Sunday, February 25, 2007
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.