Wordless Wednesday: SQUARED (Hayes Valley, San Francisco)

Squared, Hayes Valley, San Francisco

SQUARED by Charles Gadeken, a 50-foot LED-and-metal sculpture currently on display at Patricia’s Green in the Hayes Valley neighborhood of San Francisco.

Wordless Wednesday: Mussel Rock

Mussel Rock

An evocative spot at Mussel Rock Park, which is along the Pacific Ocean south of San Francisco.

I used to stop here periodically eight years ago when I worked at Digidesign/Avid but hadn’t been back in a long time until a couple of weeks ago.

Outsound New Music Summit: Rubber City and Ralph Carney Memorial Octet

Last Thursday night at the Outsound New Music Summit, musicians and music lovers came together to celebrate the life and legacy of one of our own, Ralph Carney.  He was a fixture of the Bay Area new-music scene who could be spotted performing in many groups and venues, and he also enjoyed success and notoriety in popular music with Tom Waits, the B-52s, and others.  He is also one of the most infamously colorful characters in the scene.  He passed away suddenly at the end of 2017 in an accident, leaving many both shocked and saddened.  This tribute concert featured a performance by Rubber City, of which Ralph was a member, and a memorial ensemble featuring local musicians who performed his compositions.

In the week leading up the concert, we had the chance to speak with David Slusser of Rubber City and Phillip Greenlief, who arranged Carney’s music for the memorial ensemble.  You can hear from them in these videos.

Rubber City opened the evening with a rendition of Beautiful Ohio, sounding much like they did in the video.  It was a fitting opening as Slusser, Carney, and drummer Chris Ackerman were all Ohio expatriates.  They were joined by bassist Richard Saunders and reedist Sheldon Brown.

The second piece, a rather bluesy tune, also evoked their Ohio origins and gave Saunders and Brown a chance to shine in solos.  The next was much darker and more atonal/arhythmic in nature but still had a very playful quality to it.  Another featured Slusser and Brown both playing soprano saxophone at the same time, a rare combination!  For the last piece, they set aside the saxophones for bass clarinet and flute.

David Slusser on flute

Even during moments of seriousness, there was a lot of fun and energy in the music, which was fitting for the artists on stage as well as the one they were paying tribute to.  It was a tremendous performance overall, and one I am not likely to hear repeated soon.

Slusser, Brown, and Saunders returned in the second set for the memorial “octet” that actually had nine members.  They were joined by Phillip Greenlief and Rent Romus on saxophones, Suki O’kane on drums, Myles Boisen on guitar, and Karina Denike and Michael McIntosh from Carney’s “Serious Jass Project.”  The performance was dominated by the horns in what I dubbed the “wall of saxophone.”

Wall of saxophone

The group began on a somber note with Carney’s Lament for Charleston, written shortly after the massacre at the Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, South Carolina in 2015.  But even this dark piece had exuberance and could not fully contain the energy of the large group.  From there, they continued on a rollicking trip through Carney’s compositions, including his oddball marches and an old-timey song about driving down Sunset Boulevard in Los Angeles that was sung by Greenlief with great effect.

In keeping with Ralph Carney’s wide-ranging musical interests, there were a number of vintage jazz-style and mid-century tunes complete with swaying horn-section choreography.  Karina Denike’s singing and vintage presentation added to the overall effect and classic style of the performance.

Many of us were simply caught up in the joy of the music and the celebration.  Upon reflection, one realizes how different this was from the typical Outsound set with its references to swing, bebop, and early rock-and-roll.  But there is absolutely nothing wrong with that – I have long professed that “new” and “experimental” musicians should not feature traditional idioms and structures in their music.  This was an unequivocally great show, and the fact that it was on the Outsound stage was all the better.

Both bands played to a full and very appreciative house.  Throughout the evening, on stage and in the audience, people shared their memories of seeing Ralph play or performing with him, and how much he is missed.   I am confident that he would have loved our musical tribute and celebration, though he probably would have expressed his appreciation in an appropriately dry and confounding way.

Wordless Wednesday CatSynth Pic: Mother-32

Wordless Wednesday: Sutro Baths Ruins at Lands End

The ruins of the Sutro Baths at Lands End on the western edge of San Francisco.

