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Don Was Hosts Blue Note Box Set Party at The Battery in SF

in Q&As by
Don Was Music in SF

For many years the name Don Was was synonymous with rock music. Having produced albums for such legendary acts like Iggy Pop, the Black Crowes, The Rolling Stones and many others, he was known throughout music circles as a “Rock Guy.” But, that wasn’t enough for this talented bassist from Detroit that’s already amassed a whopping three Grammys as well as numerous other accolades. So five years ago, he stepped into some even bigger shoes by joining the legendary jazz label Blue Note as the company’s President.

Since joining the iconic music publisher Don tells us that their goals have always been the same. To remain true to the aesthetic of the brand and to keep putting out great music that stands the test of time. His latest project is the Blue Note Review box set, a bi-annual compilation of some of the label’s best material. It’s the kind of rare gems that you can’t find streaming or in most stores.

To help the launch of the project he hosted an intimate evening at The Battery in San Francisco where he invited his prodigy Gregory Porter to sing a few tunes for a roomful of lucky folks. Before the festivities began, Music in SF™ was lucky to snag some time out of Don’s busy schedule to talk about Blue Note, how he made the transition from being a “Rock Guy” to reinventing himself into a “Jazz Guy” and where he wants to lead the legendary label as we enter the 21st century.

So, Don, what brings you to San Francisco?
This thing. I’m back on a flight to LA tomorrow.

Do you come to this city often?
The last time I was here we did a tour with Warren Haynes, Michael McDonald, Jamey Johnson, Dr. John and Taj Mahal and we performed the Last Waltz (The Band)So we did a couple of months of touring, and it ended here in San Francisco at The Masonic. Cool show. Great venue and an amazing audience. I’ve never had a bad experience playing here.

People love the songs from Last Waltz so much. It’s a body of work that has tremendous resonance. Especially when you end it playing Bob Dylan songs. At The Masonic, Taj sang “Forever Young,” and there were two people in their 60s sobbing in the front row because he sang the shit out of it. They’re fun to play, and it’s fun to watch the band feed off of that.

You know when you get older you start to develop this sort of ringing in your ears. At that gig, I remember it was really loud. And I remember thinking, “If I gotta lose my hearing let it be to these songs.” It stopped ringing after a few months, and I’m OK now. [laughing]

Let’s talk about the box set for a little bit. What inspired you to put this out now?
Well, it wasn’t just now. It was when I took the gig about six years ago. I used to always buy Blue Note Records when I was a teenager in like the mid-60s, and I started collecting them. And my buddies and I were just fascinated with Blue Note Records.

Back then record stores were owned by individuals so every record store had its own personality and we’d call around on Saturdays to this record store on the east side of Detroit and if they had a record store that we’d never seen before, we’d hop on a bus and ride 45 minutes each way just to hold the record. But it wasn’t just about the music it was about the graphics the black and white photos. It was a milieu that I wanted to be a part of and the 12-inch vinyl jackets made me feel connected to it.

So when I got the gig at Blue Note 45 years later, I wanted to make a way for people to feel connected to it again. We wanted to create something that was tangible and experiential. Something that you could really hold and feel.

Display case for Blue Note box set
Display case for Blue Note Review box set at the Battery in SF

How did you narrow down what to include in the set?
The foundation of each of the boxes is a double vinyl that’s recorded specially for the Blue Note subscription box. So, it’s not available anywhere else. And it’s created with the box in mind. All the things on that album you can’t stream anywhere, you can’t buy them anywhere. You can’t even go to Amazon and buy that vinyl album; you have to subscribe to the box.

So, we start with a theme, which was a little bit frivolous on the first box “Peace, Love, and Fishing.” That’s loaded with so many different interpretations. It’s pretty broad you could drive a mac truck through it. [laughing] The fishing part of it was real. It was a metaphor for what you do when you improvise. You sort of cast your line out there and you don’t know what’s gonna come back. Sometimes you get a marlin, sometimes you an old boot at the end of the of the hook. It’s about casting your mind into the unknown and seeing what comes back.

