Acoustic Alliance unites local musicians
by Martin Jones Westlin
Published - 09/06/06 - 02:20 PM | 6115 views | 0 0 comments | 104 104 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Brian Holwerda's Ocean Beach residence sits right under a flight path, and he wouldn't have it any other way. He said you can hear the planes overhead on his homemade guitar recordings, and for him, that's an urgently necessary sanction to those grand and glorious days beyond recall. The filtering technology may have been primitive by today's standards, he said, but the '60s and '70s were the definitive years in America's musical consciousness.

Holwerda's also got Ocean Beach "“ the quasi-hippie enclave that still looks and feels the part "“ to color his artistic bent. It's that generationally seasoned community sense, he said, that helps fuel his part in the latest Acoustic Alliance, a product of the Listen Local San Diego promotional organization. Saturday, Sept. 9, marks the 14th alliance gig, to be held at Linda Vista's Brick by Brick nightclub. This is Holwerda's first such event, during which he'll join 11 others in the round over the course of the evening. He'll take his cue from Ocean Beach resident Ed Decker, who will introduce each of the four sets with a series of comical, lowbrow freestyle poetry readings.

Holwerda, 27, cited Neil Young as a major influence on his music. And as he tells it, that taste wasn't acquired arbitrarily.

"I was a little late for the direct hit," said Holwerda, "but I owe a lot of what I know to my dad, who's a fantastic bass player. Watching the Woodstock movie was mandatory. I grew up [in the Bay Area] listening to Crosby, Stills & Nash, James Taylor "“ the really, really good stuff. My brother is a drummer, and my family would have these little jam sessions. Music was all over the house, and we were never out of range. It's a crazy stat, but I've been playing for about 15 years."

Other performers joining Holwerda at the event include vocalist Angela Patua, whose Afro-Brazilian influence colors her political commentary; popular folk singer-songwriter Joe Rathburn, with folk rocker John Katchur; veteran guitarist-writer Dave Howard, and Ephraim Sommers, lead singer for the rock band Siko. Siko is the featured act at the public afterparty.

Holwerda agreed that local music, like other area performing arts, suffers from a certain lack of identity. He freely used the regional theater scene as an example of this compromised state "“ icons like La Jolla Playhouse or The Old Globe Theatre, he said, tend to obscure the rest of the theater community and its efforts to recognize everyone else.

"They've gotten bloated," he said, "and they stick to a certain formula only because it's successful."

There's no such monolith to point to in San Diego music, he added, which only compounds the field's lack of personality.

"San Diego isn't necessarily known for a thriving music scene, like the Bay Area. You don't hear about anybody nationally that much. But I've got a feeling something's going to give here. There are so many people here who are supportive of the scene."

Listen Local San Diego, which hosts the alliance in association with Idynomite Media, promotes the San Diego music scene and provides networking for artists and other personnel.

Meanwhile, the Acoustic Alliance and events like it can only help. Such entries put local music directly in the hands of those who will determine its future.

For Holwerda, and perhaps for 11 others, that future was plotted 40 years ago, when Neil Young helped inspire the anthems and the sentiment of his war-weary generation. Then as now, there was nowhere to go but up.

The alliance event at Brick by Brick, 1130 Buenos Ave., is open to those 21 and older.

Tickets are $6; the show starts at 7:00 p.m. For more information, contact Cathryn Beeks at [email protected] or (858) 353-5317. More on Listen Local, DVDs of previous Acoustic Alliance performances and podcasts of featured performers is available at
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