essay Archive

SF Music History: CCR at the Fillmore West, July 1971

On the Fourth of July in 1971, the Fillmore West closed for good. The celebrated San Francisco music venue ended its nearly three-year run under the management of Bay Area concert promotion impresario Bill Graham with a series of historic and locally focused shows. The original Fillmore, at the corner of Fillmore Street and Geary

Music to Your Ears: Jim Fielder

You might not know Jim Fielder’s name, but it’s very likely you’ve heard him play. A key fixture of popular music beginning in the late 1960s, he lent his expert, expressive bass and guitar work to recordings and live performances by important artists both underground and popular. As a member of unclassifiable art-pop artist Tim

SF Music History: The Sex Pistols at Winterland, January 14, 1978

Danny Boyle’s new FX miniseries Pistol has brought legendary punk rock group the Sex Pistols back into the public’s mindset. But in terms of the band’s importance and influence, they never really left. Formed in 1975, the Sex Pistols didn’t invent punk; NYC’s Television and the Ramones were among a coterie of groups making brash,

Music to Your Ears: ELP’s ‘Trilogy’

One of progressive rock’s leading lights as well as one of its first supergroups, Emerson Lake & Palmer exploded onto the music scene with “Lucky Man,” the hit single from their self-titled debut album. Featuring the virtuoso keyboard work of pianist Keith Emerson, the group also pioneered use of the Moog synthesizer, a then-new instrument

Thoughts for the Day

Today’s house cleaning day, and my partner is busy with other worthy pursuits. So I’m happy to putter around the house, tidy and clean, and enjoy an edible. Thanks to that and a general weekend freeing-of-the-mind, I have some thoughts. Thought #1: Those of us who appreciate the sub-subgenre known as krautrock might occasionally think

A Celebration of Keith Allison

This last Sunday (April 3, 2022) marked the occasion of a lovely celebration of the life of Keith Allison. His stunningly lengthy list of credits includes: star of Where the Action Is, bassist and songwriter in Paul Revere and the Raiders, guitarist in the (post-Buddy) Crickets, actor in the Bee Gees’ Sgt. Pepper movie, solo

March Through Time: Frank Zappa

Even before his untimely death in the 1990s, Frank Zappa’s body of work was staggeringly large. And it was certainly intimidating to the novitiate: Where to start, especially in light of the fact that Zappa’s music changed wildly throughout his career? Rather than attempt the unwieldy task of discussing all of his releases up through

March Through Time: Yes

I love Yes. The progressive rock brand has a distinctive style that has served it well for more than a half-century. I’ve been lucky enough to see the group live onstage a few times, and I’ve interviewed no less than eight of its musicians (some more than once). Their career has had its ups and

March Through Time: XTC

When one thinks of artists who earn well-deserved critical plaudits again and again, all the while selling records in diminishing numbers, XTC comes immediately to mind. As is so often the case from my personal perspective, the band’s middle period is its best, with the early and later material less compelling. But it’s all worth

March Through Time: The Who

It’s quite easy to overlook the fact, but considering only studio releases of new material, The who released a mere twelve albums in the period 1965-2019. True, many say that The Who were best experienced live, and while there’s much in favor of that argument, the band always took its studio project very seriously. Here’s