How does the subscription work?
You join and get a box set twice a year.

And for how long?
The next 50 years? I don’t know. Until I get fired? [laughing]

What’s the ultimate goal for Blue Note and how do you lead it into the 21st century?
The goal is to maintain the aesthetic and to honor the legacy of the company. We had to first identify the aesthetic. There’s a kind of fearless record making going on from the birth of the company that they always signed artists that were a little bit risky. And they always were looking to push the envelope of the music that was being made at the moment.

If you really follow the history like the 1940s with bebop and they could have signed anybody, but they signed Thelonious Monk who was probably the edgiest out there. But in doing that he recorded a body of work that absolutely changed the whole notion of jazz composition and the way people voices chords, and he was such an influential figure. But they saw that ahead of time, and they didn’t try to reel him in. They let him be Monk.

A couple of years later they put the Jazz Messengers together with Art Blakey and Horace Silver. They had roots and bebop but were playing something else. Horace silver was playing funky church stuff and Blakey, backbeats. Things you didn’t do in bebop. And that was the birth of Hard Bop, which changed everything. At the time it was mind-blowing. And they kept repeating that decade after decade. One thing is for sure, is that with the new stuff we don’t want to start looking back at the music, always look forward.

Do you see yourself signing bands that aren’t just traditional jazz then?
Oh yeah. We already do. Norah Jones, Rosanne Cash, Brian Adams, Van Morrison made a couple of records. We did an Elvis Costello and the Roots album. We did an Annie Lenox record. When I first took the gig, someone that worked at the company for a long time pulled me aside and told me the founders wrote a little manifesto. A mission statement in 1939 when the company started. And sure enough, it really lays it out.

In essence, they dedicate themselves to the pursuit of authentic music to providing uncompromising freedom of expression. Being a musician, when I’m playing bass, I don’t think, for the next two bars I’m gonna play some R&B and then I’m playing something jazzy. You don’t think about genres. Genres are great for organizing and record store.

Don Was note in display case for Blue Note box set
Don Was note in display case for Blue Note Review box set

Talking about genres how did you go from a Rock background recording bands like the Rolling Stones, to now jazz?
Well, I have a rock background as a record producer I suppose and as a musician but certainly not as a fan. I started listening to Blue Note in the 60s when I was like 14. But to be honest with you I see it more as two styles of music. I think there’s generous music and selfish music. Selfish music is the guy standing up on stage cramming as many notes as possible into two bars. “Let’s see how many notes I can play!”

You can view it as an acrobatic feat, but it’s not an emotional response. It’s like watching a trapeze artist. Actually, you’re more emotionally invested when you watch a trapeze artist since that person can fall and kill themselves. With music, the worst you can do is hit some shitty notes. [laughing]

Generous music is someone digging deep inside and getting in touch with their inner emotional life and then finding a way to transfix that into some artistic medium and making it communicative so that a complete stranger can look at that and feel the identical thing that you felt. Feel something. And ideally, it’s a response that makes some sense out of their lives.

Life is confusing man. It’s tough being a human being. We’re here; we don’t know why the fuck we’re here. We know we’re gonna die but we don’t know if it’s going to be in the next 10 seconds or maybe 40 years from now. It’s tough being human, and I think great art and particularly great music helps to deal with the uncertainty of life.

Getting back to the state of Rock n Roll, what do you think is the future of the genre?
I hear stuff all the time that I think is really good. The music is being made; it’s whether the people that are entrusted with bringing it to the people have the balls to bring it to them. If you look the charts now, urban hip-hop is the new pop music. So the temptation for the record companies is just to keep doing that. It’s not popular with record companies at the moment for there to be rock n roll bands. Some of those things that are passing for rock n roll bands are not sounding like rock n roll bands to me. [laughing]

When everybody makes a shift towards a certain style as a trend, I see that as a time for fantastic opportunity to go in the opposite direction. Because that’s when the competition thins out. All it’s really gonna take is just one kid with a guitar and a little bit of anger. And a year from now all they’re gonna be saying is: “Urban hip-hop, that was so last year. This year it’s all about the angry kid with the guitar.”

