BLUF: I have five shows in March and five more in April, although my plan for Earthwise Productions of Palo Alto, in the second year of its second 25, is two shows per month at The Mitch. Mother Hips, Mother Hips, Parlour Game, CJ Chenier, Akira Tana Otonowa, Laura Veirs, Amendola VS Blades, Trance Mission, Wayne Horvitz, Myra Melford Snowy Egret, Marcus Shelby.
Allison Miller, shown with Earthwise founder Mark Weiss in October, 2018, returns to The Mitch with Jenny Scheinman and Parlour Game, Monday March 16
I also got a call from an agent who wants his client to be “first hold” April First for an act whose big song has 47 million views, no fooling.
Also: I am sort of like LD in that I freelanced at the ad agency he was at before his rap career took off; but I live by the concepts that he mocks in his “We love the Earth/It is our planet” video, seen by 200 million.
You know, Wired had a story, not sure if they were kidding, that claimed that if you are an American and you run for public office, the Russians have definitely hacked your phone. So sometimes — beyond my general befuddlement with smartphones and email and the proliferation of semiconductors — and the fact that Apple deliberately changes the ground and upgrades something such that it looks different out of the blue instead of my preferred mindset which would be to build up a familiarity — although in some ways, and I just got into this yesterday with the daughter of a prospective client or partner, a singing octogenarian and former college professor from Texas, and his daughter an astrophysicist PhD at Stanford — the redshifting of the universe — meaning we are not just moving thru time but it is moving thru us at the same time — I wonder if the little fuckery in my writings are someone deliberately trying to disrupt. (And I’ve never used “fuckery” as a word but saw it in an interview the other day with an artist, I think it was Brittany Parks pka Sudan Archives…)
If it’s not the Russians, it could be wearing progressive lens…but yeah, I just noticed a bunch of edits I missed or popped up as I fixed the previous draft, or I just didn’t proof. I used to be great at proof-reading…
There’s probably some fact check things, the exact dates of things from 20 years ago.
Take 3 — if I get to “Take 5” you can chuckle…
Bill Bragin was the talent buyer for Joe’s Pub, the nightclub stage at Public Theatre of New York, and he told Stew (Mark Stewart, or Stew and Heidi Rodewald who performed as a duo or band called Stew) that a song cycle thematically linked (“the Drug Suite”) from their recent — 2002 – album, mixed with the funny stories Stew would tell on stage between songs, was the type of thing Broadway was looking for. George Wolfe signed them to a development deal, via Tony Taccone at Berkeley Rep to coproduce and workshop; roughly five years later it debuted at Bellasco on Broadway. I managed Stew and Heidi and Stew the band and The Negro Problem band for the six months directly preceding that. I was not affiliated with “Passing Strange” but ever since have had a very strong interest in where new works come from. Something about your company’s history caught my eye.
Earthwise Productions of Palo Alto
1) When was Earthwise founded? And what were a few of your first events?
