Archive for October, 2011

Pound SF Reopens in West Oakland

October 20, 2011

Former San Francisco metal club finds a home (and much more) at Soundwave Studios

By Kathleen Richards

In the early-2000s, things appeared to be going well for Tony Carracci. His San Francisco metal club Pound SF was one of the only mid-sized venues around catering to the metal, punk, and hardcore scenes. Even though it was located in the middle of nowhere (Pier 96 in Hunters Point), its shows were known to draw hundreds of people.

Tony Carracci and Cip Cipriano aim to turn Pound West Oakland into a self-contained music complex. - Photo: Stephen Loewinsohn

Thus, Carracci decided, perhaps ambitiously, to build an amphitheater and music center on the grounds of the venue. He and his partner Cip Cipriano put almost $650,000 into remodeling and building a fence and amphitheater. Then he was hit with bad news: His landlord, the San Francisco Port Authority, decided not to renew their lease. “I fought ’em for two years and in 2007 it got to the point where we couldn’t do it anymore, so we had to leave,” Carracci recalled. “They gave us no reason, no rhyme, and to this day it’s abandoned, empty, they didn’t rent it to anybody else. It’s just an empty shell of a building. We were really bummed.”

The Pound’s departure left a void in the metal scene for large venues. Slim’s stepped up, as did DNA Lounge and the Oakland Metro, but there were no dedicated venues like the Pound. Over the next several years, Carracci and Cipriano would host occasional shows around town — “not a significant amount but trying to keep it alive as much as we can.”

Then one fortuitous day about five months ago, Carracci’s friend Bryan Kehoe (M.I.R.V., The Kehoe Nation) invited him to a party at Soundwave Studios in West Oakland, where he was playing in a ZZ Top cover band. “As soon as I walked in, [I thought] damn, this place reminds me of the Pound,” Carracci said. “I had never been there before.”

As Carracci recalls it, at some point in the night Soundwave Studios owner Al Lucchesi approached him and asked what he was up to. Carracci said that he was looking for his next project, to which Lucchesi responded, “What about this place?” Carracci was floored: “Are you serious?” It seemed too good to be true.

Granted, Lucchesi had been trying to turn his monthly rehearsal studio space into a legitimate venue for years (at least ten, according to Carracci). He’d host the occasional show and 4/20 party. But for various reasons, the concept never really came to fruition. Carracci, on the other hand, was a guy who “gets shit done.” He says that phrase will be his epitaph.

Carracci moved fast and got Cipriano to check out the space with him. And this is the part of the interview where Carracci’s voice gets so excited that he’s practically yelling into the phone.

“The beautiful part of this is, they have the bar area, and right outside the bar area, there’s a big parking lot — we can do shows indoors or outdoors. But it gets even better! On the other side of Soundwave Studios there’s a huge, massive warehouse. Al goes, ‘I’m not doing anything with this.’ I brought Cip in there, he goes, ‘Oh my god, oh my god.’ He’s freaking out!”

Carracci and Cipriano removed all the debris from the warehouse and tore down some structures. They plan to install some large roll-up doors that Lucchesi had lying around, so the whole back of the building will open up into the courtyard area. In all, Carracci estimates that the main venue will fit two hundred people, with an additional four hundred in the parking lot outside. As for the massive warehouse next door, he says the capacity will be 600 to 800 people, and 1,200 in the outdoor courtyard. That’s four stages total. Carracci and Cipriano will be co-owners of the rechristened Pound West Oakland.

Carracci’s enthusiasm is palpable, and not just because he’s yelling. He makes the project sound like it could practically save Oakland. His concept is thus: Not just a venue, and not just limited to metal, punk, and hardcore (though that will certainly be a focus). Carracci is aiming to create a self-contained music complex, including a music school for kids and a cafe that serves food, plus the rehearsal studios, a video editing studio, and a recording studio. Like the defunct iMusicast, the all-ages Pound West Oakland will record bands’ performances and give them the video for free. A friend of Carracci’s who’s in the nonprofit sector is trying to help them get grants to teach music and video editing. Carracci also promises “family dinners every night” so people can “hang out and have a good time.”

That may sound terribly ambitious, but Carracci says all the necessary officials are on board. Councilwoman Nancy Nadel has visited the site and is “excited about it.” The Oakland Police are “totally behind us 100 percent.” Oakland Fire Inspector Vince Crudele has “been really wonderful.”

He says the support from the city is a far cry from the situation he encountered in San Francisco. “We’ve always wanted to reopen the Pound but couldn’t find the space,” Carracci lamented. “San Francisco is a nightmare — just with the bureaucracy and they try to discourage small business. It’s so unfriendly to do business in San Francisco. There is red tape in Oakland, but man they are so encouraging.”

