After a blistering European summer DJ Tony Montana is back on the trail, travelling to sunny California for some good ole Yankee culture. Next stop San Francisco.
Text and photos by DJ Tony Montana
San Francisco, with it’s cascading land features and innumerable bays, has many ‘micro-climates’. You are in fog one minute, rain the next, and brilliant sunshine a minute later. The summer extends into October and beyond and it’s the perfect time of year to visit. I had three weeks to spend in the area and the plan went like this. 1. Check out the city. 2. See family and friends. 3. DJ
I stayed in Marin County, Tiburon, and to get there you cross the noble Golden Gate Bridge, turn right through picturesque Sausalito, and follow the water’s edge a few kilomeres, before reaching the charming and well-heeled Tiburon. It’s kind of a millionaire’s row, with large timber houses studding the hillsides, all with breathtaking views back across the Bay. Nearby neighbourhood Belvedere is reportedly the most expensive in America. This part of the bay is delightful and I was happy to call it my “base”.
The next day I rose early and took the Blue Fleet ferry to the City. We passed former Alcatraz Prison and land at Fisherman’s Wharf and started walking. San Francisco is a real alternative to mainstream America with vibrant energy and a bohemian atmosphere. There are many boutique stores, cute cafes, dusty record stores, and bars that remind me of East London. Beatniks and hippies cajole the sidewalks. Skateboarders fly by at high speed. Street musicians play their tunes. The homeless (there are many in the Bay Area) sing drunken songs and roll around, unthreateningly. The many steep hills, trams and wooden houses reveal great character. I do love this city.
The famous University district of Berkeley needed a visit. I decided to go and was collected by family friend Tony Jalili. Tony is great fun and runs a few businesses in the area. A perfect guide. We ate pizza and drank Peet’s Coffee from the oldest coffee house in California, then checked out the Berkeley campus (while Tony tells me stories of the Vietnam student revolts of the sixties) and some stunning views from Claremont, where the Bay Area panorama looks fantastic. I wanted to spend more time in Berkeley and chat to some of it’s intellectuals, but time ran out and I had Supperclub to play that night.Click to view slideshow.
Dr Tune had a large machine nearby, pouring millions of bubbles on to the streets. People danced and rejoiced in them.
I was met by DJ Jimmy ‘Frisko’ at the door and shown around Supperclub. There was a queue forming at the door. It’s show time! Supperclub is a unique venue. Basically you eat dinner on large white beds whilst being entertained by all manner of freaks. It’s rib-aching hilarious and the freaks, sorry entertainers, are world class. I played a set of cool music with Jimmy and sank a few beers. It was a blast and I can’t wait to return. I rounded off the night with a trip to hippy stronghold ‘Haight Ashbury’. Haight is lionized for it’s many head-shops, and Ashbury for the legendary band The Grateful Dead. I met my eccentric friend Richard ‘Dr Tune’ and we hit the streets.
Jazz bands honked the local bars and the smell of freshly-cut grass filled the air. We bought a case of beer and sat down with a group of homeless. Some were complete deadheads but others were very switched on and had the most interesting stories to tell. They spoke of freedom and the California sunshine. We toasted their freedom and wished them well. This night was a celebration for them for tomorrow they would leave San Francisco and head further south. Winter was approaching and no-one wants to be left out in the cold. Dr Tune had a large bubble machine nearby, pouring millions of bubbles on to the streets. People danced and rejoiced in them. It was quite a scene. A perfect end to the evening.
Last thing to do was explore the countryside. I bought a hiking map and journeyed to nearby Mount Tamalpais. The afternoon drive and hike was amazing. The distant views of the city were breathtaking from the top of the mountain and the trails were a walker’s dream. Giant redwoods dotted the landscape and I could see the Pacific Ocean to my right, Marin County and Napa Valley to my left, and straight ahead the Golden Gate Bridge, with it’s lofty towers poking through the clouds.
I played another gig at Supperclub and it’ was time to move on. San Francisco always leaves a lasting impression on me. As I headed to the airport I was filled with happy memories of the city and it’s beautiful people. And also excitement as once I boarded that plane the next stop was Asia.
Here are Tony’s latest mixes to download