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Hanging around that Roots Rock scene

a golden-coast exclusive

Written by:  Hank Ten

Hanging around the San Francisco Roots Rock Scene

I'd been anticipating the Roots Rock album release party (Sunday, July 30th) for some weeks. But, after missing the Mother Hips rock show at Palookaville just the day before, I was insistent that I'd catch the Roots Rock gig and one of my new favorites, Dean Del Ray. I was in bad need of some guitar rock. I'd spent the previous week slaving away in Alviso, Ca. and had made plans with my co-worker Jon to meet at the gig.

So Sunday afternoon, after spending a hot & lazy morning in Saratoga, next to and in a black bottom pool, I returned to my foggy Richmond district home. True to the stereotype, the Richmond has been nothing but fog and tumbleweeds the last few weeks. Around 4pm, I hopped on my new road bike, a Specialized M4, and lit out for the cross town peddle. I rode up and over Baker Beast Hill and down onto the Presido and Marina Green weaving through the crowds along the Green. The Avon Breast Cancer walk was finishing there under partially cloudy, yet sunny blue SF skies. I made a mental note; here I am riding my expensive road bike along - getting some exercise, people are walking 60 miles to find a cure for breast cancer, and I'm off to drink beer and listen to independent roots rock acts slug it out in a quasi-family affair and BBQ in sleepy Potrero Hill. Wonderful San Francisco.

Pulling up at the Bottom of the Hill, I poked my sweaty head inside the dank nightclub for long enough to see Dean's time slot: 5:30 PM. Perfect. It was 10 after 5. So, I peddled the behemoth hill, Mississippi Street, over to 22nd. Street to retrieve my pickup truck (had left it at the train from Friday's commute) and change clothes.

Back inside the club, I ran into Jon as planned and ordered up a couple of Anchor Steams. Mover was just taking the stage-- setting up their guitars and amps and whatnot. So, Jon and I retreated to the backyard and soaked up the lingering afternoon sun.

The band started up and Jon macked a free BBQ meal as I slurped down pint #2. Mover, one of the City's several independent, roots rock acts, definitely attract a decent sized following - mostly, dressed in a cowboy/western hip, look and feel. We couldn't hear too well up on the back patio, but it sounded like they were playing some extended jam music. So, we sauntered in as they transitioned from an instrumental jam (a la the Doors) into 'Eight Miles High'. It was a bit rough, but we definitely appreciated what they were doing.

After Mover's set, another pint, and Pasta salad for Jon, DDR took the stage.They lit up their short set w/ the rollicking Mr. Guitar. Dean really excels at building up a song through quiet balladry into rollicking, raging guitar, drums, and keys. Mr. Guitar showcases this beautifully. Dean was clearly on for their mini set and was quite animated throughout. From Mr. Guitar, they went into another popular original, Damn. After Damn, Dean put down the guitar to belt out CCR's, Fortunate Son, a song perfectly suited for this band and Dean's vocals. They announced there was only time for one more, and offered up Make it Right. their recently released album's closing number. Jon had hoped for their new song, Transistor Radio, and when we pressed Dean afterwards, he commented, "You should've requested it! We would've played it!"

We hung for one more band. Forever Goldrush. They were a departure from Dean's more polished, commercial music and definitely fit the Roots Rock genre. With trucker's caps pulled down low, they looked like they'd fit in better in Sacto or Chico, but hey this was the Bottom of the Hill. They railed through a solid 5 song set, alt-country all the way.

Jon and I bailed at this point. I followed Jon as he biked back to his Mission district home. I needed to pick up a bike I'd left there, before his roommates decided to throw it out onto the sidewalk. His roommate Jim stoked us out on some vegetarian Cevice (avocado, onions, lime, tomatoes) and a taste of his wonderous homebrew.

Loaded the bike into the back of my pickup truck and railed the foggy avenues back to the Richmond pad and called it a weekend.

Dean Del Ray is playing with the Mother Hips Friday August 4 in Sacramento and Friday August 11 at the Sweetwater.


Golden-Coast Productions, 2000