Amoeblog

Remembering Experimental Music Artist and Amoeba Music Family Member: Jim Kaiser

Posted by Billyjam, January 11, 2017 11:55pm | Post a Comment

Recently a dark cloud has been hanging over Amoeba Music Berkeley since the sad news of the passing of longtime Amoeba family member Jim Kaiser who died last week at age 46. Experimental music fanatic, talented  and ever creative experimental music artist, and universally beloved guy Jim, who moved west to the Bay two decades ago, had worked at Amoeba Berkeley since 1997. In the years since he made quite an impression on those he met. "He was an incredibly special human being. [That's] why so so so many of us are in mourning," said Gregory Scharpen who performed with Jim in Thomas Carnacki, one of a few local experimental ensembles Jim had been a member of. Among those who worked alongside him at the Telegraph Ave. record store was Amoeba Music co-owner Marc Weinstein who today recalled how, "Jim was at once an uncompromising artist and a sweetheart of the highest order; everybody loved him. As a buyer at the front counter for over 15 years, he got to know a huge percentage of our customers. And as our experimental music buyer and expert, he was an unparalleled resource for people interested in unusual sounds. We will all miss him greatly."

Former Amoeba Berkeley employee Sam Lefebvre wrote an insightful and touching tribute to Jim in the current East Bay Express. Under the heading Jim Kaiser: Eccentric Champion Of Incredibly Strange Music Dies At 46 the article, which you can read here, noted how Jim's various experimental instruments included playing a bicycle wheel ("lithely bowed contact-mic'd bicycle spokes to absorbing effect") and how he had released limited edition solo recordings such as Blood Has Taste and Swept Through & Nullified on mini CD format via the Oakland Petit Mal label. In the comments of that EBX piece Steve Cain, an old friend of the artist's from his Kansas City days, wrote how: "He was the guy at the record store that could get me anything I wanted. Always a kind soul, almost always had a smile, even when things were rough. …He was a unique soul, one the world will miss." Below and above are a series of photos of Jim, courtesy of Amoeba's Lori Katz, taken in the store and at a bunch of different Amoeba events over the years with various co-workers and friends. Rest in peace Jim Kaiser.
 

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Berkeley City Council Public Hearing To Decide If Amoeba Be Granted Permit for Berkeley Compassionate Care Center (BC3)

Posted by Billyjam, May 10, 2016 01:39pm | Post a Comment

Cue Neil Young's "Tonight's the Night."  Tonight, Tuesday May 10th 2016, at 7pm, in Berkeley CA the City Council will meet for a very important public hearing. There the future direction of Amoeba Berkeley will be determined when it is decided if the longtime East Bay record store, that first opened shop on Telegraph Avenue back in 1990, will be awarded the single new City permit to open and operate the Berkeley Compassionate Care Center (BC3) medical marijuana dispensary. BC3 is one of five finalist applicants at tonight's hearing where community participation is encouraged. All are invited to attend this public hearing in Berkeley at 1222 University Ave. (between Curtis and Bonar). People will begin to arrive at 630pm outside for meeting that begins at 7pm, with dispensary topic scheduled for 8pm and expected to run til 10pm to accommodate speakers from the community.

In case you have not heard or read the many articles written on the topic, for the past four years Amoeba Music Berkeley has been quietly and tirelessly fighting to expand into the area of compassionate care. The goal is to dedicate the jazz room section of the Telegraph Ave. store and transform it into the Berkeley Compassionate Care Center (BC3).  This all hinges on tonight's public hearing for the much coveted, sole permit to be granted from the City of Berkeley. BC3 will face off against four other finalists for the opportunity to, in addition to good music, offer compassionate care. Longtime Berkeley community members familiar with Amoeba's rich history as part of the local cultural fabric, consider BC3 to be the most qualified candidate of the five applicants. 

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Hip-Hop Rap-Up: Hip Hop In The Park, Souls of Mischief in NYC, Top 5, E-Lit's New Releases, Amoeba Converse Exhibit + more

Posted by Billyjam, May 1, 2015 09:05am | Post a Comment

This weekend marks the nineteenth year of Hip Hop In The Park - Berkeley's annual free, all ages, all elements inclusive, hip-hop event in Peoples Park, located behind Amoeba Berkeley. Since 1997, the Students For Hop Hop @ Cal have been presenting this always fun afternoon celebration of hip-hop culture. This year's headliner is Fashawn who has been winning over a whole wave of fans since connecting with Nas and the Queensbridge rapper's new label,  Mass Appeal, on which he released the critically acclaimed The Ecology two months ago. Just in the past week, the Fresno rapper unleashed the album's second single and accompanying video, "Higher."

