SF SREETMUSICIANS- sept 2002
COMING SOON TO YOUR LIVING ROOM
SAN FRANCISCO, CA- If you’ve ever taken a walk through Chinatown or Golden Gate Park, you’ve probably seen them. Whether playing a drum set entirely of buckets, jamming on a harmonica, or belting out opera tunes in front of Macy’s, they are San Francisco’s great street musicians, a collection of talented but often unnoticed artists whose public performances play an important part in shaping the city’s soundscape each day.
Now an innovative album called Streetnote has captured the sounds of some of these street musicians- and the album’s primary distributors are the musicians themselves. Starting on Wednesday, August 28th, five well-known San Francisco street performers will be given a chance to sell their own music to the people who attend their performances, thanks to the San Francisco-based record label Streetnote. Streetnote is donating the first several hundred copies of the new disc to its featured artists in the hopes of boosting the artists’ earnings and helping them gain a wider public exposure at the same time.
“This is something that has been a long time coming,” says Timothy Nutt, founder of Streetnote. “Giving street musicians the opportunity to promote and distribute their own music gives them an opportunity for recognition that might otherwise never have come. These are not simply amateur musicians … many of them are very talented, and have a lot to say.”
Take opera singer Robert Close, a tenor with impressive vocal power. Robert has been singing opera for nearly thirty years and sang in front of Macy’s during most of the eighties - initially as a way to supplement his income. During the nineties, he went on to sing in the San Francisco production of The Phantom of the Opera. But Robert’s love for street performance brought him back to the art several years ago, and he can now be found singing three days a week at the corner Maiden Lane and Grant.
Or Don Garrett, a blues guitarist who first came to San Francisco in 1964 after finishing two years of military service. DG played guitar in the city for seven years before deciding to pursue a more deeply religious life, but in 1997 he discovered that playing the blues and living spiritually were, for him, one and the same. Don and his guitar can now be found every day on the corner of Jefferson and Leavenworth, next door to the Cannery.
But whether one-time professionals or life-long amateurs, the artists of Streetnote could previously be heard only by those lucky few who happened to be passing by the right street corner at the right time. As romantic as that might sound to some, it means low exposure for the artists themselves.