San Francisco Chronicles

  Karen Kindig '90

In this first column from the San Francisco Berklee Alumni Chapter, we'd like to take a moment to introduce ourselves. We are Karen Kindig '90 and Hermann Lara '96, the San Francisco chapter's coleaders. Kindig is a bassist who plays with many area musicians and actively supports the music scene by promoting and attending local events. A composer and saxophonist, Lara is currently completing a solo CD. He performs with Ray of Light, the Palo Alto Players theater company, and with the rap group Bored Stiff and also teaches.

Our chapter recently sponsored two successful alumni events. In November, Bay Area Sound Studios in San Rafael hosted our Alumni Showcase featuring eight superb acts. Starting things off, vibraphonist Michael Hatfield '75 performed with a quartet that included drummer Rob Hart '84, guitarist John Hoy, and bassist Chris Amberger '73. Next up was saxophonist Rob Roth, who played a set of duets with Amberger. Showcasing original songs were singer and guitarist Teresa Perez '07 with drummer Omar Ledezma Jr. '03 and bassist Henrik Bridger '04; Spencer Burrows '02, and Kris Dilbeck '02 and their band Frobeck; Shelley Leong '04 and Seth Peterson; and Rob Sherman '88. Kai Eckhardt '86 mesmerized the audience with an extended bass solo, and pianist Socorro de Castro '80 closed the show with her renditions of standards and originals.

Our December holiday party took place at San Francisco's newest jazz and food venue: Coda Jazz Supper Club. Alumni spanning four decades turned out-some with spouses and children-to celebrate the holiday season and connect with old and new friends.

Despite the shift over the past decade toward downloadable music, Bay Area musicians continue to record CDs. Violinist Mads Tolling '03 released his solo CD The Playmaker. Saxophonist Dayna Stephens '00 recorded The Timeless Now featuring guitarist John Scofield '73. Bassist Kurt Ribak '89 released Gone, his third CD as leader. Saxophonist and clarinetist Matt Renzi '95 released Lunch Special, his fifth disc as a leader. Kai Eckhardt '86 played on Antonio Forcione's Ghetto Paradise, and drummer Thomas Pridgen '03 appeared on Victor Little's album Inner Portrait.

Hermann Lara '96  

Scott Amendola '94 was commissioned by the Oakland East Bay Symphony to write new music for the symphony's "New Visions/New Vistas" series for its 2011 season. Amendola, a drummer, also recently recorded with guitarist Bill Frisell '77.

And many alumni have resumed their careers in the Bay Area, including producer and engineer Genesis Rubin '05, who for years worked in Miami producing hip-hop and R &B acts such as Plies, Shonie, and Pretty Ricky. Stephen Donato '78 returned from Woodstock, NY, and teaches guitar in the South Bay and online.

Others active in the local performance scene include bassist Saul Sierra-Alonso '95, percussionists Julio Pérez '98 and Ben Krames '94, saxophonist Sonya Jason '86, drummer Damon Hope '96, woodwind player David Erdelyi '94, keyboardist Ben Flint '92, and bassist and vocalist Elliot Racine '06. All have worked steadily to keep the Bay Area music scene buzzing with new sounds.

Here's hoping all continue to prosper musically in 2010.

Karen Kindig '90 and Hermann Lara '96
Berklee Alumni Chapter Co-leaders
San Francisco, CA