The Riptide

A few months ago a two-alarm fire tore through The Riptide, a salty bar and music venue sequestered in one of the last neighborhoods to escape the full smack of gentrification, the Outer Sunset. Located a block away from Ocean Beach and off the L, it’s a haven of boozy warmth and local entertainment in a fog-dazed area mostly known for being the residential, far-off ‘burbs of San Francisco.

Thankfully, Slim’s and Great American Music Hall have decided to each host a benefit concert to aid in raising the funds necessary for restoring the innards of The Rip.

This Monday, Slim’s will be throwing a benefit show featuring local acts and Americana favorites: The Sam Chase, Mitch Polzak & The Royal Deuces, and Whograss. Be sure to hunt through your kitchen cupboards beforehand, because they’ll also be holding The Riptide’s annual food drive, in partnership with SF Food Bank.

The Sam Chase cut their teeth at The Riptide back in 2011. Sam Chase had this to say about getting his start at the venerable venue: “In the beginning, we found ourselves playing the Riptide a lot. It was always a built in crowd of like-minded drunks looking for a good time. The Riptide would give us free reign to be on our worst behavior and in many ways, that is what we needed in order to craft what eventually became the type of show that we bring to clubs all across the country. When you got a gig

[there] you knew that you were walking into a place where if you didn’t deliver, you were in for a rude awakening…But if you did, you made friends for life.”

And what about traveling to play in the outer reaches of the Outer Sunset? “It’s the hinterlands of San Francisco. You need to charter a boat and say farewell to your family knowing that it may be a journey from which you will never return.  Once you get there it is a fairly quiet and laid back community, but even quiet communities need a place to get loud, and the Riptide gave you that in spades. There was no place like it for miles and no place can ever replace it.  That’s why we have no choice but to rebuild.”

On December 8, Great American Music Hall will host the second benefit show, this time a toy drive in partnership with SFFD. Hitting the stage in full support will be Red Meat, Pine Box Boys, and Nickel Slots.

Co-owner of The Riptide, David Quinby, was gifted the bar 14 years ago by Leonard Iffla, with the condition that they clean the place up. In regards to what you might have heard played on any given night over the years, he says, “We’ve booked every style of band. Bluegrass, punk, Americana, jazz, ska, Cuban, Brazilian etc. Even members of the SF Symphony have come to play in quartets and quintets.”

But will The Riptide be the same after the restoration? “We are dedicated to building it back to the little rustic juke joint that it was. All the walls and ceiling will be replaced with old growth redwood paneling that we are having it milled to match the paneling from before. The brick floors and fireplace are in good shape and will remain.”

Most of all, the community outreach has staggered the owners. “Honestly the greatest and most incredible thing for me to come from The Riptide is the massive amount of love and support that has washed over us.  Within four weeks of the fire, 20 benefit concerts were booked at 20 separate venues. I know I speak for (co-owner) Les and the entire staff when I say that we are humbled and honored by everything that everyone has done for us. We really never knew how much that place meant to so many. We thank everyone from the bottom of our hearts.”

The Sam Chase, Mitch Polzak & The Royal Deuces, Whograss
November 23, 2015
8pm, $20, 6+

Red Meat, Pine Box Boys, Nickel Slots
Great American Music Hall
December 8, 2015
8pm, $20, all ages