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Thread: San Francisco / Marin Mandolin scene

  1. #1
    Registered User CWRoyds's Avatar
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    Default San Francisco / Marin Mandolin scene

    Hey all,

    I will be moving to the bay area soon, and I was wondering if anybody had any suggestions for the mandolin or Bluegrass scene up there. Are there any good jams these days, and is there a particular good mandolin teacher? I will probably be in Marin, basically the Mill Valley area. I would love to know if you have any suggestions of places to go, jams to join, or a great teacher. Thanks
    Mandolins: Northfield 5-Bar Artist Model "Old Dog", J Bovier F5 Special, Gibson A-00 (1940)
    Fiddles: 1920s Strad copy, 1930s Strad copy, Liu Xi T20, Liu Xi T19+ Dark.
    Guitars: Taylor 514c (1995), Gibson Southern Jumbo (1940s), Gibson L-48 (1940s), Les Paul Custom (1978), Fender Strat (Black/RWFB) (1984), Fender Strat (Candy Apple Red/MFB) (1985).
    Sitars: Hiren Roy KP (1980s), Naskar (1970s), Naskar (1960s).
    Misc: 8 Course Lute (L.K.Brown)

  2. #2
    Registered User Jason Stein's Avatar
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    Default Re: San Francisco / Marin Mandolin scene

    Hey there Carlton,

    Jody Stecher teaches mandolin (and Dagarbani Dhrupad!) in San Francisco. I used to alternate my lessons from sursringar to mandolin and to banjo from week to week. NFI, by the way.

    Kind regards,
    Jason

  3. #3
    Registered User CWRoyds's Avatar
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    Default Re: San Francisco / Marin Mandolin scene

    Hey Jason,

    Thanks for the info.
    That is a cool mix of stuff.
    I love the Sursringar.
    I would love to come check yours out when I get up there.
    I have always wanted one, but one Indian instrument at a time, I think.
    I have played the Sitar for about 8 years, so far.
    It is too much riyaz per instrument to play another, but one can dream.

    I guess I could get a Surbahar and learn some Dagarbani Dhrupad.
    That would at least be related to my sitar study.
    Although I have always wanted to learn to play the Rudra Veena...
    Too much desire and not enough time or money...
    Of course, if I learned Rudra Veena I would have to get a Kanai Lal.

    I hate to leave my sitar teacher here in LA, but I have to move.
    I know the Ali Akbar school is up in San Rafael, but I don't like the idea of group classes.
    My occasional sitar teacher Partha Chatterjee comes to Fremont once a year to teach, so there is that.
    I am sure there are other good sitar teachers up there, as there is probably the highest density of sitar players in the USA.

    I will be in Marin, so I figured there would be some great mandolin teachers up there.
    Dawg, Mike Marshall, and others seem to gravitate to that area, so one can only hope.
    Maybe Dawg will take pity on a poor soul and invite me over for some lessons... (Dawg?... )
    Yeah, right! LOL.

    It is a bit terrifying moving from LA to San Francisco at age 49, with no idea where I will be living or what I will be doing.
    Should be exciting, but so far I haven't gotten past terror.
    At least I will have money from selling my house in LA, so I will be well funded.
    Of course that is a relative thing when considering the cost of living in the Bay area.
    I will be in Marin, hopefully Mill Valley, and no farther north than San Rafael.
    This is the plan at least.

    Life is an odd thing.
    I look forward to having a little time to play music in a new local, with new people.
    Thanks again for the info about Jody.
    I appreciate it.
    Mandolins: Northfield 5-Bar Artist Model "Old Dog", J Bovier F5 Special, Gibson A-00 (1940)
    Fiddles: 1920s Strad copy, 1930s Strad copy, Liu Xi T20, Liu Xi T19+ Dark.
    Guitars: Taylor 514c (1995), Gibson Southern Jumbo (1940s), Gibson L-48 (1940s), Les Paul Custom (1978), Fender Strat (Black/RWFB) (1984), Fender Strat (Candy Apple Red/MFB) (1985).
    Sitars: Hiren Roy KP (1980s), Naskar (1970s), Naskar (1960s).
    Misc: 8 Course Lute (L.K.Brown)

