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Saturday September 23 5:09 PM ET Musicians Protest Dot-Com Takeover By RON HARRIS, Associated Press Writer SAN FRANCISCO (AP) – Cigarette butts, empty beer cans and worn guitar picks littered the floor at Downtown Rehearsal as somber musicians packed up their gear and moved out to an uncertain future. Unknown bands as well as hot shot rockers like Chris Isaak got their walking papers last month in the form of 45-day eviction notices that spelled the end for the city’s largest practice space and the beginning of what many say is a mass exodus of local music from the city that Carlos Santana, Janis Joplin and the Grateful Dead called home. Mike Kimball, guitarist for the local hard rock band Broken, coiled up amplifier chords as drummer Gene Maynard removed colored lights from the rafters of their rehearsal room. “It is a dot-com squeeze out, man. The rents are ridiculous,” Kimball said, as he gathered his belongings and bemoaned the future of the city’s music scene. “I’m thinking about moving to L.A.” Kimball blamed technology industry newcomers to San Francisco who have been gobbling up once-affordable space for offices and who he says prefer disc jockey dance music to rock and roll. “It’s turning into a yuppified city. They don’t want to go out and see live music. They want to hang out and go to the snazzy club and look cool and drink. It’s ridiculous,” Kimball said. Teryl Koch bought the building last year for $6 million, then sold it to Cupertino-based JMA Properties for a reported $16 million. Koch’s son, Greg, who has run Downtown Rehearsal since 1992, wouldn’t confirm the selling price, but he said his father turned down offers as high as $10 million as recently as December. He defended the sale and said he gave musicians more than he ever took away. “I went in there and I took a huge risk,” Greg Koch said. “I saw that San Francisco had musical rehearsal studios, but most of them, quite frankly, were dumps.” He built 155 rooms that housed more than 270 bands splitting monthly rents of about $500, at least $100 less than competing rehearsal spots in the city. To soften the blow, the Kochs have offered $500,000 for a fund to find alternative practice space for the displaced musicians, provided they all move out on time – a requirement for completion of the sale. Stephan Jenkins of Third Eye Blind and Kirk Hammett of Metallica have also offered to hold fund-raiser concerts to raise money for new practice space, said Gavin Newsom, a member of the city’s Board of Supervisors. Some musicians criticized the Kochs’ offer as blood money, but Greg Koch said it’s the best deal they’re going to get and he hopes they accept it. On Saturday, the musicians planned to take their music to the streets and hand out leaflets informing the public that the squeeze is on and there’s nowhere for them to go. A meeting with Greg Koch and representatives from the city was arranged for Sunday. “The best we can do is kick and scream as we go,” said Newsom, who heads a committee fighting against further development in the city. He said has spoken with several prominent Bay Area musicians about thinning rehearsal space. “The city is changing in front of us,” he said. “Its soul is changing.”

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