Okay, so I was going to write about the packed Vetiver show at the Twelve Galaxies and about the Persephone's Bees show at Cafe Du Nord and write an article about two San Francisco bands on the verge of making it big. Which really just means making it indy big, so that the rest of the country can actually hear what's going on in San Francisco. But in the grand tradition of being an independent filmmaker, I owed my cinematographer lots of favors and he needed a hand shooting a music video tonight.
I found myself in a cold, beer soaked studio waiting for the band to show up and dreading the prospect of shooting. I ended up being a kind of production lackey, the job everyone hopes that they have moved beyond. Just the notion of having to shoot on the street without any sort of crew sounded like a nightmare. I was tired and cranky and quite frankly, it was the last place I wanted to be.
Then I met this sweet duo, Ramon and Jessica. When the band showed up there was the usual unplanned costume dilemma. What is the band going to wear? Nobody seemed into the prospect of shooting, not even the band. But I didn't owe them a favor, I owed it to the cinematographer and he seemed excited and ready to go.
This story could get really ugly, if it weren't for the transformative power of making music and art. We strolled to the Victoria Theater to catch some light from the marquee and immediately the magic happened. The sound of their beautiful voices coming together and the act of shooting completely transformed the situation. Music is such a powerful and amazing art form. It draws on our memories and emotions in a way few mediums are able to. It takes moments in our life and imprints them in our brains. Music is akin to our sense of smell: it's emotional and taps into something deeper and more profound than the logic brain. I sat in the freezing cold, just me and the cameraman and two pretty voices, accompanied by a violin and a guitar playing in harmony. And for a short time I wasn't standing on piss-soaked 16th street, but was transported into the world of the song.
As I sat there playing the boom box and wielding the single light I was in charge of, I realized that alchemy happens at this low level of filmmaking. Limitations allow you to move freely and invite synchronicity to unfold. Since I am such a control freak about shooting and a slave to pre-production, this experience was liberating. After Ramon and Jessica played in front of the Roxie, we all walked down Valencia Street and ended up at Radio Habana, a tiny restaurant where the walls are lined with an abundance of photos, ephemera, and art junk from around the world. The restaurant's intimate feel and aesthetic was the perfect accompaniment to the band's music. Ramon and Jessica played a short and inspired set, while the cameraman took shots from various angles. Even the saucy server fell in love with their sound and tipped them.
Their music is lilting and lyrical and plucky and bittersweet. The intersection of their intertwining voices and instruments has a powerful emotional impact. It really is a bit heartbreaking to hear. There was something so pure and sweet about them just playing music for a bunch of strangers, without publicists or write ups and all the baggage that comes with making it making art these days. It was improvisational and fun, the way art and music should be.
Radio Habana has the tastiest Sangria in town. Ramon and Jessica have an album out and a music video in post-production.
Visit Ramon and Jessica (at