What are some the biggest challenges of going from musician to music producer?
You have to be aware as the whole with a W. I think like a Rolling Stone is one of the best single records that anyone’s ever recorded. I just think it’s an incredible track. But if you really listen to it and especially if you listen to the multitrack that Bob put out it’s loaded with mistakes. Wrong notes, stepping all over each other but that’s part of the charm of it. So, you have to learn to listen to the whole thing as opposed to focusing on one little part. That may be the biggest difference. Like if I’m playing bass on something I’m producing and we listen to the playback, I’ll shut the bass off. That way I can focus on the whole.

Life is confusing man. It’s tough being a human being. We’re here; we don’t know why the fuck we’re here. We know we’re gonna die but we don’t know if it’s going to be in the next 10 seconds or maybe 40 years from now. It’s tough being human, and I think great art and particularly great music helps to deal with the uncertainty of life.
~ Don Was

What about reissues. What goes into the reissue process?
The most important thing that there are several little steps you can take particularly in the remastering that can change everything. Like bringing up one frequency, a single DB can change the character of the music, the emotional impact of the music. It’s amazing how delicate you have to be.

If you listen to the unmastered tapes, they don’t sound like the music, so you have to do something, but you have to be careful what you do. So what we try to do is go with the original version of the vinyl pressing of the record, which is the one that everybody listened to and approved.

The first album we remastered was an album called Mode for Joe by Joe Henderson, and I know it very well because I bought it in 1966 and had been listening to it all my life. And when I put the mastered tapes up it did not feel like the album. In part because Rudy Van Gelder went back and added compression and EQ to it when he mastered it.

He did that, so there wouldn’t be these huge dynamic changes that would make the needle skip. That was a major consideration in those days. If the needle skipped it would be a defective record that would need to be returned. Also, when you do stuff like that it also makes the drummer sound more muscular and picks up ambient sound from the room.

So yes, we had to do stuff like that but at the same time honor the original intentions of the artist and really, in the end  the overall feel of the music.

Photos by Louis Raphael

To find out more about the Blue Note Review subscription and box set please click HERE.

Ferg Announces 2018 Mad Man Tour with Stop at the Warfield in San Francisco

in Music News by
Ferg Music in SF

Harlem, NY rapper Ferg is kicking off 2018 with a massive North American tour and will hit the San Francisco music scene on March 20, 2018. The tour will kick off in February in Philly, and will take the rapper across Los Angeles, Houston, Chicago, and many more, finally finishing up in his hometown at NYC’s Terminal 5.

Pre-sale tickets will be available via Spotify today at 12 p.m. EST. All other tickets will go on sale at 10 a.m. local time Friday, Dec. 8th. Visit for all tickets and more info.

Ferg has been riding on the success of his latest release, Still Striving. The mixtape features “East Coast” featuring Remy Ma (and the remix with Busta Rhymes, A$AP Rocky, Dave East, French Montana, Rick Ross & Snoop Dogg), “Mattress Remix” featuring A$AP Rocky, Playboi Carti, Famous Dex, and Rich the Kid , “Trap and a Dream” with Meek Mill and, “Plain Jane,” one of Ferg’s biggest hits to date.

The Fourth Annual Yountville Festival to Feature X Ambassadors

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The fourth annual Yountville Live will return in Yountville, California from March 15-18, 2018. The festival will feature cuisines from world-class restaurants and Award-winning rock star chefs, as well as performances from some of today’s hottest recording artists including X Ambassadors.

The festival will feature James Beard celebrity chef Stephanie Izard, chef and Food Network host Bob Blumer and local renowned chefs including Bob Hurley, Chris Kollar, Morgan Robinson, Nick Ritchie, Nate Lindsey, Cindy Pawlcyn, Anita Cartagena and more.

