Seriously. The best 3 hours I’ve ever spent in SF. It’s obvious I went into The City for a RAWartists show. But I was adamant about getting out as quickly as possible. There was no desire to stay in that town any longer than necessary. I bought a ticket for an 11:30pm bus heading straight to Anaheim. I’ve worked in the city at least twice in the past few years. Gone as a tourist multiple times in the same time span. Buying a cookie is ridiculously expensive in this town, let alone trying to accommodate an overnight expenditure. Get me out. Walking into 1015 Folsom on 10.11, however, changed everything.
Admittedly I felt at home. An organization I’ve worked with for over 5 years. Entry, drink tickets, place to store my luggage from the past 6 days of travel, all taken care of. But it was the space that also felt so comfortable. The creative space. Artists do not create for art’s sake. That is what students in an art class do. To learn the craft, technical aspects, yes there is some of that. But this space was full of art created with PURPOSE. My desire to find the various purposes peaked.
As I perused the venue, I got so many cards and so many stories. Typical. Fulfilling. But not over the top. Then, I stumbled into the main hall as a fashion show was about to start. Life has a way of taking you where you need to be. And much like my life right now, there was a blank stage. All the spotlights shining down. Hundreds of eyes gazing at a blank “screen”. Anticipation thinning the air with held breaths. Then, with just 7 notes, the mood changed. C, D, D#, F, G, A#, F+A. “She’s a Rainbow” – The Rolling Stones (click link to listen as you read for the full experience). Sound up on the tambourine. Ahhh the sound of the revolution. I know it well. I have my Spotify playlist dedicated for this music. Enter fashion. How do you move the world forward at the same time showing respect to the past. This. This is how you do it. An amazing classic line with touches of progressiveness. The crowd erupted. I was fascinated. Here I was, about 400 miles away from home in the city where this sound flourished feeling that same vibe from the crowd and this presentation.The similarities of the 60s and today are uncanny and the differences, most being in technology, would have one assume the challenges would be easier to solve. But why are so many quiet that need to not be. For as much shit as Millenials talk about Boomers. At least their musicians weren’t scared. We’ve been no better than the Silent Generation when it comes to our popular music.
I got in my rideshare to catch the 11:30 bus after being inspired by this fashion show and much of the whole experience. And just as deities revealing themselves to prophets, my inspiration for the night was guranteed to not fleet. There he was, quiet and professional, with The Four Tops playing. No one saw the tears in my eyes that night, but I need the world to know why I was leaving San Francisco more inspired than ever.The same day a basic freestyle by a rapper capable of so much more shocks the world. Imagine if Em had actually put in any of the effort he’s known for. We wouldn’t be ready for it. What he gave was simply what he needed to do to. It was the perfect way to deliver the message. Being in the city where real revolutionaries came to express their sentiment. Where musicians weren’t afraid to speak out against the status quo. I am filled with the smoke not of the Napa fire but of the flames of revolt that have been waning for 50 years.
The artists tonight were not afraid either. Revolutionary imagery. Trump mocking. The community has been doing this. Why has our music been the last to reflect this? Have all the words already been said that it would be impossible to draft new lyrics to our generational challenges? More than “F*** Donald Trump” I mean really get creative with it.
Come together. Right now.
It ain’t me. It ain’t me. I ain’t no Senator’s son.
Hey Joe. Where you going with that gun?
Won’t you please come to Chicago.
What the world needs now… is.. love. Sweet love.
There’s a revolutionary spirit in these songs without getting angry. And so many more. And so many that are. But what do we have now. F*** Donald Trump. As my mom would tell me, We’re “not going to get ANYWHERE with that attitude.”
Would it be so hard to do the Hollywood thing and just sample/remix these songs. Chance the rapper does a lot in the streets, but his real potential lives in the music. Won’t you please come to Chicago can mean something so different today with a few bars from him. Taylor Swift, scared to lose 1 fan. Would it be that hard to write a song about LOVE. But instead even she’s succumbing into battles with other celebrities spreading the sentiment of animosity.
Rock music is dying, or in an underground phase. Folk will not be what it was at this point in time. R&B and Hip-hop is our liberal musical outlet. Yet we’re stuck in the 90s. Remaking songs from a time when everyone was care-free. Gas was cheap. The internet was created. The worst thing our president could do was get caught up in the definition of a “sexual relation”. Khaled, “Wild Thoughts” is a great remake. But do something for the cause and dig a little deeper.
I cry because I know what’s possible. We can be hearing the revolution on Spotify if we wanted to. And not my 60s playlist. Imagine. A playlist of Hot Rhythmic CHR (radio jargon) tracks that will keep you “woke” while studying for midterms not just awake. But our musicians are scared. Props to Em for making the first (mainstream) move.
As someone who has a passion for giving artists a platform, and a self proclaimed audiophile, I say to all musicians: If you’re ready to stand up, speak out, and change this world. I would love to present you to the world. Just don’t suck. Practice your craft. Get good. Make a change. That’s my goal. I encourage you to do the same.