• • • October 2019 Issue • •

Musicians, volunteers prepare for
Blanket The Homeless benefit


Jeremy Lyon aka King Dream Photos: Jesse Cutler



Doing something to help the homeless has never been so easy and fun. On November 7th, The Independent on Divisadero will host a benefit show and record release party for Blanket The Homeless. A good number of musicians who are featured on the double LP’s 15 tracks will be performing that night, including King Dream, aka Jeremy Lyon. Jeremy chatted to Castro Courier about the benefit for Blanket The Homeless, which was begun by Ken Newman. Newman had joined forces with Margaret Cho, and her #BeRobin events, which honored the life of Robin Williams by giving back to her city, and to those most in need. Since its inception in 2016, volunteers from Blanket The Homeless have given out over 3500 care packages that include a blanket, socks, a hat, gloves, toiletries, and more to people living on the streets. For information on tickets click here.


Wendy: This event at The Independent is meant to serve a community, but it also is a community, a family of musicians who have come together to support Blanket The Homeless. Jeremy, your band King Dream played The Independent in August, and there were members of about eight Bay Area bands up there with you. Will this event have a similar sort of onstage camaraderie?


Jeremy: Yeah. Usually when I play in San Francisco, it inevitably turns into a collective by the end of the set. It depends on who’s in town, but I would imagine it would be a similar cast of characters. I’m bringing the full band, and Avi [Vinocur], Scott [Padden], and Adam [Nash] from Goodnight, Texas are playing, and some of The Stone Foxes guys are playing - Shannon and Spence [Koehler]. Scott Mickelson is bringing a full band, Ben Morrison from Brothers Comatose [will be there], Ken Newman, who runs Blanket The Homeless, and I’m sure there are more people who’ll be joining in too.


Wendy: Scott Mickelson produced the double LP that benefits and celebrates the charity Blanket The Homeless. The Independent date is also a record release party for the double album by the same name as the nonprofit organization, entitled Blanket The Homeless.


Scott Mickelson in his studio.


Jeremy: Yeah. He invited me to contribute a song for it. I’d met him because he had reached out to me for the After The Fire benefit compilation, which he put out after the North Bay fires a couple years ago. I worked with him on a song for that compilation, before I had the King Dream project fully realized, and contributed a song solo. I was fortunate enough that he asked me to do a song for this compilation as well. This one was more of involved process for him and Ken Newman, who runs Blanket The Homeless. It was a bigger project with a longer timeline, more studio time, and they were focused on getting bigger acts too, to raise more money.


Wendy: Like Fantastic Negrito.


Jeremy: Fantastic Negrito, and John Craigie, and Con Brio... I was super honored to get to be on this one as well.


Wendy: And Scott Mickelson produced the album in Marin?


Jeremy: He’s got a home studio, so we cut my song “Many Moons Ago” all at his studio. I had my rhythm section from the King Dream album, Cody Rhodes and Scott Padden, who played drums and bass on it, and I played everything else, all the guitars, all the vocals, and some piano and synthesizer. In terms of production, working with Scott, he was very into the arrangement of the song, having space in the song, writing cool parts. It was fun to work with a producer in that way, build the track in the studio.


Wendy: Tell me about “Many Moons Ago,” and also how it fits in with the theme of the album.


Jeremy: You know, some songs take years to finish, but that one came to me really quickly. I’d just driven over the Golden Gate, pulled over in Marin - I think it was after a rehearsal or after teaching, and wrote the whole song in like 20 minutes, and made a demo of it. Form-wise, it’s pretty much the same thing that you hear on the record. It’s kind of a song about loneliness, or when you’re feeling low, taking comfort that other people have been where you’ve been, and that they’ve gotten out of it, things get better. Just a song to make you feel less alone. However you’re feeling, there’s a song out there for that, where someone knows where you’re coming from. While I don’t know what it’s like to be homeless, that just seemed like a song that had the right sentiment for this record. [It] sounds like a Laurel Canyon ‘70s blissed-out sort of vibe; it felt like it would work well in a home studio. I didn’t actually know what song I was gonna do, until I drove up to Scott’s house, with Cody, the drummer. I knew from working with Scott on the After The Fire compilation that he liked to work on new songs, and that was one of the freshest songs that I had.


Wendy: With the exception of a couple of songs, all of the album’s tracks are making their debut on Blanket The Homeless.


