Documenting the (Lost?) Blues Scene at Skip’s Tavern

This is the trailer for Joshua Weaver’s a documentary-in-progress about the now-silent Skip’s Tavern on Cortland Street:

From the outside, Skips Tavern looks like any working class bar. Slightly out of place in the rapidly gentrifying neighborhood of Bernal Heights, Skip’s Tavern is a vestige, a throwback to an earlier version of this community. This place is well established and has a large following. In fact any night of the week the place is jamming. The flavor is blues, pool, and cheap drinks, and it attracts a diverse crowd.

The Tavern is a movie about Skips. We visit, listen to the music and mingle with the patrons’. Also we will look into why this place exists, what has made it work the way it does, who made this happen, and why it attracts such a cross section of the San Francisco community. We will hear personal stories and through this we will find out about the man named Regi, who passed last year. We will find out about his legacy, and why he is missed so much that there is now a permanent altar to his memory across from the small stage.

We will also hear about the struggle with the neighborhood. As the area gentrifies, Skip’s has had troubles with noise complaints.

At end we will have a deeper under standing of this cultural icon, the people who built it, and those who will keep it going. We will see Skips as a model for society, a place where people so easily look past differences to come together for the love of music.

24 thoughts on “Documenting the (Lost?) Blues Scene at Skip’s Tavern

  1. Few things piss me off more than people who move into a neighborhood, KNOWING that there are establishments like bars, nightclubs, etc, there… and THEN start complaining about the noise that is associated with those same bars/nightclubs.

    • Ok, I may be exaggerating… Many things piss me off more than that. However it is still amongst-the-things-that-piss-me-off.

      • Reminds me of something a friend said about the house she bought in a sketchy part of Oakland: “The problem with buying a house is that before you buy, you usually only visit the house in the daytime.” Which is true, actually. (Her ‘hood turned extra-sketch at night.) That doesn’t in any way invalidate your point, sir, but it does suggest that some homebuyers literally may not have realized that they were buying near a blues joint.

  2. Hm. Can you complain to Muni if you discover that the bus rumbles past your new home a bit more loudly than you like? Can you complain to the FAA that planes fly too close and make too much noise? Can you complain to the City that your neighbor across the street routinely parks four cars on your block?

    You can complain about anything, but that doesn’t make you right.

    Most things are discoverable with enough research (well, the neighbor with the four cars is harder to detect). And I would think that buying a home is a big enough decision that you’d take on the responsibility to conduct that research.

  3. Your assumptions happen to be totally incorrect here, Herr Doktor. The most vocal complaints about the noise at Skip’s happen to come from long, longtime residents of the neighborhood, neighborhood activists whose house is just a few doors up the street from Skip’s. As I understand it they’ve tried on numerous occasions to deal directly with (both past and present) owners, with limited success. Problems extend way beyond noise to hardcore drug dealing, loud fights, piss and vomit on the street, etc.

    Should residents just put up or shut up?

    • Let’s see. It comes down to: How long has Skip’s been there? Has it been there longer than the “long time residents” ? If so, that is to say, if the conditions re: Skips pre-exist them? Then, yes, that is exactly what they should do.

      If, on the other hand, they pre-exist the conditions at Skip’s? That is a different question altogether.

    • Also, the non-noise things you mention are not something they should be bringing up with Skip’s owners/management. Public urination, fighting and drug dealing on the street are all things to talk to the Police about. Skip’s management has neither the responsibility nor, in fact, that authority to do anything about stuff that takes place off of their own property.

      • True. The owners can’t be held responsible for behavior that takes place up the street. I don’t know the specifics, but I believe some of the troubles have taken place within the bar and some outside. At any rate, the police are routinely called and kept fully apprised…

        In a not-altogether dissimilar situation, neighbors around my daughter’s school routinely complain to the police about clogged streets and rude drivers around dropoff and pickup times. Rude drivers bug me, too, but I figure it’s the price those neighbors pay for living near a “desirable” school, which has, incidentally, done wonders for those same complainers’ property values. Here’s where it gets interesting, imho: many of these people bought their homes before the school became such an asset. Does that give them greater authority to complain? Should the legitimacy of the complaints be evaluated based on whether they bought before or after the speeding cars hit their ‘hood?

  4. Man , I loved that place, and I’m so glad to see a film in the works about it.
    I’m still keeping my fingers cross that it comes back as the same place.

  5. Glad Josh’s video is getting some airplay. I’m going to pass this along to fellow Skip ExPatriots.

  6. Herr doktor, I think if someone has ‘the right’ to be loud, drunk and obnoxious, then neighbors have a right to complain especially if it is past a certain hour or the behavior is especially bad. It does not matter who was there first. Patrons of any bar should respect the neighbors of the establishment, that should be a given

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