Earthwise Productions is a spin-off of Bay Area Action Earth Day at Stanford from 1993 — I had recently moved back to my parents’ house in Los Altos Hills and a pivot regarding being an advertising copywriter in San Francisco; I was freelancing for a company that did ads for Chevron when people my age were in the streets shouting “No blood for oil!” as the U.S. had invaded Iraq in dubious circumstances. And I was concerned about the connection between consumerism and pollution and war, the seeds of “global warming” that people talk about more commonly today. Dr. Cindy Russell (M.D.) was co-director of the Earth Day event — I had heard about it on KFJC or KZSU — and she saw that I was reading Jerry Mander’s “In the Absence of the Sacred…” which has to do both with how technology is overhyped– he, like myself, is a former advertising guy although he was much more famous –he was Howard Gossage’s partner in the 1960s— and also deals with native cultures and their views on the environment. There was a concert element of Earth Day of course with Michelle Shocked and Peter Apfelbaum but I did not work on it; I remember being really moved by the performances; it was kind of a rainy day, very grounding. They already had a selection of native groups– indigenous people– some dancing, some information tables, a “sunrise tobacco ceremony” and I was the coordinator of those segments based on Dr. Russell noticing my reading that book, which was a front-list title at the time — in fact I stood in line at a signing/reading and even had lunch with Jerry once. Two of the groups asked me to do subsequent bookings or events for them. Plus I did a couple shows in Berkeley actually for the Berkeley rainforest project, the Berkeley Borneo Project (that is both a Sister Cities program and an Earth Island Institute subsidiary, of David Brower’s group — I’m sorry if this is too granular, feel free to edit obviously). And also simultaneous to all that –wanting to back away from being a marketing guy for corporations – my initial training was journalism and I had worked for two daily newspapers including the Peninsula Times Tribune here in Palo Alto, in their training programs, and one back east, plus I was an editor of the student daily at Dartmouth — I had been the editor -in-chief two consecutive years at Gunn High School. By the way I was never an arts writer: sports, general news, I was just a casual music fan usually going somewhere if my friends suggested it would be cool, like a bunch of us went to see the Rolling Stones in 1982 at Candlestick and I was the designated driver having borrowed my dad’s company’s van. My dad was the founder of Key Chevrolet in Cupertino and his dad was a partner in an auto agency that sold Chevys in Chicago dating back to 1919.
So I had run into a friend of mine from high school named Mia Levin her father ironically is Henry Levin a former head of the education department at Stanford. She was living in San Francisco but had missed our high school reunion and when I met her she told me she been playing in punk bands for at least 10 years Mudwimin and Frightwig most prominently. And also the Mia Zapata murder, of The Gits and all of Mia Levin’s friends and some of the fringe young people I had met in San Francisco we’re very concerned. There was a big all day concert at something called Cyclone Warehouse in San Francisco where young people were trying to raise money to hire a private detective to solve Mia’s murder. Somewhere in there I just sort of felt I could use my marketing and journalism background to help the Mudwimin and they were actually the first show at Cubberley and I’m of the era that I knew Cubberley as a high school and had gone to at least one dance there (but not the one where Danny Scher of Palo Alto and BGP had arranged for Journey to be the secret headliner, in 1979). So first the Mudwimin in October 1994, as a benefit for Bay Area Action — now Acterra — and then Oxbow featuring a high school friend of my named Dan Adams (who literally was the first employee of the Stanford jazz camp even though he was 14 years old at the time: he
Beth Custer of Clarinet Thing 2/25/20 and Trance Mission to appear April 10 at The Mitch (supporting Scott Amendola duo)
would do all the accompaniment for all the front people — he’s a drummer although for Oxbow he plays electric bass. That was a benefit for Making Contact a left-wing nonprofit news service based I think at Peggy Law’s house in Los Trancos Palo Allto Portola. The third (Cubberley) show featured World For Ransom who were a local band one of the first local bands I ever followed and their manager Dave Womack was my stage manager for the first five years or so even after they were gentrified out of Palo Alto and had moved to The City. The Donnas at age 15 under the name Ragedy Ann were the opening act. (Eugene Robinson of Oxbow was living with Bart ‘The Recording Guy’ Thurber who had done the first recording of them, the Donnas, and Eugene asked for them to open for his show but I couldn’t figure out how to reach them until a month or so later). The fourth show featured another kid from our high school named Steve Jenkins who had an unsigned band Third Eye Blind.
