All Quiet on the Western Front?

It’s been a while since I’ve posted anything here even though there has been so much to write about. We had lots of great performances at Viracocha in March—the Live ‘n’ Local show with the Revolution Duo (amazing improvisation with Charith Premwardhana on viola and Matt Szemela on violin), The John Brothers Piano Company, and Wiener Kids; Aaron Novik‘s latest project, Dante Counterstamp; Janam and The Nice Guy Trio; and Karina Denike. Then earlier this month we had The Immortal Billie Holiday tribute show with many great performers including Kally Price and her Old Blues and Jazz Band.

Also this month was the fifth annual Switchboard Music Festival at the Brava Theater. I thought the selection of music this year was exceptionally diverse compared to previous years. Dominique Leone and the Ensemble Epouser did their last ever performance of Stravinsky’s Les Noces. Volti, a choral ensemble dedicated to new vocal music, were absolutely breathtaking. Pop duo Ramon & Jessica were their usual charming, quirky, clever, and versatile selves. I did not get burned out at all this year (it’s a ten-hour festival!), in large part, I think, due to the greater variety of styles. I recall last year, which seemed to lean more heavily toward avant-garde, feeling at a certain point like I just couldn’t take in anymore music, my brain was feeling so fried.

It’s great to see Switchboard grow so noticeably each year, not simply in terms of number of people attending (they outgrew the original small studio in Dance Mission a few years back), but also in terms of how the vision has matured and its execution become more smooth. This year, for example, they projected info about each artist/ensemble on a screen at the back of the stage, which also indicated when there was a break between performances, and how much time we had to grab some food or a drink. That was much appreciated (though I still managed to miss  Dan Cantrell’s performance when a “friend” insisted we walk all the way to Folsom and 24th just for coffee).

The other most notable performance I’ve seen this month was drummer and composer Eric Garland’s Hodge Podge Ensemble this past Sunday night at the Community Music Center on Capp Street. Which brings me to my next topic, The San Francisco Offside Festival, a three-night festival (May 24-26) that me and Alex Pinto are putting together! It celebrates “the creativity and diversity of the local jazz scene” and features many incredible local musicians and composers, including Eric Garland (and also two of his bandmates on Sunday—Lisa Mezzacappa and Colin Hogan). I’ll post something more official about it soon, but meanwhile, click on the link for more details. We are very excited about it.

Between organizing a jazz festival, booking music at Viracocha, trying to keep on top of Live ‘n’ Local, and . . . I don’t know . . . holding down a fulltime job, I’ve been pretty busy. Hence the silence. Whew! It feels like I’m just catching my breath before continuing to march up a steep hill. But march on I will.

More deets about SF Offside coming soon!