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Rockin' The Mint

 

The party beat is filled with rock stars. And last week at The Old Mint, the joint was jumping with these empyreal personages. Both literal and metaphorical.

In honoring innovators of the '60s-era San Francisco Sound, The San Francisco Museum and Historical Society got its groove on at the annual Standing Ovations event which pays tribute to individuals whose work forged our city’s unique cultural scene.

“We wanted to create an event that allowed people to touch history, engage in it and have fun at the same,” said SFMHS Executive Director Erik Christoffersen. “Tonight celebrates the great musical heritage of this region and is a preview of what The Mint will become when we open as a museum.”

In the house to accept their honors were members of Jefferson Starship, Tower of Power, Booker T. Jones, Huey Lewis and The News, as well as their (in-abstenia) honorees including Boz Scaggs, Carlos Santana and The Grateful Dead.

The evening featured a delish Dan McCall Associates supper within the super salons (cleverly named after the honorees’ albums) of The Mint, followed by an awards presentation and all-star jam (VIP room included) around the corner at Mezzanine.

SFMHS Executive Director Erik Christoffersen and Lauren Deane

During cocktails, guests gaily zoomed through the Mint’s stately halls which are currently tricked out (on display to the public through Sunday) with iconic concert posters (now owned by Wolfgang’s Vault) from the collection of late rock ‘n’ roll impresario Bill Graham.

These kooky, colorful reproductions read the history of rock -- from The Residents all the way back to Otis Redding. And everyone else in between.

Former Rolling Stone editor Ben Fong-Torres, who served as the evening’s emcee, probably knew most of these artists at one-time or another.

“For a long time, rock ‘n’ roll was not synonymous with making money for the artists,” said this beloved éminence grise of Bay Area rock 'n' roll. “Then those bands from the sixties got savvy, very savvy, about getting their due!”

Considering that the evening’s sold-out crowd attracted some deep-pocketed donors, the Historical Society hotshots have gotten savvy, too: serving as the event’s co-chairs were David Drummond, Google Senior VP and Chief Legal Officer, and Ron Conway, an early Google investor and rock-star on the Silicon Valley scene.

We even got to revel in our own Cameron Crowe-esque not-so-famous moment when, like a good rock star, Conway declined to have his photo taken.

But thanks to SFMHS Board President Richard Johns, our reportorial pride was rescued when he loaned us his All-Access laminated pass and we hung backstage with the big boys.

Snapping photos of each other as they posed with their award, Tower of Power lead vocalist Larry Braggs was both surprised and delighted: “I had no idea a group like the Historical Society would ever want to honor the likes of us!”

Thanks to The Mint and the SFMHS, the spirit, at least, of the sixties survives. Through Sunday.

“Every so often, you run across something that reminds you of it,” said longtime local rock critic Joel Selvin about that swinging scene. “But of course, it wouldn’t be anywhere you’d expect it to be.”

Backstage Pass: A Sweeping History of Rock ‘n’ Roll at the Old Mint is open to the public through Sunday. Noon-5 p.m. 88 Fifth Street, San Francisco. (415) 537-1105.

Check out the photos below

Dianne Fong-Torres and her husband, Rockin' The Mint emcee Ben Fong-Torres

Members of the Booker T. Band (from left) Darian Gray, Booker T. Jones, Ronnie James and Troy Gonyea

SFMHS Board President Richard Johns and his wife, Eleanor Johns

Tower of Power's Rocco Prestia and Stephanya

Troy Griepp with Marissa Mayer and Zack Bogue

Jahanara Romney and her husband, Wavy Gravy

Former Chronicle Pop Music critic Joel Selvin

Haig and Connie Mardikian with Paula Escher and her husband, SFMHS Board member Tom Escher

Host Committee members Allese and Simon Baker

Huey Lewis and The News' Johnny Colla, his wife, Christie Colla, Colleen Furano and Fred Karpik

Gayle Conway and Alex Tourk

Robert Simon, Colleen Curry, Nicole Simon and Paul Brunner

Richard Rubin and his wife, Marcia Smolens

TechCrunch.com founder-editor Michael Arrington

Tower of Power (from left) Tom Politzer, Larry Braggs, Roger Smith, David Garibaldi, Rocco Prestia and Mark Harper