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And The Band Played On: North Beach's Music Scene Persists

Are We San Francisco's Best Music Neighborhood?

San Francisco’s North Beach has long been a gathering place for creative types of all kinds; naturally, music has always been a big part of that. Over the years, our little corner of SF has hosted a spate of legendary music clubs: from the jazz greats of Keystone Korner and the Jazz Workshop through to the punk mayhem of Mabuhay Gardens, North Beach has hosted more serious music venues over the years than most major cities ever enjoy.

Of course, those old places are gone now; all things wax and wane, and clubs are always coming and going in the big city. Jazz at Pearl’s took its leave years ago, their former space now occupied by Devil’s Acre; shushed by the neighbors, Savoy Tivoli no longer hosts their boisterous shows. 

But newcomers are rife, and as a result the Beach remains one of the best places to see music in San Francisco. Uniquely, within a few blocks, you can enjoy a dozen places that offer either live music or a DJ. Here are just a few.

The Saloon. Of course, when it comes to the blues, the reigning champ has got to be The Saloon. They’ve been slinging drinks here since 1861, making it the oldest bar in California. Myron Mu has owned the place for better than three decades, and has been honored by the Blues Foundation in Memphis for his outstanding work as a promoter. Mu’s devotion to the blues is admirable: he even rents most of the upstairs rooms to musicians. One of a kind, the Saloon truly wrote the book on dive bar ambience. 1232 Grant Avenue

A piece of musical history: North Beach's Saloon. | Photo: Carl D./Yelp

Tupelo. When Teague Kernan took over the old Mojitos space in 2011, he had one thing in mind: music. He chose well: the 106-year-old building has been home to music venues for over 50 years. In fact, legend has it that a sign behind the bar once read “Anyone that buys Janis Joplin a drink before her set will be 86’d.” Their stage hosts a regular roster of local roots-based bands, including Teague's own band, Shantytown. You never know who might jump onstage, their Karaoke Tuesdays are notorious, and the bartenders are on their game. 1337-1339 Grant Avenue

The hard-rocking Tupelo, looking glamorous on the main drag of Grant Avenue. | Photo: Courtesy of Tupelo

Bimbo’s 365 Club. Opened by Agostino "Bimbo" Giuntoli in 1951, Bimbo’s has somehow maintained the look and feel of a Fifties-era nightclub, and remains one of the classiest live venues in San Francisco. They book an eclectic lineup of established rock and jazz acts–and they’ve got the coolest marquee in the neighborhood. 1025 Columbus Avenue

The iconic Bimbo's 365 Club is one of North Beach's longest running music venues. | Photo: Courtesy Bimbo's

Grant & Green. Located at what might be the neighborhood’s epicenter, this rough and tumble spot has been keeping it real for decades. From DJ's to cover bands and local artists, they’ve always got something good playing, along with a locals-heavy crowd and a killer happy hour. 1371 Grant Avenue

Of course, there are plenty more to add here: Maggie McGarry's, Tope, Doc's Lab, Belle Cora, The Condor….the list goes on. We’ll be back with a second installment on these and other great venues soon. Don’t forget to bookmark us, and see you in the Beach!

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A Glimpse Of What SFNBBA Does For North Beach Businesses

In keeping with our history of support and leadership for the commercial district of our neighborhood, the North Beach Business Association has assembled a quick report detailing a few of our organizational accomplishments for 2018. This is a partial list, but it will give readers some idea of the breadth of our efforts for the neighborhood.

North Beach Commercial Vacancies Prompt Action: Enough Is Enough

On Wednesday afternoon, we will join Supervisor Aaron Peskin at 527 Columbus Avenue near Green Street, where commercial units have been kept off the rental market for nearly a decade. The press will be in attendance, and Supervisor Peskin and SFNBBA board members are expected to speak about the need for these commercial landlords to do their part to restore the commercial rental supply in our neighborhood–and the well-being of our commercial district. It’s not complicated: we are simply asking that property owners offer their vacant spaces for rent, and at a reasonable market rate.

Let's Keep It Local: Your North Beach Shopping Guide

A list of eleven of the coolest possible places to do your Christmas shopping–right here in North Beach.

Wintry Weather Brings Holiday Events And More To North Beach

This Friday, December 7th, the neighborhood will once again host the North Beach Wine Walk. If you haven't participated in the event before, it's a great way to meet some of the neighborhood's best retailers; shops like Z Cioccolato, Lola and Cole Hardware will be opening their shops after normal hours, and hosting local vintners to pour samples of their tastiest wines for attendees.

The Beach Never Sleeps: New Offerings Abound

Here in North Beach, it’s been a mighty strange couple of weeks. As much as we’ve tried to focus on our labors, the smoky, toxic air conditions brought by the tragic Camp Fire to our north has admittedly knocked our neighborhood a little bit out of whack. And that’s only natural, in a place where our residents are used to spending so much time outdoors. So we're here to give you a quick review of what's been afoot.

Business Owner Recognized For Heroism; Macchiarini Design Turns Seventy

This weekend, Edson Garcia, the owner of Brioche Bakery and Café on Columbus Avenue, was honored by Supervisor Aaron Peskin and the North Beach Business Association for a remarkable act of courage. 

Washington Square Mitigation Plan Finally In Place; Meanwhile, Ten Trees Gone

If you’ve been reading the blog, you already know Washington Square Park faces temporary closure in the coming months for renovations. Here at the SFNBBA, we’ve been lobbying the city and S.F. Recreation & Park for months.

SFNBBA Wins Neighborhood Protections In Face Of Washington Square Park Closure

The impending closure of Washington Square Park has got the neighborhood stirred up, and the people at the SFNBBA have been on the case. Take a look at this week's post to find out what we've accomplished–and what you should expect for Washington Square.

Empty Spaces: New Report Sheds Light On North Beach Vacancies

The vacancy crisis in North Beach is an ongoing concern, and this month we received some new data on the problem. According to a new report conducted by the San Francisco North Beach Business Association (SFNBBA) in cooperation with Telegraph Hill Dwellers and North Beach Neighbors, the numbers are jarring: over the past three years, the number of vacant ground-floor commercial spaces in the neighborhood has doubled.

It’s Always Sunny In North Beach: North Beach Festival Weekend Is Here

The very first street fair in America, The North Beach Festival has been the blueprint for neighborhood fairs and block parties for decades. And this weekend, we're celebrating the festival for the 64th time. In other news, is there trouble on the horizon for Washington Square Park?

On Eve Of North Beach Festival, Neighborhood Fights Washington Square Park Closure

There is always plenty afoot in North Beach, and this month is no exception: the annual North Beach Festival, due to hit our streets on Saturday and Sunday, June 16th and 17th, is always a monster event. We’re expecting a record turnout for our 64th year.
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Jan 23

Community Action: Resolve The Vacancy Crisis

Community Action: Resolve The Vacancy Crisis Wednesday, January 23rd @ 1:00 PM 527 Columbus Avenue, North Beach, SF (just north of Green St.)