How I See SF:Local Band The Quilters
See San Francisco through the eyes of some homegrown musical talent, The Quilters. Get your San Francisco recommendations direct from the source, our locals.
If you want to have a truly genuine San Francisco experience, then you have to consult the experts: our friendly locals. Knowledgable, passionate, and always ready with a recommendation for what to do, see, or eat, San Franciscans of all types have been part of our ongoing "How I See San Francisco" series.
Brothers Ray and Jerome Porter are born and raised San Franciscans who grew up in a very musical household. As members of the San Francisco Boys Chorus, they met fellow musician Dorian Cunningham. While out surfing one day at Ocean Beach, the Porter brothers met Iam Bhisitkul, another music lover who is equally adept at classical and electronic styles. Together, they formed The Quilters, a band that plays what they call "West Coast Americana". Influenced by artists as varied as Patsy Cline, Bruce Springsteen, and Creedence Clearwater Revival, The Quilters are among the latest in San Francisco's long and storied history of homegrown musical talents.
We asked Ray, Jerome, Dorian, and Iam how they see San Francisco, and what they think makes for an unforgettable visit.
How did your band, The Quilters, come together?
Ray: We’ve known Dorian (drums/vocals) and Iam (everything/vocals) since we were all little kids. At the start of shelter-in-place, the band Jerome and I were playing with broke up. At that time, Dorian and Iam had graduated from college and were living in San Francisco again. Jerome and I had always talked about how cool it would be to play in a band with these two guys. They’re such talented musicians and good people, and COVID-19 finally brought the dream to reality. We’re super grateful to be playing with this band, and hope we can keep it going for a long time!
San Francisco is full of music history. Who are some San Francisco musicians who inspired you?
Ray: My brother and I have always been big fans of Creedence Clearwater Revival and John Fogerty. Our dad had a big influence in the music we listened to growing up. He always bumped CCR, and I feel like that’s where I first learned to love that Americana twang and grit in the singing and instrumental tones.
When I was about 12 or 13, our older brother Gabe mentioned that CCR was from the East Bay. That sort of blew my mind. I remember thinking “They aren’t from the south?!” From that point on, I felt like that sound was available to me, too. I could feel their sound in my soul, but I just assumed I couldn’t do what they were doing because I was a kid from San Francisco who surfed. But that music was and still is in me, even though I didn’t grow up in the south or midwest. It’s an American sound!
Tell us about the outdoor concerts you've performed this past year.
Ray: We needed a space to record a live set for a virtual music festival we were playing. Usually we would have just filmed it in the garage at Porter House, or my backyard, but we decided to just open the garage door, move all the instruments into the driveway and film it out in front of Porter House. Throughout that first set, a bunch of people from around the neighborhood congregated to watch and seemed to really enjoy it. We realized people were fiending for live music, so we decided to make it a regular gig. We’re still throwing these shows. There’s an invite list that people can join through the link in our Instagram bio.
Jerome: We’ve done about six shows outside Porter House now, and each time feels like an opportunity to improve everything—from our musical performances to set design to our songwriting to how we engage with the audience. Doing shows at our own house gives us more control over more factors than a band our size would normally have at a venue, and we’ve had an absolute field day making it as “vibey” as we can through elaborate set design, hospitality toward the audience, and perfecting our sound and sound system.
Now that we're safely returning to indoor live events, what are some of your favorite places for live music in San Francisco?
Jerome: I love seeing big name acts at places like the Fillmore, the Independent, or the Warfield, but I also honestly miss the open mics. Before COVID, you could go to an open mic every night of the week and would likely see some really solid performances. The Riptide on Taraval was my favorite. Neck of the Woods on Clement had a great one.
What are some other San Francisco experiences you're eager to get back to now that the city is reopening.
Jerome: I want go check out Church of 8 Wheels! Roller skating became much more popular over the last year—and it looks darned fun—but I don’t have skates. It’d be a blast to go rent some and zoom around a rink with cool lights and some classic dance music.