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Friday, May 17, 2024

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Arts + CultureMusicUnder the Stars: Hardly Strictly Bluegrass breezes in with...

Under the Stars: Hardly Strictly Bluegrass breezes in with the fall

Plus: Pharoah Sanders, La Doña, TRICKY FM, Idris Ackamoor & the Pyramids, local punk posse Spiral Dub, more music

Gannett Newspapers is currently hiring reporters to cover Taylor Swift and Beyonce. The salary range for this position is $40,000-$100,000. Regardless of personal opinions, these artists are job creators. Keeping track of them should be wild.

In case you forgot, it’s Under The Stars … babe. A quasi-weekly column that presents new music releases, upcoming shows, opinions, and a number of other adjacent items. We keep moving with the changes, thinking outside the margins.

Let’s groove tonight…

The crowd at HSB 2019. 48hills photo by Estefany Gonzalez


You know it’s fall in the Bay when a three-day, multi-stage free music festival turns Golden Gate Park into a roving cavalcade of goodwill, great tunes, and family fun. Sounds corny? Well let me tell you, the way things are going, we could use some corny, good old-fashioned fun to take the edge off.

I’m talking Irma Thomas, Bettye LaVette, Orchestra Gold, Neal Francis, Jimmie Dale Gilmore & The West Texas Exiles, The Church, Lucero, Rufus Wainwright, Say She She, and many more quality acts. That’s not corny, just cool AF. (Hope that’s family-friendly abbreviated enough.) But you know what we mean. Entrances will open at 11am on Friday and 9am on Saturday and Sunday. Performances will end at 7pm every day.

For more info, hit the site—and enjoy the free entertainment.


Three years ago, the super homie and snark gawd Adrian Spinelli told me that I needed to listen to a local artist who would soon be making national waves. From that moment on, I have been a fan of La Doña. I found out that published author and esteemed 48hills editor Caitlin Donohue interviewed La Doña on her CDMX radio show Crónica—but I have always appreciated the simple stuff that speaks volumes.

From day one, La Doña has always tied everything she has done back to San Francisco, her community, and her family. She has been listed on Obama’s playlist, received recognition in Rolling Stone, and even played at this year’s Outside Lands festival. Her current release is on the talented, hyper-local roster of Text Me Records, and she says it, “tells the story of a young femme artist falling in love with herself, her lover, and her industry.” It incorporates La Doña’s facility in cumbia, salsa, oldies, and reggaeton, and marks a brilliant return to her roots as a child musician playing in her father’s large salsa band.

La Doña is one of the best things happening in this city right now, and Can’t Eat Clout won’t let you forget it.

Pick it up here.


“Come on, have faith, and love will find a way.”

In a review for AllMusic, John Bush acknowledged that the playing on Pharoah Sanders’ 1977 album Pharoah was excellent, but also stated that Sanders was beginning to drift into watery new age muzak. He concluded that the legend was losing his way, a full 10 years after the death of John Coltrane.

It would seem that time settles all bets.

When the masters venture into different waters that may be foreign to our ears, those choices bear other fruit, but the music remains sweet. Luaka Bop, David Byrne’s imprint, is presenting what they are calling the definitive, remastered version of Pharoah Sanders’ seminal record.

The lead track from the two-LP box set is the beautiful “Love Will Find a Way,” which at first may seem a bit different from Sanders’ “out” arrangements, but when you really sit with it … that love, the upliftment, and most of all sincerity that traveled throughout his career remain evident. It’s all encased in this melodic prayer-type jam, with guitarist Tisziji Munoz adding those Sonny Sharrock-type sheets of electricity. Sanders and the label were working on this project when he passed last year, but it’s nice to have it back in front of eyes and ears, giving full representation to such a landmark career.

I don’t need to refer to Floating Points for comments on Sanders’ career.


Pharoah speaks fluently with this 14-minute cloud of tranquility.

Pick it up here.


So, we all know the joke about how one drummer is in five bands across three states, right? Spiral Dub is a San Francisco punk group that includes members from Life Stinks, DIIV, and Mane. Their music has a “just go with it and ride it out” energy that flows through their jammy—but not jam band—selections.

You’ll love the line, “You say you like the sunshine/I say hey man I think about it all the time” in “And More and More Again,” which has a bounce-forward type of shift. I bet these cats are a blast live. Check out some key Make Out Room shots in the “Rise and Shine” visual with its “all in it together now” moxie. It’s cherry.

Grab the release here.


“I don’t feel very pretty, I really don’t” is the repeated statement from San Francisco artist Hana Freed, also known as TRICKY FM, who works on the song “Gentle” with a rush of distorted and snaggletoothed tempos. The track’s stop-start flow includes sweet, flowing, and intricate beats that fluctuate unevenly, creating a somewhat pop-rave-oriented moment.

This may not work on paper, but “Gentle” successfully delivers its saccharine effect.

Pre-order the full release here.


Idris Ackamoor, a former student of the legendary pianist Cecil Taylor and a spiritual disciple of Sun Ra, incorporates various genres such as dub, prog, and global soul into jazz to convey his message. During their performance at the Yerba Buena Gardens Festival two summers ago, The Pyramids not only marched but also swayed with dignified timbre, energizing the crowd and getting them moving.

Ackamoor, dressed in an iridescent cape that changed colors with each wind gust, played the sax regally and delivered his message with clarity. In February, Ackamoor collaborated with Nate Mercereau, Carlos Niño, and Jesse Peterson to create a day-spa-sound-machine-gone-rogue ambient performance, warding off a snow watch in the Joe Henderson Lab at SFJAZZ. The Pyramids’ upcoming album Afro Futuristic Dreams, produced by drummer Malcolm Catto, further explores the astral global vibration.

Purchase it here.

48 Hills welcomes comments in the form of letters to the editor, which you can submit here. We also invite you to join the conversation on our FacebookTwitter, and Instagram

John-Paul Shiver
John-Paul Shiverhttps://www.clippings.me/channelsubtext
John-Paul Shiver has been contributing to 48 Hills since 2019. His work as an experienced music journalist and pop culture commentator has appeared in the Wire, Resident Advisor, SF Weekly, Bandcamp Daily, PulpLab, AFROPUNK, and Drowned In Sound.

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