Music » Ear Bud

A New Home for East Bay Bands

An all-ages venue in San Lorenzo hopes to fill a void. Plus, a new web site builds momentum for local indie bands through video.

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Promoter Andrew Kutsenda of PinUp Productions books most of his shows in the South Bay, which, he says "has become a haven for music as of late." Yet many of the bands that play in San Jose are from the East Bay or the Peninsula.

So why are so many East Bay bands going down south? Kutsenda says it's because the East Bay club scene doesn't allow certain kinds of bands to perform. "I love the music coming out of there, but there's also been a strong backlash against it in the underground scene," he said. "If you don't play an acoustic guitar or have a keyboard, you can't make it in the East Bay scene. A lot of bands that have a breakdown or more poppy anthems can't make it."

That's why PinUp Productions, along with PinkSlip Productions, A Burning Hollywood Romance Clothing, and Arsenic Productions, collaborated to host East Bay shows at an all-ages venue in San Lorenzo called Ashland Hall (16490 Kent Ave.). Last year, Kutsenda and co. booked about a half-dozen shows at the 250-capacity rental hall, and most of the events sold out or almost sold out. "Kids just latched onto it," he said. "We gave a lot of those kids a place to play. ... We just hit a market that a lot of people hadn't really touched on."

The bands that Kutsenda says draw the largest crowds are Fighting the Villain (Fremont), Picture Me Broken (Redwood City), the Dialed (San Lorenzo), 5606 (San Jose), Dance My Heart (Dublin), and Hope for A.M. (SF). However, most of those bands are quite young and play a style of music that befits the Warped Tour — so venues that rely on alcohol sales, are 21-and-over, and start shows around 9 p.m. may find that booking such bands doesn't make a lot of financial sense.

Since the young bands (some with members in high school) attract a similarly young crowd, Kutsenda says that the promoters have purposefully created a "safe place" for kids to go. All the shows are all-ages, substance-free, and, said Kutsenda, mostly profanity-free. "That's what we've been pushing since day one." Accordingly, the shows start as early as 5 p.m.

Although the promoters stopped hosting shows there in December for recessionary reasons, they officially reopened it last Friday and are wholeheartedly renewing efforts to make it a thriving East Bay venue. For more info, go to MySpace.com/pinupproductionssj.

Video Saved the Indie Band?

There has certainly been no shortage of folks who decide to start blogs or online magazines devoted to local music. They come and go, some better than others, with the occasional one managing to make it past the three-year mark. Ryan Andersen, who founded the site OneNightMusic.com last year, believes his all-volunteer collective of contributors has the right infrastructure and momentum to keep things going well into the future. Most importantly, he's got the right format: video.

Like the popular French site Blogotheque.net, which films well-known bands performing on the streets, OneNightMusic.com focuses on an all-video format to showcase bands — in this case, mostly indie local ones in a cozy or informal setting. Since launching in February 2009, the site has grown to include about 32 contributors, including artists (to illustrate the band's profiles), videographers, audio engineers, writers, and others. Featured bands so far include Bird by Snow, Honeycomb, All My Pretty Ones, Rey Villalobos, and Mike Ballan, among others.

"We're not doing it because of the money," said Andersen, who's currently living up north but has plans to move to San Francisco shortly. "Lately, there's been a lot of energy around it. When you have a good thing, people appreciate it."

The idea for OneNightMusic.com started in Santa Barbara, where Andersen attended college, in the winter of 2008. He had already been recording his friends' bands in his home studio; his twin brother Ian was a web designer and friend Elia had a video camera. The idea of filming local artists and putting the videos online seemed like a no-brainer. Shortly thereafter, "everyone pretty much moved to San Francisco," said Andersen, which prompted the site to relocate its home base here, too.

Initially, Andersen said they had to put out queries to get bands to record and would film anyone they could; now, they've got more booking inquiries than they can handle. To boot, there are certain artists, like Devil Makes Three, that they're still pursuing. "It's a good problem to have," he said.

The site publishes one video per week. Andersen said his plans for 2010 include diversifying their programming and incorporating local youth media organizations to supply their own content. He wants to keep the focus local and independent, but also keep an open-door policy in terms of content and contributors. Upcoming videos will feature Felonious, the Devotionals, Michael Musika, former SF poet laureate Jack Hirshman, and Buckeye Knoll.

To get booked on One Night Music or to find out how you can contribute, go to OneNightMusic.com/about/recording.php

Miscellaneous Debris

The video game Green Day: Rock Band launches June 8 and will cost $59.99. ... San Francisco's Sleepy Sun will release a new album, Fever, on June 1 on ATP, and plays at the Rickshaw Stop on April 24. ... Cam'Ron has a new track sampling Epic Beard Man. ... The Mother Hips will host its second annual Mother Hips Family Hipnic at Fernwood Resort in Big Sur on April 30 and May 1. Performers include Dawes, Little Wings, Jackie Green, Parson Red Heads, Sparrows Gate, Neal Casal, Farmer Dave, as well as the Mother Hips (who headline both days). For more info: FolkYeah.com.

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