Sunday, February 25, 2007

Friday evening I walked the city, San Francisco is known for its’ hills but its really an accessible city on foot. One of the best things about walking the City is that within short distances you can transverse through different neighborhoods with completely different feels. I started at the Embarcedero Bart downtown, walking West on Sutter Street. From downtown to Van Ness, up Sutter Street is a good choice, the street is a pleasant walk with galleries and shops. While not as scenic as California St. it doesn't have the hills and isn't as funky as Geary.

From Sutter to Polk Street, one of the most gentrified Streets in the City. Still with an edge but nothing compared to the old days 1980's. Onward to North Beach, my path wasn't direct but it was good exercise.

Traditionally an Italian neighborhood knowns for it cafes and Beat Poetry scene North Beach is now tourist central. Columbus St. was teeming with restaurateurs, and outdoor heat lamps and tables sharing the sidewalk, just walking a block takes an amount of patience and skill.

My destination for the evening was Jazz at Pearls, a North Beach jazz club.
Jazz at Pearls has many positive, the club is stylish with an intimate feel and wonderful acoustics. The negatives, the drinks are sky high to the point that Pearls isn’t a place I can regularly visit as a local spot to hear music. Also there is a cover every night with and a two drink minimum (no credit cards accepted) Pearls burns a hole in my humble pockets. I wished they had a locals' discount (Mon - Wed) or rush something!! Help!!

At Pearls, Howard Wiley and the Angola Project was performing. Wiley is a local artist who is currently an Artist in Residence Residence at Intersection for the Arts for the Arts. A local multiple discipline alternative arts organization, the oldest, in San Francisco.

The program began with a discussion by Daniel Atkinson providing a foundation for themes that inspired Wiley's compositions. Daniel Atkinson was conducting research in Louisiana at Angola Prison collecting prison songs. What he found during his research was the songs haven't changed substantially from the recording contained in Angola Prison Spirituals, the Arhoolie compilation of recordings. The themes and melodic motion are simular. Angola Prison is known for it's isolation a prison where most prisoners do not leave. Daniel Atkinson exposed Wiley to this music and the catalyst for the Angola Project was lit

Wiley music works to captures various aspects on African-American culture; you can hear spirituals, New Orleans Dixieland rhythms, the suffering of imprisonment and the celebration of life. The set was really hot....it was Mr. Wiley birthday and I felt we were getting a birthday treat. The musicians were tight everyone was playing with energy and passion. The trombone and trumpet players solos really moved the crowd.
I appreciated seeing/hearing women musicians two in the band, violin players. His group was string heavy with two base violin players. One of my personal frustrations is the lack of woman musicians in almost every genre of music. I'm hoping to get another opportunity to hear the Angola Project and other works by Howard Wiley in the future.

Pearls doesn't serve food and I was starving like Marvin after the show. Fortunately we were surrounded by restaurants and grabbed a late meal at the House of Nanking
located on the edge of China Town and North Beach it's a popular hole in the wall.
I'm not a Chinese cuisine connoisseur but I was satisfied. It was a satifisfying Friday evening.


Friday, February 09, 2007

When I started working on my blog my goal was to create an environment that would encourage me to write weekly. Not just cryptic emails sentences but paragraphs, something other than work babble. My 9 to 5 is computer support which usually doesn’t require much writing a day-to-day. But my blog entries stopped in September 2006 and I haven’t written since. Why? Well, part of the problem is related to my job’s 1 ½ hour commute each way. When I get home my time is limited plus I’m tired; at work I’m much too busy to write. I’m lucky if I have time to review my emails. Well it’s 2007 and now I have a new approach. Why not use my commute time to work on my posts. At least the draft could be completed by the time I get home. I don’t drive, using public transit BART provides me with free finger time and a laptop gives me the medium. Let’s see how this new approach goes.

Now if I can make the time to redesign my blog site --- oh well one goal at a time. There’s a lot to write about but I’m not going to attempt a recap all the events I’ve checked out in the last 5 months. However, I would like to mention 365 Day Project which is happening throughout the United States including the Bay Area.

The 365 Days/ 365 Play Project was developed by Pulitzer winning playwright Suzan-Lori Parks. In 2002 she decided to write one play a day. The series of plays are now being performed in the Bay Area different venues weekly. The programs present one week of plays per event, the plays are free, some theatre groups ask for donations but most don’t. Also, the plays are being presented in different methods. One group presented its’ week of plays as radio works another as short films. Beyond seeing Parks’ work going to the programs provides an avenue for introduction to different artist groups.


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