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Casting a Wide Net, What, No Journey?, Oh, Wait -- Here's Journey

Wednesday, Nov 3 1999
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Casting a Wide Net On the corner of 29th and Mission streets, where Bernal Heights and the Mission run into each other, say howdy, and then eye each other warily, Gregory Howe is supervising a bit of a mess. A little over a year ago, Howe bought the building at 3299 Mission, which used to house a Wells Fargo branch. He cheerily points out the little traces of history that grace the walls and dusty corners of the place: the wall moldings for the American Trust Co., the original tenant here in 1854; a swath of curtain from the old Fox Theater; vestibule doors that come from Albany High School. A vintage cappuccino machine has just been installed, old jazz, swing, and soul records sit on shelves in a corner, and a metal RCA-Victor sign hangs on a wall, slightly distressed in the rusty way that makes antiques mavens swoon.

All this for the sake of an idea; actually, a whole passel of them. On Dec. 3, Howe plans to officially open Wide Hive Record Store Cafe, which will sling lattes, sell records, and, most importantly to him, open up another venue to the music community. Wide Hive opened its doors three times earlier this year to showcase a variety of fusion-minded artists, including esteemed Oakland jazz guitarist Calvin Keys, DJs Zeph and Imperial, Broun Fellinis drummer Kevin Carnes, and the acid-jazz collective Dissent, featuring Howe himself; the results will be released on the collection Wide Hive Live 3. If the building's front is where talismans of the past meet up, the rear of the place is distinctly modern, with just- or nearly finished offices, a studio control room (including a recording console once owned by Jackson Browne), and an overdub suite. Part of the plan is to open up the activities inside the closed doors of the studio to people coming into the place. "I want to integrate the audience, have one of those places where the artist and the audience can commingle," says Howe. The collective concept includes illustrators, photographers, and other artists, mean- ing everyone involved is wearing a number of different creative hats; Carnes himself explains that he's a producer, a drummer, and sometimes just somebody working security at the door.

In a way, the free-form collective concept makes Wide Hive a sort of Knitting Factory West, a space where a variety of musical ideas can come to fruition in an open environment. The thrill of Dissent's self-titled record is how widely it draws from the likes of Terry Callier, Miles Davis, Latin jazz, and hip hop, with a hint of Wes Montgomery thrown in for good measure. The studio itself, which includes equipment from Howe's Green Battery studios in North Beach, offers Wide Hive's most unique concept: recording the live performances and having them available on CD for purchase right after the show's over. "It's a novel idea," says Howe. "You can instantly create a product." Indeed, Howe is all but overflowing with ideas for what he wants to do with the space. Live Webcasts. Opportunities for new musicians to join the fray. National and international CD distribution. "There are all these areas that haven't even been explored," says Howe. "The number of people will direct its flow. If enough people are interested in something, we'll pursue it. And then there'll be spinoffs from that."

The Nov. 13 show at Wide Hive will feature Tower of Power member Ron E. Beck, Calvin Keys, Kenneth Nash, and Charlie Musselwhite bassist Artis Joyce. The show starts at 9:30 p.m. CDs go on sale at 11:30. Contact 282-9433 or widehive.com.

What, No Journey? Since the Bay Area is often written off as the ugly stepchild to major-label music centers like New York and Los Angeles, or to hep little college-town scenes in Athens, Portland, or Austin, it's nice to know that Midwesterners are paying attention. Pitchforkmedia.com, a Minnesota-based music site devoted mainly to indie-centric reviews, recently posted its list of the top 100 albums of the '90s. Insofar as one can trust a collective of list-makers who believe that both Weezer albums are two of the finest platters released in the past decade, locals -- and nearby neighbors -- performed well, taking nine of the slots. The winners (chart position in parentheses): MK Ultra's The Dream Is Over (98), Jawbreaker's 24-Hour Revenge Therapy (61), Red House Painters' Ocean Beach (58), Tom Waits' Mule Variations (57) and Bone Machine (56), American Music Club's Everclear (36), Pavement's Crooked Rain, Crooked Rain (10), DJ Shadow's Endtroducing... (7), and Pavement again for Slanted and Enchanted (2).

Oh, Wait -- Here's Journey Journey plays Friday, Nov. 12, at the Warfield for a benefit performance for 800-SUICIDE, a suicide-prevention hot line. Firefall opens. Tickets are $35-150. Call 775-7722.

Send Bay Area music news, band stories, or petty gripes to mathitakis@sfweekly.com, or mail them to Riff Raff, c/o SF Weekly.

About The Author

Mark Athitakis

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