The four day event will include headline performances by X Ambassadors, Foy Vance, and NEEDTOBREATHE and intimate performances throughout the weekend by Dave Barnes, Emerson Hart, Marc Broussard, Jon McLaughlin, Logan Brill, Corey Harper, Keelan Donova, High Noon and more. Health and wellness guru from the Today Show, Joy Bauer and “Eat Travel Rock” TV host Kelly Rizzo will host events throughout the weekend. Also set to be featured are some of the biggest wineries from the area.

Tickets are now available for Yountville Live by going to

San Francisco Music Scene – November Roundup

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November Roundup Music in SF

November has been a great month for San Francisco live music, and we’ve been there for some of the highlights. The month kicked off to a great start, with Pixies and Weezer announcing a North American tour – call it 90’s-rock-heroes-a-palooza – in the summer of 2018. Spread over various dates from June to nearly mid-August, the tour’s date in San Francisco is August 7th next year.

Along with a surely-original slate of Christmas singles that were released (we kid – we love them really), we had reason to lift our heads to the new year with the announcement of a U.S. tour from blues-rock supergroup the Chris Robinson Brotherhood, in support of their new album Barefoot in the Head. The tour is set to conclude right here in San Francisco, with a three-night stint at The Fillmore on Dec. 14, 15, and 16; so mark the date now.

Trans awareness week, and the International Trans Day of Remembrance, were marked in sobering, joyous style by local favorite Annie Bacon, who announced a new live video, shot in 360 degrees and performed with Ramon Rodriguez, of the song “Gallatin Pike”, as a tribute to local transgender legend Nicole McRory. Find it on YouTube and enjoy the sight of musicianship in the round, and in an elevator.

Liam Gallagher performs at the Warfield Music in SF
Liam Gallagher performed at the Warfield in San Francisc0

Meanwhile, Liam Gallagher set the stage at The Warfield on fire (figuratively speaking, we’re happy to say), giving America its due after a long time away. Covering over the memory of his boycott of the stage at the height of Oasis’ American tour in 1994, Liam gave the city his trademark swagger and some old-fashioned audience participation for the encore. Given a toss-up between “Wonderwall” and “Live Forever,” the crowd picked “Wonderwall”; turns out everyone can play it, but no-one can give it the soulful, broken-glass snarl Gallagher can.

The Fillmore was another San Francisco music venue that had a fabulous run this November, with Vintage Trouble making a stop at the space around mid-November and blowing up the place with an epic performance to a crowd that was equal to the music.

This was a month for the classics: Metallica’s Master of Puppets was re-released, while Stone Temple Pilots revealed their new lead singer, X-Factor contestant Jeff Gutt, in the tragic aftermath of the loss of both original lead singer Scott Weiland, and lead singer until 2015, Chester Bennington. Having had time to regroup, the band released their new song “Meadow”, and it’s a winner; the sound of an old group just getting more mature, not going off-key. More releases and announcements poured in, with Tove Lo releasing a new album, Blue Lips, and Panic! At the Disco announcing that All My Friends We’re Glorious, a 21-track live album recorded on the band’s recent Death Of A Bachelor Tour, would be available on Dec. 15.

With November having been such a great month, we’re suited up and ready for a great holiday season, including the prospect of tickets for Taylor Swift’s show at Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara next May 12, which will go on sale on Dec. 13; a perfect little pre-holiday workout. Enjoy the month!

Music on the Rise: Gold Fir ‘Sirens’

in New Music by

Following the runaway success of, “Night Walk,” Gold Fir satisfies the demand for soulful sassy vibes with “Sirens,” the follow up single out via +1 Records. The new single demonstrates the duo’s fierce ingenuity. A track “about welcoming different aspects of yourself to the dance floor” — elements of pop and 80’s devil-may-care are all present, and delivered in a neat package as memorable as it is infectious.

