Thursday, April 28, 2016

Dances for Camera 2016 - Film Screening

 Thursday, April 28th from 5pm-8pm
 in the Koret Auditorium 
of the Main Library at 100 Larkin Street.

In celebration of National Dance Week the Art, Music and Recreation Center is thrilled to be working with The San Francisco Dance Film Festival again to bring dance film shorts and the feature film Let's Get the Rhythm to the San Francisco Public Library.  This is the 5th year in a row that we have partnered to bring these films to the public for free.

5:30 PM - SFDFF shorts Highlights
6:30 PM - Feature Documentary Let's Get the Rhythm

Let’s Get the Rhythm is a 53-minute documentary chronicling girls’ hand-clapping games on inner-city playgounds and around the world, from every continent and many islands in between. Three eight-year-olds from diverse cultural backgrounds in the greater New York area charm viewers with their personal insights as they learn, share, and eventually outgrow the tradition.

While drawing attention to the social importance of girls’ games, the documentary showcases archival footage from far-flung locations, even ancient Egyptian reliefs, and includes footage by Alan Lomax and Laura Boulton. Folklorist Bess Lomax Hawes and ethnomusicologist Kyra Gaunt accentuate the beauty of the beat with choice observations on the empowering force of this genre on the lives of women.

The screening will be followed by a brief Q & A with Mill Valley filmmaker Irene Chagall, also a longtime music teacher at the Community Music Center in the Mission, which provides music education to all, regardless of financial means.

For more information about the feature documentary, please click this link:


See the full Dances For Camera list

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Dorothy Starr Decade By Decade

A 'Frisco girl / words and music by James M. Marshall and Walter Wolff (The Zeno Mauvais Music Co., 1896).

Covers of sheet music from the Dorothy Starr Collection will be on display in the Art, Music and Recreation Center of the Main Library.  This cover art will explore a variety of themes in popular song, decade by decade.

While the architects were drawing up the plans for the New Main Library, members of San Francisco’s music loving public were organizing and fundraising to save a valued San Francisco institution. Dorothy Starr, the beloved proprietor of the Music Stand, a Hayes Valley sheet music store, died on January 31, 1990 at the age of 81. Her death set into the motion the Library’s acquisition of the stock of her store through the assistance of The Friends of Dorothy Starr who organized performances to pay for the collection.

The Music Stand made its first appearing in the San Francisco phone book in 1959 at the address of 381A Hayes Street with the phone number HEmlock1-1531. Toward the end of her life, she moved her business to a second floor flat on Linden Alley. Although her apartment had tall stacks of music in every room, she was able to hone in on whatever music her customers sought.

The Collection was quite large, estimated to have more than 300,000 items. Before the New Main Library was finished, the collection bounced around a bit, first residing at the U.S. Public Health Service hospital at 15th Avenue and Lake Street and then at 45 Hyde Street, an out-building adjacent to the old Main Library. The Dorothy Starr Collection was finally given a stable home with the opening of the New Main Library on April 8, 1996.

When the New Main Library opened, the Dorothy Starr Collection was first made available to the public through a database containing 5,000 cataloged items. The Library made a decision to focus on cataloging the vocal music within the collection since this was Ms. Starr’s area of expertise and what her customers sought the most. Today we are closing in on 40,000 unique items of vocal music in the catalog. The songs have been entered into the database by Library staff and volunteers over the past 23 years. Every cataloged item is stored in an acid free folder for its long term preservation.

While Dorothy Starr would order newly published sheet music for her customers, she specialized in acquiring used music of all kinds. She was very catholic in her approach, collecting and selling music of all styles and times. She was especially valued by her musical customers and friends for encyclopedic knowledge of what is today known as the “great American songbook” - songs of the Tin Pan Alley era, including the great Broadway musicals as well as motion picture songs. When we collect and catalog the music we pay attention to including all variations of edition, cover art, vocal range, arrangement and format. The Collection includes every manner of vocal music from show tune to popular song, soloist or choir.

Since Dorothy Starr accepted every manner of music into her stock, we have also added to the collection through donations. The Friends of the San Francisco Public Library regularly give us access to the donated music they receive. Another noteworthy donation was the collection of Richard Kramer, one of the early conductors of the San Francisco Gay Men’s Chorus, which greatly enhanced the choral music in the collection. We also purchase newly published sheet music using funds from the songwriting royalties of 1930s songwriter Vee Lawnhurst that were bequeathed to the Library.

Sheet music can have a fascination for even non-musicians. The cover art reflects the technology and the tastes and trends of the times. These covers also the depict the celebrated singers and film performers associated with a song.

