Local Music

Federico Cusigch

The music you’re hearing now is by the Beth Custer Ensemble of San Francisco. Beth Custer wears many hats. She is a composer, bandleader, and proprietor of a record label. But The San Francisco Chronicle says the best way to describe her is as “a virtuoso of collaboration.” 

The Beth Custer Ensemble will be performing on Friday, January 1oth at the Red Poppy Art House in San Francisco, starting at 7:30pm. 

Bay Area Discovery Museum

This is a version of John Coltrane’s “A Love Supreme,” featuring master drummer E. W. Wainwright. Wainwright played his first music festival in 1965, and last year performed at Carnegie Hall. He is currently a curriculum development consultant for the San Francisco and Oakland School Districts. 

The music you're hearing is by The Tommy Igoe Big Band. Igoe says he began drumming at the age of two, something many of us can probably claim. But no one else but Igoe can claim creating the drumming cues for "The Lion King" on Broadway. Currently, Igoe plays, and teaches, in and around San Francisco.


The U.S. Congress currently has the lowest approval rating ever recorded.  That’s not true, though, of musician Marcus Cohen and his band, The Congress. This twelve-member San Francisco outfit, who you’re hearing now, has been described as “a velvet freight train of passion.” Dig it! 

Marcus Cohen & The Congress will bring their deep soul grooves to the Brick & Mortar Music Hall in San Francisco on Friday, November 22nd. Music starts at 9:00pm.   

No, your radio hasn’t gone into a time warp. That’s a current-day band known as Tin Cup Serenade. These Crosscurrents favorites are more of a concept than an actual band – meaning the lineup changes from time to time, drawing from talents on both sides of the Bay. 

Tin Cup Serenade will be playing their original tunes on Saturday, November 23rd at the Surf Spot in Pacifica. Expect the music to begin about 8:30pm. 

The piano you’re hearing now is being played by Sarah Cahill, host of the “Revolutions per Minute” program, which is heard Sunday evenings here on KALW. 

Cahill will be joined Friday, November 22nd by Regina Schaffer in a performance that is part of the "New Keys" series. It highlights new works for “pianos and their cousins” – instruments such as vibraphones and toy pianos. It all takes place at the Center for New Music in San Francisco. The concert begins at 8:00pm.   

This is music for hammered dulcimer, an instrument that Robin Petrie has been playing publicly since 1980. Petrie is one of the five members of Panacea, a group specializing in Baltic, Celtic and Medieval music. Panacea doesn’t have any recordings, but the music you're hearing now gives you an idea of their sound. 

If this intrigues you, you can hear Petrie and other members of Panacea on Saturday, November 23rd, at Wisteria Ways in Oakland. It’s an 8:00pm show. 

The band you’re hearing now is called Honey Archer. This San Francisco group pulls from 60 years of rock to create their sound. 

Honey Archer is the headliner on Saturday, November 16th at 50 Mason Social Club, located on the cusp between Union Square and the Tenderloin in San Francisco. Music starts at 9:30pm. 

When you think of music from Brazil, you may think of bossa nova, but you’re not likely to think of choro. Well, Grupo Falso Baiano - who you're hearing now - is working to change that. Some call choro the “ragtime of Brazil,” with its mix of African and European sounds.  You can hear Grupo Falso Baiano this Friday, November 15th at The Sound Room in Oakland. Music begins at 8:00pm. 

This music?  It’s by The New Thoreaus of Oakland. They started off a few years ago as a group of special education teachers playing music just to release some stress. Now they’ve been together long enough to release an album.  The New Thoreaus are playing for free on Thursday, November 14th at the Mission Community Market in San Francisco. That starts about 6:30pm.  

Have you heard of The San Francisco Contemporary Music Players? Now in their 43rd season, the SFCMP performs music exclusively from the 20th and 21st Centuries, because, they say, “our collective societal imagination requires the stimulation of the new."   The next performance by the San Francisco Contemporary Music Players is this Thursday, November 14th at the Lam Research Theater, in San Francisco’s Yerba Buena Center for the Arts. There’s a talk at 7:15pm, prior to the performance at 8:00pm.

The music you’re hearing now comes from one of the bands in the Diablo Valley College Rock, Rhythm & Blues Revue.  The Revue features over 20 bands with over 80 students participating.

You can hear the Diablo Valley College Rock, Rhythm & Blues Revue next Sunday, November 10th at the century-old Empress Theatre in Vallejo, starting at 2:00pm. 

The music you’re hearing now is by Fito Reinoso. He was born in Cuba but has called the Bay Area home since 1980.

He played in his first orchestra when he was 12-years-old, and continues to share classic music styles from his homeland, along with current urban sounds from Havana. 

That may sound like a spirited audience, but it is actually the performers of San Francisco’s Taiko Dojo unit. The San Francisco Taiko Dojo has transformed this ancient style of drumming, and it must be seen to be believed. 