New single Sirens is out. Now available on @spotify, @applemusic & @bandcamp

A post shared by Gold Fir (@goldfirworld) on

Seal Leaves His Heart in San Francisco

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Seal Performs with the San Francisco Symphony Music in SF

In the end, you’d only need a couple of words to describe last night’s Seal performance with the San Francisco Symphony at Louise Davies Symphony Hall: Simply Unforgettable. The return of the singer, most famous for his song “Kiss from a Rose,” took to the stage early on a Thursday evening, with the style and grace of a 1920s movie star but blessed with the pipes of a seasoned Rat Packer.

This San Francisco performance was the first stop on his latest tour to promote an album of Jazz standards entitled very simply “Standards,” which contains 11 classics from the Rat Pack era, including “Luck Be a Lady,” “My Funny Valentine” and “It Was a Very Good Year.”

Seal Performs with the San Francisco Symphony Music in SF
Seal Performing with the San Francisco Symphony (Thursday, Nov. 30, 2018)

He was recently quoted as saying in an article with the Examiner that his back-to-basics decision was the indirect result of a personal crisis, brought on by tragic world events.

“All of those things painted a very dark, gloomy, bleak picture, and if you have kids like I do, you’re left thinking, ‘Jesus Christ, is this what we’re leaving for them?’” he said. “So I got pretty depressed. But I refused to buy the notion that we, as a species, have somehow lost our way.”

Last night he did his best to try to keep the mood severe and moody, but unfortunately, his charm and wit kept getting in the way. In between songs he’d share a comical personal anecdote, which made the crowd gitty and at times unable to control their laughter. He’d sing a song, tell a joke, then gracefully and humbly thank the symphony for their fantastic backing musicianship. All the while each perfect step and whimsical move seemed effortless for this seasoned professional.

When you’re starting out in this business nobody tells you that there’s so much traveling involved. Which is fine if you’re 26 or 27…but I’m 54!

The show was divided into three parts. The first included performances of all the classic songs from the black and white era. The old crooner hits first sung by Mel Torme, Tony Benett and Old Blue Eyes were performed flawlessly by the handsome Brit, who confessed to the stunned audience that he was 54. (he really looks like he’s in his 30s.) Then midway through the show, he surprised everyone by pulling out a beautiful gold Stratocaster to perform some of his most famous hits. This included, of course, a magical, shivering rendition of his iconic “Kiss from a Rose.”

To close off the magic, he slowly whisked us into the holiday season by performing a series of Christmas carols, which included “A Christmas Song” and “Let it Snow.” It was a perfect way to start the Christmas season, to close the chapter on an enchanting evening, and a delightful way to conclude a performance that I rank up there as one of my favorites for 2017.

Set List

First Set

Intro Music
Luck Be A Lady
They Can’t Take That Away
I Put a Spell on You
Funny Valentine
Autumn Leaves
Anyone Who Knows What Love Is
I’m Beginning to See the Light
Love for Sale

Second Set

Kiss from a Rose
I’ve Got You Under My Skin
A Christmas Song
Let it Snow
That’s Life!

Outro Music

Encore: Crazy

Photos by Louis Raphael

Sammy Hagar Premieres Bday Bash Movie in Mill Valley

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Sammy Hagar Movie Premiere Mill Valley Music in SF

Rock and Roll Hall-of-Famer and epic partier Sammy Hagar premiered his movie Red Til I’m Dead: Sammy Hagar’s Rock-N-Roll Birthday Party last night at the Sweetwater Music Hall in Mill Valley, to a smaller audience that consisted mostly of friends and family. After a few opening words from the Red Rocker, the crowd was treated to a sneak preview of the film, which chronicles his epic multi-night birthday bashes that happens every year at his infamous Cabo Wabo Cantina in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico.

Sammy Hagar Cabo Wabo Music in SF
Sammy celebrating his 70th birthday in true Rock n Roll fashion at Cabo Wabo in Mexico (Photo by Jill Trunnell)

The concert footage included performances by Toby Keith, Chad Kroeger (Nickelback), Darryl McDaniels (Run DMC), Eddie
Money, Vinnie Paul (Pantera), Jerry Cantrell (Alice In Chains) and Bob Weir. His band consisted of Vic Johnson on guitar, Michael Anthony on bass (Van Halen) and Jason Bonham (son of Led Zeppelin’s John Bonham) on Drums.

