SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) — Bay Area singer/songwriter Andrew St. James and his latest musical project Fast Times on Wednesday present the first of three livestream events featuring new music as well as a fundraising push for SF music venue the Rickshaw Stop and Oakland nonprofit Hip Hop For Change.
St. James, a San Francisco native and vocal prodigy, 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 additionally 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). Since making it’s debut last fall, the trio has played shows at the Chapel, the Rickshaw Stop and was included in the line-up for a Noise Pop concert at the Independent. The band also released one song on its Soundcloud page in the pre-COVID spring, initially with plans to release a full album in the coming year.
The group was supposed to release its proper debut single “Tuesday Night” at a Rickshaw Stop concert back in March, but given the changing times, Fast Times has decided to launch a 3-part livestream series to benefit both the Rickshaw Stop staff and the Oakland activist organization Hip Hop For Change.
The livestream events will be staggered over the next three months with a new song and video debut coinciding with each stream hosted live on the Rickshaw Stop’s Instagram. The first stream on Wednesday, July 15, at 7 p.m. will include Hip Hop For Change founder Khafre Jay, staff from the Rickshaw Stop speaking about how the venue has been coping with the pandemic shutdown plus a couple of musical guests with Fast Times playing several mini sets during the stream.