In Praise of Musical Friday Nights at Charlie’s Cafe

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Charlie’s Cafe on the corner of Folsom and Precita on the west end of Precita Park is a neighborhood institution. Normally it’s a laid-back daytime coffee shop and deli, but on Friday nights Charlie stays open late to host live music.

Tonight, Friday, December 2, Charlie’s will play host to the Trance Mission Duo, a musical collaboration by Beth Custer and Steven Kerrit.

Neighbor Mary is a Friday Night regular at Charlie’s, and she shared this summary of the scene:

It’s becoming a tradition: For years when Charlie’s, the cafe on Folsom and Precita, holds musical events, neighbors come in droves, steam up the windows, crowd the doorway, spill out onto the corner, and peer into the windows if they can’t get in.

The warmth of Charlie’s Cafe brings a special sense ofbelonging to all of us in these dismal post election days. It’s an exceedingly bright spot on the dark north side of the hill.

The lights are bright food is hot, the music is from nieghbors who show off mighty talent. Yes, Paul Griffiths and Beth Custer, neighbors you have greeted over the years, or just know by face (or by dog) have hefty portfolios of music behind them and are well known original talents. You will be amazed.

Children abound and bound around, and there’s plenty of crayons to color with) as yummy plates of Steak Tacos pass under your nose.

You can come fill up on food at the friendliest place in town and hang with your neighbor friends.

Or you can stay home and watch the news.

The Old Bus Tavern Now Has 2.5 Bauer-Stars and Music on Sundays

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The Michael Bauer returned to the fabulous Old Bus Tavern at 3193 Mission (near Valencia) recently to take new chef David Zboray’s food out for a test-drive. Two-and-a-half stars later, he says he liked the experience:

The most substantial main course was grilled swordfish ($29), expertly cooked and presented next to a salad of kohlrabi, pickled fennel and charred scallions. The only flaw was the mushy butternut squash risotto underneath.

While [former chef Max] Snyder’s top-class chili didn’t make the cut for the new menu, Zboray retained the must-order quail eggs ($10), brined, poached and arranged on a nest of fried leeks, hot from paprika. He’s also included the cheeseburger ($14) made with sharp cheddar, pickles, a secret sauce and ketchup, an ingredient I usually avoid for anything but french fries — but in this case it worked well.

The waiters are good salespeople for their products; they know the menu and are adept at explaining the beers and cocktails. They are also attuned to the finer points of service, a surprise in such a casual environment, where the crowd becomes more animated as the night wears on. Oftentimes there are gaggles of people dining or standing at the bar, separated by a counter from the 49-seat dining room.

Meanwhile, as a special bonus, neighbor Ned Buskirk of Elsie Street is working with the Old Bus Tavern team to fill the space with music on Sundays. Neighbor Ned says:

The Old Bus Tavern owners are about as down-to-earth & sweet-hearted as any good Bernalite would hope for AND the food/beers fit the tastiest of additions to our local options.

So, I’m booking regular music there every Sunday now, and we want to start making a name for the local spot, for all the right reasons… music being a big one of them.

This Sunday, December 4, the lineup includes amazing food by Soul Cocina and live music by John Elliott (aka The Hereafter)! Bar opens at 5pm and food starts at 6pm. Check out details about Sunday’s menu right here.

PHOTO: Old Bus Tavern facade, via InsideScoop

Bernal Neighbor Launches “30 Days, 30 Songs” Voter Registration Music Project

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Bernal Heights neighbor and celebrity music impresario Jordan Kurland has joined forces with author Dave Eggers to create a voter-registration project that seeks to ensure Donald Trump does not become the next President of the United States.

Neighbor Jordan tells Bernalwood:

I wanted to let you all know about a project that we launched. It is an independent campaign website called 30 Days, 30 Songs and it was conceived by myself and author Dave Eggers. It features a collection of amazing artists who contributed amazing songs that champion a diverse, inclusive, and prosperous America. In other words, everything Donald Trump opposes.

