May 2002

SF Alternative Music Fest: Keepers of the flame
by Rent Romus
The Bay Area is one of the richest creative meccas in the nation, with a plethora of music festivals, countless music awards presented by every news rag and underground 'zine, and densely packed scenes of working musicians. It is also the birthplace of the new music movement that began in the fifties, while absorbing tree jazz as well as the 20th century classical movement.
From its beginnings in living rooms of private homes, galleries, and clubs, comes the San Francisco Alternative Music Festival (SF Alt), bringing the legacy of change embraced by jazz and new music to a greater public awareness.
This first year of the SF Alt festival is being operated by a group of volunteers, made up primarily of musicians living and performing in Oakland and the Bay Area. With an extensive history in self-production and promotion under the support and directorship of John Lee (one of the most supportive benefactors in the Bay Area and webmaster for, the organizing committee brings a wide variety of experience and talent in the areas of music presentation, performance, and promotion.
Featured will be a broad multi-cultural presentation, as well as three generations of some of the most innovative artists of our time. SF Alt will offer the debut Bay Area performance of New York icon Joe McPhee, along with our very own living legend, India Cooke. The festival will also feature a performance by Wolfgang Fuchs, as well as the west coast premier of a film documentary about drummer Dennis Charles.

Dennis Charles Documentary
Another luminary largely unknown to the masses, Dennis Charles was a legend on the avant-garde jazz scene, where his drumming caught the attention of such innovative. musicians as Thelonious Monk, Steve Lacy, Archie Shepp, Don Cherry, Sonny Rollins and many others. On May 8th between sets with Marco Eniedi and McPhee/Cooke, SF Alt will present the West Coast debut of a film of performance by Dennis Charles, shot during the last two years of his life. Filmed in venues across New York City, interspersed with anecdotes by Charles himself, family 'members, friends and fellow musicians, the film illustrates Dennis's grip on music, while waging a battle to simply survive.
The documentary also features Akira Ando, Billy Bang, John Blum, Borah Borgman, Thomas Borgmann, Roxane Butterfly, Rick Dellaratta, Bobby Few, Joel Forrester, Susie Ibarra, Steve Lacy, Frank Lowe, Zane Massey, Jemeel Moondoc, Wilber Morris, William Parker, Archie Shepp, and others. The filmmaker of this indie gem, Véronique Doumbé, will be speaking and taking questions after the film.
For more information on the SFALT Festival May 8th-12th, 2002 please visit the web site at

Saxophonist. composer. and producer. Rent Romus has been an active member of the avant jazz/new sonic scene in the Bay Area since 1988. He currently heads the SIMM Music series in San Francisco. and Edgetone Records.