S.F.'s Hot Pocket Covers Jay-Z and Kool & The Gang, Doesn't Dig the Sunset

Categories: Q&A
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Jay-Z and Kool & the Gang get equal attention from San Francisco cover band, Hot Pocket
San Francisco quintet Hot Pocket, an offshoot of the 10-piece hip-hop and Latin funk outfit Bayonics, has built a solid following by filling bars across the city several times a week with its enormous repertoire of soul, funk, and hip-hop covers. We spoke briefly to lead vocalist and San Francisco native Jairo Vargas about his band, his favorite songs, and which local venue he likes to play the most.

How the band got together: When the rhythm section of Bayonics started performing a couple of covers at every gig, they got unexpectedly positive responses. "People liked it, so we decided to stay tight and form a side project."

Inspiration for band name: Whenever the group was grooving and meshing really well, they would call it "getting into a tight pocket."

Favorite songs to cover: "Usually my favorite song is the last one we learned." In this case, it's "Let's Stay Together," by Al Green -- look for them to play it tonight at 1300 Fillmore.

Last song that you could not get out of your head: Frankie Beverly and the Maze - "Before I Let Go"

If you could play as the backup band for any of the artists you have covered who would it be?: Mos Def. "We opened for him as Bayonics and would have loved to back him up."

What instrument not normally found in funk would you like to see more of?: Recalling Isaac Hayes and Curtis Mayfield, a live string section.

If you had to choose a new genre to do covers of: Brazillian-style bossanova.

Favorite venue to play: Jairo defends Pier 23. "We have really good vibes with the owner, staff and audience. Folks really dig what we do there."

Day jobs: Jairo has major contempt for office jobs, having experienced more than a few lousy ones through his old temp agency. However, he's now made music his full time job by teaching during at-risk youth at Glen Park Elementary School.

Favorite San Francisco Neighborhood: The Mission. "I'm biased because I grew up there."

If you could blow up one San Francisco neighborhood: "I've never been very fond of the Sunset."

Favorite Taco Spot in the City: Taqueria Vallarta at 24th and Valencia.

Worst Movie you've ever seen: El Mariachi

Catch Hot Pocket tonight at 1300 Fillmore and every Thursday at the Blackthorn on 834 Irving St. in the, uh, Sunset.

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