And our other bills are all up to date!Â That’s a first for quite a long time, and we have the community to thank for it.
This past Saturday’s “Rent Party” — a 10-hour bebop concert/jamÂ that turned out the bookshop’s neighborhood patrons in substantial numbers –Â was a huge success.Â All of the store’sÂ rent for November was covered by straight-out donations and substantial sales on the day of the event,Â so the money we started out the day with was available toÂ coverÂ the rest of our bills and get us caught up again.
I only wish everyone “feeling the pinch” could garner such assistance from those close by.Â I well realize howÂ lucky we are to be in a position to ask forÂ and receive such massive help in a difficult time.Â Do you wish you could help all the little businesses in the neighborhood as easily as helping us?Â Throw a little extra business their way this week, and it will make a difference!
As for BirdÂ & Beckett, the community has been incredible through all these years for their obvious goodwill towardsÂ the shop and its proprietor and staff,Â and for their determined support.Â One day, maybeÂ all the world will catch on to the value of working consciously to maintain a healthy center in all the little neighborhoods we inhabit.
I haveÂ some work to do in order to reconstruct the day in my memory — in terms of letting you know what musicians played, how many there were all told, etc.Â I took good notes for the first half and then forgot all about doing that as the day got more and more exciting.Â Highlights certainly included the attendance of Diane di Prima (SF Poet Laureate Emeritus)Â and her improvisatory reading fromÂ a newÂ collection called Poems are AngelsÂ in counterpoint and collaboration with the quintet on stage at midday, as well as guestÂ performances on piano by Larry Dunlap and Benny Green — two hugely respected talents; the stunning vocals of Sandra Aran and Jesse Foster; and the reading of several marvelous pieces by poet David Meltzer late in the day.
But listing theseÂ individuals and moments tends to obscureÂ the superb work by many musicians who are heard at Bird & Beckett oftenÂ and who made a special effort to turn out for this, bringing alongÂ colleagues who had never been in the shop but who had been hearing about it enough that they didn’t hesitate to play for free on our behalf.
No discussion of Saturday’s 10-hour concert at Bird & Beckett can be sufficient without namingÂ theseÂ musicians whoÂ have come to frequent our stage over the years and who played with superb enthusiasm over the course of the day:Â Chuck Peterson, Scott Foster, Don Prell, Jimmy Ryan, Dorothy Lefkovits, Bishu Chatterjee, Michael Parsons, Harvey Robb,Â Don Alberts, Charles Thomas, Howard Dudune, Dean Reilly, Tony Johnson,Â Jerry Logas, Henry Hung,Â Rick Elmore, Jon Frank, Stu Pilorz, N. J. Jaramillo, Sandra Aran.Â There were also a number of new and nearly new (to us) talents, including drummerÂ Jeff Weinmann, bassists Ollie DudekÂ & Rob Woodcock,Â vocalist Jesse Foster, guitarist Jordan Samuels, and singer Kim Gill.
During the day, other renownedÂ musicians like Vince Lateano and Noel JewkesÂ passed through and donated funds without trying to crowdÂ the stage; some, like Ron Marabuto sent checks, and many stalwart supportersÂ simply couldn’t make it, much as they’d have liked to,Â due to the demands of other gigs.
Glen Park audiences canÂ be proud that the welcome they afford such musicians is so very much appreciated by the musicians themselves.
EasilyÂ the most thrilling surprise in a long day of terrifically gratifying performances was when a neighbor, the recording engineerÂ Gary Mankin (who runs his own studio in Glen Park), appeared late in the afternoon and told me he’d been working that afternoon with Benny Green, cleaning up some pieces of live recordings for a forthcoming CD, and had told Benny as they were finishing up the day’s work aboutÂ the Bird & Beckett rent partyÂ in swing down in the Village.Â When Gary asked me if I’d like Benny to play, I could hardly say no to that!Â
I’d been fretting that we were hitting a spot in the day without aÂ piano or guitar and that it was going to be a challenge to get through it, and then, here’s Benny Green — a guy who merits an excited notice in the New Yorker any time he’s booked to play a Big Apple jazz venue and gets a spread in Downbeat when there’s a new album to review…
Benny,Â who just recently turnedÂ 50,Â grew up in BerkeleyÂ and was well schooled in jazz at Berkeley High, toured for four years with Betty Carter in the mid-1980s andÂ following that experience joinedÂ Art Blakey’s Jazz Messengers.Â He’s worked steadily and at an extremely high level for 35 years in the music, with more than a dozen albums as a leader and countless recordings as a sideman for many of the top artists in jazz.Â And here he was at BirdÂ & Beckett playing as “just one of the cats” alongside Don Prell and Jimmy Ryan, two veterans who started their careersÂ in the music more than a couple ofÂ decades before Benny was born,Â as well as saxophone colossus Jerry Logas and astrophysicist/trombonist Stu Pilorz from up on Congo Street…
I was a little concernedÂ that gaps might materialize during the day when we’d be lacking a bassist or a chordal instrument like piano or guitar, but those gapsÂ never came.Â Just when a hole looked like it was about to open up, along would come a fantastic musician to fill it.
Just another Saturday at Bird & Beckett!Â One that yielded $3,500 or so to get our rent paid for another month plus a whole lot of donations to the non-profit Bird & Beckett Cultural Legacy Project, which helps sustain the music here year round.Â
I only wish I could name here all the individuals who donated directly during theÂ day and before and after — and those who found other ways to support the event and the store’s longevity. Thanks to all of you!
We’re really proud to be creating an example here– very proud to be giving dedicated, serious musicians and writers a place to connect directly and intimately with peopleÂ (you!) over an extended period of time.Â Keep in mind, the music has been happening here in Glen ParkÂ for a decade-plus!Â Anyway, their willingness to turn out to performÂ for free in support of the shopÂ indicates how much they appreciate our respect for them and our efforts to give them a good venue, and how much they appreciate the audiences that assemble for them–Â just as the community’s outpouring of support indicates their appreciation for the culture they find here at the shop.
So much mutual respect among such a large group of people seems a rarity, but is very real and tangible.
Our events are put on under the umbrella of the nonprofit Bird & Beckett Cultural Legacy Project (the "BBCLP"). That's how we fund our ambitious schedule of 300 or so concerts and literary events every year.
The BBCLP is a 501(c)(3) non-profit...
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Gigging musicians! You have nothing to lose but your lack of a collective voice to achieve fair wages for your work!
The IMA can be a conduit for you, if you join in to make it work.
Read more here - Andy Gilbert's Feb 25 article about the IMA from KQED's site