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  5. #4

    Default Re: San Francisco / Marin Mandolin scene

    Twin Oaks in Penngrove has a "pro jam" every third Sunday come a bit early jam then you get an invite to the "pro jam" that starts later on around 7. A lot of open mics around the North Bay (where I live) but not a lot BG jams going on. I've used 3 different teachers,1 in SF & 2 up here in the NB lots of em around depending on your ability you may have a harder time finding one to suit your needs. Marin & Sonoma have a pretty decent music scene lots of good players & pros up here. The only thing you need to afraid of in Marin are the trust fund babys who will run you over or push you out of the way to get there first because of there self imposed entitlement. Other than that Marin County is a beautiful place to live and explore.
    Lou

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  7. #5
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    Default Re: San Francisco / Marin Mandolin scene

    Moving from Woodland Hills to Marin. Outstanding move, in my biased opinion!

    Grisman apparently has moved a couple states north, and Marshall is bicontinental these days, but you should still be able to find good musical company in the county.

    In Mill Valley, probably the best (only?) venue is Sweetwater, which has been around in various forms for decades.
    http://www.sweetwatermusichall.com/

    For bluegrass on a regular basis, there is a bar in SF called Amnesia, which has bluegrass jams from 6:30-8:30 pm every Monday night, followed by a local bluegrass band.
    https://amnesiathebar.com/calendar/

    There also are shows, workshops, and jams at the Freight and Salvage in the northern part of Berkeley, which you can get to most easily over the San Rafael Bridge, bypassing SF.
    http://thefreight.org/event/2017/09/01/month/all/all/1
    still trying to turn dreams into memories

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  9. #6
    Registered User CWRoyds's Avatar
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    Default Re: San Francisco / Marin Mandolin scene

    Hey guys,

    Thanks for the suggestions and advice.
    I will certainly look into all those venues, jams, etc.

    I know Marin will be a trip.
    It is beautiful and funky, and I hope to love it.

    One thing to look forward to is being near to Schoenberg Guitars in Tiberon.
    I love that place.
    He is really cool, and lets me play all the mandolins in exchange for tuning them.
    It is a good trade off.

    Hopefully I will be out of here in a month or so, and on my way up there.
    It will be interesting, for sure.
    Mandolins: Northfield 5-Bar Artist Model "Old Dog", J Bovier F5 Special, Gibson A-00 (1940)
    Fiddles: 1920s Strad copy, 1930s Strad copy, Liu Xi T20, Liu Xi T19+ Dark.
    Guitars: Taylor 514c (1995), Gibson Southern Jumbo (1940s), Gibson L-48 (1940s), Les Paul Custom (1978), Fender Strat (Black/RWFB) (1984), Fender Strat (Candy Apple Red/MFB) (1985).
    Sitars: Hiren Roy KP (1980s), Naskar (1970s), Naskar (1960s).
    Misc: 8 Course Lute (L.K.Brown)

  10. #7

    Default Re: San Francisco / Marin Mandolin scene

    Hi,

    Here' a great resource for Bay Area bluegrass jams: http://www.bgsignal.com/jam-sessions.html.

    I live in San Rafael in Marin County and these are the ones I have been to and go to that are a reasonable distance to travel. A lot of the other ones are supposed to be really good as well, I just havenít been there myself. Most of them are relatively stable, but if you are going to go any distance it is worth checking to see if they are still there.

    Sundays (4 pm): The Lucky Horseshoe - 453 Cortland Ave., SF
    High level, parking really hard to find. Around 45 minutes drive with no traffic.

    1st/3rd Sundays: Twin Oaks Roadhouse, Penngrove - 3-5 pm: open jam; 5-7 pm: invitational jam
    You can sign up or be invited to the invitational jam. The earlier one is open and lots of fun. Usually high level players, sometimes three or four people and sometimes a few more. Around 35 minutes from Mill Valley with no traffic. Good selection of beers.

