An ongoing series unearthing some of San Francisco’s best kept secrets

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     Wednesday 2/12/03
     A Mecca of music halls and venues spot San Francisco, some boroughs harboring more than the next.
     Under the neon guard of Clement Street, against an army of cheap cultural eateries and $4 hair salons stands the Last Day Saloon. In its prime, legendary artists such as Dr. John and the Funky Meters once adorned these halls. Now, a variety of local bands hold court seven nights a week, against the grim and stale stage that begs for life.
     Tonight, we welcome Ed Ivey’s Horn Dogs. Ed Ivey (tuba, trumpet and baritone horn), Jay Sanders (trumpet), Scott Larson (trombone), Paulo Baldy (drums), Byron Rines (fender telecaster) and Emiliano Juarez (fender stratocaster) stand like soldiers ready to deliver a more than satisfactory performance.
     Hailing from such local jazz projects as Brass Monkey and Marcus Shelby Big Band, Ed Ivey’s Horn Dogs provide an instrumental backwoods brew of funk and rock the burrows itself deeply into a bluesy southern treat, a la B.B. King. The band seizes every moment, despite the size of the sparse crowd, displaying a true mark of superior musicianship.
     In their hour set, Ed Ivey’s Horn Dog’s prance between pink panther-esque riffs, booty slappin’ bass lines, futurama funk and Mardi Gras marching music, showing by example that musicians truly play for the love first, money to follow there after. Prepare ones self for a pleasing audible adventure into the land of Ed Ivey’s Horndogs.
     If you like: Jimmy Hendricks, Rebirth Brass Band, or James Brown
     Try: Ed Ivey’s Horn Dogs

     Thursday 2/20/03
     As a teenager, attending high school in a remote area of New Hampshire, the constant lack of activities for underage folks slowly but surely plagued us all. Boredom became inherent and I eagerly awaited my eighteenth, then twenty-first birthday, a time during which I could finally be old enough to go to any concert I near desired.
     Often in desperation, our young crew would journey six to twelve hours to New York, Philadelphia and Rhode Island to see A.F.I, Ani DiFranco, Young M.C. or Rancid, rumored to be playing an underage show. As I prepare to greet my thirties, I take for granted the ease in which I can meander about the town, floating into and out of any venue I’d like, remembering that it wasn’t always like that.
     Notorious for it’s sold out rock shows, the all ages venue, Slim’s, showed its hip hop tendencies yet again to celebrate the album release party for famed Bay Area hip hop duo, Zioni. A medley of local artists; Goapele, Pep Love, Sake One and Triple Threat’s VinRoc added to the already compelling event. But Boston natives, Crown City Rockers kindly warmed the stage for the evening’s show.
     Walking down similar rhythmic paths as their hip hop predecessors; bassist Ethan “Headnodic” Parsonage, drummer Max McVeety, and rhodes / keyboardist Kat “the hypest b-girl” Ouano, manifest a contagious and continuous supply of sticky and slick bass lines, feverishly smooth drums with atmospherically compelling keyboards and loops.
     Lyrically conscious front men, M.C.’s Raashan Ahmad Morris and Pete “Woodstock” Alvarado, lovingly embellish the musical masterpiece with dashing panache. The two keep the ears at attention and the body tenderly in tune as they work the crowd with tales of urban folk, oppositions to the war at hand, homage to hip hop and, in one case, M.C. Rashaan’s upcoming baby son. Similar to Shotgun Wedding Quintet, the groups attributions and approach to hip hop undoes the monotony of the stereotypical images we hear and see commercially.
     “What image?” said Headnodic. “We never put any thought into a certain ‘image’ for our band. We just show up [to the show] wearing the same clothes we’ve worn that day.” Approachable and friendly, it is obvious that Crown City Rockers wear their hearts on their sleeves. Their pure passion seeps out into every head nod, lyric, freestyle, break beat, solo, body twisting, boombap moment: a crown city cocktail that will last long after the last gin and tonic goes down.
     Thursday night, as I stood unassuming in the sea of teenage and adult bodies that crowded the dance floor like Tetris game pieces, the sentiment set in, how fortunate these teenagers really are. I used to have to travel miles on end to catch a good show like this when I was a kid.
     If you like: Digable Planets, Biz Markie, Tribe Called Quest
     Try: Crown City Rockers