We started with a brand new Death Cab for Cutie song, titled “Million Dollar Loan,” and will be posting a song per day up through Election Day. It features original compositions, live versions, and remixes. I can’t divulge every act that we’ve confirmed but the first week will also feature Aimee Mann, REM, Jim James of My Morning Jacket, Thao Nguyen and Josh Ritter.

The songs will be released on the 30 Days, 30 Songs website and as a playlist on Spotify and Apple Music. Any proceeds generated will be donated to The Center for Popular Democracy and their efforts towards Universal Voter Registration.

The music is fab, and the cause is righteous. Today’s song, for example, is the world premiere of Franz Ferdinand’s “Demagogue,” featuring original artwork from Shepard Fairey (shown above).

Check it out, tell your friends about it on the Facebook, and big ups to Neighbor Jordan and Dave Eggers for making this happen!

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Carlos Santana’s Former House on Mullen Avenue Is For Sale

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Last week, the house at 205 Mullen Ave. in northeast Bernal Heights was listed for sale. The asking price is $975K for the 2BR house, which prompted our friends at the CurbedSF blog to weep that “a starter home in San Francisco is now officially a touch under one million” — which is a totally legit thing to weep about.

Yet with that said, CurbedSF didn’t account for the fact that 205 Mullen comes with one very, very unique feature: Carlos Santana used to live in it.

It’s true.  Sanata lived in northeast Bernal in the late 1960s and early 1970s, and during the early years, when he was playing epic, ad hoc concerts in Precita Park, he lived here, at 205 Mullen.  Later, a few members of Journey lived there too (Trivia Fun Fact: Journey was founded by a manager and musicians who started out working with Santana.)

Anyway, Neighbor N owns the Santana House now, so Bernalwood asked him to describe what it’s been like to live there:

I still think about the first time I came to the house. Stupidly, I had no real conceptions of Bernal’s north slope view. It was also probably the first house I looked at in Bernal.

I walked in the door and said, “Wow, I had no idea the view was that good.”

I didn’t find out till later (possibly from a certain neighborhood blog) that Santana (and some members of Journey) used to live here. A few people came by to snap pics that week. Everyone is always very respectful.

I really do wonder what the house was like when Santana lived here. At some point, someone put up a solid, nearly seven-foot-tall fence, with spikes above that. There were shutters on the bay window, closing off the southern light. The house was very, very walled off from the street. Here’s how it looked in 2012:

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That never felt like Santana to me.

When I refaced the fence with pickets, we worked hard to get both the height and the spacing just right. I didn’t want another Wall on Mullen, as I used to call the old fence. But I wanted privacy. I also didn’t want the house to be hidden behind the fence. From the beginning, I wanted to open up the house, because it’s such a quintessentially San Francisco house.

I’d like to think we got it pretty right. As soon as the new fence was up, there was a much nicer sense of connection to the rest of the neighborhood, and the light was totally different. Same when I replaced the shutters with curtains and added a new frosted front door to let in more of that southern light. I get a ton of light now, and I still have that crazy-good view from the back.

Now, when you walk by the house, you can see the sun setting through the house. I think that’s pretty special.

After the fence, the other big thing I changed was the color. I have always liked dark houses. I used to own a funny little ranch house on eastern Long Island that I painted charcoal about 15 years ago. I liked the idea of all dark on the outside and all light on the inside.

For San Francisco, I wanted dark, but definitely a color, so I chose this charcoal-y blue, but it’s definitely blue. I really like it when neighbors say “You live in the blue house!” To me, that means they get it.

I like monochromatic houses because it makes it more about the house and less about the paint *on* the house. I wanted to really show off the house.

I’d like to think Santana would like it too. I really tried to let the house be what it should have been all along, which is probably more like it was when Santana lived here.

PHOTOS: 2012 photo by Telstar Logistics. Contemporary photos courtesy of Neighbor N.