    Wednesdays (6:30 pm): El Cerrito Music Works (upstairs), 11225 San Pablo Ave., El Cerrito
    20 minutes to get there with no traffic and 45 minutes with traffic which is ususal (none coming back). Big jam thatís on the slow jam side and smaller group of faster players. Nice folks and fun.

    1st/3rd Thursdays: Marin Bluegrass Jam - Marin Lutheran Church, 649 Meadowsweet, Corte Madera
    Great jam, friendly group, range of abilities with mostly good to a few really good players. Even beginners can play and are welcome. Been going for 15 years and can go without worrying about it not being there.

    Aqus Cafť in Petaluma on the fourth Wednesday of each month from 7:00 PM to 9:00 PM
    Nice cafť, friendly group, mixed abilities. Good food and beer.

    Saturdays from 2:00 PM to 5:00 PM in Sebastopol. This was most recently at Coffee Catz, but I think it has moved. It may be at the Hopmonk Tavern, Sebastopol Ė definitely check before going. Itís around a 50 minute drive. The group is generally good to really good players and not for beginners. Sometimes the turn-out is not that great, most times 4-8 people.

    Second Sunday of the month is the East Bay Picking Potluck. Different place each month. You can do a Google search for the calendar. Goes from 12:00 to 5:00. There are usually a few playing bluegrass along with a bunch of other types of music, from swing to just singing, to 60ís rock. Very hit or missÖ when it is good it can be fun.

    The Freight and Salvage Sunday slow jam is ok if you are a beginner. It tends to be more about songs and there isnít much variation in repertoire, but a good place to get your feet wet if you donít have much experience.

    There is a lot more going on which you will find out about as you meet people and play with them. The bluegrass crowd in the Bay Area is about as friendly as it gets, and you will get the opportunity to play with some really good people.

    Looking forward to seeing you at a jam!

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  12. #8
    Registered User CWRoyds's Avatar
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    Default Re: San Francisco / Marin Mandolin scene

    Thanks for all the info Mike.
    i really appreciate it.
    Looks like a lot of opportunity to jam.
    I assumed there would be more Bluegrass jams in the Bay Area than here in LA.
    There isn't much around LA, at least on my end of things.
    I am at the west end of the Valley.
    Mandolins: Northfield 5-Bar Artist Model "Old Dog", J Bovier F5 Special, Gibson A-00 (1940)
    Fiddles: 1920s Strad copy, 1930s Strad copy, Liu Xi T20, Liu Xi T19+ Dark.
    Guitars: Taylor 514c (1995), Gibson Southern Jumbo (1940s), Gibson L-48 (1940s), Les Paul Custom (1978), Fender Strat (Black/RWFB) (1984), Fender Strat (Candy Apple Red/MFB) (1985).
    Sitars: Hiren Roy KP (1980s), Naskar (1970s), Naskar (1960s).
    Misc: 8 Course Lute (L.K.Brown)

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    Registered User QCS's Avatar
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    Default Re: San Francisco / Marin Mandolin scene

    Two votes for Jody,certainly one of the best up here. There are also several CBA gatherings throughout the year. Great folks. And then there is Gryphon. Best wishes in your move.

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  15. #10
    Loarcutus of MandoBorg DataNick's Avatar
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    Default Re: San Francisco / Marin Mandolin scene

    Huge BG community in the Bay Area, look up Tom Diamant on Facebook, he'll get you plugged in
    1994 Gibson F5L Fern


    "Mandolin brands are a guide, not gospel! I don't drink koolaid and that Emperor is naked!"
    "If you wanna get soul Baby, you gots to get the scroll..."
    "I would rather play music anyday for the beggar, the thief, and the fool!"
    "Perfection is not attainable; but if we chase perfection we can catch excellence" Vince Lombardi
    Playing Style: RockMonRoll Desperado Bluegrass Desperado YT Channel

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  17. #11
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    Default Re: San Francisco / Marin Mandolin scene

    Here's a link you maybe want to check out: http://www.scbs.org/

    Also, you'll want to check out the Sweetwater:

    http://www.sweetwatermusichall.com/calendar

    And The Freight and Salvage in Berkeley.
    Michigan Triple A's: Northfield, Nugget/Collings, Newson

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  19. #12
    Registered User CWRoyds's Avatar
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    Default Re: San Francisco / Marin Mandolin scene

    Thanks for all the suggestions guys.
    I appreciate it.

