Is San Francisco’s Music Scene Dead?
Andrew Wallace Chamings

Your title is a leading question.

As a person who helps run an SF-based label, we’re quiet tired of the “SF scene is dead” theme that has been raised again and again. In fact, I would argue that there is more creative juices flowing in SF right now. The figureheads that you point to are entitled to their respected opinions — we respect them, too! However, folks like Kelley Stoltz, and Sonny Smith are still here. Perhaps, we’re not seeing major labels sign these bands … but that’s not even true. Burger Records recently released Sarah Bethe Nelson’s LP. Perhaps it’s harder today for mainstream consumers to connect with a “scene,” but honestly, it doesn’t take much than taking a chance of going to the Knockout for a Savior Faire or Alcoholcaust Presents evening. El Rio and the Hemlock Tavern have also been standby venues for local music. My point is, we’re all still here. It doesn’t take much beyond curiosity and open mind to find something. People are still here creating, supporting, and creating community.

Further, there is no SF vs. Oakland sentiment here. Oakland musicians are equally part of SF music, as SF bands are part of Oakland’s. We’re all the same group people just trying to create. However, yes, housing did make it harder for people to stay in SF, and that’s the most important part of your article that you’ve conflated with the “music scene is dead” sentiment.

The housing crisis and the battle to keep venues has always been an on going issue, and a very important one. However, these issues have only tempered our “music scene” to be more supportive of each other. In fact, I’m seeing these same artists at political phone banks and rallies. To me, the focus should be on the austerity rules that are making it harder for music to exist, and not the “death” of the “music scene.”

Perhaps a better focus should be on how the working class, the poor, the people of color, and creative types are all being thrown under the bus by politicians who have sold their votes to big money.

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