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For those about to learn (we salute you) - Marinscope Community Newspapers : Twin Cities Times

For those about to learn (we salute you)

Music journalists discuss the historical role of Marin County in the progression of rock ‘n’ roll

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Posted: Wednesday, January 22, 2014 2:30 pm | Updated: 2:35 pm, Wed Jan 22, 2014.

While the age of rock ‘n’ roll may be gone, those who yearn for the good ole’ days were able to relive their youth and reminisce about their favorite Marin-based musicians during a presentation in Corte Madera last week.

As part of the College of Marin’s Hooked on Marin speaker series, two well-respected rock journalists imparted their knowledge on an eager and sentimental crowd of approximately 100 people at the Corte Madera Community Center last Wednesday.

Richie Unterberger, a noted Marin music historian and professor at College of Marin, shared old photos and videos of rock and roll legends that had ties to the county, and spoke about their connections to Marin.

“The Bay Area, and particularly Marin, was a magnet for people and musicians all over the world in the 1960s and 1970s,” Unterberger said.

After seeing old footage of beloved local natives like Santana and Huey Lewis, as well as those who simply made Marin a short stop in their musical lives, such as Janis Joplin and Van Morrison, the crowd cheered loudly as if they were at a concert.

Unterberger, the author of 12 books on rock and roll history, pointed out a tidbit or two for each artist that he mentioned. Be it that Joplin spent the last year of her life living in Larkspur, or that Van Morrison shot the cover for his famous album Tupelo Honey in Fairfax, there was always something to be learned.

Santana drew the highest praise from Unterberger, who has been a rock journalist for more than 30 years.

“[Santana] symbolizes the multicultural aspect of Bay Area rock and roll,” said Unterberger as he explained why he felt Santana was most important to the Marin music scene.

Ben Fong-Torres, the second speaker of the night, was an editor of Rolling Stone magazine in the early 1980s, and has been an author, DJ, and rock journalist in his expansive career in the music industry.

As moderator Terry McGovern was quick to point out, Torres was portrayed on the silver screen in a 2000 movie, “Almost Famous.” The movie tells the (“roughly,” as Torres puts it) true story of a teenager who is hired by Rolling Stone to write for the magazine at the age of 15.

Torres shared his years of experience and wisdom with the crowd in a series of anecdotes and discussions about famous incidents with McGovern, a respected DJ in his own right. McGovern has been the moderator for all four Hooked on Marin presentations over the past few months, but called this one his favorite.

Hooked on Marin is a joint effort, put on by the College of Marin educational department, as well as the cities of Larkspur, San Anselmo and Corte Madera.

In its second season, the series covered of a wide range of topics, from the history of native peoples in Marin to the making of cinematic classic Star Wars.

Larkspur Recreation Director Dick Whitley called it an extremely successful season, which was evidenced both by crowd turnout and response last Wednesday.

“Marin is very well known for creating a perfect climate for rock artists,” said Unterberger while explaining the county’s importance to the rock scene.

And thanks to Unterberger and Torres, last week’s presentation gave people of all ages the chance to bask in the glory years of rock and roll and remember some of their favorite times in music history.

Contact Jake Thomer at scope@marinscope.com.

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