    I am moving next week, and will be living in San Rafael.
    It is both exciting and terrifying, but mostly terrifying.
    I have lived in LA since 1992 and love it here, but I have to go.

    Oh well, I am pretty sure life up in Marin will be nice.
    It will certainly be nicer in the summer than here in Woodland hills.
    We had some 110 degree days this summer. Geez...

    I will be on the lookout for fun music happenings up there.
    If I see something cool I will certainly pass it along.
    Maybe I should start a Bay Area group on the Cafe, to keep informed on happenings.
    Do any of you find groups useful?

    Oh, one exciting thing is that the sale of my house in LA will let me get a new mandolin.
    I made a family deal that if I got over a certain price for the house, I could get a big boy mandolin.
    I was thinking of finding a used Ellis, but I think I might save some cash and get a Northfield Big Mon or used Artist model. That Big Mon at Gryphon has been calling to me, as it has the wide neck and is looking pretty sweet. I will have to go check it out next weekend...
    Mandolins: Northfield 5-Bar Artist Model "Old Dog", J Bovier F5 Special, Gibson A-00 (1940)
    Fiddles: 1920s Strad copy, 1930s Strad copy, Liu Xi T20, Liu Xi T19+ Dark.
    Guitars: Taylor 514c (1995), Gibson Southern Jumbo (1940s), Gibson L-48 (1940s), Les Paul Custom (1978), Fender Strat (Black/RWFB) (1984), Fender Strat (Candy Apple Red/MFB) (1985).
    Sitars: Hiren Roy KP (1980s), Naskar (1970s), Naskar (1960s).
    Misc: 8 Course Lute (L.K.Brown)

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  21. #13
    Registered User CWRoyds's Avatar
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    Default Re: San Francisco / Marin Mandolin scene

    Well, I’m settled in in San Rafael.
    I really like it here.

    I went to Gryphon to test and possibly buy the Big Mon they have in.
    It was really nice and the bottom end is admirable, but it leaned toward an slightly “tubby” sound.
    Not a bad thing, just not exactly what I am looking for in tone.
    I preferred the tighter sound of the NF5s they had.
    The NF5s had more oomph in the sound, and projected better.

    The NF5s was awesome, but I want a model with a bound neck.
    It was natural top with light maple back and sides, but I’m a sucker for the more traditional F5 dark sunburst.

    Maybe I can find an older standard Master Model that has the sound somewhere in between the NF5s and Big Mon. I want the more modern sound, but with the full binding and traditional finish.
    Maybe I will have to up the game to the Artist model.

    It was nice to drive to Gryphon though.
    I love living in the bay area.
    Last edited by CWRoyds; Oct-22-2017 at 5:01pm.
    Mandolins: Northfield 5-Bar Artist Model "Old Dog", J Bovier F5 Special, Gibson A-00 (1940)
    Fiddles: 1920s Strad copy, 1930s Strad copy, Liu Xi T20, Liu Xi T19+ Dark.
    Guitars: Taylor 514c (1995), Gibson Southern Jumbo (1940s), Gibson L-48 (1940s), Les Paul Custom (1978), Fender Strat (Black/RWFB) (1984), Fender Strat (Candy Apple Red/MFB) (1985).
    Sitars: Hiren Roy KP (1980s), Naskar (1970s), Naskar (1960s).
    Misc: 8 Course Lute (L.K.Brown)

  22. #14
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    Default Re: San Francisco / Marin Mandolin scene

    I've met some great folks in the California Bluegrass Association, a lot of whom are in the Bay area...might be a good place to start.

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