And the fans? “The response is just phenomenal,” said Carracci. “Everybody’s just really excited about it, really happy. The buzz is unbelievable.” He notes that the venue has a built-in fanbase, since there are already bands rehearsing at Soundwave, plus the excited teenagers who came to the Pound SF’s shows are now in their early twenties.

Pound West Oakland’s opening night will be Friday, October 21, and will feature performances by the bands Comadre, Heart Sounds, Hides, and At Our Heels. There will also be free pizza and a barbecue in the parking lot, with “high fives highly encouraged,” according to the event’s Facebook page.

The event is sort of a soft launch, since Carracci is still working on getting everything in order, including the annual occupancy permit and cabaret license. Until then, Inspector Crudele is allowing Carracci to have one-off parties. (The next one happens December 6.)

But Carracci is optimistic it will all work out. “Oakland seems to be so small-business friendly that my new logo is going to be a gorilla crushing the Golden Gate Bridge,” he said. “Just to say, ‘Heck with you, San Francisco, we’re going to do West Oakland and we’re going to be rocking.'”

The Pound West Oakland’s opening night with Comadre, Heart Sounds, Hides, and At Our Heels happens Friday, Oct. 21, at 2200 Wood St., Oakland. 8 p.m., $8. All-ages. Barbecue starts at 7 p.m. 
(original East Bay Express article here.)

The 2012 California Independent Film Festival Countdown

October 12, 2011

Moraga, CA (October 11th, 2011) – The countdown begins for the 2012 California Independent Film Festival (CAIFF), which will be held from Feb 10th, 2012 through Feb 16th, 2012. To usher it in, the organizers will have a series of events leading up to its opening night.

The first event will be held this Wednesday, Oct 12th, 2012, 7 PM, at the Hacienda de las Flores in Moraga, CA. It is the launch of The Lamorinda Theatres Concert Series, with a special presentation of “The Autumn Benefit Concert for CAIFF”. This concert will be breathtaking as attendees will definitely be amazed at the eclectic musical scores, ranging from Jazz, New Age, Halloween to Fusion; especially, with the addition of exotic instruments –the largest crystal didjeridoo in the world, and singing bowls.

Scheduled performers to appear at the concert are Frank Martin, a famous keyboardist who played with Sting, Al Jarreau, Andrea Bocelli, and Tuck and Patti; Kai Eckhardt, one of the top international bassist in the world and a member of The John McLaughlin Trio; didjeridoo and singing bowl performers, Paradiso and Rasayami who currently has a New Age chart-topping CD; and Carol Alban, a well-known flutist who has played at Carnegie Hall and Lincoln Center. Attendees are encouraged to come in their Halloween costumes for the costume contest. Ticket admissions with light refreshments are $20 for adults; $15 for CAIFF members and students. Tickets are available at the Lamorinda Theatres website (

On Friday, October 21st, 2011, it will be a day and evening of extravaganza. CAIFF is proud to present the theatrical release of its 2010 award winning film for Best Score, “Mighty Macs” at the New Rheem Theatre. This is a heart-warming true story of a small-unknown school’s improbable journey in 1972, to win the first national women’s collegiate basketball championship. Tickets are $10 for general admission; and $8 for matinee admission, students and seniors.

In the evening, to celebrate Halloween, another fundraising event for CAIFF will take place. Lamorinda Theatres opens the doors to its “Dark Dreams Haunted House” at the New Rheem Theatre. This haunted house has been named one of the top-rated “Most Haunted Houses” in the nation and has attracted at least 500 visitors annually in the past five years. Ticket admission to the “Dark Dreams Haunted House” is $8; and $7 for the “Friday Night of Fright” movie. As a special treat, visitors purchasing both tickets will have the benefit of purchasing a small popcorn and small beverage for only $2.

Tickets for “Mighty Macs”, “Dark Dreams Haunted House”, and “Friday Night of Fright” are available for purchase at the New Rheem Theatre Box Office or visit .  For enquiries, call 925.388.0752 or e-mail .

As part of the 2012 California Independent Film Festival Countdown, more future events are in-the-works , and they will be announced very soon in the festival’s website (

30-Year Mortgage Below 4 Percent For First Time Ever

October 6, 2011

By DEREK KRAVITZ, AP Real Estate Writer
Thursday, October 6, 2011

(10-06) 09:46 PDT WASHINGTON, (AP) —

The average rate on the 30-year fixed mortgage this week fell below 4 percent for the first time ever, to 3.94 percent.