The first touring act who I did not go to high school with was Dar Williams in November ’95. But I knew her because her sister Julie lived in Palo Alto and worked as a teacher with my friend Charlotte Gerstein who was my girlfriend at Dartmouth (And her then-partner, a guy named Rob Lederer was in an unsigned band and watching him helped me start to follow the whole concept of local bands precipitating signed bands precipitating indie and touring bands, and where do songs on the radio come from? Steve Jenkins had played drums on Rob’s demo, Number Nine and they actually opened for Third Eye Blind this is February 1995. Another person who I booked because he was my friend as much as the buzz is Hershel Yatovitz who I’ve known since age 10 meaning 1974 because our parents were in a havurah together at Beth Am in Los Altos — Hershel was co-leader and co-writer of a project that played twice, once under the name Durham and once under the name Black Lab after they got signed to Geffen— but Charlie Hunter who I believe met Hershel backstage at one of my shows recommended Hershel join Chris Isaak’s band or at least that Chris audition Hershel, Charlie told Chris that. (And if you permit me an incredibly gratuitous digression there was a kid from my high school named Marsh McCall who wrote for BAM Magazine and included Hershel around 1990 in as list of the 10 best unknown guitarists in San Francisco and later wrote for the Conan O’Brien show and “Just Shoot Me” before dying suddenly two years ago of a heart attack — Marsh and Dan and my friends Steve and Eric Cohen had played a high school party I produced once but certainly I never then imagined I would be a concert promoter; The Cohen brothers are the sons of a famous math professor and appeared I believe three times under the name of The Flying Cohen Brothers as a juggling dance and variety act; they were also in the TV show “Ally McBeal” as “The Dancing Twins”. The most accomplished person however of our peer group running the student newspaper, The Oracle, at Gunn in the early ’80s was Jessica Yu who wrote “Breathing Lessons” and won the Academy Award. And I produced a benefit event for her when the Gunn art department burned down the same spring as her Academy Award we raised about 25 grand with a matching grant from The Packard Foundation. Jessica told the local newspaper that one of the highlights from her youth was putting out a fake edition of the Palo alto Campanile where we all made fun of Jim Harbaugh*.
I think the rock band Cake was the first band I was really into and amazed that they actually played my music series. they played twice. (A freelancer or intern named Eric Espe I think wrote about that for the Weekly).
Fall, 1995. Then summer, 1996. Bruce Solar their agent in San Francisco whose company was called Absolute Artists put a lot of his bands in my series and is now head of booking for Agency for Performing Arts (APA) a much larger entity in Los Angeles, but they throw me some bones still like the Jane Monheit show we did last summer, or I’m doing That 1 Guy through their company on sale for May 3 at The Mitch.
I started a management practice in about 2002, after 9/11, and for most of this century have done slightly more management than concerts. I would say although it’s personal I don’t mind admitting for the record that when my mother Barbara Weiss and my father Paul Weiss were in their twilight years I spent more time as a caregiver, being the youngest and in certain ways in 2018 and 2017 Earthwise had come to a full stop.
The Allison Miller show I mentioned in a previous email 10/18/18 which was about three months after my mother passed – – she fought Alzheimer’s for nine years —- and was the first of this run at the new Mitchell Park. I say quite often at shows, as part of my welcome or introducing of the acts that the taxpayers of Palo Alto myself included voted a $41 million bond initiative and the facility opened five years ago and I just want to see part of its use being live music.
I did 15 shows in 2019 which is my biggest year since I think my record was 32 in ‘98 or ’99 which included Cubberley, Coho maybe The Varsity courtyard, maybe a club in San Jose on Bascom, a cafe. I definitely had a sense of wanting 2019 to be a banner year and for example convinced Dave Douglas to squeeze us in on very short notice for Engage with Jeff Parker, Carmen Rothwell and Clarence Penn.
My goal is two shows a month for the next two years or a total of 50 all-in to see if people will think of the Mitchell Park ballroom El Palo Alto Room as a concert hall.
I also got invlolvrd in local politics, it started by protesting the elimination of the Brown Bag Concert Series here. I ran for council three times and applied for commissions maybe another six times. I did end up marrying another local activist / politician named Terry Acebo Davis. She was on the arts commission and its chair at one point and we met at the studio of Bruce Beasley my fellow Dartmouth alum whose granite arch graces the entrance at 3700 Middlefield to Mitchell Park.
The taxpayers in Palo Alto approved a $41 million bond initiative- the woman who led the initiative Alison Cormack was later elected to City Council in fact I just saw her five minutes ago here in a downtown cafe and told her that at virtually every show as I introduce the band I mention her.