Jeremy: Correct.


Wendy: Rainbow Girls, who have their song “American Dream” on the album, had already released that song on their LP of the same name.


Jeremy: They did a full band version of “American Dream,” with drums.


Wendy: And Fantastic Negrito’s contribution is a song that he had put out prior to this record?

Fantastic Negrito Photo by Lyle Owerko


Jeremy: I believe he recorded that one himself. I think Con Brio also, the track they did is a live version from tour. There are a few alternate versions, or reimagined versions of songs.


Wendy: Con Brio and King Dream have a strong connection because you’re all friends, but also because the keyboard player from your former band, Tumbleweed Wanderers, is now in Con Brio.


Jeremy: Absolutely. Pat’s [Patrick Monaco-Glynn] been playing a lot of King Dream shows too; he did the King Dream tour in August, and I’m pretty sure he’ll be on this one too. Pretty much, when he’s not on the road with Con Brio, he’s playing with King Dream.


Wendy: Proceeds from the album will go to the care packages that volunteers from Blanket The Homeless give directly to people on the streets, with blankets, socks, toiletries, condoms, Clif Bars (that were donated to the organization), and more in them. That’s what this project is all about.


Jeremy: I can speak to growing up in the Bay Area and only seeing the homeless crisis get worse. This is a good short term aid. They partner with St. Vincent de Paul as well, and I remember school trips, serving lunch at the soup kitchen at St. Vincent de Paul.


Wendy: Do all of the proceeds from the show benefit the organization as well?


Jeremy: Yeah, it’s a benefit show. All of the bands are volunteering their time. To do something like that at The Independent is pretty cool. It’s hard to get a lot of bands; they can only do one or two shows a year at a venue like that. That’s their main market. A lot of bands count on income from a big hometown show. Kudos to everyone that joined.


Wendy: At the same time, shows like this introduce audiences to a lot of different bands at one time. It’s great in that respect, because one ends up discovering at least a couple of artists that they want to go see again at their own show, their own full set. Plus, it’s for a great cause.


Jeremy: It’s a win-win all around.


Wendy: Ken Newman founded Blanket The Homeless with Margaret Cho many years ago.

Jeremy: Ken’s a pretty amazing guy. I met him ‘cause he interviewed me a little when I was making the track. He’s a magician, and he’s a musician on top of his work with Blanket The Homeless. I’m excited about the whole thing. I’m looking at the [track] list of people who are on this, and I feel like I’ve done gigs with just about everyone on this record. I didn’t mention that I play in Whiskerman too, so the Whiskerman track, “U.S.M.E.,” I was on that one too, which was fun.

Blanket The Homeless founder Ken Newman

Wendy: What does “U.S.M.E.” stand for?


Jeremy: United Souls of Mother Earth, Graham’s [Patzner] new pledge of allegiance. It’s kind of a utopian pledge of allegiance to a world beyond borders.


Wendy: After your former band, Tumbleweed Wanderers, disbanded, you ended up in multiple projects. How many projects are you in right now?


Jeremy: After my band broke up I became involved in five to 10 projects. Now I’m pretty busy with Whiskerman. We finished a new record, and that’s coming out in the next year. We’re doing a western US tour, and playing Hardly Strictly [Bluegrass] Saturday [this interview happened a day prior to HSB], so Whiskerman’s pretty active. Also, I play in M. Lockwood Porter, which is Max Porter’s project. I played on his last record. I’m working with Debbie Neigher’s project, Lapel.  We’re working on the next record right now. Been keeping busy.


• • • Also in the October 2019 Issue • • •

On the Beat: Latest around Castro


Subscription-based rental building Sonder Residences has opened at 2112 Market St. and two-bedroom apartments rent from $5,150 to $6,300 monthly. Photo: John Goldsmith

STD Raises Concern


As Castro Courier headed to press for this issue, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released their annual STD Surveillance Report, which is causing concern among health officials.


After decades of decline starting back in 1941, the rate of new gonorrhoea, chlamydia and syphilis cases in the United States rose for the fifth consecutive year.


Published in the new Sexually Transmitted Disease Surveillance Report, created by the CDC, a total of 2.4 million infections were diagnosed and reported in 2018 alone.


According to the CDC, the rise in the number of cases has several possible causes including a decline in the use of condoms, and a surge in the number of people getting tested.


