The Soundtrack to West Marin


By Eyeball James

I’ve been contemplating this scenario for quite some time now, and I have decided to bring it to you, the people. The question I’ve been asking myself is why don’t we hear more about the amazing music pumping out of Marin County? This is not a dig on the writers who do document it; this is just a general question. Is it because we are so accustomed to seeing great live music on almost any given night of the week? Is it because we have such a vast and diverse sound and countless venues to attend for such pleasing pulsations? Is it because when a member of our community is in need, it’s the bands that come to the rescue, with no financial demands or over-blown egos, to provide a musical backdrop for a fund raiser? Do we just assume it will always be here for us? Is that why we don’t talk about it more?

I grew up in a small town in western Massachusetts. My friends and I would drive two hours in any direction to see what you might find in Fairfax on any Tuesday night. We’d read the local rags – that’s what the music publications were called – from New Hampshire to Connecticut and find out who’s doing what and where. Then we’d make the rock and roll pilgrimage. But here, in Marin, where some of the most iconic and legendary music was born, we don’t even have a rag! I guess maybe we don’t need to know anymore. It’s going to be a great show in whatever club you poke your head into. That’s just one theory. I, for one, think that stinks!

Have you ever been to Nashville and heard the music? New York? L.A.? Seattle, Chicago, Austin? They all have a music scene, a “sound.” A keen ear can hear it. I can always tell the difference between an album cut by a band in Nashville and an album cut by a New York band or whatever. The sound made in Marin is undeniably Marin. Whether it’s country, jazz or rock, it all has a unique yet similar color. Maybe because the musicians get to look at our beautiful rolling hills and smell the sweet ocean air. Maybe it’s the all-too-perfect weather. I’m not sure, but one thing I am sure of, it sounds like Marin!

The day the music died

What would we do if one day the music in Marin just stopped playing? What if the musicians just couldn’t afford to play for us? Guitar strings expenses exceeded the fees made at the gig? The amount of gas the van needed to get there was just too much? What then? Think about it. Marin, our home of the best music…What if our soundtrack stopped playing? What would we do? Would we all of a sudden realize how special it was? Would we brag? Reminisce?

“Why, I remember seeing This Old Earthquake right here, in 2014, before the silence.”

Or, “Remember when El Radio Fantastique played in Toby’s barn? Those were the days!”

I guess what I’m saying is that old cliché – you don’t know what you’ve got until it’s gone. I, for one, hope that day never comes but I can tell you, it’s getting harder and harder to make a living playing music these days. So I’m here to tell you, we need to show these hard working musicians our support. They are always here to support us. It’s our turn now!

So with that I would like to say to all of the local bands who work tirelessly for scratch, to the venues who take them in, to the writers who promote with passion, to the poster artists and photographers who capture the music visually and to all the dedicated audience members who acknowledge bands’ hard work and commitment by putting their hard-earned money into the tip jar, we salute you! We are your fans. We are your family, your friends, your community. You are the glue that keeps us united through good times and bad times. You make us unique and colorful. You are the soundtrack to the west!

My name, for all intents and purposes, is Eyeball James. I would like to a voice, be it loud or just a whisper. I am here to speak on behalf of the music community. I would like to tell you about these amazing bands on a monthly basis. Maybe just a story about one or two of them. Maybe just a listing of who I think you might want to see and where. In any case, I would be happy to hear from you. If you have a band that you’d like West Marin to know more about, let me know. We’re all in this together. See you in the audience and we will dance!

Eyeball James is the nom-de-plume of a local music aficionado. Contact him at