For The Associated Press
SAN FRANCISCO (AP) - Backstage with the rock band Train before a performance at San Francisco's hallowed Great American Music Hall may not be quite what you expect from a Grammy-winning, multiplatinum group.
What's missing from the dressing room _ groupies, bling and that we're-about-to-trash-this-place vibe. What you get instead _ a small table set with a few glasses and a bottle of the band's Save Me San Francisco wine which they are making in concert with ACME Wine Movers, a newly formed division of The Wine Group.
It's a pretty refined scene, but one that shouldn't come as such a surprise considering that Train started out in San Francisco, just a microphone stand's throw from the Napa Valley and its many wineries, says lead singer Pat Monahan.
"A couple of years ago, we decided that we wanted to start bringing San Francisco to the rest of the world and we decided that we would start by bringing one of the best things that we know about San Francisco, which is the wine," he says.
In collaboration with ACME, the band started the Save Me, San Francisco Wine Co., named after their 2009 album which included the hit "Hey, Soul Sister."
Their first bottling was a red named after another hit, "Drops of Jupiter (Tell Me)." A second wine, Calling All Angels chardonnay, followed and the latest release is California 37 cabernet sauvignon, named after the band's newly released album.
The wine is made in the Livermore Valley wine region east of San Francisco and sells for a suggested retail of $9.99.
Band members visited the winery before finalizing the collaboration and work with the winemaker in approving the final blend.
"They're regular guys." says Damon Musha, marketing director at ACME Wine Movers. "Moreover, they're people who are really passionate about the project. It certainly made our lives a lot easier. This is something that's genuine to them, rather than something they're trying to do to make a quick dollar."
Train's Save Me, San Francisco wines are available online and have made restaurant lists around the country, including the Hard Rock Cafe chain, appropriately enough. A portion of the proceeds from sales of the wines goes to support Family House, a San Francisco-based nonprofit providing temporary housing to families of seriously ill children.
In another foray into wine country, the band shot the video for their new single "Drive-By" at Shafer Vineyards in the Napa Valley. And if you were hoping for some shoot stories of wild excess, dream on. "We could not have asked for a nicer group of people to show up," says winery president Doug Shafer.
So, not quite as exciting as throwing a TV off a hotel balcony (Rolling Stones' Keith Richards) or being banned from Holiday Inns for life (The Who, but especially Keith Moon), but memorable in its own way.
"Our philosophy about all things from wine to records and downloads and T-shirts is, you know, we're not trying to get the most out of everybody," says Monahan.
The idea, he says, is "sharing something that we have as a community. Music that lasts 18 years like ours, you have to form a community at some point because you either know everybody so well or you have to figure out what else you have in common."
Train wine site: http://savemesfwineco.com/
Drive-by video: http://trainline.com/video/drive-by
Family House: http://familyhouseinc.org/
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