For those who lived through the AIDS epidemic, the decrease in condom use may be jarring. But in a world of PrEP (Pre-exposure prophylaxis) and instant hook-up app culture, it’s almost inevitable that the pendulum of STDs would swing back again.


In San Francisco there were 197 new HIV diagnoses in 2018, a 13 percent decrease from 2017.


For Castro area folks who may need some pharmaceutical attention, STD-related or otherwise, TIN Rx Pharmacy has opened at 2181 Market St.


The first independent pharmacy to operate in the neighborhood since Star Pharmacy closed nearly 35 years ago, TIN Rx was founded by pharmacist Dr. Christina Garcia with her business and life partner, chief operating officer Patricia “PJ” Nachman.


Castro’s location will be the flagship for the company, which is headquartered in Mid-Market’s Fox Plaza.


Hot Wheels


Residents at the intersection of 21st and Collingwood streets awoke to a mysterious car fire early on Sunday, October 6.


The San Francisco Police Department is investigating a series of intentionally set car fires that occurred that evening, the first of which was started in the quiet part of the Castro just after midnight Sunday morning.


There were no reported injuries, but the vehicle suffered severe damage. The victim reported seeing two unknown males flee the scene of the crime in a getaway vehicle.


Clothing Closures, Coming Cuisines


After 22 years, clothing retailer Clobba closed its Castro location at 587 Castro St on September 30. Clobba’s owners “decided to downsize” and focus on their Haight Street location (1604 Haight St.).


Meanwhile, across the street, Mexican restaurant Papi Rico closed its doors after a short and sporadic run at 544 Castro St. In a one-two punch, Papi Rico owner Rick Hamer also shuttered his upscale gastropub Finn Town Tavern weeks earlier.


Another Castro business folded its last pair of denim recently. After 10 years, high-end retailer Unionmade closed both its Castro locations. In a statement, owner Todd Barkett said he’s “decided to move on to new creative endeavors.”


In deliciously upbeat news, new dim sum restaurant Dumpling House (335 Noe St.) is a fresh addition to the neighborhood. Tucked away on Noe Street near Market and 16th streets, the Asian fusion destination has taken over the previous address of Pho 335.


Also opening soon is Brazilian cafe ‘Cafe de Casa’ at 3985 17th St, in the former Hearth Coffee Roasters location.


Cook Scandal


Cook Shoppe Restaurant and Wine Bar, which opened in the longtime Chow on Church location (215 Church St.) in May, shuttered three months later after an investigation by the California Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control for serving alcohol without a license.


The short-lived Castro restaurant Cook Shoppe will not reopen.


According to Hoodline, its owners, one of whom is currently in prison, are facing lawsuits from multiple vendors and claims of unpaid wages from former employees. In August, 29-year-old owner Lawrence Tonner was arrested onsite on the charge of selling alcohol without a license, as well as for an outstanding fugitive felony warrant.


As reported by Eater SF, a man who previously identified himself as “Mark White” and called himself a co-owner of Cook Shoppe later revealed he was just a restaurant consultant and investor, using an alias to help promote his friend Tonner’s business. At times, Eater SF said, “White” also admittedly identified himself as Tonner.


“White” told Eater SF he and Tonner will no longer work on Cook Shoppe, its replacement, or another business they had announced across the Street, to be called Gramercy Park.


Subscription-based Rental Market


Sonder Residences, a subscription-based 52-unit rental building has officially opened at 2112 Market St.


The developer of the building announced this summer that he would be leasing all of its market-rate units to Sonder, a San Francisco-based startup specializing in short-term, furnished apartment rentals.


“There has been a miscommunication that my building is going to be a hotel,” local contractor Brian Spiers told the Bay Area Reporter in July. “That is absolutely not accurate.”


Sonder subscribers will pay a monthly fee for stays as brief as 30 days or as long as a year or more, moving between neighborhoods and even cities as desired.


Eight of the apartments are designated “below-market-rate” and will be leased through the city’s lottery system for affordable units. “The five one-bedrooms will rent around $1,290 a month and the three two-bedrooms will rent for about $1,440 a month,” Spiers told the B.A.R.


By comparison, according to Apartmentfinder.com, the market-rate units range between $3,990 and $4,600 for one-bedrooms, and between $5,150 and $6,300 for two-bedrooms.



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