Quite a few of our recent Wordless Wednesdays have focused on the western parts of the city.  Here are some previous posts:

Wordless Wednesday: Orizaba

Wordless Wednesday: Lake Merced Abstraction

Wordless Wednesday: Windmill (Golden Gate Park)

In addition, there is our video and article about Lake Merced.

CatSynth Pic: Luna and Keyboards

Beautiful black cat Luna strikes a “noir” pose atop one keyboard and next to another.  Submitted by Matthew Vasquez via our Facebook page.  I really like the way the stripes of light play against the keyboards, which in turn heighten the black cat’s figure.

This is Luna is not our Luna, but looks so much like her!  You can read our more recent tribute to the late great Luna of CatSynth here.

Identification of the synths/keyboards left as an exercise to the reader.

Wordless Wednesday: Orizaba

South on Orizaba Ave

Looking south on Orizaba Avenue in southwestern San Francisco from Lakeview and Ashton Mini Park.  You can read more about our visit to this spot in this article.

Lakeview and Ashton Mini Park, San Francisco

Many years ago, I noticed a small rock that appeared to be in the middle of the street at the top of a hill in the Ingleside neighborhood of San Francisco.  I also noticed it a few times while traveling on BART.  Turns out it is, in fact, an official San Francisco Park, the Lakeview and Ashton Mini Park.


[Click to enlarge]

It really is just a speck of undeveloped land on the crest of a hill in the middle of Ingleside, a largely residential neighborhood wedged between I-280 and CA 1 (19th Avenue).

From the official San Francisco Parks guide:

This rocky outcrop is part of a ridge of sandstone in the Merced and Ingleside Heights neighborhoods. While the park is very small, its grassy and rocky slopes are home to a variety of native plant species, including buckwheat, dudleya, farewell-to-spring, coast onion, and soap plant. This diversity of plants means there are flowers in bloom at Lakeview/Ashton Mini Park through most of the spring and summer. This wide window of flower availability provides a crucial long-term food source for many local butterflies and other insects. In 2003, a locally rare arboreal salamander was found hiding amongst the rocks. This relatively large brown salamander, four inches long when mature, has a whitish belly that in juveniles is darker and covered with light-blue spots. Arboreal salamanders have tails that are well adapted for grasping branches to help climb trees.

A couple of weeks ago, I decided to go check finally it out up close.  I made my way up the steep incline of Orizaba Avenue to the park, which also marks the ends of Shields and Lakeview Streets.

Orizaba Ave and Shields Street

As I had recalled from when I first noticed it, the park is dominated by a large mound of rock surrounded by tall scrub grass.  But there is a path through the grass to the top of the rock.

Path in Lakeview and Ashton Mini Park

And from the top of this rock is a fantastic and perhaps underappreciated view of the southwestern section of San Francisco.  Looking north along Orizaba, we see a wide swath of western San Francisco, including Forest Hill, Golden Gate Heights, and Mount Davidson (the highest natural point in the city).  We also see the iconic Sutro Tower peeking out from behind.

Looking northward

Looking south, we see the Ingleside and Sunnyside neighborhoods, bisected by I-280 and BART.  Beyond are the hills of Daly City and San Bruno mountain.

Looking South

The Pacific Ocean is visible in the distance to the west.  Closer by within Ingleside is another, larger park, with a copse of trees on top.

I did not visit the other park on this day.

This was a lovely spot, and I lingered there for quite a while despite the chill in the air.  It was, however, not entirely immune from the current problems of San Francisco, with a few signs of recent homeless and drug-use activity.  But overall, it was clean and quiet.  I will come back when I find myself in the vicinity again.

The western neighborhoods of the city still have a lot of secrets to offer, and I am eager to discover them.

 

Wordless Wednesday: Lake Merced Abstraction

Lake Merced

Lake Merced in the southwest corner of San Francisco.  Hipstamatic photo with a multi-exposure lens.

Wordless Wednesday: Washington Mews, New York

View north from Washington Mews, a small alley near Washington Square Park in Manhattan.  I liked the juxtaposition of building shapes and styles.

Every so often I worry I’m posting the same picture twice.  This was one of those times 😸