Info from the Streets of the Bay Area
This month brings us once again to holidays
and graying skies, to gatherings of friends and strangers who may become
friends. The decorations that caused us to shake our heads when they went
up for sale in mid-October are now reaching our living rooms. We may listen
just a little bit closer to one another for clues to make our choice of
gifts, and our celebration for the season makes our day to day existence
a bit more special as we are slowly but surely drawn into the winter world
of bright shiny things begging for our attention.
Everyday city sounds and local performers
are alive and well. From Salvation Army bells and cable car ringers to
the annual all night sing along at Grace Cathedral, we are brought into
the season. High School bands and orchestras come out to play for tree
lightings and assorted choirs of melodic angels pop up in the most unlikely
of venues, elevating our mood and motivating tired feet to press on through
the hustle and bustle that is holiday shopping. Thankfully not all music
is garland and angel focused. The refreshing sounds of our highly creative
city beg you to include:
From the coffeehouse scene to folk festival
mainstream, be on the lookout for Danya River. Only recently arrived
from Boulder Colorado, this 21 year-old singer was, in my opinion, probably
too talented to stay in her mountain homeland and headed for the “even-more-artist-friendly-city"
by the bay.
She will delight San Franciscans with her
slow and sensuously earthy lyrics paired with a smooth creamy voice that
flows easily over our fast paced urban minds.
Her self produced CD: Within/Without
has already received acclaim from Cdbaby.com, Femmusic and the Rocky Mountain
Folk Festival Singer-Songwriter Showcase: “Wonderfully Inventive. She has
a fluid and gorgeous facility with language that can be dense, uplifting,
startling and incredibly evocative.” is the description given by Singer
Songwriter, Roseanne Cash.
Wrapped in a rhythm much like the fog rolling
in from the coast, “San Francisco” is a melodic assembly of impressions
of our city. With fresh and wondrous eyes Danya gives her perspective of
our beautiful cradled city by the bay. Listening to her slow and
melodious notice of our rolling hills and Victorian architecture, it would
be easy to miss the quasi-humorous lyrics hiding behind the soft surface.
She refers to “online people (who) can't find parking" and
visits the "Lord in leopard and lace who gives us red wine and lets
us crash at his place”.
If “Infuse Your Blues” twists and
winds around its lyrics, perhaps too closely musically resembling
Jewel's “Who Will Save Your Soul”, she recovers with the original
and hauntingly lovely “Seneca”. Showing us her range with light jazz riffs
and artful scat, Danya breaks slightly away from the continuity of this
collection to find a Maria Muldar-esque syncopation in “My Hands”. She
then draws our focus into the theme of desire with “Don't Draw The Shades”
and “Dear Friend”. The former speaking to the desire to know the secret
chambers of a lover's heart while the latter is an adoring tribute to that
special someone who is both passionate lover and friend throughout the
In this holiday season of everything forcefully
vying for your attention, Danya cajoles rather than demands. It's good
background music while you are at work and if you have a will to be mellow
and a chance to sip a cup of java, this is the CD to have on a Sunday Morning.
Her CD feels like a massage for the mind.
Within/Without is currently available
only by the artist at all of her live performances, so get out there! www.danyariver.com
Fog City Brass
The aptly named Fog City Brass is a delightful
quintet with a pleasingly mellow sound in the midst of tinkling, treble
happy plinking of Holiday performances. While I love the bells, triangles
and dulcimer as much as the next person raised on the season's sound, my
ear was caught by the warm sound of this quintet's French horn, trombone,
two trumpets, and a tuba.
In addition to traditional and obscure
holiday pieces performed for the season, their large repertoire includes
arrangements of pieces by Bach, Debussy and Scott Joplin as well as original
material by Walter Ross, Leonard Bernstein and Victor Ewald.
I found their three song demo compelling
and I wished they had burned more tracks. Their live performance makes
you want to bundle up, grab a hot chocolate and listen. This newly formed
group is testing the waters this winter and has yet to release a CD, but
they will be making a more extensive demo that will be available during
their live shows. Make it a point to catch this one if you're out holiday
shopping. (no URL available) Contact them at: email@example.com.
Fabulous Storytelling Series
What a treat for San Franciscans that David
Ponkey is performing this month! Multi-cultural folk tales from around
the world are brought to life by this master tale-teller in a special free
series presented every Monday this month from 3-6pm at The Cannery. Children
and adults alike are spellbound by various characters who take them to
far away lands, through times all but forgotten.
Recall your Uncle Joe or your mother-in-law
who, every year at the Thanksgiving table goes on and on and won't stop!
Obviously, not everyone can tell a story like the masterful Mr. Ponkey.
Oral storytelling is fast becoming a lost
art form. In this day of DVD’s and the VR of game cubes, our imagining
is generally done for us. We are passive participants and our children
are falling further and further from creating within and with their own
Storytelling is live theatre – it requires
your presence and a willingness to suspend disbelief for a moment.
Storytelling gives us all a chance to add
to our own lives the color and texture of the lives and lands of others,
through our own construct and ideals.
A skilled storyteller guides you to the
land but it is you, the listener, who transports yourself into it and fills
its rich landscape with your own imagination.
David Ponkey is a local treasure known
to the many children and adults who have been lucky enough to enjoy his
He is teller-in-residence for the Mill Valley Parks & Recreation Department
as well as a member of the Asian Art Museum Storytelling Corps, and is
currently on the board of the Storytelling Association of Alta California.
This December series is not to be missed. Contact David through Bancroft
All of the mentioned performers will be
performing this December at The Cannery- www.thecannery.com/entertainment/music.html.
All performances at The Cannery are FREE to the public and will be held
outdoors (weather permitting), so bundle up.