These include McLaren Park, the Civic Center, Mission Dolores Park, Union Square, Justin Herman Plaza, the Marina Green, and Washington Square. In Golden Gate Park the Hardly Strictly Bluegrass Festival has sprawled magnificently across the Speedway, Marx, and Lindley meadows; both Reggae and Opera in the Park regularly occupy Sharon Meadow; and the band shell, a.k.a. Spreckel's Temple of Music, is also back in action after being closed for three years during the de Young reconstruction.
"The band shell is open to any group that wants to perform there," Lee said, and that's a great place to start.
Get city backing for a pilot program and set up a spring-to-fall season similar to that of the Golden Gate Park Band, whose musicians are volunteers. Shoot for radical diversity in the booking to get a true cross section of the city's ethnic, cultural, contemporary, and historic musical palette. Schedule performances opportunistically: during lunch hours downtown, at 2 p.m. on a sunny Saturday in the park. Stage local music showcases on weekends or holidays for full afternoons of free music. Pick the lively bands for fog season so folks have a reason to jump around. Switch venues each week to keep the NIMBYs off balance. And remember that commercial radio stations would have to pay the commercial user fee of $5,000 if they want to get in on the game. This will keep things focused on the grassroots.
We must create an expectation for this kind of low-cost local arts subsidy. It’s true that music and culture thrive like weeds in the cracked cement of oppression. But keep in mind that $26,000 for a year of venue-user fees for local music is 3.25 percent of the symphony's government subsidy. The city can take an unprecedented step in support of genuinely accessible, relevant arts programming. At a time of gutted arts funding around California and the nation, San Francisco could set an example for pragmatic, affordable, nonelitist, human-scale public arts for the entire community.
The only thing stopping us is cultural elitism, NIMBYs, and acres of bureaucracy. Piece o' cake! SFBG
JOSH WILSON'S TOP 10
•Project Soundwave’s experimental, participatory music showcase
•Godwaffle Noise Pancakes at ArtSF and beyond
•Resipiscent Records release party, Hotel Utah, Oct. 20
•Sumatran Folk Cinema and Ghosts of Isan, presented by Sublime Frequencies at Artists' Television Access, July 14
•William Parker Quartet, Yoshi's, May 24. Jazz wants to be free!
•Experimental music showcases staged weekly at 21Grand
•Deerhoof! Castro Theatre, April 27
•Gong Family Unconvention, the Melkweg, Amsterdam, Nov. 3–<\d>5, featuring Steve Hillage playing his first rock guitar solo since 1979, Acid Mothers Temple with the Ruins guesting on drum ’n' bass, and local guitar superstar Josh Pollock invoking the spirit of Sonny Sharrock with Daevid Allen's University of Errors (a truly explosive combo including ex-local DJ Michael Clare)
•Hawkwind, the same weekend as the Gong Uncon, in nearby Haarlem, full on with alien dancers, lasers in the stage fog, and Dave Brock announcing the encore: "If fuckin' Lemmy kin play 'Silver Machine,' we kin fuckin' play 'Motörhead'!"
•Noncorporate radio in San Francisco: KUSF, KPOO, Western Addition Radio, Pirate Cat
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