On a recent Monday afternoon—a low point for any street musician at a BART station—24-year-old Francisco Fernandez belted out tunes and jammed on his amplified guitar. A few riders on their way to and from the turnstiles looked his way.

“Someone playing the guitar kind of lightens up the atmosphere,” he said. “I think music makes it nicer.”   [/lang_en]

[lang_en]Playing the 16th Street BART station and hawking his CDs has become Fernandez’s day job. At night he and his band mate drummer Daniel Aguilar play clubs as the Ferocious Few. They have four appearances coming up in December, including one today, December 7, at the Bottom of the Hill on 17th Street near Potrero.

“Bands don’t make money anymore,” he said, explaining that his BART gigs are important in making money enough to get by. They also help in selling CDs and getting the band’s name out.

“It’s kind of just gypsy business for us right now,” he said. “It’s better that way. It’s more grassroots.” It’s also, he said, not bad during a recession because people need music to help them face the hard days they’re experiencing.

Fernandez quit studying music at Laney College earlier in the decade to learn in a less formal setting—various BART stations and crowded shopping areas. Before joining forces with Aguilar in 2005, the guitarist worked at a wood shop in the area. When his paychecks became infrequent he started playing his guitar in the train stations for the next day’s fare.

The band, which plays a mix of folk and rock, has made appearances in New York and South Beach. While doing coffee houses and bars are great for exposure now, Fernandez said they don’t always make a lot of cash.

So in addition to their shows, they sell two $5 to $7 CDs they sell—on the street or through iTunes.

[kml_flashembed movie=”http://media.journalism.berkeley.edu/mission/FerociousFew/soundslider.swf” height=”550″ width=”600″ /]

Fernandez said they’ve probably already sold between five and ten thousand copies. The shows, he said, have earned them a small following.

“We’re definitely known around the Mission,” he said. “I could walk down Valencia and people will be like ‘Ferocious Few!’”

“I’d rather play on 16th Street rather than some unappreciative bourgeoisie neighborhoods,” he explained.

Ferocious Few has another show in January and also plan to attend a music conference in southwest Texas where they hope to make connections. They’re also shopping around for a label.

“But while that’s happening I’ve been playing for that day to day cash,” said Fernandez as he tweaked his guitar strings and prepared to play another set.   [/lang_en]

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