The Souls of Mischief along with their childhood friend and director of the engaging documentary on the Hiero crew, 'Til Infinity, Shomari Smith are all in New York City right now for the screening of the film tonight at the Helen Mills Theater on West 26th Street as part of the New York City International Film Festival (NYCIFF 2015). So far, the veteran Oakland hip-hop crew have included doing an interview with Birthplace magazine, and stopping by an old friend's radio show. 

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Unique Veteran French Prog-Rock Ensemble Magma Return to US for Brief Tour

Posted by Billyjam, March 30, 2015 08:08am | Post a Comment

One of French rock music's most innovative and eclectic musical ensembles, the eight member group Magma whose style is their own unique brand of progressive-rock, will be making a brief North American tour over the next two weeks with only eight select dates scheduled (including two in California dates: LA's Echoplex on Monday, April 6th and Slim's in SF on Wednesday, April 8th). Their upcoming tour that kicks off at Venue in Vancouver, British Columbia on Thursday, April 2nd.

The longtime group, who were founded by main member Christian Vander four and a half decades ago upon inspiration from a "vision of humanity’s spiritual and ecological future," stand apart from every other band (not just in France but everywhere) due to their unique musical sound and the fact that they crafted their very own language.

WFMU radio's DJ Trouble, who plays a lot of French musical acts on her weekly show, has been a big fan of Magma's for many years and will be attending their upcoming tour's closing date at Le Poisson Rouge in New York City on April 13th. I asked the DJ what exactly it is that she likes so much about Magma? "They're a wild French band that includes a former Yé-yé girl," she said, adding "And they've made up an extra terrestrial language and "origin" story. Oh and they make crazy prog-ish sounds! What's not to love?" Another major fan of the band is Amoeba owner Marc Weinstein whom I asked what it is that has long attracted him to Magma. "They are unlike anything else. They created their own universe and you literally have to enter their universe to appreciate their music," said Weinstein, noting how Magma founder Christian Vander's intense interest in music by Stravinsky and Coltrane helped shape the band's eclectic, adventurous progressive sound.

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Digging in the Crates of OMCA's Vinyl: Sound & Culture of Records Pt 4: Sylvie Simmons, David Katznelson, & Rachael Aguirre

Posted by Billyjam, July 26, 2014 10:00am | Post a Comment


If you haven't already made your way to the ever-popular, Amoeba Music sponsored, excellent exhibit Vinyl: The Sound and Culture of Records at the Oakland Museum of California's (OMCA) which opened three months ago on April 19th (Record Store Day) at the downtown Oakland museum in its Great Hall exhibition area don't fret as you still have some time - well not much, but some - since it is open through tomorrow Sunday July 27th. To mark the end of this wonderful hands on exhibit, that paid homage the joys of analog and vinyl with lots of local Bay Area folks (including many Amoebites) offering their input on the subject, today Saturday July 26th will be the final weekly Talk & Play program of the three month long exhibit in which experts in specific areas of music/records informally chat to a museum audience while dropping the needle on the records that they are referencing in their talk/lecture.

Today - from 1:30 pm to 2:30 pm in the Great Hall - the Talk & Play session will be David Katznelson (record producer, and president of Birdman Recording Group) and friends who will be presenting a Talk & Play they call Every Record Has a Story. David's co-hosts will be Steven Baker (former president of Warner Brothers Records), Britt Govea (Folk Yeah Productions founder), and Josh Rosenthal (founder of Tompkins Square Records)  - all of whom will share  their favorite music/records and tell stories and secrets related to collecting said records. David Katznelson is among the many record collecting musicologists who have curated crates (that museum goers can personally play on provided turntables) at the Vinyl exhibit. For this final fourth installment in the Digging in the Crates of OMCA's "Vinyl: The Sound and Culture of Records" Amoeblog series I have included David's crate: The influence and genius of the Velvet Underground, along with those of two other contributors: Sylvie Simmons whose crate is Grrl Power - women in rock from pop to punk, 1960-1980, (she also curated Sylvie Simmons the Americana crate), and the museum's own Rachael Aguirre (Administrative Assistant & OMCA Lab - Curatorial and Experience Development) whose crate is titled Sound track for Dungeons and Dragons: Onyx Discs of Epic Sound: A Dungeons and Dragons Soundtrack. Meanwhile the photos in this blog are either provided by OMCA or James Mak of Joysco Photos who kindly shot this photos on behalf of the Amoeblog (thank-you James!).

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