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Thursday, April 19, 2012

The Top 20 Greatest San Francisco Musicians: Honorable Mentions

Posted By on Thu, Apr 19, 2012 at 10:11 AM

See also:

* The Top 20 Greatest San Francisco Musicians, Nos. 20-16

* The Top 20 Greatest San Francisco Musicians, Nos. 15-11

* The Top 20 Greatest San Francisco Musicians, Nos. 10-6

We're almost to the end of this week's list of the 20 greatest musicians of all time. Before we get to the final five, though, we want to pause and look at some of the S.F.-affiliated artists that didn't quite make the top 20, but are worth celebrating nonetheless. After this, you'll have plenty of clues about who will make our top five best S.F. musicians of all time when the list goes up tomorrow. But right now, stop and appreciate some great locals:

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Stephan Jenkins

Sure, you're probably remembering Stephan Jenkins at this moment as a little bit of an asshole. It's not that you're wrong about this, just that you're underestimating the extent to which he's an asshole you want in your life. Not in the "Deep Inside of You" sense, but in the sense that he is the rare kind of guy who can blithely, even earnestly write a song called "Deep Inside of You." Third Eye Blind, the band Jenkins started here in 1993 and still mobilizes today for the odd concert or political fundraiser, is one of the spurned essentials of the 1990s: an impeccably tuneful, unexpectedly muscular rock band that, thanks to Jenkins' borderline-TMI brand of rock-star candor, was never quite freaky enough to be marginalized and never quite refined enough to taken truly seriously. Not to put too fine a point on it, but that's what this entire city is like on its best days. And you're a fool if you think "Semi-Charmed Life" won't be in ten years where "Don't Stop Believing" is today. -- Daniel Levin Becker

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Chris Isaak

Anyone who caught Chris Isaak's flawless performance at last year's Hardly Strictly Bluegrass Festival would never deny him a place among S.F.'s greats. For all the Elvis comparisons, the fact is, when you hear Isaak's unique voice, you know immediately that it is him -- and for all the right reasons. Think back to the first time you ever saw the ridiculously sexy and stylish video for "Wicked Game" (in which Isaak frolicked on the beach with a mostly-naked Helena Christensen) and try to deny this man's majesty. It can't be done! Today, Isaak remains as charming, funny, distinctive and -- gosh darn it -- handsome, as he ever was. -- Rae Alexandra

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John Dwyer

If people don't remember John Dwyer and Thee Oh Sees in 30 years, it will be a fucking tragedy. This is not a mere rock band -- it is a local treasure, an S.F. icon sort of like the Golden Gate Bridge or the Giants of underground rock. The band's live show is notorious, whether you caught it in the dungeonesque confines of the Eagle Tavern (R.I.P.) or at the top of the bill at Great American Music Hall. And the leader of Thee Oh Sees is John Dwyer, a man whose ravenous, unhinged stage persona makes him seem half-human and half animal. Wild as he is onstage, Dwyer is a reliable fount of musical ideas -- Thee Oh Sees put out two albums last year, remember -- and an expert on all things garage-rock. He also runs his own Castle Face label and works with other local artists (you can thank him for helping out Ty Segall and Mikal Cronin). But as leader of Thee Oh Sees, John Dwyer has earned an unofficial status as the figurehead of the San Francisco garage-rock scene. -- Ian S. Port

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Johnny Mathis

There is no adult contemporary male vocalist with more pop music penetration than Johnny Mathis. Mathis emerged a star of jazz standards and romantic ballads during San Francisco's psychedelic rock era. Though born in Texas, he grew up in the Richmond District and was raised on a steady diet of song and dance. Mathis performed in amateur and community shows throughout his adolescence; and toured local venues like The Black Hawk Club through high school and college. He was discovered by a representative of Columbia Records at 19. At the time, Mathis was attending San Francisco State University and preparing for a career as an Olympic high jumper. Abandoning hopes to become a professional athlete in order to pursue music, Mathis went on to record a host of albums, including five Christmas specials, and to work on MGM films Lizzie and A Certain Smile. His Greatest Hits album was recognized by the Guinness Book of World Records for having the longest stay of any album on a music chart. Mathis has three Grammy awards and was recognized for his work on Same Time, Next Year with an Academy Award nomination for Best Original Song. He was given a lifetime achievement award in 2003 by the Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences and inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame. -- Jessica Hilo

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