“I Heard That” — KPOO Radio Has Great Fundraiser

by Rochelle Metcalfe on February 20, 2008

A Fundraiser for Radio station KPOO! The Blues was jumpin’ off da hook last Saturday afternoon and into the evening at Velma’s nightclub, located on the edge of San Francisco Bayview District, the site of the benefit fundraiser for San Francisco based radio station KPOO (FM 89.5) the first Black-owned, noncommercial radio station west of the Mississippi when the low powered frequency kicked off in 1973 in a garage in the alley of Natoma off 6th Street! Now that’s Black History!

KPOO is a community-based nonprofit, noncommercial radio station that caters to the needs of populations traditionally underrepresented in the mainstream media. In addition to broadcasting a wide variety of music not typically heard on commercial stations, KPOO focuses on topics of concern to minorities, women, GLBT, low income households, and youths. KPOO also broadcasts the San Francisco Redevelopment Agency meetings.

KPOO have many needs to operate the station; raise money or receive donations because it is a noncommercial radio station. Velma saw the need to give back to the station, as several Deejays have assisted her in getting the word about her nightclub – home of the Sunday Blues ‘n’ Jazz Club.

Plans proceeded, co-hosted by Landers in collaboration with members of The Sophisticated Ladies Social and Civic organization, The Bay Area Blues Society, and The Blues Music Foundation, founded by Saxophonist Bobby “Spider” Webb, who annually put on the Memorial Day Blues Festival in Golden Gate Park; also spin the Blues Tuesday mornings on KPOO.

Musicians from all over the Bay Area and beyond brought their ax ready to play – donated their time – let me tell you it was off da hook, diverse bands; new to many of us, the likes of James Reed and Mo Jo Madness; The Blues Defenders; Outta’ No Where ( flavor of George Benson sounds) comprised of two husky bass guitar players, plus a rhythm section – they were refreshing!;… Landers expressed all the musicians “were amped up!”

Bobby “Spider” Webb, the Honky-Tonk man, a legend who played many clubs during the old Fillmore and Divisadero days, perform at Velma’s often, there all day to assist her in stage operation; after a long day, finally on stage with his All-Star band to close out the evening. Artist included Louisiana recording star handsome Kenny Neal, Malik – known as Lil’ Wolf, always fashionably dressed GQ style; Johnny Taylor inspired R&B singer Duane Thompson; legendary Fillmore Slim still on his performance game and in demand!…

Let me tell you – featured in Webb’s band was a Sistuh’ who can get down – bass guitar player/vocalist Pat Wilder who blew the roof off the sucker; almost turned the place out – Ah she’s rough and wild as her name suggest…put a Bodie call shaking freeze on yuh’! I’ve crowned her the female Joe Louis Walker!!!; Check it out – San Francisco community Activist Espanola Jackson walked in with a Cuban Star – percussionist Renné Gonzalves who has played with the best – Santana, Pete Escovedo, on stage with Webb.

There was a door charge of $20 per person; GOOD NEWS – Landers announced the benefit raised $1500 that will enable KPOO to pay their entertainment permit and other bills. When talking with her prior to deadline she said there were many who could not make the scene but called to pledge a donation. KPOO has a wish list of needs that include a generator. Call the station at (415) 346-5516.

KPOO volunteer staff on the scene included: J.J. Parson, General Manager; Terry Collins, Chairman KPOO Board, joined by his family; Harrison Chastang, News Director; activist Donald Lacy, feisty Saturday morning host “Wake Up Everybody,” dealing with hot community issues; Wednesday morning Blues Jock Noel (Hayes), and Webb on Tuesday mornings; Gospel D.J. Emmit Powell -he’s now cooking at Velma’s, served up red beans and rice and his famous fried chicken!

My first intro to KPOO date back to the early 70s when a small broadcasting staff managed the station from a garage on Natoma off 6th Street; at the time offered the opportunity to participate on the news show (6 p.m.) but could not avail myself to the opportunity due to working a full time job and raising a young son. But have always been a friend to the station; often guest on Emmit Powell’s Gospel show, Big Bones, and as of January, a weekly guest on Noel’s Wednesday morning Blues show, giving up the 411 Bay Area news.

In 1985 the station moved to their permanent home at 1329 Divisadero, they own the building! For years KPOO operated under the dedicated and capable leadership of the late Joe Rudolph whose untimely death occurred in March 2001; caught many off guard, sadness. I covered the all day Tribute to him at Ben Franklin High Auditorium in San Francisco, located not too far from the station.

The station is in good hands – General Manager J.J. Parson who learned at Rudolph’s feet, keep the tradition in serving the community at large!!!

Happy Birthday to Hardworking John Handy! Sunday afternoon joined his wife Del Anderson-Handy and friends who gathered to celebrate the stellar alto saxophonist 75th birthday at San Francisco State University Campus in Seven Hills Conference Center, and the launch of the John Handy Scholarship in Jazz Studies! Handy is a graduate of State! and honor that he selected the school. Words of appreciation expressed by President Robert A. Corrigan, and other Staff who spoke, proud Handy selected the school to initiate the program. Invited guests donated monies of their choice.

Wonderful afternoon mingling, listening to Jazz music, and special performance by Handy; good food and wine. Musicians included: Dave Matthews, Professor Dee Spencer, Andrew Spaetz, Marcus Shelby; Guests included Guru Sonny Buxton and Pearl Wong; gorgeous Gerri Lange – mellowing gracefully; hornman Frank Fisher – one of the legendary Fillmore musicians featured on the cover of “Harlem of the West” that featured John Handy, Pony Poindexter, and John Coltrane; SFJAZZ Randall Kline; Dee Spencer, KCSM’S Gregg Bridges; Harry Overstreet; Robert Harris, retired PG&E executive joined by his wife Glenda Harris. From State dashed off to Yoshi’s!

Bring in da funk! Nothing but a funky good time with legendary keyboardist, producer, Grammy winning genius George Duke Sunday night at Yoshi’s San Francisco! Serious fusion – non stop high energy – Duke on keyboard, piano and vocals. A stunning evening that took us through all cultures of the music “My Piano,” ended with Duke’s vibrating fusion sounds – off da hook!

Tempo slowed down with his singing of “Sweet Baby,” from his new CD “In A Mellow Tone’’ originally by Duke Ellington, his passion for Jazz is dedicated to the legacy of classic jazz pioneers, and their performances in addition he tossed in a few thought provoking originals to spice up the flow of the music, a mix that beckons lovers of smooth, hip, and cool Jazz!

The evening left us standing on our feet!!! Welcome back to San Francisco George! Finally we have a major Jazz Club; he was genially excited about the New Fillmore and asked me about Leonard’s Barbecue – sorry gone!

His exclusive four day Debut engagement was sold out! Duke and I go way back to when he played the popular Divisadero club, H. Warren’s Half Note, led a swing Jazz trio that featured bassist John Heard. Duke was a young guy, warm. always a smile, rosy cheeks, a sparkle in his eyes, success has not changed his personality. A giving nature as shown when he granted a rare interview to Ace Washington, Host CNS News, Cable 29. Ace invited me to join he and his camera man Lynne prior to the first set, and opportunity for me to hug, reunited with Brother Duke.

Noting a few Duke fans on the scene – Ave Montague’, CEO San Francisco Black Film Festival and Deborah Vaughn, Director, Dimension Dance Theater; businessmen Charlie Walker and Derf Butler made the second show.

The section of the Fillmore Jazz District is exciting – bright lights line the street; feels good to be in the mix – more so because I like the night life!!!

E-mail Rochelle at iheard@earthlink.net

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