Sunday, October 26, 2008

San Francisco blues

After a week in 80 degree sunshine in San Francisco it's tough coming back to cold, rainy old London. But I can't complain. I liked San Francisco a lot, despite the many beggars, potheads and junkies that seemed to be everywhere on the streets. It's been described as the most European of US cities, and the quaintness of the cable cars and the vintage tram cars certainly supports that impression. It's breathtakingly attractive in parts and has an arty and rebellious underbelly, fuelled no doubt by its hippy past and its gay present, that places it apart from other US cities I've visited. New Orleans has its laid back atmosphere and music and New York its frantic pace, but San Francisco seems more radical and edgy. Of course, the news was dominated by the Obama/McCain battle, with every word and action analysed in detail (although Proposition 8, on gay marriages, was also getting a lot of attention on the streets of San Francisco). There's no doubting where the sympathies of most San Franciscans lie, but I must say that if Obama fails to win on November 4 my faith in the US political system will be lost forever.
I did some of the things that tourists must do, like riding on the cable cars, taking the ferry trip to Alcatraz and taking a look at Haight/Ashbury, where, it seems, many of the original hippies still try to live the dream and smoke pot all day. There are several blues orientated music clubs - Biscuits and Blues was one with good live blues every night - but I didn't get to visit them. I did, however, do a tour of the vinyl record stores (thanks to Dave C for his useful information) and it's an excellent record town. The largest - Amoeba - is a huge former bowling alley with thousands of cheap 45s and reasonably price LPs, as well as an impressive range of CDs. Others that I visited included Grooves (pictured) and Rooky's Records - both good, but a bit pricey. I picked up a couple of dozen singles for around a dollar each, including originals of Sh'Boom by the Chords and Still by the Chantels and great blues by Bobby Bland and Z Z Hill.
My biggest regret was missing the New Orleans festival at the O2. It seems that Marcia Ball was her usual brilliant self and I'm waiting to hear about the others. Comments and reviews are always welcome.
Sorry to hear of the death of Levi Stubbs - one THE great voices of soul music. RIP.


At 10:13 pm , Blogger IMURIS75 said...



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