You have the opportunity to do that this weekend, November 9th and 10th, when the San Francisco Taiko Dojo joins special guests from Japan for the 45th International Taiko Festival, taking place at Zellerbach Hall on the UC Berkeley campus. 

Stephanie Shea

That’s The Plastic Arts you’re hearing right now, but they could easily be called "Kyle Terrizzi and Friends," because he’s the creative force behind The Plastic Arts. 

Reviews call his music “achingly beautiful” and “poetic.”  You can provide your own review if you go hear The Plastic Arts at San Francisco’s Bottom of the Hill on Thursday, November 7th. Music starts at 7:30pm. 

The sounds you’re hearing now are by The Sydney Ducks. San Francisco history buffs will know of a Gold Rush era criminal gang by that name. These modern Sydney Ducks aren’t criminals, but they do plan to tear up the stage at San Francisco’s Bottom of the Hill tomorrow, November 1st. Music begins about 8:30pm.  

Something radio people try to avoid is a list of words starting with “P.” The Ives Quartet of Palo Alto doesn’t know that, which is why they say they that the quartet “has established a reputation for passion, precision, and provocative programming.”  

The King is dead, but he’s not forgotten. That is an Elvis Presley song you’re hearing, but it’s being played by Dave Crimmens & His Band.

Dave Crimmens also performs original tunes. You can hear some of both on Saturday, October 26th at Nick’s Restaurant in Pacifica, from 8:00pm until midnight.   

There are all sorts of sub-categories of music, but we think the band called Sage, who you are hearing now, may be the only practitioners of what they call Ukulele Rock. 

What you’re hearing now is Orquesta Borinquen. They call themselves, “The Bay Area’s Salsa Powerhouse Band.” And the root of that power comes from Bill Ortega, Jr. He is the group’s director, and trumpeter, and percussionist. 

 You can experience the power tomorrow, October 24th when Orquesta Borinquen plays the Shadow Ultra Lounge in Oakland, starting about 9:00pm. 

Halloween in the Bay Area extends well beyond the final evening in October. That’s why Tainted Love, the ‘80s tribute band you’re hearing now, is getting an early start this Friday, October 25th at the Fox Theater in Redwood City. 

The Tainted Love show starts at 9:30pm, following a set with DJ Dinero, which begins at 8:30pm. And the band says if the audience drags out their, like, best – or worst – outfits from, like, 30 years ago, it'll be, like, totally awesome!

This band is called the DU UY Quintet, led by San Francisco native Danny Cao, who some people know from the band Vinyl. 

The DU UY Quintet is impossible to categorize because their stated goal is presenting “new, interesting and diverse original music.” You can find out for yourself what that means on Thursday, October 24th, when the band returns to The Cigar Bar on Montgomery Street in San Francisco.

Summer may be over, but the outdoor festival season isn’t.

Rapper Antwon, who you’re hearing now, is coming up from San Jose as part of Day One of this year’s Treasure Island Music Festival. Antwon’s live shows are known for having the energy of a punk band -- even down to including a mosh pit. Spin Magazine included his “End of Earth” mixtape in their Top 40 Hip Hop Albums of 2012.

Jill Gerstenberger

“Americana” is the catch-all phrase for the sound of a lot of hairy musicians these days. But San Francisco’s Tiny Television, who you’re hearing now, has been playing this style longer than that term has existed. As one reviewer says, “Their sound is so familiar, but feels undeniably new.”  Tiny Television is the opening band for Kelly McFarling on Saturday, October 19th, as part of the SF Live Arts series happening at St. Cyprian’s Church in San Francisco. Music starts at 8:00pm. 

Not long ago, somebody took some folk music, then added some country and rock, and mixed it all together. The result is called Americana music. And that’s probably a safe label for the sound of Akron Engine, who you’re hearing now.

Akron Engine is from San Francisco, not Ohio. They’ll be playing in their hometown on Friday, October 18th at Hotel Utah -- which isn’t in Utah, either. Plan to be there around 9:00pm.

The band you’re hearing now is called Lucas Ohio & The Shamblers. Lead singer Lucas Ohio started his musical career on the Central Coast, but has been in the Bay Area since 2009.

The sounds you’re hearing now are by a band called La Dee Da, from San Francisco. They’re wrapping up a West Coast tour for their new album. It has taken them from Seattle to Berkeley, which is where they’ll be playing one week from tonight, October 17th, at the Subterranean Arthouse. Expect the music to begin about 7:30pm.  

Here’s something you don’t hear every day: a combination of sounds from traditional instruments, electronic programming and such unexpected sources as penguin bones, pinecones, and glaciers. These are the creative tools of musician Cheryl Leonard.

This singer you’re hearing? His name is John Elliott, and this song is from his album, which is coming  out later this month, on cassette!  Elliott says that’s how he first got interested in music, listening to cassettes on his Walkman while mowing the lawn, or on a boom box in his bedroom. 

John Elliott will be performing on Saturday, October 12th at The Surf Spot in Pacifica, starting at 8:30pm – no Walkman or boom box required.