Parlour to Parlour

And so it goes. After taking a full year off to recover from 2009’s Parlour to Parlour journey, we are kicking off a second season of homegrown video interviews and intimate live performances.

Given that the first season was essentially the culmination of three years’ worth of explorations and experiences in various locales, the sense of urgency at the time to cough up as much as I could, so to speak, was pretty high in my mind. This season, however, is much different.

Fittingly, the genesis of Parlour to Parlour 2011 can be traced to the moments following the last scheduled shoot of the 2009 season. As you may recall from my notes regarding Episode 24, Steve Taylor had invited me to stick around for his birthday party, which commenced immediately after we wrapped. Most of those who showed up were also musicians, and a handful of them played sets in Steve’s basement after a long, drawn out period of eating some “special” cookies and wondering when the music was going to start.

During that long, drawn out period, I met some of the folks whose music I would soon come to know and love – I met them as people first, musicians second. Then the music started, and before I knew it, I had stepped into a community whose existence I hadn’t even known about, and it had been sitting right in my backyard for the entire five years during which I had been living in San Francisco.

From that point on, I found myself not just uncovering a tremendous music scene stretching from Oakland and Berkeley on into San Francisco, but meeting people who became new musical heroes, new sources of inspiration, and best of all, new friends. The Parlour to Parlour experience came back home where it started.

So the folks I’m profiling in this new series – which is now a monthly series in order to prevent burnout on my part and yours – are all-around inspiring people and musicians. They are the ones I see in my regular nights out, the people I hang with, the people who play in the venerable rock clubs, cafes, rooftops and backyards around the area. They are the people who, unbeknownst to many folks out there, are keeping the San Francisco tradition of community-based rock and folk music alive, and are always doing their part to make the place feel like home.

One might say that, in some ways, the idealism that thrived here in the 1960s and led to a musical and cultural sea change across the country, has returned to where it belongs – away from the destructive, exploitative, “over-exposed commercialized” (to borrow a phrase from George Harrison) torrent of opportunism that eventually turned on itself and led the music industry to its very collapse. Not that these folks wouldn’t welcome success beyond their wildest imaginations. But when one notices how one of the biggest success stories in this community has retained his sense of humility and remains openly supportive of the younger musicians in his adopted hometown who look up to him, it’s hard not to feel that the peace and love ethos that drives this music has found a way to prove its cynical detractors wrong. Yes, love is all you really need – all the peripheral comforts of life will come to you if your actions and intentions are driven by love.

And so, Parlour to Parlour 2011 is essentially my love letter to the San Francisco Bay Area music community that I call home. It also serves as these artists’ formal introductions to you, the Popdose audience. Furthermore, my hope is that it will inspire those in other parts of the country – and the world – to celebrate what makes their own communities so great, and to drive those who are feeling a lack of community in their own hometowns to rise up together and build that community. Or find a community somewhere else that’s looking for someone like you to make it feel a little more complete.

On the last Monday of this and each coming month throughout the year, you will meet and hear just a small sampling of the good people and the addictive soundtrack of the San Francisco Bay Area. There are far, far more than I could possibly cram into one year’s worth of video interviews, and whittling the list down to just twelve was not easy. But what you will see this year are the earliest threads I picked up when finding my way around the scene, some of my favorite artists to listen to, and acts who are all very much worth seeing if you’re ever in town.

Welcome back to the Parlour.