For those who can qualify, it’s an extraordinary opportunity to buy or refinance. And mortgage rates could fall even further now that the Federal Reserve plans to reshuffle its portfolio of securities to try and lower long-term rates.

On Thursday, Freddie Mac said the rate on the 30-year fixed mortgage dropped from 4.01 percent last week, the previous low. The average rate on a 15-year fixed loan, a popular refinancing option, dipped to 3.26 percent, also a record. The 15-year loan has fallen for six straight weeks.

Mortgage rates are now lower than they were in the early 1950s, when the average rate reached 4.08 percent for a few months, according to the National Bureau of Economic Research. Back then, mortgages typically lasted just 20 or 25 years.

Still, rates have been below 5 percent for all but two weeks in the past year and that has done little to boost home sales. This year is shaping up to be among the worst for sales of previously occupied homes in 14 years.

“Interest rates are obviously not an impediment to housing. It’s uncertainty about the economy, about jobs, about incomes,” said Mark Vitner, senior economist at Wells Fargo. “It’s not a question of affordability. It’s simply a lack of wherewithal to buy a home or a lack of confidence to commit to buying one.”

Many people are reluctant to take the risk in this market. High unemployment, scant pay raises and heavy debt loads are deterring many would-be buyers.

Others can’t qualify for the historically low rates. Banks are insisting on higher credit scores. And many want first-time buyers to put down 20 percent. Few people have that much cash or home equity to satisfy the requirement.

“Considering how far mortgage rates have fallen, we’d expect to see more people refinancing and buying,” said Celia Chen, director of housing economics at Moody’s Analytics. “It’s still the lack of jobs and the difficult credit environment that’s pushing most people away.”

Total mortgage applications fell more than 4 percent this week from the previous week, according to the Mortgage Bankers Association. Refinancing applications declined more than 5 percent.

Mike Fratantoni, the group’s vice president of research and economics, said potential borrowers “largely remained on the sidelines” and were “unimpressed” by the lowest rates in decades.

Mortgage rates have tumbled because they tend to track the yield on the 10-year Treasury note. The yield has fallen in recent weeks, largely because investors are worried about the U.S. economy and the debt crisis in Europe. So they have shifted their money out of stocks and into the safety of Treasurys.

A drop in mortgage rates could provide some help to the economy if more people could refinance. When people refinance at lower rates, they pay less interest on their loans and have more money to spend.

Consider a homeowner who owes $250,000 and is paying 5.09 percent on a 30-year fixed mortgage. That was the average rate being offered in January 2010. Refinancing the loan at 3.94 percent could save him or her more than $2,000 a year.

But many homeowners with good jobs and stable finances have already refinanced. Until recently, any rate below 5 percent was considered extraordinarily low. Just five years ago, the best rate for a 30-year fixed loan was around 6.5 percent; a decade ago, it was near 8 percent.

Most economists say rates would need to fall at least a full percentage point before it makes sense to refinance again. The reason is homeowners typically pay a few thousand dollars in closing costs when they refinance. And the low rates being offered don’t include extra fees, known as points, which many borrowers must pay to get the lowest rates. One point equals 1 percent of the loan amount.

The average fee for the 30-year and 15-year rose to 0.8. The average fees for both the five-year and one-year adjustable-rate loans were 0.6 and 0.5, respectively.

To calculate average mortgage rates, Freddie Mac surveys lenders across the country Monday through Wednesday of each week.

The average rate on a five-year adjustable-rate mortgage fell to 2.96 percent. The average for the one-year adjustable-rate mortgage ticked up to 2.95 percent.

AP Business Writer Dan Wagner contributed to this report.

Read more:


The World’s Standard for Solar™—Now Available for Zero Down

October 6, 2011

The Planet’s Most Powerful Solar®

SunPower panels hold the world record for efficiency, which means you can:

• Maximize your roof space to produce the most power
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You’ll hardly know the panels are there, until you open your electric bill.
• Streamlined design free of unsightly metal gridlines will blend seamlessly into your roof
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An Established & Proven Solar Solution

With more than 25 years of experience in the solar industry, SunPower panels:
• Have a revolutionary patented design that has been tested rigorously
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• Can be installed only by our best-in-class, trained professionals, ensuring you have peace of mind throughout the process

The Trusted Choice for Solar

More U.S. homeowners and businesses choose SunPower than any other solar solution.

• Largest residential install base in the United States
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• Option to buy your system after six years
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To download a PDF of this proposal, click here.

For more information about SunPower, contact:
Chip Upshaw
Vice President / RMO / Certified Green Building Professional

Fidelity Roof Company

office 510.547.6330
fax 510.658.0868
mobile 510.719.8361