There are two other art elements at The Mitch which we take credit for or have a connection to: the owl-shaped bollards by Brad Oldham and Roger Stoller’s die-cut aluminum tree hanging on the walls inside and outside the library building.
So if using a defunct high school auditorium in the ’90s was earthwise or recycling or scrappy, the space now is somewhat decrepit, And in fact the people of Palo Alto are debating how to redevelop it. But using this new building is trying to keep the arts alive here, that is sort of a cause, and it’s sort of beyond just my respect for, or an appreciation of the music and how much I enjoy working with the musicians and or meeting the people at these small scale community events.
Another point that is somewhat remarkable about Earthwise is it is a reaction again Silicon Valley in various ways; and over the years although I’ve been a very slow adopter of many technologies, I am dictating this into a handheld computer and communicating with you in a medium that did not exist when I started; yet overall I question if we have gained as much as we have lost. And since you’ve given me this pulpit I would say for example music did more for Steve Jobs than he did for the musicians.
2) If I’m not mistaken, there was a bit of a gap between the initial launch of Earthwise and your more recent activity.
a) What caused the pause, if so?
b) When did you start back up (assuming I’m remembering correctly)?
c) And why?
*Another guy on our high school newspaper, for one year, Jim Yardley, later won the Pulitzer Prize for The New York Times for writing about the corruption of China — he is a candidate to be the editor of The New York Times one day – – his mother the journalist Rosemary Yardley was a Knight Fellow at Stanford that year. He, his little brother Bill and I would play basketball in Escondido Village at Stanford — Bill was also later a Timesman — which reminds me that when I did a show with Ian MacKaye of The Evens (and Fugazi and Dischord Records) at not Cubberley or Gunn but Terman — now Fletcher — my old junior high he told me he had attended Terman one year when his dad a professor was at Stanford; Gina Arnold a successful rock journalist you might know went to Palo Alto High around that time — I’ve never met her — but the story is that she made a Xerox-copy of the Terman Tiger Tracks to give to Ian years later because he had lost his or never had one. Ian also did a nooner meet and greet at Terman — the Weekly wrote a story about it, by Robyin Israel I’m sure its in their archive and searchable online — talking about the biz but at the end he got kind of sick of me because I kept ringing people like Eugene Robinson of Oxbow and Whipping Boy by cell and saying “Hey, Ian MacKaye is in Palo Alto…” and handing them the phone. That is still a problem of mine I get too excited and it sort of freaks out the talent. Fear and Loathing on Las Pulgas or something. Which is sort of an inside joke since I wrote my college admissions essay on Hunter S. Thompson. The joke being I am not Hunter S. Thompson Gonzo Journalism or his attorney I am the grotesque square jawed DA’s scaring your or our protagonist, the talent, in that context.
Ugh. A lot of auto correct. I will have to re-edit this. (The misspelling of the word “involved” I had left intentionally as a little joke and is testimony to my ambivalence about technology but there are at least 20 other statements I will have to clarify. “Hershel Yatovitz” is an old friend, who played in my series, and now plays for Chris Isaak. Et cetera.
Earthwise completed its 25th season and I am looking at how to pace myself and do another 25 years. For the next two years or so that means twice a month at Mitchell Park although I do have five shows already for April and five for March so I’m not good at sticking to a plan.
The opportunities are pretty random in some ways; my best weekend ever was in 1996, July, Cake, Medeski Martin and Wood and AFI back to back all three sellouts more than 1,000 people at The Cub.
