The Moth has come to San Francisco

Storytelling radio show and podcast, The Moth, has been bringing its live show to cities across the country and now has a monthly series at The Rickshaw Stop. They invited us to check out the first one, which we gladly did.

The theme of the night was SECRETS, which seemed a little broad and obvious for this kind of storytelling series, but the participants came up with some great things to share and host Dan Kennedy held it all together with playful banter in between. Everyone who came in had the option to put their name into a bag at the beginning, and then were selected at random to come up and tell their stories. So the night was a literal grab bag of performances. The range happened to work out really well. Some stories were just okay, worthy of a polite clap for being willing to get up there and do it, and some pretty much knocked me on my ass. The thing they all had in common for me was a real feel of sincerity, no matter how earnest or sarcastic the tone was, which made them relatable and hard to dismiss.

The stories are given number ratings by teams of audience judges which are then added up at the end to pronounce a winner. After ten of these live shows, called the SLAMS, the winner from each will compete in the GrandSLAM Championship. In my opinion, Cory Rosen told the overall best story that night, and the judges agreed with me.

I got to interview the Producer of The Moth, Jennifer Hixson, and the Host, Dan Kennedy (author of Rock On: An Office Power Ballad), backstage just following the show, which was really an adrenaline-fueled fun and fast paced candid conversation:

Mission Mission: I’m not a journalist, just a blogger, I have no ethics or scruples.

Jennifer Hixson (Moth Producer): Oh, even more frightening! (keeps riffing for a while)

MM: I wish I didn’t have questions, this is great!

Dan Kennedy (Moth Host): Now you know what I’ve been dealing with for ten years. I have the funniest stories . . .

JH: This Orangina’s getting to me!

MM: Okay, well, is there anything different for The Moth in San Francisco?

JH: Well, in some ways across the country the stories are the same: heartbreak, job loss, family stuff . . . But of course San Francisco’s gonna have an amazing different flavor, this is a wild city, this is a place where a lot of stuff meets.

DK: Well, the first story [tonight] was about a woman being led up to heaven by an angel after she was hit on her bicycle, and it wasn’t too long after that that we went into a story of a boy learning to masturbate. I think that’s a pretty awesome range, and we heard everything in between. I don’t think that happens in a lot of cities.


Behind The Scenes At A Chasing The Moon Shoot

Chasing the Moon is a great video podcast that highlights local bay area bands. The performances are filmed in HD and recorded in a professional studio one block away from the best Vietnamese sandwiches in town. I’m serious about the quality of these productions; they make Nirvana: Unplugged In NY look like it was filmed in Super 8. Ok maybe not, but that shit looks good considering their budget of no budget.

In the pagan tradition, the podcast is posted every full moon, which works out to just about every 28 days.

This past Saturday, I was fortunate enough to sit in during their session with the Nice Guy Trio, a very unique jazz group on the Mission’s own Porto Franco Records.

The Nice Guy Trio in action. I had little reason not to believe that they are actually nice.

Producer Brian Berberich and recording engineer Scott McDowell do all of this work out of the goodness of their music-lovin’ hearts. They see is as an opportunity to keep their industry chops up and promote the awesome local music that’s going on.

The atmosphere at the session was really professional and they seemed to have things streamlined well. If they were stressed out, they hid it well. Once things got rolling the whole filming and performance took less than an hour.

Spectators sat in a corner of the studio on comfy cushions from the couch and were asked to stay quiet during recording. Restraining applause until "CUT!" was actually really difficult and awkward.

Chasing the Moon is expanding to do monthly premiere events with live performances at the newly opened Viracocha on 21st and Valencia. Their first was on Jan. 29 and you can expect to see more soon. The Nice Guy Trio premiere will be in 2 or 3 months.

Thanks to Brian, Scott, and the Chasing the Moon team for hosting and chatting with me! More pictures after the jump.

Update: Brian had this to add:

Elijiah Pahati is actually the biggest reason Chasing the Moon is so great.  He is the Director, Director of Photography, and Editor, and is why everything looks good.  He is also our partner, every bit the owner Scott and I are.

So yeah, props are due to the Directory Elijiah Pahati! Sorry for leaving him out.