The footage is sure to be a real treat for any fans of Sammy as it offers a rare glimpse into a party that over 45 thousand people apply for each and every year. Peppered throughout the show are behind-the-scenes glimpses into the glamorous life of a Rock n’ Roll icon, including birthday wishes from some of his most famous friends, many of whom have flown across the border just to perform at the event. According to the singer, it’s really these collaborations that he is most grateful for.

“I’ve been celebrating my birthday in Cabo for almost 30 years and I couldn’t begin to pick a favorite year,” said Sammy Hagar in a recent press release. “I’ve had hundreds of friends who’ve come down to perform and party. Each year is packed with so many insane collaborations and moments that I’m just happy that the rest of the world can finally get in – and celebrate alongside us as it unfolds on the big screen.”

All in all, the movie is a real treat for any fans of Sammy Haggar or anyone just curious about what this yearly celebration is all about. We all have an inner rock star in us, and on Dec. 5 it’s your chance to live out that fantasy on the beaches of Mexico with Sammy and all of his Rock n Roll friends. I can’t think of a better way to spend a Tuesday night and break up the monotony of a grueling work week.

“Red Til I’m Dead: Sammy Hagar’s Rock-N-Roll Birthday Party” will be released in movie theaters nationwide on December 5, 2017. Tickets for can be purchased online beginning Friday, October 27 by visiting or at participating theater box offices.

Photos courtesy of Louis Raphael

Noise Pop Festival Announces Phase 2 of Music Lineup

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Noise Pop Music in SF

SAN FRANCISCO, CA (November 29, 2017) – Noise Pop Festival, the Bay Area’s premiere indie music and arts festival, is excited to announce the second wave of acts that have been added to the music lineup for the 26th annual event. Over the course of a week, from Monday, February 19 to Sunday, February 25, Noise Pop Festival will transform the entire Bay Area into festival grounds with multiple events taking place across the city each night. Individual tickets to these new performances added today will also go on sale at 10 a.m. PT this Friday, December 1, 2017. Tickets to previously announced shows are already on sale. Both badges and tickets can be purchased at All festival badges now include access to film screening events, bringing even more to the festival experience.

The strength of 90s indie rock in this year’s lineup is amplified by the addition of Built to Spill, who will perform Keep It Like A Secret in its entirety. Also newly added are psychedelic-Cambodian pop act Dengue Fever; a pair of Australian natives and heralded performers Amy Shark and Alex Cameron; and Shamir, who released his third album, Revelations, this November. This latest round of artists to join the bill bring with them lots of high-energy garage rock, punk, and emo in the form of Atlanta-based and female-fronted punk rock trio The Coathangers, who just released their sixth project to date, Parasite EP; Jeff Rosenstock, who you might remember from his previous projects The Arrogant Sons of Bitches, Bomb The Music Industry! and Kudrow; The Hotelier; Tiny Moving Parts; Death Valley Girls; and Mom Jeans.

Two very special and intimate performances this year will include Inara George (of The Bird and the Bee) on Tuesday night at Café Du Nord and Waxahatchee (solo) at Swedish American Hall on the closing night of Noise Pop Festival. Plus, Australian producers Crooked Colours will make their Bay Area debut at the annual Noise Pop & Popscene club night.

The full list of music acts currently confirmed to perform at the 2018 festival can be found below. Please note that the lineup is subject to change.