Wednesday: Phonographic Memory with Bernal Rockstar Matt Nathanson

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Oh, how time flies when you’re enjoying the memories…

On Wednesday evening the fabulous Phonographic Memory project celebrates its second anniversary. First launched in 2014, Phonographic Memory was created by Bernal Neighbor Corey Bloom. It’s an exchange of recollections through vinyl records, during which guests are given a few minutes to share a personal story or memory about a song or the record, and then play a song from that album. Since then, Phonographic Memory has also spawned a podcast, so you can listen some of the stories presented in the series as they were shared at our very Bernal Heights library.

Wednesday’s second anniversary edition of Phonographic Memory will be pretty special,  with a memory presentation by Bernal’s own celebrity rockstar-in-residence, Neighbor Matt Nathanson.

Bernal library’s celebrity branch manager Valerie Reichert tells Bernalwood:

Bernal Branch Library is psyched to announce a very special guest participating in Wednesday’s anniversary celebration of Phonographic Memory: Bernal neighbor, platinum artist, Matt Nathanson will be on board!

The program format will be as always — a story in mind and a record in hand. It’s an evening about vinyl records, personal attachments and storytelling. Special guests also include David Bustamante, Dug Infinite, and Jon Bernson, The event will be held upstairs in the main area of the branch.

Phonographic Memory: 2nd Anniversary Celebration!
with Special Guest presenters:

  • Matt Nathanson – Singer/ Songwriter
  • David Bustamante – 70s Rock Band Dakila
  • Dug Infinite – Hip-Hop Producer/ DJ
  • Jon Bernson – Vocalist, ExRays

Wed. Sept 21
7 -9 pm – FREE
SFPL Bernal Heights Branch Library
500 Cortland Ave., SF, CA 94110

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PHOTO: Top, Bernal neighbor Matt Nathanson, courtesy of Phonographic Memories

China Films Moody New Music Video in Bernal Heights

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Ah well. So it goes: Another week, another ridiculously sexy music video filmed here in Bernal Heights.

This one comes by way of China (the local Americana-folk band, NOT the famous Asian nation of 1.4 billion people). China recorded their newest video on the undiscovered streets around The Lost Tribe of College Hill, and the Bay Bridged explains the rest:

China went up to Bernal Heights to record a video for “Everyone Thinks I’m a Loser.” Royal Oakie founder David Glassebrook produced and directed the visuals, with his partner Yasamine June chipping in as co-director, art director, and cinematographer. Shot entirely on Super 8, it’s a dark, lovely, grainy ride, with a touch of humor to make sure you aren’t totally wallowing in self-pity. It all feels just right:

Bonus: The Bay Bridged adds that China is doing a release show at the beloved Make Out Room on Sunday, June 17, so if you like what you hear today, you can go see China on Sunday.

New Song Is Called “Bernal Heights,” But the Video Is Somewhere Else

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This week, Duckwrth released a new video for his song “Bernal Heights.”

The song is a sweet jam, but fair warning: The words don’t match the visuals. Duckwrth was raised in San Francisco, but he now lives in Los Angeles, and the video for “Bernal Heights” was filmed on the streets of South Central.

Oh well. Still, the song does owe its genesis to this place we Bernalese call home, as Duckwrth explained to the Free Bread blog:

“Bernal Heights, the majestic hill that lives on the southside of San Francisco. In 2014, I wrote this song (produced by Spencer Stevens) about a shroom trip I had with a girl on this hill. Due to the push of the Nowhere project, I never got a chance to drop this song. So recently, Emmeline Kim, Free Bread and I came together to create visuals for BH. Unfortunately we couldn’t get to San Francisco to shoot this, so instead we used my old neighborhood in South Central, Los Angeles to create this story about romance, envy and sweet fuckin’ victory.”

Check it out:

Yeah, that sounds about right: “Bernal Heights… where the grass is greener, with a chill-type demeanor.”

Despite the offsite location scouting, we hope “Bernal Heights” helps make Duckwrth a superstar. There’s precedent for this, after all: Jhameel got a bump when he released his “Bernal Heights” back in 2010. Here’s hoping the Bernal muse will work her magic twice.