Earthwise songwriter showcase Saturday at The Cub to feature Austin and Oakland artists


Matt Sever performer known as Matt The Electrician


Sylvie Simmons, a Brit who has lived in the US since the 1970s, in LA and now The Bay Area.

One of these days, I’m going to sit right down and update this with links and bios and all that, but what got me buzzing this morning as I was rising and thinking ahead to my day and the life of the mind is that the show is being held at Cubberley, where I produced a series called Palo Alto Soundcheck and The Cubberley Sessions, about 150 events, 1994-2001. Those shows were mostly in the Theatre (300 cap, proscenium arch, banked seating — for example Train and Dar Williams), or the Auditorium (also known as MultiPurpose room in the high school days, or The Cafeteria, though also recent uses as The Children’s Museum and The Library — for example, Cake and Blink 182 and Neurosis — 500 capacity, open floor, small stage at north end, we used the kitchen as a green room), but also once The Amphitheatre (700 capacity, outdoors, very popular during the high school days — The Palo Palooza, featuring Skankin’ Pickle, Rufus The Bobcat). Saturday’s 8 p.m. show is in a old room new to me — H-1. This is a classroom and now meeting room, with about 75 capacity and theatre seating. Not really a stage. We bring or brang our own sound in all the above and forthcoming cases – or we contract for such. Nowadays, especially at The Mitch — which has no stage — we also bring a magic carpet for the players to ride on.

Cubberley’s room H-1 I learned subsequent to the bulk of this – -and I had walked by it hundreds of times, on the way to Piazza’s market for example — was a classroom used by Ron Jones during his famous “The Wave” fiasco. In 1967 or so — read “the tumultous sixties”, “Vietnam era” and all that. This innovative teacher and Stanford grad ran a social studies classroom experiment in which he divided his class into two groups, which ended up, at the reveal, to be Nazi Fascists and submissive Jews.

Besides basically getting him fired (that, and he didn’t take roll, was outspoken) it became, during my high school years, an  “Afterschool Special” on ABC and subject of a couple novelizations a feature film and a documentary. In US and Germany, natch. (2008: Germans are often anti-fascist as a show of concern about being such great Fascists back in the day — I don’t think I’ve used the word “H _ tler” herein, and won’t start now — although I’ve gone from saying “search-injun” to “Google” as a verb and noun thanks to the blessing of Alan Eagle, if you excuse the digression and hey, have you tried to pet my shaggy dog, D_?). Interestingly, to me at least, The Wave resembles the more famous (and more recently Hollywooded) Zimbardo project at nearby Stanford, aka The Stanford Prison Experiment. Jones by the way lives in SF and has continued an interesting and not-unAmerican career as educator and activist. He has a book about coaching a team of special kids in basketball, “the team that never lost a game’. He helped produce a live musical stage version of his experiment.

Not to harp too much on this locale — although Karla Kane of the Weekly did take the bait and used the term “historic” in her preview blurb — but let’s just say I started Earthwise Productions in 1994 as a bulwark against Fascism — and the creep of corporate capitalism arguably towards potential fascisim – the so-called “bundling”  of corporate interests and big government power ) and now I am deliberately if incidentally calling attention to this issue with this show.

THIS MACHINE KILLS FASCISTS was something Woody Guthrie had on his guitar. In this case we have Matt and Sylvie with a guitar and a uke and I don’t know how political they feel but I am still motivated in large part by more than just the beauty of music or the attractions being a commodities that could be exchanged for money: Rolling Stones tour in comparison was grossing $11m per show and likely more locally — say $15 million at Levi’s Stadium — ironic name that — whereas we are at $15 per ticket and 75 capacity to that’s about a thousand dollars gross potential.

I promise promise promise for more info about the performers per se but continue to insist that arts are an essential part of a democracy; the new post-wrecking ball Cubberley should be planned as having a serious arts component and facility and Palo Alto civic budget per se should include expenditures for the arts and purchase.

Sylvie Simmons, who besides an album of originals and some Leonard Cohen covers, is a well-known journalist and critic — the first female in the “boys club” of rock writers, some say. On her blog she said that Matt Sever is “an edgier Paul Simon”. Well, he’s also a bearded, West Coast or Southern, likes to work with his hands, more proletariat than bourgeois, humbler and funnier Paul Simon.

I shouldn’t have to remind Sylive to bring some of her books. I’m good for an inscribed copy of her Leonard Cohen book — I just bought my first of Cohen’s books although I haven’t cracked it beyond the first page — something about S_ with  lot of piercings; K_ hitting B- with a shovel — sounds like fun!

I said this somewhere but it bears repeating – it’s my blog, Gersh Dern it, and my party so I will cry cry cry Vox clam juice with Tito’s thank you — that: there’s a picture of Sylvie with Steve Earle — he, Matt and I are all wearing beards tonight – -and there is a Leonard Cohen tribute band in SF called Conspiracy of Beards — and I have a weak anecote — 25 years in Palo Alto rock and roll is like one night a Max’s Kansas City — about seeing Steve Earle at the Fillmore and deciding I should try to book him into the Cub and I noticed Frank Riley his agent at the show, and followed Frank into the men’s room to query (somewhat queerly). He said Steve would not consider any offers below $10K which at the time was way out of my league. And (the rest of the story is that later while looking for news of self, self-Googling as it were,  I found a citation to a book of fiction by an obscure Canadian author who had a “Mark Weiss” who was a “concert promoter” and feloniously assaulted someone in the bathroom of the Fillmore.

Here’s a badly remembered and not obviously fitting passage from a Leonard Cohen book I bought on The Alameda in San Jose on my way to the hockey game the other night:

Everyone is Montreal is wearing fur coats and loading up on Leadbelly records…I got invited to the event but did not bring my guitar…

edit to add, the next day: Cool Hand Luke with Paul Newman was on cable last night, from 1967 — it has the same anti-authority themes that provoked Ron Jones’ “The Wave”.

And1: I had another anecdote about trying to get Trevor Noah’s agent, Matt Schultz, of CAA, who I met at the lobby bar of the Nashville Marriott and IEBA, to open for Matt and Sylvie, billed as “Matt The Comedian”. I offered him $500 and a flight and a room, but he is too cool for (a defunct, Palo Alto high) school.

edit to add, like four hours before show, day of show: ok, I admit, I’m confused: Syvlie Simmons may be an East Bay i.e. Oakland artist or she may be from San Francisco. But I cannot tell you why I think that.

About markweiss86

Mark Weiss, founder of Plastic Alto blog, is a concert promoter and artist manager in Palo Alto, as Earthwise Productions, with background as journalist, advertising copywriter, book store returns desk, college radio producer, city council and commissions candidate, high school basketball player, and blogger; he also sang in local choir, fronts an Allen Ginsberg tribute Beat Hotel Rm 32 Reads 'Howl' and owns a couple musical instruments he cannot play
This entry was posted in music and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s