted and one reached out, but in the end, their contributions added up to a fraction of our total bill. The outstanding amount was covered by a faith-based charity: Though they shall remain anonymous, faith-based organizations merit mention not only as our saviors but because they too are stretched to their limits and need your help. In our case, it was a combination of all entities working together for a common goal, taking care of their own, but an eleventh hour reprieve is not a solid plan.

Universal health care would be the ultimate solution for working musicians. The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA or Obamacare) may be a way for individuals to reduce their costs. There are plenty of services out there, and if you know going in they are maxed out and not to expect much from them, they may be able to help. The services offered by MusiCares and their suggested outside resources are on their website as are assistance options compiled by Rock & Rap Confidential. “One way to connect and amplify the power of musicians is through 100,000 Poets and Musicians for Change,” suggests Rock &Rap’s Lee Ballinger. The organization promotes community among artists and is invested in highlighting events for peace and sustainability, including health care reform and the promotion of benefit concerts, a necessary ritual embedded into music culture as well as society at large.

The all-star benefit concert was a concept pioneered by the late Ravi Shankar and George Harrison when they organized the Concert for Bangladesh in 1971. Today, wherever in the world communities are devastated, people are hungry or in need of relief, musicians are there, like the ghost of Tom Joad, to put on a show, whatever the cause. From high ticket events, down to sliding scale, pass the hat donation-style shows, community musical gatherings raise not only necessary funds but spirits, especially in times when bystanders often feel helpless or in need of inspiration.  Until anyone has any better ideas, they will remain a large part of the solution to a larger systemic problem involving the cost of health care, especially diagnostic tests, and the hazards of the rock’n’roll lifestyle. It is also why this weekend in San Francisco, a hugely impressive role call of mid-career musicians will be coming home, reuniting and lending their support to Tom Mallon, recently diagnosed with a brain tumor. As a producer, engineer and musician in his own right, Mallon recorded San Francisco punk and alternative bands at low cost at his recording studio during the ‘80s and ‘90s; he was also a member of American Music Club. “In San Francisco, we take care of our own,” says musician and H.E.A.R. founder Kathy Peck an advocate for local musician’s health and welfare, and acknowledged for her work by Pete Townshend and Les Paul.

No doubt your local scene has its Tom Mallon or Kathy Peck—musicians and their advocates, able-bodied and disabled, the quiet shepherds and not-so quiet speakers of your community’s musical intentions.  Now is the time step up and help them and the musicians of their generation, of your generation, in your town and across the miles and help them meet their goals: It could be a large check from a made musician or industry-sponsored organization or simply a kind word, a prayer or a homemade card of acknowledgement. Because this and that and all of it put together is what it means when we say, “We Take Care of Our Own,” and the time to take care is right now, before they’re all gone.

This piece originally appeared on March 1 in BLURT

Filed under: new article, , , , ,

Stew and Heidi Rodewald, aka The Negro Problem, on Making It

Stew and Heidi Rodewald left Los Angeles for New York and Broadway where they found success with their coming-of-age musical, Passing Strange (now available as a Spike Lee Joint on DVD).  I spoke with them about their new album, Making It, and how their love got lost in the mix in the new issue of Blurt.

Filed under: Interview, new article, , , , ,

Tweet Tweet

Recent Posts

Browse by subject or theme