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

The Most Borrowed Books in Art, Music and Recreation - March 2015

 It's always interesting to learn what books in our subjects have the greatest current appeal to our readers. The most striking thing about this list of most borrowed books is the high percentage are the high number of memoirs by women - 12 out of 20 titles.  

The Boys in the Boat isn't a surprising title for the list -- it is presently ranked at number 2 on the San Francisco Chronicle's best-selling nonfiction titles.  Patti Smith's books, Just Kids and M Train, remain popular.  Interest in Tina Fey's Bossypants has never died down and her friend Amy Poehler's Yes Please tops the list.  Greil Marcus's Mystery Train, now in its 6th edition, and H.G. Bissinger's Friday Night Lights, reissued in a 25th anniversary edition, are a perennial favorites.

Perhaps the most unexpected title here is The Art of The Con, which brings the true crime genre to the fine art marketplace.  Bohemian Modern is new book on interior design, a genre that always circulates well.  The list is rounded out with Barbarian Days, a surfing memoir partially set in San Francisco.

1. Yes Please by Amy Poehler (Dey St., 2014).

2. Hold Still: A Memoir with Photographs by Sally Mann (Little, Brown and Company, 2015).

3. M Train by Patti Smith (Alfred A. Knopf, 2015).

4. Why Not Me? by Mindy Kaling (Crown Archetype, 2015).

5. The Boys in the Boat: Nine Americans and Their Epic Quest for Gold at the 1936 Olympics by Daniel James Brown (Viking, 2013).

6. Reckless: My Life as a Pretender by Chrissie Hynde (Doubleday, 2015).

7. Bossypants by Tina Fey (Little, Brown and Co., 2011).

8. The Art of the Con: The Most Notorious Fakes, Frauds, and Forgeries in the Art World by Anthony M. Amore (Palgrave Macmillan, 2015).

9. Just Kids by Patti Smith (Ecco, 2010).

10. Girl in a Band by Kim Gordon (Dey St., 2015).

11.Mystery Train: Images of America in Rock 'n' Roll Music by Greil Marcus, revised 6th edition (Plume, 2015).

12. Hunger Makes Me a Modern Girl: A Memoir by Carrie Brownstein (Riverhead Books, 2015).

13.Friday Night Lights: A Town, a Team, and a Dream by H.G. Bissinger, 25th anniversary edition (Da Capo Press, 2015).

14. Always Pack a Party Dress: And Other Lessons Learned from a (Half) Life in Fashion by Amanda Brooks (Blue Rider Press, 2015).

15. Bohemian Modern by Emily Henson, photography by Katya de Grunwald (Ryland Peters & Small, 2015).

16. Agnes Martin: Her Life and Art by Nancy Princenthal (Thames & Hudson, 2015).

17. The Rainman's Third Cure: An Irregular Education by Peter Coyote (Counterpoint, 2015).

18. Ivory Vikings: The Mystery of the Most Famous Chessmen in the World and the Woman Who Made Them by Nancy Marie Brown (St. Martin's Press, 2015).

19. I'll Never Write My Memoirs by Grace Jones as told to Paul Morley (Gallery Books, 2015).

20. Barbarian Days: A Surfing Life by William Finnegan (Penguin Press, 2015).

Barbarian Days

Sunday, March 13, 2016

Sounds of the New Deal: The Federal Music Project in the West

Peter Gough is an assistant professor of history at California State University, Sacramento and author of Sounds of the New Deal: the federal music project in the westPlease join us for an author talk, Q&A, and book sales* and signing on Sunday, March 20th at 1pm.

—all people—
triumphed and reshaped America

At its peak, the Federal Music Project (FMP) employed nearly 16,000 people who reached millions of Americans through performances, composing, teaching, and folksong collection and transcription. In Sounds of the New Deal, Peter Gough explores how the FMP’s activities in the West shaped a new national appreciation for the diversity of American musical expression. From the onset, administrators and artists debated whether to represent highbrow, popular, or folk music in FMP activities. Though the administration privileged using “good” music to educate the public, in the West local preferences regularly trumped national priorities and allowed diverse vernacular musics to be heard. African American and Hispanic music found unprecedented popularity while the cultural mosaic illuminated by American folksong exemplified the spirit of the Popular Front movement. These new musical expressions combined the radical sensibilities of an invigorated Left with nationalistic impulses. At the same time, they blended traditional patriotic themes with an awareness of the country’s varied ethnic musical heritage and vast—but endangered—store of grassroots music.

Presentation will be held in the Latino/Hispanic Community Room, Lower Level of the Main San Francisco Public Library.

* book sales provided by Friends of the Library