San Franciscans sometimes seem fonder and more aware of what the Bay Area attracts than of what it produces
PREVIEW In the era of Slow Food in the City of Fog, I wonder why more people don't slow down for a second and get out to taste some local music. Think about the last time you were willing to fork over more than a fiver for some local talent. Seriously. San Franciscans sometimes seem fonder and more aware of what the Bay Area attracts than of what it produces. Jimmy Sweetwater is out to change that. Sweetwater is the rare breed of promoter who is also a musician he plays a mean harmonica and a dirty washboard. He has been giving his all to keep his series of local music going in a town drawn to touring bands. Sweetwater, a historian of Mission District music from the past 20 years, has put on five shows at the Great American Music Hall, four at Slim's, and one at Cafe du Nord. According to Sweetwater, club staff has largely been supportive, but it's a struggle to fill venues in these times of financial woe. "There's a ton of local talent that never gets to play the big clubs," he says, noting that he tries "to combine different kinds of music in one night." All-local nights and combinations of different genres these aren't traditional strategies, but the Bay Area is the perfect place to unleash them.
This weekend sees a diverse Jimmy Sweetwater Presents lineup at the Red Devil Lounge, including the high-speed-Calexico-like Diego's Umbrella, honkeytonkers 77 El Deora, the East Bay's Ben Benkert, and the Mission Three, a group including Sweetwater that will play a number of tunes by the Band, even one of my favorite (and rarer) Band joints, "Acadian Driftwood." Sweetwater always seems to be doing a thousand things at once. It's all for the love of song in this songlike town.
JIMMY SWEETWATER PRESENTS: DIEGO'S UMBRELLA, BEN BENKERT, 77 EL DEORA, AND THE MISSION THREE Sat/25, 9 p.m., $10. Red Devil Lounge, 1695 Polk, SF. (415) 921-1695. www.myspace.com/jimmysweetwater