Friday, November 19, 2004

Old SF bands

For some reason I've been thinking a lot about the bands that I was really into not long after I moved to San Francisco. Despite some contentions otherwise SF has always had a vibrant music scene. For a long time SF was really only associated with the progressive House music movement and while we've produced a lot of kick ass DJs from Felix the Dog to Ellen Ferrato, my musical roots in SF extend to the vibrant alt-country movement that sprang up around 1996-98. There were some many good bands at the time and, you have to rememeber, the whole alt-country thing seemed unstoppable. Uncle Tupelo hadn't broken up yet and the sound those guys were making over in St. Louis really reverberated here. Some people called the alt-country movement artificial. Sure there's some truth to that, most of the singer songwriters back then didn't really have the kind of upbringing that gave them an authentic voice when it came to singing about the hardships of prison or what being a sharecropper did to your hands. But none of the good bands really posed that way. They simply took the music and made it applicable to their life, loves, heartbreaks and tendency to have a bit too much to drink. I've picked three bands that I dug up about 2 weeks ago to listen to. They're all bay area bands, 2 have broken up and 1 has moved the operation up to Oregon though I don't think they're producing music anymore. Here's what I got:

The Old Joe Clarks were anchored by husband and wife team Mike Coykendall and Jill McClelland-Coykendall. Mike was a pretty amazing songwriter. He wrote beautiful heartbreaking stories accented by harmonica, banjo, autoharp, clarinet, melodica and lap steel. They release two wondeful albums of lilting melodic Americana which can be bought HERE. Both are excellent but the first Town of Ten is really excellent. Taken from Town of Ten:

Breaking Ground

Granfaloon Bus lasted a bit longer. They made a weird conglomeration of eccentric pop and Americana. The songs are very good and I often think about Granfaloon Bus when I listen to critical darlings like Broken Social Scene and Apostle of Hustle. The Bus broke up in 2003 after ten rockin' good years. This is my favorite song of the album Good Funeral Weather. That album is hard to find but Exloded View (album the 2nd) can be bought HERE. Listen to the words, great writing:

I'm A Leaf

The final band may be the best of the bunch. The Buckets (and i've got no links, they've got no website and I can't find hide nor hare of the original record label Slow River Records, help me out if you've got info) were absolutely amazin live. The combined great songs that made you want to laugh, dance and drink all at the same time. They played a kind of barroom brand of alt-country that featured equally a love of beer and love of donuts. Every now and then they get together and play a show. It's always a great time. From their album The Buckets:



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