Live music venues come and go. The Riptide, Amnesia, Overland in Oakland, Empress Theater in Vallejo, Doc’s Lab, Smoking Pig BBQ in Fremont, and Club DeLuxe are seven on the up-swing. The Elbo Room, which was predicted to close last October, has instead had its lease extended to 2018.
The Riptide‘s toy drive was held in absentia at the Great American Music Hall. The good news is that the drive netted a record number of toys; the better news is that construction has begun on the Sunset District watering hole that was gutted by fire. Repairs are expected to be completed by late spring or early summer.
Amnesia is closed for an upgrade. Naturally the regulars are a bit anxious, as they have been ever since the bar came under new ownership. But the new owners have been quite good about keeping the bands and the vibe going, so there are probalbly better things to worry about.
Overland is of particular interest to Hicks with Sticks since it is a full-on country venue with live music, twang-friendly DJs, two-step lessons, and even a country trivia night. Overland is located at the foot of Broadway across from Jack London Square and next to the same tracks that carried freight for the Overland Line back in the day.
Overland’s strength is that it casts a wide net around “country” by embracing western swing, honky-tonk, alt-country, or new country styles all seven nights of the week. Sunday is trivia night, country trivia of course; Monday finds DJ Handsome Hawk Valentine spinning vinyl; Tuesday provides a night for country karaoke; Wednesday features Bingo just like they do it down at the grange hall; Thursdays offer two-step lessons followed by DJed dancing; Friday and Saturday tilt toward dancing and live bands, including HWS favorites Laura Benitez and the Heartache and Suzanne Wilde and the Black Hats.
One of Overland’s partners, Paul Hayward, produced a DJed line and two-step event (Twang Honky-Tonk) at Fiddler’s Green for several years. He notes that new country is essential to country bar economics since the passage of time has brought us to where many consider Ronnie Milsap a country oldie.
The Empress Theater in downtown Vallejo is a beautifully restored deco-era movie theater that now stages comedy, music, special events and occasionally film. On November 21st Joni Morris presented her tribute to Patsy Cline. On December 2nd Garth Webber and Bobby Walker joined the North Bay All-Stars for a show.
Doc’s Lab in SF’s North Beach has been booking comics and alt-rock bands. A few Americana bands, including Laura Benitez and the Heartache and the New American Farmers, have found their way to Doc’s. Glen Phillips with Bobby Bare Jr. filled Doc’s on December 12th.
The Smoking Pig BBQ is doing its best to bring nightlife to Fremont. They favor the blues, but Jinx Jones and the Kingtones have played there and some other twangin’ bands can play there too if they’d just call the restaurant and ask ’em.
Club Deluxe has a music-friendly history, but nowAlisha Amnesia is on a mission to bring in country and rockabilly every Friday at 6:00. The Better Haves and Mitch Polzak and the Royal Deuces have played there while the Bim Bam Boys are (scheduled for Friday 12/25, ho-ho-ho).