924 Gilman’s Woes, Continued

Rent increases prompt internal changes, plus Guitar O Rama owner dies.

Last month, the all-ages punk venue 924 Gilman announced that it’s in danger of closing because its landlord is raising its rent by nearly $3,000 a month starting July 1. The rent increase came about after the building’s landlord decided to sell the property, but couldn’t find any buyer, according to a letter sent to the Express by Karen O’Brien, executive director of Alternative Music Foundation, aka 924 Gilman Street. In response, the all-volunteer-run alcohol-free venue decided to seek nonprofit status, and in the process has updated its bylaws to ensure more commitment from its officers.

According to O’Brien, Gilman has historically allowed anyone who attended two, nonconsecutive meetings to vote on every matter presented. O’Brien says this setup gave individuals, groups, or scenes the ability to easily stack the vote, which has happened at recent meetings. “Our current staff is pretty sizable and experienced but cannot prevent entire meetings from being distracted or controlled by whoever has the most numbers, loudest gripe, most authoritative way of speaking or who is held in highest esteem, regardless of current contribution to the collective effort,” O’Brien wrote. “All of the club’s decisions have to be made in this environment. It’s probably the biggest reason we still trying to become a non-profit.”

But changing the bylaws was no easy matter. First, O’Brien says that no copy of the bylaws existed at the club. When those bylaws surfaced, it was discovered that voting members were required to contribute to the club by performing one task per month. Though there was some opposition, the following changes were made: Officers no longer have to be 21, responsibilities and duties of the officers were clarified, and a voting member must attend one meeting per month and complete one task per month.

In the meantime, O’Brien says they’re looking to elect a new secretary and a board member. Elections take place on Saturday, May 15. To find out more, attend one of the venue’s meetings on the first and third Saturday of every month, at 5 p.m. Also, throughout the month of May, a percentage of the proceeds from the sale of the book, Gimme Something Better: The Profound, Progressive, and Occasionally Pointless History of Bay Area Punk from Dead Kennedys to Green Day, by Jack Boulware and Silke Tudor, will be donated to Gilman. Participating bookstores include Dog Eared Books, Green Apple Books, Get Lost Books, City Lights, Booksmith, and Pegasus Books, and Phoenix Books. Anyone who wants to donate can do so at 924Gilman.org or send checks to Alternative Music Foundation, P.O. Box 1058, Berkeley, CA 94701.

Peter Webster of Guitar O Rama Dies

It appears that Guitar O Rama owner Peter Webster died on Friday after being hit by a car while he was riding his bike in Oakland. According to the Oakland Tribune, sixty-year-old Webster was riding his bike near the intersection of 52nd and Market streets shortly before 6 p.m. when he was hit. The driver of the car was not injured, and there have not been any arrests in connection with the crash. Though local reports haven’t confirmed that this Peter Webster was the same Peter Webster of the guitar shop, a commenter in the Craigslist music forum confirmed it was him because one of his bandmates in San Diego was contacted by authorities, who were “having a hard time locating any family, which was why they were slow on releasing the name.” No one answered the phone at the store.

“Pete was a character and people either loved him or hated him, but either way he was a fantastic guitarist, a fine (if inconsistent and slow) craftsman who built guitars and amps for all kinds of pros, and most of all a generous friend to those who knew him even a little bit,” wrote the commenter.

Webster owned Guitar O Rama on Telegraph Avenue between 61st and 62nd streets. He built and repaired guitars and amps in his tiny shop, which apparently used to be located on Park Street in Alameda, and did work for such local musicians as Country Joe McDonald. Webster also used to own Heritage Guitar Works in Clovis, Calif., with his business partner John Kinnard.

Miscellaneous Debris

Primus (whose 1992 EP of covers inspired this section name) announced a nationwide tour, though local dates have yet to be announced. The band will head into the studio to record its first album of new music since 1999’s Antipop, which is expected to be released next year. … A singing instructor at Saint Mary’s College has come under attack for using “Old Man River” in a class in March because it contains racist terms, according to the Contra Costa Times. … BayAreaMetalScene.com is reporting that the free two-day metal festival Tidal Wave will be held July 24 & 25 at McLaren Park Amphitheater in San Francisco. Confirmed bands so far include Abysmal Dawn, Stone Vengeance, Giant Squid, Near Life, and OR3O. And Oakland band Saviours have been announced to play this year’s Ozzfest on the second stage.


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