Built to Spill (performs Keep It Like A Secret)
Real Estate
Black Rebel Motorcycle Club
Parquet Courts
San Fermin (with The Magik*Magik Orchestra)
Waxahatchee (Solo)
Japanese Breakfast
The Album Leaf
Jay Som
Alex Cameron
Dengue Fever
Amy Shark
No Age
Bruno Major
Mount Eerie
The Coathangers
Jeff Rosenstock
Enter Shikari
The Hotelier
Carla Dal Forno
Tiny Moving Parts
Gerd Janson
Sean Rowe
Crooked Colours
Inara George (of The Bird and the Bee)
Night Beats
Miya Folick
Ha Ha Tonka
The Weather Station
Summer Twins
Death Valley Girls
Single Mothers
Mom Jeans.
Milk Teeth
Oso Oso
Dick Stusso
Hand Habits
Joy Again
Bat Fangs
The Flytraps
Hazey Eyes
*Note – Artists in bold are Phase 2 music lineup additions

Festival badges are now available for $195. All badges grant access to all general admission (non-seated) music concerts, badge-only happy hours, NPHQ and some very special events soon to be announced. Badges are non-transferrable with age-restrictions for some events, and badge-holders must arrive within 60 minutes after club door times to guarantee entrance. New benefits for badge-holders this year include additional access to all of the film screenings and film-related events throughout the weeklong festival.

In addition, a super limited number of Super Fan badges are still available for $399. Super Fan badge-holders will experience the true red carpet treatment at the festival, where they receive guaranteed entry to all festival events, a special merch package, complimentary drink tickets to select events, and a personal Noise Pop concierge available for assistance throughout the weeklong festival. For any badge related questions, contact Noise Pop directly at

Tickets to all previously announced individual festival performances are on sale now. Tickets to these latest shows added today will go on sale this Friday, December 1 at 10 a.m. PT. New to Noise Pop Festival, badge-holders will now have the option of a specialized waitlist-service to help them enter shows.

This year’s official festival artwork was created by ChiChiLand. Çiğdem “Chi” Michalski is an illustrator, artist and occasional art director in Seattle, who for the past decade was half of the creative duo running Istanbul’s beloved motion design studio – imago. Today, she focuses on art and illustration while continuing to create work in the field of animation and design.

Last year at the 25th annual event, Noise Pop Festival saw its highest attendance yet in the festival’s history with nearly 90% of the acts playing to sold-out crowds and all festival badges selling out in advance. In total, over 28,000 people attended the 2017 festival, which marked a more than 30% increase in attendance from the year prior in 2016, which again was a hallmark year for the annual festival.

The 2017 festival played host to 180+ music artists across more than 17 Bay Area venues, with additional events including concerts, film screenings, art shows and more. The lineup for the 25th anniversary last year again carried on the festival’s musical expansion by including genres of all types including hip-hop, indie rock, electronic, metal, and more. The 2017 festival also welcomed the return of the Noise Pop After Hours at Café du Nord presented by Jameson Music, where the celebration continued multiple nights of the festival with surprise sets from several beloved Bay Area acts, including Thao (of Thao & The Get Down Stay Down), Jay Som, and Con Brio.

Stay tuned as additional music acts, as well as the film, art and event lineups will be announced in the months ahead.

Follow Noise Pop Festival on Facebook at, as well as on Instagram, Twitter, and Snapchat at @noisepop for updates and special promotions. The official hashtag for the festival is #NoisePop2018.

San Francisco Symphony to Perform Star Wars Trilogy

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San Francisco Symphony Star Wars Music in SF

In a press release that went out today, it was announced that the San Francisco Symphony will perform the original Star Wars trilogy, to be presented as part of its 2018 Summer with the Symphony series. Performances of A New Hope will take place July 19–21, followed by The Empire Strikes Back July 26–28, and Return of the Jedi, July 29–August 3. As usual with these types of events, the symphony will perform the movie scores live as the movies are projected onto a large screen above the stage.

Pre-sale tickets for Star Wars with the Symphony are available November 29–December 12 for subscribers and donors (Baton and Maestros’ circle). Benefits include:

  • Save 10% by purchasing a Star Wars package of 3 concerts.
  • Advance opportunity to purchase single tickets at full price.

Pre-sale tickets must be purchased by calling the box office at 415-864-6000 or in person at the Davies Symphony Hall box office on Grove Street between Franklin Street and Van Ness Avenue. Limit of 4 tickets per concert.

