About two years ago, Chris Peck the Town Crier was driving back to San Francisco from Seattle, where he had been touring his double EP “Home Phone/Ghost of Payphone,” listening to Tongo Eisen-Martin’s rap record “From the Blackfire.” Though the two were in the same class at the Branson School, a small high school in Ross, they hadn’t seen one another or been in touch in 10 years.

“I was listening to that album over and over and thinking, I need to get together with Tongo and start a band,” Peck said by phone. By chance, two days after returning home, he was invited to perform in a show to be held at Oakland’s Cafe Van Kleef. Eisen-Martin, who lived in Jackson, Miss., at the time, was also on the bill.

“The guy who put on the show was like, oh, I didn’t know you guys knew each other,” Peck said. “I have some studio time booked with Tongo tomorrow, do you want to come?” In that first session they recorded an entire EP, which they released under the moniker Loan in October 2013 (and which can be listened to at

Peck says “Loanlife” “set the tone for our working method: fast and loose.” Eisen-Martin, whose book of poems, someone’s dead already, was published by the Bay Area’s Bootstrap Press in April, said on the same call that “the process started developing” and getting “an exponential feel to it” when he moved back to San Francisco about a year ago.

“Before, the music was already arranged and I would kind of do my thing, but at this point Chris can create the music around the poem,” he said. The collaboration has allowed Eisen-Martin to be more flexible in his performances. He says it has given him “the ability to be more emotionally spontaneous.”

Eisen-Martin is a longtime movement worker and educator, and his curriculum on the extrajudicial killing of black people, “We Charge Genocide Again,” has been taught and used as an organizational tool throughout the country (and can be downloaded for free at His performances are passionate, even spiritual; rather than repeating the same stresses each time, he lets the words breathe for themselves. The result is powerful: the poetry comes alive.

“I’m trying to push my craft to the edge of itself, just press, just explore it — nothing is off limits,” he said. “And at the same time, ground the work in revolution.”

For the first time, Loan performs with additional musical accompaniment: Jon Rogers on drums, and Miles Wick on upright and electric bass. The show is presented by Flying Under the Radar, a biennial festival connecting San Francisco and Rio de Janeiro that premieres in April 2017, and in which Eisen-Martin is a participating artist.


Flying Under the Radar presents: Loan: 7:30 p.m. Friday, Oct. 30. $10-20. Red Poppy Arthouse, 2698 Folsom St., 650-731-5383.

This article originally appeared in The San Francisco Chronicle.

Image by Ian Tuttle

Other book events this weekend

Elizabeth Tallent launches her first collection of stories in 20 years, “Mendocino Fire” (7:30 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 29, Mrs. Dalloway’s, 2904 College Ave., Berkeley, free).

David Stephen Calonne discusses “The Bell Tolls for No One,” a new collection of previously unpublished stories by Charles Bukowski, which he edited (7 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 29, City Lights, 261 Columbus Ave., free).

David Leopold is in conversation with Brad Rosenstein about the life and work of caricature artist Al Hirschfeld, celebrating the release of “The Hirschfeld Century: Portrait of an Artist and His Age” (2 p.m. Friday, Oct. 30, Presidio Officers’ Club, 50 Moraga Ave., free).

John Keene reads from and discusses his collection of stories, “Counternarratives” (7:30 p.m. Friday, Oct. 30, Green Apple Books on the Park, 1231 Ninth Ave., free).

Saturday Night Special’s annual Halloween open mic and costume party is themed “Deadly” (7 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 31, Nick’s Lounge, 3218 Adeline St., Berkeley, free).

Carville Annex Press presents Miranda Mellis, Diana Block and Emily Abendroth reading from their new books (noon Sunday, Nov. 1, 1199 Ninth Ave., free).

Jesse Eisenberg is in conversation with Steven Winn about Eisenberg’s debut story collection, “Bream Gives Me Hiccups,” part of City Arts & Lectures’ “On Arts” series benefiting the 826 Valencia Scholarship Program (7:30 p.m., Nov. 12, Nourse Theater, 275 Hayes St., $29).