Welcome to the Boulevard Ear, a new regular feature on The Bay Bridged, where our man about town examines a community’s live music offerings over the course of one evening. What is it like to be a show-goer whose experiences are dictated entirely by location? Follow Todd as he explores Bay Area music venues by neighborhood, finding a variety of independent music along the way. This first installment took place on February 11, 2011.
The Boulevard Ear ~ 2/11/2011: In the Nethers
Although we malign the tourists and the so-called bridge and tunnel crowd, they remind us how very fortunate we are to reside here in the heart of the city. We, the envy of dreamers across the globe, roam the corners of the jewel box nightly, if not plundering its myriad gifts, then at least gazing to our hearts’ content into the prismatic shimmering of its infinite gilded surfaces.
Our earliest visit to The Wild Side West on Cortland in what is now (too) quaintly referred to as “The Village,” took place in our tender years (we shant say how tender nor how long ago, although no one from that era is still in a position of responsibility). Back then, Bernal Heights was little more than the clapboard nethers of the city center.
Nevertheless, we were taken aback even then how the place evoked the San Francisco of the late Summer of Love, which, we regret to admit, we remember firsthand. We reckoned that its classic lustre – low, red light and dusty bric a brac – was unchanged since the hippie days. Although the current brain trust keeps it scrubbed and tidy, it still gives the all too rare thrill of an unchanged relic.
One of our favorite rising local acts, P’s n Q’s are holding court in between the billiard table and the old iron fireplace. Guitarist Audrey Howard is flanked by Janice Hurley and Brie McFarland, who rotate through the instrumentation of half a dozen or so bands: fiddle, banjo, accordion, harmonica, upright bass, ukulele, kazoo. (Ms. Howard also plays the hood of the fireplace with the pokers for the otherwise a capella “Right Shoes”).