Train played on my birthday in January 1999 But I had to turn down The New Radicals whose agent wanted a gig the night before because I just didn’t imagine being able to spread myself so thin. And another near miss was that around 1996 the Dixie Chicks were booking their own tour and I took their tape and gave it to David Womack to review it and we agreed they were good but not enough to merit renting the hall and building a show around them. Or one of those agents calling me about would I do a show for an unknown named John Mayer, he only needed 500 bucks, he was going to be great, and then they called back to say they had something else going on. Totally true stories unlike what was probably vapor from day one: an agent or kind of a fringe LA scenester person who had managed a band that I have done business with she called to ask if we could hold the Cubberley Auditorium because it was going to be a benefit for the widow of Brad Nowell and her baby —Brad being the recently deceased founder of a band called Sublime. The headliner was going to be someone else from that scene named No Doubt. Not sure how real it was, like I said, but obviously Sublime made a lot of money for the widow once the record came out and maybe likeWeiss no doubt was not available for long. Not sure how real it was like I said but obviously sublime made a lot of money for the widow once the record came out and maybe likewise no doubt was not available for long.
I did book blink-182 into the former Cubberley cafeteria on their first tour it was Earth Day Rock N Bike six dollars but if you rode your bike you got in two-for-one which about 20 of the 150 people took us up on. I guess that would’ve been Sunday, April 20, 1997 or 1998.
Charlie Hunter played my series five times at Cubberley in five different configurations and he also told me that I should keep doing it when it was in doubt because he said when he played the community center in Palo Alto he knew that people were there to focus on him compared to playing some hipster bar in San Jose where they were clinking glasses and comparing the different types of martinis. It’s a “listening room”.
Somewhere in there if this was an interview I would try to mention my most famous former client is Mark Stew Stewart the creator of “Passing Strange” the Broadway show which is also a Spike Lee movie and a “great performances” on PBS and at least in our home you can get it pay-per-view. Stew’s band The Negro Problem opened for Cake in fall, 1995. Another band on the bill was called The New EZ Devils featuring a guy who had gone to Cubberley named Dan Olmsted who claimed that he used to mow the lawn for Palo Alto’s most famous high school graduate in the Hall of Fame Gregg Rolie. The second season which I guess was spring of ’95 we did a press conference in front of Gregg Rolie’s old house which is right behind the Cubberley soccer fields. Of course no one came but Dan and I and a guy named Chad from American Sensei.
Sent from my iPhone
The previous feature in the Weekly – I think this is the third actually — had me mentioning a book called “Ancient Futures: Learning from Ladakh” by Helena Norberg Hodge as influential on the philsophy or methodology of Earthwise Productions so this time I will toss in there or here the fact that a press release or interview or new media or hybrid like this is also a lyric essay in today’s lingo and I am influenced by a book by David Shields called “Reality Hunger” which is why I think it’s okay to mimic speech in writing or have all these digressions and some faux naive puns or mistakes. There’s a music version of this called sometimes “glitch-pop” like bedroom demos like Liz Phair or something or a guy who I was tracking and almost managed named Eric Lindley who pka’s as careful the Times reviewed him and labeled the term. People like to see the seams, or the grain in the wood. To know its real. 😉
Subject: Re: Earthwise questions for Palo Alto XXXXXXX, Part I
I guess I could do 100% on the record.
b/w (“backed with” — think B-side of an old 7 inch record):
This news came out right after it was revealed that Bloomberg was also paying popular social media accounts and influencers to create memes about his campaign. Those deals are fairly transparent—if you see some Instagram bottom feeder who normally just posts jokes stolen from actual comedians suddenly tweet about Mike Bloomberg, you can be pretty sure they’re getting paid for it. As terrible as most of those accounts can be, at least you know where they stand, and that’s wherever the money is.
The identity of the Bloomberg campaign’s comedy writer isn’t public knowledge, though. And many people would like to know who it is. If you follow enough comedians or comedy industry types on social media, you’ve probably seen them talking about who the Bloomberg comedy writer is, what exactly their job entails, and how much they’re being paid for it. So far nobody has been able to figure out who the writer is—if they do, in fact, exist.
