On Friday and Saturday, Dec. 9 and 10, some of the Bay Area’s longest-term creative music performers will get together for a night of new music and old memories.
Oh, and there’ll be video games.
They’re calling it the Old Friends Festival (OFF), and it’s meant to celebrate the late ’90s, a time when the Bay Area creative music scene was vibrant and seemed poised for national attention. Charlie Hunter and Peter Apfelbaum had just emerged from the local jazz scene; Beanbender’s was presenting a steady stream of local and out-of-town stars, including European musicians; and the relatively recent rise of indie/DIY CD pressing was opening up possibilities for musicians of all stripes.
Me, I came in at the tail end of that period. Olive Oil’s was defunct and the Dark Circle Lounge (a Tuesday night series at The Hotel Utah) was about to be, but I caught a lot of great shows at Beanbender’s, Venue 9, and New Langton Arts.
The scene is still active, but so much around it has changed. That’s fodder for a more depressing post. This is supposed to be a happy one.
So: Ralph Carney, Dan Plonsey, Pamela Z — they’re all going to be performing at OFF. The reunited band Pluto (now called Lost Planet) will be there. Gino Robair plans to lead a massive conducted-improvisation set. ROVA will do a tribute to tenor saxophonist Glenn Spearman. And The Museum of Art and Digital Entertainment — a video-game museum starting up in Oakland — is a sponsor, and yes, they’re bringing some games from the ’90s.
It’s being hosted by the Berkeley Arts Festival (which seems to be running indefinitely until they’re kicked out of 2133 University Ave. or until organizer Bonnie Hughes and friends run out of energy).