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Jim MacDonald’s cellphone captures over 2,000 local performances

Bands surprised and happy to find OB music lover’s online archive

Jim MacDonald, a modern-day scribe of the Scene.
Jim MacDonald, a modern-day scribe of the Scene.

Just a Fan Recording Local Music is the name of Jim MacDonald’s YouTube channel; it boasts over 2000 cell phone videos of live performances by local artists, 586 subscribers, and around 191,000 views. MacDonald resides in Ocean Beach, and in 2019, he started walking over to the Farmers Market bandstage on Wednesdays to check out performers like Yvonne Brown of the Kings. MacDonald says he loved Brown’s singing and was just mesmerized. “Her voice was soulful, full of emotion, and made babies cry,” he recalls.

MacDonald wanted her music for himself, but she did not have any CDs for sale at the time. She did give him her “@fre3sty13” hashtag so that he could find her on Instagram and YouTube, but he was disappointed to find only audio files there. So he decided to start recording her himself with his Google Android phone, and that was Just a Fan’s genesis. He began by putting the videos on his Google Drive and sharing them with Brown on Facebook Messenger; she then suggested uploading them to YouTube as well. MacDonald went on to record Brown on 600 cellphone videos over two and a half years.

When MacDonald recorded Brown at downtown’s IZOLA Bakery in January 2022, he arrived early enough to film opening acts such as Tyler Neuenswander. After that, Teddy Neeleman, the guitar player from The Hallucinogenic Heart and Strawberry Jam, was driving by when he spotted MacDonald on foot, leaving Peoples Market in OB. As MacDonald waited to cross the streetlight on the corner of Sunset Cliffs and Voltaire, Neeleman told him, “Our band is having our first gig at the OB Template, and we’re looking for someone to record the show.” MacDonald agreed. “They reminded me of a psychedelic Rolling Stones or Ten Years After in 1969,” he recalls. “I was in heaven.” Then, when MacDonald saw the Verigolds were putting on a show at Winstons with Loose Strings, he decided to film them as well, and one band led to another.

If MacDonald thinks he’s going to like a performer, he’ll track them on social media, show up to a gig, film them with his phone, and create a playlist. Usually, it’s only then that he contacts the performer to send them footage. He says the responses have always been positive, though some performers want him to keep videos private because they worry their creative content is not good enough. As for his technique, MacDonald doesn’t just stand around with his phone; instead, he focusses on various band members. He adds that he never drinks when he records, because he likes to stay focused on getting good footage and avoiding distractions. “Not even a sip of beer.”

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Video:

Band of Gringos at the MusicBox 11/22/23

It’s your Shadow/Bad News

It’s your Shadow/Bad News


He notes that “most bands that I have already recorded don’t directly ask me to record their shows, but they tell me about upcoming gigs and say they’ll put me on the guest list.” His YouTube channel is not monetized. However, groups such as Easy Wind, Wild Lotus, Clapton Hook, and Mystery Train have paid him to film their shows. “My YouTube channel is a hobby, and I do it for fun. It’s an excuse to see great music. I record music that I want to listen to, because I listen to my channel every day. I also love that the musicians really appreciate what I do, and they tell me all the time. I think it’s great that they use my videos to promote themselves and that they like to watch the videos I’ve recorded of their shows. I love seeing lots of views and gaining more subscribers, because it means that what I am doing has value to other people as well. Sometimes, I introduce myself at shows, and people are surprised to meet me because they watch my channel and have been to some of the shows I recorded. Sometimes, I reach out to bands to ask them about their music and tell them about my channel, and they already know who I am, or bands that I reach out to say they watch my channel.”

Today, he uses the iPhone 13 Pro Max for his recordings. But he does not film every show he attends. Elements like wind may muffle the sound, or, if it’s too crowded, he may not find a good spot from which to record. “Sometimes,” he notes, “the fans get annoyed [by my cellphone], so it can be difficult to record, even though I’m often working with the band’s approval and adding value.”

