Grace Potter, Jackie Greene, Big Light and Members of ALO, The Mother Hips and Apollo Sunshine Bid 12 Galaxies Farewell
Though San Franciscos 12 Galaxies is scheduled to close its doors Thursday, the venues promoters seem determined to go out with a bang. The intimate club hosted a number of jam sessions over the weekend that drew in both local regulars and visiting musicians in town for San Franciscos Outside Lands Music & Arts Festival.
Fridays festivities were billed as the Golden Gate Gramble and opened with a mini set by the Mother Hips offshoot the Ball Point Birds. Soon after, Hips frontman Tim Bluhm took the stage with his wife Nicki Bluhm and The Gramblers, a conglomeration of local musicians that included guitarist Deren Ney, Ride Me Blinds bassist Bill Cramer and Jackpot drummer Mike Curry, as well as special guests Jackie Greene and ALO bassist Steve Adams. The latter musician arrived back in San Francisco after clocking in a few amphitheatre dates as Jack Johnsons temporary bassist in Salt Lake City, Portland, OR and Vancouver, BC. Adams helped glue the rest of the evening together by playing in both the rising indie-rock group Big Light and LEBO, a new project spearheaded by ALO guitarist Dan Lebowitz. Both groups invited special guests to the stage during their short sets: Lebowitz, Tim Bluhm and Umphreys McGee keyboardist Joel Cummins all sat in with Big Light, while Cummins, The Mother Hips Greg Loiacono and Jackie Greene rounded out Lebowitzs normal players. Greene, Bluhm and Curry then offered a stripped-down performance as The Skinny Singers.
The night came to a close with a loose classic-rock heavy performance that drew in most of the evenings entertainers. Highlights included Greene taking the lead on the Grateful Deads Shakedown Street and Sugaree, a Lebowitz sung cover of Eric Claptons Cocaine, and Bluhms trademark take on Neil Youngs Down By the River. The members of Big Light filtered onto the stage for a stab at Gillian Welchs Wrecking Ball.
Sundays festivities were similarly loose but inspired and featured even more surprises. The night opened with a performance by the Foster Leahy Band, an ensemble anchored by local stalwarts Kiyoshi Foster and Sean Leahy. Next up, a streamlined version of Big Light took the stage with guest turns by guitarist Leahy and Hot Buttered Rum fiddler Aaron Redner. Keyboardist Jordan Feinstein then anchored something of a round-robin super jam billed as The Falcor All-Stars. In addition to core members Feinstein, Adams, Redner, Leahy and ALO drummer Dave Brogan, an assortment of familiar faces performed at various points, including Underground Orchestra percussionist Ben Baruch, Everyone Orchestra leader Matt Butler, Big Light keyboardist Colin Hoops and bassist Mark Calderon, the latter of whom is best known for his work with Vusi Mahlasela.
While much of the evening consisted of freeform jams, the set came to a close with a series of sing-alongs such as ALOs Wasting Time, The Bands The Weight and the Grateful Deads Brokedown Palace, as well as some heartfelt words on the venues untimely end by Feinstein. At around 2 AM, 12 Galaxies closed and its packed room emptied out.
A handful of fans stuck around outside 12 Galaxies for approximately 20 minutes while the venues staff began to break down their stage. Then, around 2:30AM, Grace Potter, guitarist Eric McFadden and Apollo Sunshine drummer Jeremy Black breezed by the room hoping to catch a few minutes of the abovementioned jam session. Realizing they had missed the show, the musicians convinced 12 Galaxies staff to reopen the clubthough not the barfor an impromptu performance that stretched until sunrise. Potter fronted an ad hoc ensemble consisting of Feinstein, McFadden, Black, Big Light keyboardist Colin Hoops and Potters Nocturnals bandmates Scott Tournet and drummer Matt Burr on a funky improvisational segment that gradually came to a head in the form of Bob Dylans All Along the Watchtower. Black then subbed out for drummer Daria Shani Johnson for a birthday tribute to Tournet that included Robert Palmers Sneakin Sally Through the Alley and Stevie Wonders Superstition.
12 Galaxies next and final show will take place this Thursday. Though Big Light and StitchCraft are the evenings only scheduled acts, fans can safely assume a few additional musicians may drop by throughout the night.