Making music for a cause

April 20, 2017 11:36 AM

PETR SUCHOMEL/SPECIAL TO THE TOWER – Zack Bateman and the Coal Minds began their “Stranger Places” tour with a benefit for victims of the Oakland Ghost Ship fire that killed 36 people in Dec. 2016. Bateman wants laws like the NYC 2010 Loft Act, which protects artist communities and ensures better safety regulations.

By Alexandra Evans
Tower Staff Writer

Local delta punk and blues band Zack Bateman and the Coal Minds commenced their “Stranger Places” tour at the beginning of April to benefit those affected by the Oakland Ghost Ship fire.

Their tour kickoff show was in Los Angeles at The Redwood Bar on April 8.

Bateman, the lead singer and former Laney College student and Tower staffer, noted that while he didn’t know any of the fire victims personally, other members of his band and his girlfriend (Ashli) did.

“I remember Ara Jo and Cash Askew being at some shows that my Tom Waits tribute band played, and they came up to me at those shows and complimented us,” he said.

Jo and Askew were artists who lost their lives in the fire. Bateman said that his own band could have “easily” performed at the Ghost Ship warehouse the night the fire broke out.

Many of the victims resided in underground facilities that the Coal Minds had frequented.

Since the December tragedy, similar artist warehouses have been threatened with eviction. In rapidly gentrifying Oakland, affordable artist housing and studio spaces are hard to come by.

This is why Bateman’s concern for the fire victims has continued 5 months after its occurrence.
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Local artists have been advocating for the continuation of these underground spaces in order to keep art in their community.

Bateman is among these advocates, citing the 2010 Loft Act in New York City, which allows artists to live in spaces while ensuring that they are regulated by local fire departments, protecting them from displacement.

He said that this act would be “a step in the right direction” for Oakland.

This is why Bateman’s concern for the fire victims has continued 5 months after its occurrence.

On April 14, YouCaring ceased accepting donations towards their Relief and Recovery buckets that benefited the Ghost Ship fire victims, although donations are still being accepted towards a Resiliency project.

The tour will continue through the month of April. Although the Coal Minds typically play shows at 21+ venues, they were excited to play their first all-ages show of the tour on April 15 at the Independent Brewing Company in Berkeley.

Bateman said that holding an all ages show is an effective way to obtain a more demographically diverse fan base, and that’s important to him.

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