Wish You Were Here

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Kerry Getz just finished a wonderful concert at SOMAsala an hour ago or so. It was heartbreakingly beautiful, and heartbreakingly poorly attended.

Kerry Getz at SOMAsala

When you read reviews of Kerry’s music, the critics invariably say the same thing: she’s just about the best singer/songwriter you’ve never heard of. And it’s probably true. Her compositions are smart, lyrical, and seductive; voice is true, rich, and emotive; and her guitar accents crisp, clean, and well-balanced. Her 80 minute set was an absolute delight — lovely, moving, and deeply satisfying.

I’m sorry you missed it. For Kerry’s sake, not yours.

When we started SOMAsala, the concept was to provide a forum for world-class artists who might not have sufficient appeal within the mainstream of popular culture to, let say, pack the Oakland Coliseum. Our objective was to bring talented musicians (and filmmakers, poets, artists, and intellectuals) together with an engaged and curious audience, thereby enriching both. It hasn’t really worked out that way. The artists, however, have more than held up their end of the bargain.

Before Yoo-Mi and I moved into the one-room apartment we call SOMAsala, we lived in a sumptuous, expansive house on Telegraph Hill. For several years, until we moved, we had a party on the first Sunday of every month. And guess what: it was a vast success. The idea was to cross-pollinate the most interesting people we knew from the various circles in which we traveled: professionals, artists, academics, athletes. Our interesting people brought their interesting people, and before we knew it we were getting 80 to 90 guests, and a different crowd each month. On a Sunday, the ultimate “school night.” People will turn out for a good party, it seems.

More than 200 people had signed our e-mail list from the Sunday parties. What a perfect group for which to create a community-space, we thought. Surely our friends would be interested in supporting the artists who work so diligently, with such pitiful remuneration and scant acknowledgement, to make our world a more beautiful place. After all, their support would cost so little: a miniscule door fee for the musicians, a few hours of their time. We would supply all the essentials: an intimate performance, a comfortable venue, a professional sound system, the set-up, and the clean-up. They need only show up.

This turns out to have been a greater commitment to art and culture than most of our friends are willing to make. (I should note that some of our friends have been extremely supportive of both the artists and of our efforts to put them on stage, coming to shows in which they had little or no prior interest, foregoing other things they might rather have been doing and, for some of them, even staying up past their bedtimes.)

I am disappointed for the musicians who deserve more support than they have received, and yet played their hearts out at SOMAsala anyway. And I am grateful to them for all they have done to light our stage and to light the world.

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