Josh Wilson

You heard it here first

The Year in Music 2008: New York steals San Francisco's thunder -- but who cares?
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The first time I noticed that my city of art and innovation was getting short shrift was when The New York Times started going on about "freak folk," Joanna Newsom, and Devendra Banhart and really, you know, getting rhapsodic about these baroquely retro space-folk flavors.

And somehow it never quite came up that these people are San Francisco people, and that their music is San Francisco music. I mean, yes, Banhart has a rep as being a bit of a drifter. Yes, Newsom is really from, you know, Nevada City ... Read more »

Screaming for vengeance

With The Locust Years, Hammers of Misfortune lean a heavy, hobnailed boot on the tender throat of commercial rock and take protest music to a new level
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It was the unquiet dead, whispering in the dark, who set John Cobbett on his path.

In December 2001, Cobbett — a longtime Mission District rocker and guitar hero with such notably heavy outfits as Slough Feg, Ludicra, and Hammers of Misfortune — was on the East Coast visiting his identical twin brother, Aaron, a photographer living in Brooklyn, just across the East River from the smoldering ruins of the World Trade Center.

"I visited the site. It was at night and freezing cold," Cobbett notes. Read more »

A sound proposition

Why don't we do it in public?
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There are huge, expensive, city-sponsored monuments to the arts lined up on Van Ness Avenue, opposite City Hall, and I've seen some of the best music in the world performed there.
The formidable San Francisco Symphony took a run at Igor Stravinsky's Rite of Spring at Davies Symphony Hall years back — a feat not dissimilar to juggling chainsaws while riding a unicycle along a plank over a pit of alligators — and pulled it off with both precision and gusto. And more recently, the San Francisco Opera made me, a lifelong doubter of wobbly-voiced wailing, an instant convert. Read more »