Our Shuffled Weekend by the Bay


iPodShuffle_Snapseed Whenever I use the shuffle feature on my little ipod I get an odd mix of music, language lessons, and homemade meditation tracks.  It would not be unexpected to hear Ravi Shankar, rockn’roll, bluegrass, or Beethoven followed by an italian man repeating  “La ringrazio molto per il caffè”.   This kind of musical cultural compilation became our weekend in the San Francisco Bay Area.

Its was Bob Dylan, Mark Knopfler at the Greek Theater Berkeley, then Sofia Talvik and Greg Holden at the Hotel Utah Saloon in the City.  A huge big name production followed by a small gig in a neighborhood bar.  Who wrote this itinerary?   Its Barbara’s birthday and we’ll put the whole weekend on “shuffle”.


The rough cut of our three day plan reads;  Friday, the Dylan concert and a cozy stay at our friends Peggy and Jim’s in Castro Valley.  Hang out Saturday and Sunday in San Francisco then in the afternoon we catch the Muni No.45 bus from our room near Union and Gough Streets to and from the concert in the SOMA district.


Oops too much time to kill so how about on Saturday we first revisit Berkeley to shop and walk along Telegraph Avenue and the UC campus.  Next we’ll drive to our hotel in SF and pack some food for a dinner picnic at Fort Mason, followed by a long walk along the wharf.  On Sunday morning we can drive to Crissy Field, the Palace of Fine Arts, eat lunch in Sausalito, hunt for carnelians, watch the surfers at Rodeo Beach, Fort Cronkhite, visit the Marin Mammal Center, come back, take a nap before we board the No. 45 bus to around AT&T park and walk around it during the Giants playoff game vs the Cardinals. That leaves us just enough time to enjoy pizza at Amichi’s before we go to the Hotel Utah concert.   Could be done, right?  Well we didn’t plan it either, but thats how it happened.


First a review of the concert at the Greek Theater.  Mark Knopfler (Dire Straights) on guitar still ripping out lines of psychotrophic audio.  His voice has aged in a good way like scotch in a wooden barrel.  His band could go celtic with fiddle, flute at times, percussion set, acoustic rhythm guitar, stand-up bass and Uilleann pipes all custom blended for pro rock celtic air folk whatever dude….whoa man…we salute the latest sultans…great stuff…extraordinaire!

Bob Dylan…what can you say?   You know he goes way back but obviously not dwelling in the past. His voice is low and craggy and it didn’t help that his mic’s were amp’d too high distorting his voice and keyboard.  That said…it was still the vintage man and band rocking and blusin’ out familiar charts. It was a very Berkeley crowd with lots of aging hippies and new age grungies passing the herbal awareness.  It was “just like a rolling stone” sweet mellow evening in a good old 60’s nostalgic way.


Over at the Hotel Utah Saloon we squeezed into a table in front of the small stage and enjoyed both swedish singer Sofia Talvic and then scotsman Greg Holden with Ian Axel.  Sofia was delightful as she sang her handspun songs and played guitar.  I think she’s ready to take over the job of superstar if Enya ever retires.

Greg Holden… o’myGod…a real talent. His art is real….and better than the American Idol star that sang his song “Home”.   Greg has the gift of expression and presence to warm an audience but his greatest charms my be in his lyrical compositions.  I wish him and Ian a prosperous future as they knock around the country.

Happy Birthday Barbara!