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Jim MacDonald, a modern-day scribe of the Scene.
Jim MacDonald, a modern-day scribe of the Scene.

Just a Fan Recording Local Music is the name of Jim MacDonald’s YouTube channel; it boasts over 2000 cell phone videos of live performances by local artists, 586 subscribers, and around 191,000 views. MacDonald resides in Ocean Beach, and in 2019, he started walking over to the Farmers Market bandstage on Wednesdays to check out performers like Yvonne Brown of the Kings. MacDonald says he loved Brown’s singing and was just mesmerized. “Her voice was soulful, full of emotion, and made babies cry,” he recalls.

MacDonald wanted her music for himself, but she did not have any CDs for sale at the time. She did give him her “@fre3sty13” hashtag so that he could find her on Instagram and YouTube, but he was disappointed to find only audio files there. So he decided to start recording her himself with his Google Android phone, and that was Just a Fan’s genesis. He began by putting the videos on his Google Drive and sharing them with Brown on Facebook Messenger; she then suggested uploading them to YouTube as well. MacDonald went on to record Brown on 600 cellphone videos over two and a half years.

When MacDonald recorded Brown at downtown’s IZOLA Bakery in January 2022, he arrived early enough to film opening acts such as Tyler Neuenswander. After that, Teddy Neeleman, the guitar player from The Hallucinogenic Heart and Strawberry Jam, was driving by when he spotted MacDonald on foot, leaving Peoples Market in OB. As MacDonald waited to cross the streetlight on the corner of Sunset Cliffs and Voltaire, Neeleman told him, “Our band is having our first gig at the OB Template, and we’re looking for someone to record the show.” MacDonald agreed. “They reminded me of a psychedelic Rolling Stones or Ten Years After in 1969,” he recalls. “I was in heaven.” Then, when MacDonald saw the Verigolds were putting on a show at Winstons with Loose Strings, he decided to film them as well, and one band led to another.

If MacDonald thinks he’s going to like a performer, he’ll track them on social media, show up to a gig, film them with his phone, and create a playlist. Usually, it’s only then that he contacts the performer to send them footage. He says the responses have always been positive, though some performers want him to keep videos private because they worry their creative content is not good enough. As for his technique, MacDonald doesn’t just stand around with his phone; instead, he focusses on various band members. He adds that he never drinks when he records, because he likes to stay focused on getting good footage and avoiding distractions. “Not even a sip of beer.”

Sponsored
Sponsored
Video:

Band of Gringos at the MusicBox 11/22/23

It’s your Shadow/Bad News

It’s your Shadow/Bad News


He notes that “most bands that I have already recorded don’t directly ask me to record their shows, but they tell me about upcoming gigs and say they’ll put me on the guest list.” His YouTube channel is not monetized. However, groups such as Easy Wind, Wild Lotus, Clapton Hook, and Mystery Train have paid him to film their shows. “My YouTube channel is a hobby, and I do it for fun. It’s an excuse to see great music. I record music that I want to listen to, because I listen to my channel every day. I also love that the musicians really appreciate what I do, and they tell me all the time. I think it’s great that they use my videos to promote themselves and that they like to watch the videos I’ve recorded of their shows. I love seeing lots of views and gaining more subscribers, because it means that what I am doing has value to other people as well. Sometimes, I introduce myself at shows, and people are surprised to meet me because they watch my channel and have been to some of the shows I recorded. Sometimes, I reach out to bands to ask them about their music and tell them about my channel, and they already know who I am, or bands that I reach out to say they watch my channel.”

Today, he uses the iPhone 13 Pro Max for his recordings. But he does not film every show he attends. Elements like wind may muffle the sound, or, if it’s too crowded, he may not find a good spot from which to record. “Sometimes,” he notes, “the fans get annoyed [by my cellphone], so it can be difficult to record, even though I’m often working with the band’s approval and adding value.”

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