It’s 9pm on a weeknight. Perhaps you just got off work––or you’ve finished dinner with a friend, had a few drinks. As you walk along Valencia, the skies are clear and the air is slightly chilly––you can feel the tingle on your arms and ears. Around you, the street is glowing with the lights of open businesses, and sounds of live music waft through the street. On both sides of Valencia, you can see events––people crowding bars and coffee shops to see the “next big thing,” or an accomplished jazz musician, or a young cellist. The crowds spill out onto the sidewalk, laughing and talking about what they thought of the music.
Sound familiar? Probably not––yet. But ULUV Music is determined to change that. The organization’s goal is to increase local music industry in San Francisco by cultivating local artists and creating venues. To get started, ULUV is focusing its community outreach on Valencia Street. “This [the Mission] is ground zero,” says Hector Corral, a team member at ULUV.
To start conversations about their work in the Mission, ULUV has a booth at Mission Community market, where I am able to speak to Corral and Liz Irby, ULUV’s director of operations. As I approach the table, Irby is giving out stickers to a crowd of kids.
“The mission of ULUV is to support music community,” Irby tells me, “and to reestablish the Bay Area as a preeminent place for music.”
And reestablishing the Bay Area’s music scene means that many nights would look like the scene described above, which ULUV calls a “music corridor.” Their goal is to increase foot traffic and provide venue options to passers-by ever night of the week, thus reasserting SF’s place in the music industry and cultivating music communities on the streets of San Francisco. To do so, ULUV is initiating district programs and hosting events. Though speak to me about both, it seems that the district initiatives are at the heart of their efforts. And they’re starting in the Mission. “The Mission is a good representation of what we want San Francisco to be,” Corral says. Irby agrees: “it’s an incredibly vibrant part of San Francisco.” She notes that though there are some music venues throughout the district, it isn’t considered a music hotspot. “We want people to think of the Mission as a place for live music,” she says.
“We want people to think of the Mission as a place for live music.”
To create the “music corridor,” ULUV is encouraging small businesses to get Limited Live Performance permits. The permits cost $405 and allows any venue to host music from 5pm to 10pm. Currently, ULUV is targeting coffee shops, bars, and bookstores––more permits, ULUV believes, means more vendors.
Along with the targeted vendors, ULUV currently has a list of 350 partner artists, all of which they will work to get playing in the new vendors when they are available. The musicians are all from the Bay Area, though San Francisco artists are the first priority. “The local artists are what really gives a city a lot of its flavor,” Irby says.
ULUV is picky about which artists it supports. After a band shows interest in the organization, they attend a few live shows before they begin a relationship. Even if ULUV is interested in a band’s sound, they meet with all the members first. Working relationships are important to ULUV––to invest their time in a musician, they have to be sure that there won’t be problems in the future. “These are all good musicians that sound good,” Irby says.
In the coming months, ULUV hopes to get 10-20 vendors set up with LLP permits. Then, they’ll start promoting their music festival, planned for October in the Mission District. “And then we’ll take over the world,” Irby jokes.
This is ULUV’s second annual festival. It’s a free, donation-based and family friendly festival, spreading over multiple vendors in the Mission and two outdoor stages on Valencia street. ULUV assures me that all of the vendors will be Mission locals, though musicians might vary in hometown. Last year, Irby says, “the music was very diverse.” Held south of Market, the event drew over 1,700 throughout the course of the day, though Irby hopes that this year can be bigger. “The space looked beautiful,” she says, “and the bands said that the sound was the best of any festival they had played.”
Before their October event, ULUV is hosting a “music day,” on June 21st. Venues scattered throughout San Francisco will be hosting musicians from 12pm-5pm. Local Mission venues are Blue Fig, Fourbarrel Coffee, and Chile Lindo. Then, at 6pm, bands will gather at Dolores Park, for an after party–including open mics and beer–at Dolores Park Cafe.
They may be at “ground zero,” but ULUV team members are enthusiastic. “I love music,” says Irby. “I think that music has the power to do a lot of social good. And I love San Francisco, and I think it is very possible to live in this city and have a music career.” Corral agrees, and stresses the importance of local, live music shows: “there is something inspiring about the small guys,” he says. “I love their stage presence, and the live crowd.”
“There is something inspiring about the small guys. I love their stage presence, and the live crowd.”
ULUV Music will be at Mission Community Market this Thursday, 6/12 and next, 6/19. Stop by their booth to ask questions, and follow them on instagram.