While it appears that all my music friends know of The Vestry and the adjoining Chapel in San Francisco’s Mission District, I had never been. The Vestry is on the left and is a casual eatery that serves simple but fun dishes and on the right is The Chapel which has interesting performers and live bands throughout the week.
Mains are simple and there’s not an extensive choice, but with good reason – they aim to be a pre-show option. Because of that, people tend to order from the salads, veggies and small plate menu the most. They offered four main course choices the night we were there: a Flat Iron Steak with blistered cherry tomatoes, padron peppers and roasted oyster mushrooms, Fried Chicken with mashed potatoes, brentwood corn and snap pea succotash and pan gravy, a Grilled Swordfish (pictured below)
with toasted almond haricot verts, piquillo pepper piperade and charred corn beurre blanc, which I had and the Moules Frites, aka mussels with pommes frites and aioli, which Anthony ordered.
The mussels below:
Lighter options include an Arugula-Grape salad with roasted grapes, pickled red onions, lemon-dijon dressing…
From the outside, it looked like any ordinary Second Avenue club. Of course, the raves from The New York Times in the windows betokened otherwise.
And the tough guy out front looked, auspiciously, like he might be called Max.
So we went in.
Presto! Instant coolness. The space waslively, elegant, everyone chattering whichway, and filling up fast. It was, it turned out, downtown’s hippest alternative supper-club: Pangea, at 178 Second Avenue.
Then this unreconstructed rogue named Pompie took the spotlight in his fine-lookin’ tux.
Talking about how he owns this joint we’re in, Pompie’s Place, “this little den of iniquities,” and it’s actually not in New York but Chicago, and it’s actually not 2016 but the depth of the Depression, and he’s got some smuggled hooch to wet our palates. “Smells like a woman,” he leered, slapping some on his cheeks like aftershave. Finally, to clinch the deal, he introduced us to his bouncer, and of course it was the tough from outside, and his name, indeed, was Max.
If you’er a music lover, you’ll want to take note of three theaters doing some creative work in San Francisco. I’m a huge fan of Broadway, jazzy tunes and Cabaret and while New York might “own” that world, it doesn’t mean you can’t find some compelling performances elsewhere in the country. Recently, I took in three different acts all of which has great talent behind the productions. Let’s start with Cabaret vocalist Sandra McKnight
who has an act she calls Get Happy Now
, which is centered around happiness.
She sang at Society Cabaret,
an organization that is churning out some great performances in the heart of San Francisco. On piano was David Austin
who is also Musical Director. An uninhibited celebration of Happiness, Love and Joy!
Sandra brought her warmth, spirit and humor from Santa Fe, NM to perform her musical adventure of Broadway songs, Standards and Light-hearted Anecdotes. Tunes by Gershwin, Harold Arlen, Kander & Ebb, Carole King, James Taylor, Sophie Tucker. All things Cabaret, she chooses very sensitive and emotional ballads on love, joy, relationships, including with yourself, and happiness. As part of her act, she also does a sexy red-hot tribute to Sophie Tucker.
If you’re an entertainment fan, especially of unusually interesting and creative performances, you’ll love the alternative Cabaret mash-ups that Misfit Cabaret
puts together in San Francisco. We recently went to their latest show, which is held at Great Star Theater
. Located on Jackson Street in the heart of China Town, there are 14 local Chinese and Asian restaurants on the same block, making it easy and fun to grab a bite to eat before or after the show.
Misfit Cabaret is a splendiferous variety show centered around magical music with a rotating cast of eccentric performers. Each show is completely different– with changing themes such as the cult filmed Cinepheilia
and the naughty nautical Whimsea.
From burlesque to drag to circus to magic, you never know what you’re going to see.
