Bay Area Beats: Meet San Francisco's Mystic Blaze

Apr 30, 2014

TraVaughn Hicks has been making music since he was a young boy and his rapper uncle would record him singing on his songs.

Starting on May 6th, we’re throwing a Public Radio Party at KALW.  And we’re big believers in never—ever!—having radio silence at a party.  

So, we asked some of KALW’s music junkies to dip into their collections and pull out their favorite songs for our Public Radio Party Mixtape

You've probably been seeing this next band around town for a while, on line-ups at clubs like Bottom of the Hill and The Independent. They've been playing the show circuit for over four years and have a following that stretches as far as London, England. 

  The late Abdelhalim Hafez is an icon of mid-20th century Arabic music. Like Elvis in the United States, Hafez has accrued a massive following of fans in Egypt and abroad, with fans affectionately referring to him under the one word moniker “Halim.” 

Image from

The Arabic music ensemble Aswat is based in the Bay Area and plays classical Arab standards in concerts throughout the Bay Area. But you don't have to know the language to participate.

Elias Perez

Click the "play" button above to listen to the entire show.

40 years ago, in small town bars across the U.K., you could find party goers spinning, twirling and pumping their legs to the fast sounds of American soul music. But, it wasn’t the top 40 Motown sound you’d usually hear, in fact, by that time in the 1970’s, Funk and Disco had already taken over the charts. These kids craved Soul they hadn’t heard yet--rare B sides, and small label releases that were overlooked in the surplus of American-produced Soul music in the 1960’s. DJs in the U.K. began collecting Soul records that were off the beaten track, and often impossible to find again. That specific sound of Soul, and the night-life culture that erupted around it, was branded "Northern Soul."


Lily Chou

It's been 40 years since the first all-night R&B party at the Wigan Casino nightclub outside Manchester, England. The doors didn't open until 2 a.m., and its 1,200-capacity ballroom was packed until dawn with dance-crazy (possibly amphetamine-fueled) soul fans. They called the uptempo vibe Northern Soul, after the region of England that fell in love with rare '60s R&B.

The Magnetic Manna Dey

Nov 20, 2013

Immigrants often feel much lonelier mourning the far away death of someone who was dearly beloved – a writer, an actor, a sportsman. But a singer is different. In the days before the Internet,  singers were the only parts of our growing up that we could carry with us into small towns across America. They were portable. They came on cassettes, the plastic covers cracked by the weight of our journeys. 

Sandip Roy discovers the long lost sounds of Indian Music!

Young rockers tap their creativity at Rock Band Land

Sep 5, 2013

Welcome to Rock Band Land. It’s a place where 4 to 9 year olds are introduced to music by learning to write it themselves. They go through the whole process, up to when they are on stage in front of 300 screaming fans.

Alyssa Kapnik

Twice a year the San Francisco Symphony hosts workshops called “Sing Out Davies”, as part of the symphony's Community of Music Makers program. For one evening, singers from around the Bay Area come together to make music as one.  KALW's Alyssa Kapnik stood among them for a recent workshop and brought back their impressions of what it's like to be an ordinary person in such an extraordinary experience.  

Flickr Creative Commons/Nerfski

Art movements come and go, but one particular dance style seems to be here to stay. "Bboying," or "breakdancing" (as most people would call it), began in the Bronx in the late '60s and has since expanded internationally. As it’s grown, it’s changed – and that change has led to some major cultural conflicts between the younger dancers and the older ones. 

Purple bag nostalgia

Aug 7, 2013
Sandip Roy

Nostalgia today is no longer reserved for the disappearance of things we feel had been around forever. Or perhaps it’s our notion of forever that has shrunk - from 163 years for the telegramto 13 to 5. The MusicWorld store  was not even a decade old.

In 2002, Oakland Mayor, now governor, Jerry Brown started Oakland School for the Arts (OSA) with the hope that students would have an outlet to express themselves through art forms like dance, theater, and visual illustrations.

Hana Baba

Learning music and playing it is one thing, but teaching it is whole other can of worms, especially when you’re teaching kids – and especially when there are 850 of them.

That’s what Ivan DeSouza does every week. He’s been the music teacher at Delaine Eastin Elementary School in Union City since its birth 12 years ago. It's part of New Haven Unified School District that recently won $29 million  in the President's Race to the Top program.

It’s not often we hear a story of love and heartbreak – and the music that was specifically composed for it. One such story befell the 19th century composer Johannes Brahms and Clara Schumann. Meghan Laslocky is author of The Little Book of Heartbreak and she shares their story of love and the music that told it with KALW’s Hana Baba.

Source: Nebula Force, Go

They're a band that describes themselves as a team dedicated to getting rid of evil in galaxies and recording their tales in song.

Nebula Force, Go's Facebook page also says "you're going to love hearing about zombies, robots, dinosaurs and undead radioactive Godzilla".

The song available below features one of those areas . . . it's about dinosaur bones.

Where does the band name come from? It's a reference to Power Rangers, and let's just leave it at that.

StoryCorps: Finding one's musical niche

Jan 22, 2013

As a musician, you have to know how to deal with different types of crowds. Sometimes people aren't paying much attention to you, and they even talk while you're on stage. But other times, they give you standing ovations and beg for more.

Local Music: Shannon & the Clams

Jan 8, 2013

Shannon & the Clams is a garage band out of Oakland.  They'll be part of the program at Thee Parkside in San Francisco January 9th, and the sound assault starts around 9pm.

Local Music: True Life Trio

Jan 3, 2013

True Life Trio will be at the Red Poppy Art House in San Francisco on Saturday, January 5th, opening for the group known as MWE. Doors open at 7pm.

Local musician Kelly McFarling wrote her song “Atlanta” as an ode to her hometown, but she didn’t write it – or any other song, as a matter of fact – until she settled into her current home in San Francisco. In this edition of Bay Area Beats, McFarling tells KALW’s Martina Castro why she credits San Francisco with helping her launch her musical career, and better understanding the idea of home.

Hawaiian slack key guitarist Patrick Landeza returns to the KALW studios this Saturday for a live performance.  He'll talk about his upcoming appearance at the Freight in Berkeley at the end of this month with the Legends of Waikiki, three of Hawaii's most iconic traditional singers.  Listen anytime this week via KALW's Local Music Player.

Keeping jazz fresh through fusion, Rez Abbasi

Apr 23, 2012

In New York, a new crop of 30-something musicians, whose parents were born elsewhere, are mixing Latin, Balkan, or South Asian music with jazz. One of the best is guitarist Rez Abbasi.

Abbassi was born in Karachi Pakistan but grew up in Southern California. As a youngster he was more enamored of rock than ragas. While South Asian sounds wafted throughout his home, he tried not to pay attention.

Zodiac Death Valley

Feb 16, 2012

The music you’re hearing now is by Zodiac Death Valley. This San Francisco band calls themselves “the loudest folk band in the world.” You can judge for yourself on Saturday (02.18), when they take the stage at The Independent in San Francisco.

Vampires and werewolves, the possessed and undead souls featured in the Twilight books and their stylish movie adaptations, may currently have teens transfixed, but the idea of these creatures walking among us dates back to at least ancient Greece. There the man-wolf was called Lycanthropos.

John Garcia Band

Jan 10, 2012
Photo courtesy of John Garcia Band

The John Garcia Band has performed with everyone from John Lee Hooker to Johnny Winter, B.B. King to Albert King. He has also taught blues guitar in the Bay Area for several years. Now, he’s playing with his own band on Sunday (January 15) at Biscuits and Blues, near Union Square in San Francisco, starting at 8pm.