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With a Whimper

[whitespace] Local music mag BAM quietly folds

By Sarah Quelland

BIG NEWS this week on the musical media front: one of the Bay Area's long-standing music resources, BAM, folded after 23 years on the scene. The twice-monthly publication gained a reputation for offering in-depth coverage on local bands and other up-and-comers, and was respected as an important voice in the musical community. Watching the end of an era, it's sad to see that voice silenced, and it's a shame the magazine went out with a whimper, not a bang. Without so much as a fond farewell or a retrospective on more than two decades of music, the June 4 issue, with Pavement on the cover, is said to be the final issue of BAM as we know it. BAM freelancer Jim Harrington, who wrote a piece on local freak rock party outfit Not Hot (which performed June 4 at the Cactus Club with the Groovie Ghoulies, Venus Bleeding and Nag) that can be found in the last issue, says he was as much in the dark as anyone. "I don't know why BAM went out of business," he quips. "I'm still waiting for them to call me." But Harrington is willing to share this theory: "They were trying to do too much with too little and lost their focus that they were there, first and foremost, to put out a magazine about music." He adds, "It definitely did not seem to be a problem on the editorial side." Bammedia was very interested in the web and other types of publications, and Harrington speculates that "those other things became too much of a drain on the magazine." BAM Editor-in-Chief and Publisher Dennis Erokan has a considerably different take, saying the publication hadn't been making money for years. While he expresses that the uproar surrounding BAM's closure and overwhelming support (Bay Area bands sent word that they'd throw benefit shows) has been "incredibly gratifying," he adds that he doesn't regret the decision. When asked about the lack of a grand finale, he says, "I couldn't take it. I couldn't do it. It would have torn me up." Apparently the BAM logo will live on in the Bammedia publication This Week, on the Bammedia website (www.musicuniverse.com) and in a BAM DVD slated to begin by February, 2000. But for Harrington, and most everyone else, it just won't be the same.

As promised, Plush introduced its new drummer, Stephen Nutting, at the Usual June 1 when it opened for Vegas DeMilo. ... Salmon tested the waters and got a good response when it performed with Swarm and Videodrone at the Edge June 3. Many a local band shirt was spotted as fans came out to embrace the return of Salmon, and San Francisco-based Swarm (born out of the thrash-metal band Death Angel) kept the crowd's attention with its screaming rock & roll energy and impressive stage presence.

Swerver, Tribal Disco Noise, ManMade God, Systematic and Alien Ant Farm have a whopper of a show coming up Friday (June 11) at the Cactus Club. Swerver's headed back into the studio soon, so as a treat for its fans, the EP Muscle Car, which was intended to be an industry-only release, will be available for cheap. ... The Cactus Club hosts a little warm-up gig June 13 for the Vans Warped Tour with Clay Wheels, Boy Kicks Girl, El Centro, Unit F and HBA.

After canceling its May 9 gig at Shoreline Amphitheatre at the last minute due to band illness, Aerosmith has finally announced that it will be unable to reschedule the date due to difficulties in tour routing and venue availability. Tickets will be refunded at the place of purchase. ... And apparently Van Halen's Gary Cherone has far too much time on his hands. The pro-life vocalist has taken it upon himself to criticize pro-choice supporters and wrote an open letter to Pearl Jam vocalist Eddie Vedder. The rant is being distributed through the anti-abortion organization Rock for Life, which has also targeted R.E.M., the Lilith Fair and Joan Osborne for their stance on a woman's right to choose. If Van Halen III hadn't given me enough reason to give up on the band, this certainly would have--that is, unless they get Diamond Dave back in the picture.

PLAN AHEAD: Let's Go Bowling, Stunt Monkey and the Timeouts, June 10 at the Edge in Palo Alto; the Donnas and the Groovie Ghoulies, June 10 at Bimbo's in San Francisco; the What-not's, June 10, at the Catalyst in Santa Cruz; Boy Kicks Girl, June 11, Campbell Community Center; Security, June 12 at the Quarter Note in Sunnyvale; I.B.O.P.A., June 12 at the Fishbowl in Sunnyvale; SWRV, June 12 at the Cactus Club; Noel Redding, June 13 at Palookaville in Santa Cruz; Flogging Molly, Sketch and Dredg, June 16 at the Usual; Monkey and Warsaw, June 17 at the Edge; LIVE 105's BFD, June 18 at Shoreline Amphitheatre in Mountain View; Bob Dylan and Paul Simon, June 19 at Shoreline; the Melvins, June 19 at the Cactus.

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From the June 10-16, 1999 issue of Metro, Silicon Valley's Weekly Newspaper.

Copyright © 1999 Metro Publishing Inc. Metroactive is affiliated with the Boulevards Network.

For more information about the San Jose/Silicon Valley area, visit sanjose.com.




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