Noe Valley Voice November 2011

Farmers Market Puts Out a CD

16 Bands Contribute to Home-Grown Music Collection

By Heather World

Toe Tappers and Knee Slappers: You’ve been serenaded while shopping, sipping, and babysitting. Now you can take those tunes home for a mere $10. 

Peach season has passed, but the Noe Valley Farmers Market has released a CD of plum music by the bands who play at the weekly food fest on 24th Street.

The CD, produced by market maestro Richard Hildreth, is both a showcase of local talent and a fundraiser for the Noe Valley Town Square campaign.

It has 16 tracks reflecting the eclectic mix of acoustic music heard at the market each Saturday. There are the accordion-led tunes of Circus Finelli and Renée de la Prade, a ukulele lullaby by Kailua Blue, the country twang of They Call Me Lucky, and the cabaret throatiness of Erin Brazill and the Brazillionaires. Add to that songs any Noe Valleyan can understand, like “Please Move Your Car” by the rock band True Margrit.

Several of the artists live in Noe Valley, including Brazill, Lily Holbrook, David Kesler, Kerry Parker of Failure to Disperse, the Coopers of Kailua Blue, and Peter Grenell of They Call Me Lucky.

Kesler, who contributed “Jericho,” a song about longing for paradise, says he’s honored to be a part of the CD, titled NVFM Music. 

“There’s a lot of very talented people there,” he says.

Hildreth, who has lived on 24th Street since 1992, has been arranging music for the market for four years. To create the CD, he put out a call for songs, then made selections based on what he received in time to have the album produced and ready for the Noe Valley Harvest Festival on Oct. 15. Mastered by San Francisco audio engineer Gary Hobish, the CD at $10 was selling briskly in late October.

Hildreth says the musicians donated their music, and the market paid $2,000 or so for production costs. Any profit will go toward a community effort to buy the parking lot on 24th Street between Vicksburg and Sanchez streets and turn it into a town square, offering a permanent home for the produce market.

The lot is owned by the Noe Valley Ministry, which needs the money from a sale to refurbish its 123-year-old building at 1021 Sanchez St. Neighbors calling themselves Residents for Noe Valley Town Square are working to convince the city’s Recreation and Park Department to acquire the lot. Money would still be needed to transform the property and maintain it as a public square.

Disc sales could earn about $7,000, says Hildreth, but the CD’s real value may lie in heightening awareness of the campaign to buy the lot.

“People read about town square on the back of the jacket, and they’re surprised [the lot’s] on sale,” he says.

Venue Worth Its Weight in CDs

Hildreth marvels at the range of musicians he is able to bring to the market, from amateur to professional. Many can secure paying gigs but contact him and ask to play.

“I have to tell them, ‘You realize it’s just for tips?’” he says.

To accommodate the wealth of tunes, he now books three bands each Saturday, performing from 8:30 a.m. to 1 p.m.

“I like to mix it up with different stuff,” says Hildreth, who recently found a string quartet to play. “It has to be stuff people are comfortable having their kids around, but it doesn’t have to be children’s music.”

Lining up acts for the Harvest Festival and the Farmers Market is one thing, but making a professional CD is another, he says.

“I spent at least 100 hours [on this], but believe me it was worth it because I love all these musicians and what they bring to the market.”

A CD release party is scheduled for Saturday, Dec. 10, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Upper Noe Recreation Center at 295 Day Street. There will be an as yet undetermined admission fee that will also benefit the town square campaign, Hildreth says. Performers will include the SHE’s, Erin Brazill and the Brazillionaires, Lily Holbrook, the Tumbleweed Wanderers, Failure to Disperse, and Circus Finelli.

“My fantasy is to go back to a second pressing on this and go on to volume two,” Hildreth says.

Meanwhile, you can buy “volume one” of NVFM Music at the Noe Valley Farmers Market, the Mission Community Market (Thursdays on Bartlett Street at 22nd Street from 4 to 8 p.m.), and Phoenix Books and Common Scents on 24th Street. The CD also will be available for sale at, iTunes, CDBaby, and Amazon, Hildreth says.