music (506)

Great Day/Night Out in Bay Area – Zoe Fitzgerald Carter & Sugartown


I was on my way home Thursday after a great day “over the hill.” Early morning latte at Cafe Trieste in North Beach, then breakfast at Bette’s diner, Berkeley with bookpals Kevin & Elise, then across bridge again, go swimming in warm (for us, 60+ degrees) water in Aquatic Park cove, sauna at South End Rowing Club, then Irish coffee across street at Buena Vista cafe (hey, the place is so great, all the tourists don’t even spoil it), meet a fellow SFO native, we talk about the city we still love, and he buys my drink. Great dinner at Fiorella “neighborhood Italian” restaurant. THEN, I stop in at 19 Broadway bar in Fairfax on the way home and heard this incredible band — Sugartown, fronted by Zoe Fitzgerald Carter. And there were like 5 people in the bar. Couldn’t believe it, both the excellence of this band and the fact that no one was there. Sheesh!

If you’ve read this blog before, you may know I’m prone to over-enthusiasm, can’t help it.

That said, I think this is a world-class band, and as far as I can tell, undiscovered.

I had 3 shots of Jack Daniels while sitting at a table in front, only one other person there. Couldn’t believe my luck.

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Nadine – Chuck Berry

Recorded in 1963, just after Chuck got out of jail. Essence of rock and roll. Johnny Johnson (I would guess) on piano here. Johnny was a big and relatively little-known integral part of Chuck’s success. I saw Johnny in NYC some years ago. I closed my eyes when he was playing and saw shimmering diamonds. And yeah, I was stoned. So?

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“While My Guitar Gently Weeps” Prince, Tom Petty, Steve Winwood, Jeff Lynne

I just saw this for the first time, thanks to YouTube’s “Up Next” column. What a beautiful song. A young acoustic guitar player in the back, amongst all these superstars, looked just like George, and sure enough, it’s Dhani Harrison, according to the account of this magical musical moment.

I wasn’t prepared for Prince’s solo. Holy shit! And that disappearing guitar at the end. Kind of like Thelma and Louise floating off into the ether at the end of the movie.

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The Ace of Cups!

I somehow missed them back in the day. They were the “girl group” among the ’60s San Francisco bands. Their show at Sweetwater in Mill Valley on Thursday was awesome. Their new double CD album is a killer, impeccably produced, and with Taj Mahal, Bob Weir, Charlie Musselwhite, Jack Casady, David Grisman, and Jorma K. sitting in. Peter Coyote sings a great lead on one song. They write just about all their songs.

They never got their due recognition back in the ’60s, but listening to this brings me back to the Avalon, the Monterey Pop Festival, the wonderful feeling in San Francisco in the ’60s (before “The Summer of Love”).

There are kick-ass rock ‘n’ roll songs, beautiful ballads, Taj sings a short riff, “I don’t do what I outta, I just do what I do” (sounds about right), then the band kicks into a shit-kickin’ “On the Road,” with banjo and soaring fiddle.

It’s interesting that all the other SF groups — The Jefferson Airplane, the Dead, Quicksilver, Big Brother, Moby Grape, etc. — are long gone, and the girls have come rocketing back. If you were there then, trust me — you’ll love this album. (Order it from them and bypass Amazon.)

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