Tickets on sale for the general public Wednesday, Dec. 13 at 10 a.m. Tickets start at $50 and are available for purchase online at, by phone at 415-864-6000, and at the Davies Symphony Hall box office on Grove Street between Franklin Street and Van Ness Avenue.

Photo courtesy of San Francisco Symphony

Q&A: Overcoats

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The Overcoats announce north american tour

Overcoats, an electronic music duo that’s been said to draw its strength from vulnerability, finding light through darkness, and the catharsis of simple, honest songwriting, is making its way to the Independent in San Francisco on Dec. 9. The band comprised of JJ Mitchell and Hana Elion has been riding high on the success of their most recent release Young, that Billboard included in their top albums of the year citing it to be “supported by infectious electronic beats that can both amp up intensity and diminish for more tender moments — that help their painfully relatable (though often minimal) lyrics hit home.”

In between selling out venues around the country in the spring, the duo found some time to answer some questions for us where we discussed everything from what the meaning of their band name is, to how they go about songwriting, to what we can all expect at their San Francisco show.

Let’s go back to the beginning. How did you two meet and when did you first know that you wanted to create music together?
JJ: We met our first week of freshman year at Wesleyan University. We lived in the same dorm.
Hana: We remained friends all four years of college but I don’t think we knew we wanted to write music together until we did it…our senior year. So it took us 3.5 years to figure it out. We had always sung covers together, just for fun, but had never sat down to write a song together.

How did you guys come up with the name for the band and what’s the meaning behind it?
JJ: We wanted a name that would act like a coat of armor. Something that could protect us, genderless, ambiguous.
Hana: I think we just came up with it and it stuck! It felt right.

Can you describe your songwriting process?
JJ: We write in a number of different ways, depending. Sometimes we’ll sit and write a song together from start to finish, line by line.
Hana: Other times we bounce voice memos and emails back and forth and sort of build together songs out of snippets that we’ve each been working on separately.

Overcoats Music in SF
Hana Elion and JJ Mitchell of Overcoats

Your sound is a mix of so many different musical elements. Where does the inspiration to draw from so many different types of sounds come from?
JJ: We both had very similar musical influences growing up (Simon & Garfunkel, Amy Winehouse, Cold Play) and we gravitate towards the same music nowadays.
Hana: We love a four on the floor dance beat just as much as we love moving lyrics of heartbreak and transformation. Both made it into our musical style.

How has your sound evolved since your first EP?
JJ: Just as all musicians’ sound evolves over time, ours developed into a slightly more high fi sound with more depth and dynamics.
Hana: This was partly a desire of ours and a matter of circumstance. We were able to record in a lovely studio for our debut album which opened up a lot more opportunities to expand our sound, beyond our EP (which was written mostly in GarageBand).

If you could collaborate with anyone dead or alive, who would it be and why?
Hana: Bob Dylan
JJ: James Blake

What’s one thing that you’ve learned about the music industry that you wish you could have known earlier?
JJ: It’s really important to believe in yourself and your work.
Hana: So many people along the way try to contribute to your art, and it’s important to make sure your vision is always intact.

What have you got lined up for the rest of 2017?
Hana: Writing new music and playing shows!
JJ: It’s really exciting to be playing new stuff for crowds. And see how they react…

You’re playing the Independent in San Francisco in December. What do you like to do when you’re here?
Hana: Eat delicious food, see friends, and wear really good coats.
JJ: Also, shopping.

What can we expect at your upcoming live show?
JJ: Crazy lights and dance moves!!
Hana: Expect to laugh, dance and sob in the same hour.

What’s one thing that many people would be surprised to find out about you?
Hana: We’re big knitters.
JJ: Also, we exclusively watch The Mindy Project on tour

Overcoats play the Independent Sat, Dec 9, 2017 Doors: 8:30 pm / Show: 9:00 pm $15.00

Buy tickets HERE

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