By Dave Pehling
SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) — A regular music showcase that takes place at Amnesia in the Mission District moves a block down Valencia Street this Thursday for an event at the Chapel featuring songwriter Andrew St. James, his band Fast Times and much more.
Singer/songwriter St. James is a San Francisco native and vocal prodigy who took to music at an early age. Singing baroque classical music and touring internationally with choirs as a child, he was making appearances with the San Francisco Opera by age 11. By his teens, St. James had turned to writing and recording his own music that drew on ’70s tunesmiths like Bob Dylan, Neil Young and Jerry Garcia as well as more modern troubadours Father John Misty and Jim James.
His music caught the ear of Bay Area producer Jim Greer (half of duo the Rondo Brothers who has also worked with Los Lonely Boys, Foster the People, Galactic and Geographer), who ended up producing the young songwriter’s debut album Doldrums recorded in 2013 during his senior year in high school. Earning solid notices for his vivid storytelling and compelling melodies, the release marked St. James as a rising local talent to watch.
He has since recorded two more albums albums — The Big Ole Veronica Apology Record in 2017 and last year’s Liberation Music.! For Boring People, that was actually recorded in the wake of the 2016 election and a bout of personal malaise before the tapes were misplaced — but St. James has also been exploring other creative outlets. He began his regular showcase Fast Times at Amnesia about a year ago with an eye towards creating a gathering place for local artists in an intimate setting that fosters collaboration while giving songwriters a chance to build their audience.
St. James also started a new band. Also called Fast Times, the group features the songwriter working with members of Bay Area synth-pop Geographer Cody Rhodes (drums) and Duncan Nielsen (guitar, who also performs as a solo act under the moniker Doncat). The trio has released one song on its Soundcloud page with plans to release a full album in the coming year.
For this second edition of Fast Times being held at the Chapel on Thursday, St. James is slated to play on his own in addition to a set with the band. Also appearing will be opening band the Gonks — which features Sonny Smith of Sonny and the Sunsets fame along with teen songwriter Ava Lynch and Sami Perez of local surf-pop outfit the She’s — and alt-country band Burning Curtains, another all-star aggregation with Two Gallants drummer/singer Tyson Vogel and guitarist/vocalist Andrew Kerwin of Trainwreck Riders.
Fast Times with Burning Curtains and the Gonks
Thursday, Dec. 19, 8 p.m. $15