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The Plant

By Steefenie Wicks


Music is magic.
Music transcends language.
Music transcends social classes.
Music transcends race.
Music transcends gender.
Music transcends cultures.

Music puts the soul into religion.
Music puts the joy into love.

Music can bring back fond memories from your past.
Music can create new memories for your future.
Music can bring old friends together and can help you make new friends.

Music is an integral part of theater, cinema, television and dance.
Music is played at weddings, graduations, sports events, and tailgate parties even funerals.

Music is part of every religious service no matter what religion it is.
Music can enlighten your soul and speak the truth.
Music is based on harmonics of Planets, of our Solar System and of the galaxies.
The harmonics of a plucked or bowed string reflect the order of the Universe.

Music can be spiritual, carnal, humorous, dramatic, serious or whimsical.
Every culture in the world has music that is uniquely its own.
Every culture has its own national anthem.

Musicians in the world are as diverse as Bob Marley and Bach, Beethoven and Billy Joel, Yo Yo Ma and Earl Scruggs, Ali Akbar Khan and John Coltrane

Music can encompass all facets of life, all lifestyles, all cultures and all people.

Long live music!

Written by musician David E. Brown
(Former sound recording engineer at the ‘Plant’ during the late 1970’s)

Tucked away in Sausalito is an old redwood building that is now beginning to see structural damage but at one time … in its heyday, it was one of the best places that musical artists could come to create great music.   A setting close to the waterfront, a part of Sausalito that was almost invisible, and that was its charm.    The story is told of how on Halloween in 1972, John Lennon and Yoko Ono showed up dressed as trees, and the occasion was the opening night of The Plant.  The redwood sided structure at 2200 Bridgeway (near the Bay Model) may have started out as a recording studio but it became more than that -- it became a legend that would basically hold the DNA of rock and roll music.
The Plant may have been one of the top recording studios in the Bay area but it was with the vision of Arne Frager that it continued to be a place where those that knew rock history wanted to record their music.   From 1988 till its closure in 2008, Arne Frager was the musical visionary behind, The Plant.  In the beginning, Frager, who had run his own music studio in L.A., had to draw on all of his skills as a professional studio engineer and owner, so he made a plan.  He would start by raising funds to renovate and upgrade a process that has never stopped. But he was able to turn this Sausalito recording studio into a Mecca for musicians.  It was to become known as a place where artists could relax, like in his or her own living rooms, and just make music.  The Plant became a home away from home for many artists and that is one of the reasons that the music created there remained pure.
The history of the ‘Plant’ is part of the musical history of Sausalito.   Almost everyone that lives on the Sausalito waterfront has heard the story of how Otis Redding, first had his idea for his top song, ‘Sitting on the Dock of the Bay’ on a houseboat here in 1967.   Over the years Stevie Wonder, Rick James, Aretha Franklin, Mick Fleetwood Sly Stone and a who’s who in Rock and Roll, have visited Sausalito just to walk through the doors of a place where life made music and music made art.
It was at The Plant that 11-year-old Beyoncé Knowles and her group ‘Girlstyme’ first recorded.   Frager arranged to have the girl group, which was made up of three singers and three rappers, record an album at The Plant in 1991.  He was also able to get them booked on the program “Star Search,” but the group never really took off under his guidance.   It was much later that he would come across the music created by this multitalented group of youngsters, some of whom were now well known stars in the music industry, and offer the musical tapes back to Mathew Knowles, Beyoncé’s father, in a six figure deal.
Now that no one is recording there the place stands in disrepair.  Arne and his wife Mari ‘Mack’ Tamburo, had envisioned updating the place so that it could produce television shows, run a music publishing company and a non-profit musical arts program.  In 2007 they started this process only to find out that the financial support was not there. But they have not given up hope that some day this dream to reinvent, The Plant will happen.   In the meantime, both Frager and his wife are making music and performing at live musical venues in the Bay Area.  
One of the reasons that Frager believes the music industry and The Plant have suffered is that there is no money in producing music.  If a musical group makes it big they build their own recording studio.   With today’s equipment you can set up your own recording lab in your living room and do your own thing, without the thumbprint of some producer.  How does one react to this? Frager’s answer is simple, “In the music industry you don’t do one thing over and over again, you adapt, you change, and get on with it.”

Arne and Mari still dream of reinventing The Plant.
Photo by Steefenie Wicks.

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