I love the concept and we had a boat loada fun. Some people get dressed up to match the theme and later, a couple of dozen people get dragged up onto the stage to dance to the last song with the rest of the crew and performers. For each new Misfit Cabaret, emcee Kat Robichaud
writes two original songs keeping with the theme of the evening and plays them…
I love the diversity of San Francisco’s art and music scene and while it’s no New York, I am always surprised by new organizations I learn about who are trying to make the world a better place. Introducing the AfroSolo Theatre Company
whose mission is to nurture, promote, and present African American and African Diaspora art and culture through solo performances and the visual arts. They’ve been around since 1993 to give an authentic voice to the diverse experiences of Black people in the Americas. Through art, they bring people of different ethnicities together to explore and share the human spirit that binds us all. Love it!
This year, they are celebrating their 22nd season for their Arts Festival, which will take place from August – November 2016. Their theme this year? “Black Matters!”
Phtoo credit: Everfest.com.
They chose “Black Matters!” because it can be broadly interpreted and expressed and this latitude will provide their artists the freedom to embrace diversity and give voice to all of our varied experiences through theatre, dance, music, poetry, as well as the visual and literary arts.
Although still in development, the festival will consist of a free jazz concert,…
When the first colorful visual I see as I make my way off the plane is a red antique clock, visuals of Dr. Suess-like characters, homemade chocolate chip cookies from yesteryear and old fashioned southern train tracks flashed through my mind. As odd as it sounds and why my mind’s eye went there is hard to say, but truth be told, I was about to spend the next week in a small southern city that was in fact, never on my bucket list. Swing music lovers will know Chattanooga
from the song it made famous. For years, my legs and feet went into smooth flowing swing outs to the Chattanooga Choo Choo
on hard wooden floors from Catalina Island and Mexico in the west and Boston and New York in the east to dance camps in London and Paris across the pond. Its charming lyrics and rhythms always brought a smile and transformed my mood regardless of where in the world my toes were tapping and hips were swaying.
Eager to learn a bit more about its birth, staying at the historical Chattanooga Choo Choo Hotel
in the center of town, known as the Southside District,
Midsummer Night Swing is in full swing in Manhattan! For just a few short weeks in June and July, New Yorkers who are light on their feet (or even have two left feet, like me) have the chance to partake in various dance sessions outside at Lincoln Center.
The sessions start off with a group dance lesson lead by experts, and each night has a different singular type of dance to focus on, from swing to salsa to ballroom to tango, and yes, even disco.
Our particular dance lesson was jazz swing. My partner and I managed a simple little box step, but many others were whirling and twirling all over the dance floor. It truly didn’t matter the skill level one possessed; everyone was having a great time regardless of their progress after the lesson. Likewise, you don’t need a beau to dance with either; there were plenty of friends-only and sister-sister pairs on the floor to compete with the sweethearts.
After the dance lesson, the crowd gets treated to a mini show put on by expert dancers, and then it’s…
One of my favorite SF artists, musician/composer/songwriter Peter Whitehead is doing something really cool as part of the San Francisco International Arts Festival which wrapped up last weekend, a mini music marathon! For eight hours, Peter held down Gallery 308, now filled with his instruments, and improvise with invited collaborators all afternoon and early evening.
Musical Mini Marathon with Peter Whitehead. Guest schedule below.
12.30 -1.00 David Samas – Instrument builder,collector – various unusual items & voice
1.30 – 2.00 Bart Hopkin – Renowned instrument builder and author – unique invented instruments
2.30 – 3.00 Daryl Henline – Composer, choir master – Voice, various instruments
3.00 – 3.30 David Molina – Multi instrumentalist, composer, builder
3.30 – 4.00 Patti Trimble – Bay Area Poet and writer.
4.30 – 5.00 Sudhu Tewari – Redesigned electronics, springs, looping, effects, noise.
5.30 – 6.00 Norman Rutherford – Viola da Gamba, bass clarinet, sonar and other instruments
6.30 – 7.00 Sarah Shelton Mann – Legendary SF Choreographer, teacher, performer, writer readings, dowsing
7.30 – 8.00 Stephen Kent – Didgeridoo virtuoso, multi instrumentalist and radio host.
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