By Dave Pehling
SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) — Light Rail Studios in San Francisco on Saturday will host it’s second fundraising “webathon” of the pandemic to help save some of the city’s financially struggling live music venues amid the COVID-19 shutdown.
The livestream event — “Because the Night II” — is aimed at raising money and awareness about the plight of Bay Area venues that are part of the Independent Venue Alliance.
The organization was born this past spring as the COVID-19 pandemic first emerged to shut down businesses. Operators from such landmark venues like the Bottom of the Hill, El Rio, the Rickshaw Stop and the Chapel banding together in order to amplify the cause of these key cultural hubs that have received little assistance from either city or federal government officials.
All IVA venues are currently closed and will likely remain shuttered until the final phase of the business re-openings. Some are speculating that live music performances, even on a smaller scale, may not happen until well into next year.
Earlier in 2020 before the pandemic changed the face of the live music industry, Light Rail Studios began streaming live music on Facebook as Light Rail Station, using multiple cameras and state-of-the-art sound to present local and touring acts like Robyn Hitchcock, Ezra Furman, Sarah Bethe Nelson, Chaki and Radioactivity.
“I have seen some of the most iconic venues in this city close over the past 30 years, and when we saw that there was no financial assistance for venues being considered from the state or local governments, we decided to form an alliance so we would have strength in numbers, and do everything in our power to save those that are still left,” explained IVA member and Make-Out Room booker/co-owner Parker Gibbs, who also helped found Light Rail Station and currently serves as its executive producer. “This city cannot withstand another exodus of creatives and musicians, so we decided to have a webathon where we could ask our neighbors to lend a hand.”
With Congress continuing its seemingly endless debate over a second COVID relief bill, the IVA decided at the last minute to put together a diverse line-up of local acts and band’s with strong Bay Area ties to again highlight the plight of local music venues.
The virtual event starts Saturday at 7 p.m. with some of the performers taking a socially distanced stage at Light Rail for the livestreamed event, with others being streamed from additional locations or appearing in pre-produced clips.
Among the notable acts and performers are founding member of The Go-Go’s and SF resident Jane Wiedlin, Oakland singer/songwriter Brad Brooks — who recorded his cathartic, soulful new album God Save the City while recovering from a throat cancer scare, only to release the triumphant effort in the midst of the pandemic — multi-instrumentalist and songwriter Meg Baird (appearing alongside her Heron Oblivion bandmate Charlie Saufley), hypnotic power trio Terry Gross — who are preparing to release their debut full-length Soft Opening on Thrill Jockey Records next month — and firebrand San Francisco tunesmith Mayya.
Legendary punk/roots guitarist Dave Alvin (The Blasters, X, The Knitters, The Flesh Eaters) will appear with his expansive new project The Third Mind with Camper Van Beethoven bassist Victor Krummenancher and songwriter Jesse Sykes, as will acclaimed NYC-based post-punk outfit The Parquet Courts, local all-star aggregations The Barneys and the GIBBSMO Holiday Craptacular players, drummer extraordinaire Jon Theodore (The Mars Volta, Queens of the Stone Age), SF Supervisor Hillary Ronan and more unannounced surprise guests. The webathon will also include some unseen footage from Shayne Stacy and his Sacramento Music Archive that features performances from various San Francisco venues, including some long-shuttered spots like the Old Waldorf.