(Garrett something of Paste Magazine; or as HST says, when the going gets weird the weird turn pro…)
and1: i was just explaining this to a driver, the song is called “take 5” partly because rather than being in 4, it is in 5. There is also now 2 candy bars both owned by the same bland packaged goods company called “Take 5” — one is branded Reeses and one the parent company and a rapper that is not Reeses. Wrapper, whatever. I don’t think anyone like Dave Brubeck or the estate of the sax player owns the phrase, but it might be nice for the candy gods to kick back for the musicians. I sort of want to say that the guy who actually wrote the song, the sax player is named Terry Mulholland, an obscure Giants pitcher from the 1980s. I nailed this small bit of man-splaying in real time without missing a beat two nights ago but maybe do to my fitness routine I am missing that word. Jazz-composer-legend-aphasia syndrome. I met his lawyer once, in NYC. I’m pretty sure the publishing proceeds goes to musician’s health fund. Not Harvy Wainaple who I saw last night — and he shot down my idea of he and Jack Walrath starting a project to tracks called The Fake Brazilians — like Ribot’s Prosthetic Cubans — he did have some other trope about real Brazil vernacular. Gerry Mulligan, that’s not it, but it’s close. I am not going to Google it. Last night at the Ellington concert — Clarinet Thing with Beth Custer, Ben Goldberg, Sheldon Brown and Wainapple (sp) — and I think Beth and Ben do not double on sax — Harvy I think it was explained that a lot of Ellington was actuall Billy Strayhorn. They also debuted a song Sheldon wrote about Ralph Carney, and I snuck my little car-salesman snoz into his crotch to suggest that someone could write lyrics and that Tom Waits could sing it. Likewise (earthwise no doubt) when I met the tracks singer soul diva on the come Janette King at Noise Pop Monday I said she should jam with Matt Haimovitz and DJ Olive. And I was gonna tell the star attraction — that I name-checked above –Sudan Archives that she should jam with Napoleon Maddox of IzWhat? And I sent about :10 of Sudan to Jenny Scheinman, who appears Monday March 16 as Parlour Game with she, her, Allison Miller (above) Carmen Staaf I think on piano is her name and Tony Scher no relation to Palo Alto’s Danny Scher or Scherr on bass.
Andand: not to over-emphasize the point but I tried to write “against” and it came out as “again”. But the take 5 part means that due to the nature of wordpress I can revise this numeous times without the next reader knowing so. So, in essense, it is never done. I like coinage of “involved” with “LOL” in the middle and “er” as a suffix. “In” “vlolv” “ered” like the old joke: at a ham and eggs breakfast, the Jews are concentrated but the Muslims are better dressed. I was talking orange juice sort of but then it flashed to Bergman-Dorfman or something. My English teacher at Dartmouth made a joke about Reagan going to a Nazi cemetery and spitting on selected graves, speaking of comedy gigs who don’t exist.
We were taught that if it ends in a wedding it is a comedy and if it ends in death its a tragedy. But I also heard, from Brian Swimme, two years post-Dartmouth that the universe is not a place but a story.
AndandAndandand — five layer and: so the candy bar Take 5 had a Super Bowl commercial but I don’t recall if this was before or after I finally noticed it, while being my not atypical 3 newspapers at Mac’s Smoke Shop on Emerson — I bought both kinds, the Reese-referencing and the Hershey-like, but then my wife threw them away before I had the op before here and now to rif upon a bar; but this thing with the guy who has been living under a rock — though insipid — I recall the image but not that it was part of the commercial. I may or may not have sampled a bite of one but not both the bars.
back to the music, last night at the Earthwise Welcomes Clarinet Thing they also did a cover of Creole Love Call which Ben Goldberg claimed he learned on a Rahsaan Roland Kirk record from 1969 Inflated Tear (which I admit, beyond my Ludditism I reference above, I quickly added to my Appletunes library. And I admit I peeked to learn or recover from Gray Matter the missing trope of the composer and performer of the big Brubeck song, which it claims wiki that $100,000 a year i publishing is generated for the Red Cross. I want to say that the late Alan Bergman was the lawyer for that. I know that my fellow Gunn basketballer Jason Olaine was the founding talent buyer for Yoshi’s and is now at Lincoln Center — he’s an influence. But also David Katznelson, who put out two Ralph Carney records. Knowing the name of people who do what you do but do it twelve times better is a good thing.