Cover of Common Ground magazine's June 2011 issue, featuring a close-up image of brass trumpet valves with a focus on music-themed articles.

June 2011

The Music Issue

Once again, the music festival season is upon us, and the lineups look awesome. Because music is such an integral component of the human experience, this issue is a joy to assemble. There are a couple quotes scattered within that I keep thinking about.

One is from Ludwig van Beethoven, who said, “Music is the mediator between the spiritual and the sensual life.” The other is from another 19th-century German luminary—Friedrich Nietzsche. He said, “Without music, life would be a mistake.” We couldn’t agree with them more.

It’s fun to imagine that if Beethoven or Nietzsche were alive today in the Bay Area, they’d be lining up their tickets to Harmony Festival to hear Michael Franti, or the Flaming Lips, or Primus. Or would they be taking their spots at the SF Symphony?

In either case, we got it covered in this issue. I love Damon Orion’s piece on the 100 years of the SF Symphony. And Sharon Cummings has done a terrific job parsing the festival scene. The spectrum of music by the bay is staggering, seemingly infinite.

In between those stories, our music editor, Lloyd Barde, weighs in on how to listen to music. Senior editor Carrie Grossman examines music as a path to awakening. Prajna Vieira provides an in-depth profile of kirtan master Jai Uttal, whose spiritual path is intricately linked with music. And like all spiritual paths, it takes us through some dark, dusty roads. Surprised?

We examine the virtues of live music, as well as the virtues of fostering your child’s musical development. We cover music therapy—for both humans and dogs.

We have an exclusive interview with an earworm—you know, those melodic viruses (or are they bacteria?) that lodge in our brains. Sometimes earworms come by invitation, but oftentimes not. And they have a pesky tendency to overstay their welcome. The one we tracked down has a curious sense of humor and discerning musical taste, for the most part.

So, you get the gist. We have the topic covered. But, for a little icing on the cake, we tracked down the Bay Area’s favorite activist clown, humanitarian, author, emcee, hippie, poet, artist, radio talk show host, hog farmer, camp director, and former Ben and Jerry ice cream flavor—yes, I am talking about Wavy Gravy—and asked him to weigh in on music and other good stuff. He’s 75 now, the universal man—almost as old as the SF Symphony, but a spring chicken compared to Beethoven and Nietzsche.

Enjoy the issue, and please support our advertisers—the best.

Our next issue—Summer—combines July and August. It has that oh-so-popular Burning Man preview. In the meantime, friend us on Facebook.

Keep in touch with your ideas and feedback at CommonGroundSF@

See you at the show.

In Harmony,


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