Coming home to Fillmore

Kim Nalley performing at the Fillmore Jazz Festival.

Kim Nalley performing at the Fillmore Jazz Festival.

FIRST PERSON | KIM NALLEY

Being a musician is kind of like being a foodie. If you grew up poor, you’re really excited just to have food. Then, after you get accustomed to having food and are exposed to good food, you want something better. You eat at great restaurants and become able to distinguish the different components and learn which wines are best paired with each. Your palate is ruined for fast food. You seek better food experiences and make better food at home. But every once in a while you get misty-eyed for mom’s mac and cheese, made with government cheese, because it tastes like home.

In the beginning, I really just wanted a gig singing. I was cleaning houses at the time. I gave the owner of Harry’s Bar on Fillmore, Keith Provo, a demo cassette tape I had made by exchanging house cleaning for studio time. There were only three songs on that demo: an R&B song, an uptempo jazz scat and a ballad, “Moonlight in Vermont.”

Mr. Provo loved the ballad. His son Chris called on a Thursday morning and offered me a weekly gig — if I could put together a band and play that night. I had to stiff the owner of the house I was supposed to clean, but I did get that every-Thursday gig. They paid me $400 a night, and my rent was only $250 a month. I could hire A-list musicians who were much older than me to be my accompanists. I thought Harry’s Bar was the center of the universe and I felt really important at age 18 having a regular gig on Fillmore.

But soon I wanted more. I wanted to play the Fillmore Jazz Festival.

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JazzFest a tribute to lost icons

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By JASON OLAINE
Artistic Director, Fillmore Jazz Festival

In Tribute. That’s the theme of this year’s Fillmore Jazz Festival, coming on July 2 and 3.

Perhaps it would be fitting to hold a tribute festival every year. Invariably, some artist who changed the game or played with unbelievable virtuosity or defied genres or created timeless art passes on to the next stage — literally — leaving behind a legacy for others to build upon, be inspired by, or just enjoy.

This past year, though, we witnessed a jaw-dropping exodus of some of our most visionary and visceral musical artists: Prince, David Bowie, Ernestine Anderson, Maurice White of Earth Wind and Fire, trumpeter Mic Gillette of Tower of Power, Dan Hicks, Natalie Cole, Paul Kantner of the Jefferson Airplane, Glenn Frey of the Eagles, alto sax jazzman Phil Woods, Allen Toussaint. We also said goodbye to R&B and soul icon Otis Clay, jazz singers Mark Murphy and Frank Sinatra Jr., country legend Merle Haggard and, sadly, many more.

The artists performing during the weekend at the 2016 Fillmore Jazz Festival were chosen not because they sound like or exclusively play the music of the icons we lost, but for their own creativity and talent. However, most will be playing and paying some tribute to one or more of these fallen heroes. As you wander up and down the Fillmore, you’re likely to hear songs by artists you may want to learn more about, including the Cuban trumpet marvel Chocolate Armenteros or the adventurist jazz pianist Paul Bley. You’re also certain to hear new arrangements of songs by familiar artists who are no longer with us.

It is with gratitude we salute these music masters who left us with a legacy of music to soothe our souls or make us want to dance or scream or jump and shout.

In Tribute. We give thanks and honor their spirit by offering new music for all to share.

ENTERTAINMENT SCHEDULE

Hello from the other side

WHEN SHE’S NOT at her day job in a medical office near Fillmore, singer-songwriter Candace Roberts can often be found on the stage or in a cabaret.

Her recent music video, “Hello Ed Lee” — an adaptation of Adele’s mega-hit “Hello” — is a plaintive cry to the mayor of San Francisco about what she calls “a tale of two cities, and not the book, but reality.” Over images of street tents housing the homeless, she sings: “Oh this city is filthy rich, yet there’s crisis in the streets.”

Hello Ed Lee” follows Roberts’ 2014 video, “Not My City Anymore,” which strikes a similar theme.

Moved from Union Square

The home at 2355 Washington was moved from its original location near Union Square.

The home at 2355 Washington was moved from its original location near Union Square.

LANDMARKS | BRIDGET MALEY

“The large frame dwelling which for so many years stood at the northeast corner of Sutter and Mason Streets has been removed to the south side of Washington between Buchanan and Webster, where it is being remodeled and improved by Dr. Merritt, daughter of the late Adolph Sutro.” So reported the Chronicle on July 7, 1900.

That handsome residence now sits at 2355 Washington Street. Constructed around 1870, the house changed hands at least one other time before coming into the possession of Emma Sutro Merritt and her husband, George Washington Merritt, who was also a doctor. The wood-frame, Italianate and Second Empire influenced house with an unusual mansard roof originally sat a few blocks below the apex of Nob Hill.

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The blue bridge blues

Rendering of proposed improvements to the bridge at Fillmore and Geary.

Rendering of proposed improvements to the bridge at Fillmore and Geary.

THE NONPROFIT San Francisco Beautiful has taken on a new local project: the forlorn bridge at Fillmore and Geary. A conceptual rendering has been released by SWA Group and fundraising has begun.

“I think that we can all agree that the bridge, which spans Geary at Fillmore, has fallen on hard times and needs some new paint,” writes SF Beautiful executive director Darcy Brown in announcing the project. “Well, we didn’t think that would be enough to enhance this rather high profile transit hub that almost everyone in the entire city experiences at one time or another so, we went to the Fillmore community and asked them what transformation they wanted to see happen. We then met with our friends at SWA Group, an international design firm, to use the suggestions and create a rendering.”

Brown says of the rendering: “Beautiful isn’t it? In order to make this rendering a reality, we need all the help that we can get. The Blue Bridge belongs to all of us and in order to transform the decor from what I call mid-century prison yard to a beautiful crossing that we can all be proud of, we need contributions to match the city’s grant.”

To learn more or contribute, go to sfbeautiful.org.

Jane the bakery coming to Geary

Jane will open a bakery-cafe in the former KFC/Taco Bell at Geary and Steiner.

Jane will open a bakery-cafe in the former KFC/Taco Bell (right) at Geary and Steiner.

THE LONGSTANDING  KFC/Taco Bell at Geary and Steiner shuttered earlier this year, and now the space is getting a makeover with a new lessee: Jane. The popular cafe, which has locations on Fillmore in Pacific Heights and on Larkin in the Tenderloin, will be converting the space into a production bakery, along with a coffee shop for customers.

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For buyers with cash, condos promise cachet

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“It would be impossible to do better” than Pacific Heights, claims a promotional video.

By CHRIS BARNETT

Real estate rumors are rampaging in Pacific Heights about the new luxury condos being built at 2121 Webster Street, formerly a dental school, now christened The Pacific.

• Evan Spiegel, the 26-year-old CEO of the hot new social media site Snapchat — youngest billionaire on the Forbes 400 and the main squeeze of Australian actress Miranda Kerr — bought all four grand penthouses for $58 million or so and is combining them into two huge homes that open onto one another.

• Peter Buffett, son of mega-investor Warren Buffett and a former resident of the neighborhood — and a songwriter, composer and creator of commercials and logos for MTV and CNN — scooped up two grand penthouses to link into a single aerie with a killer view.

• Actress Michelle Pfeiffer and her television writer-producer husband David E. Kelley (L.A. Law, Ally McBeal, Boston Legal, among others) bought two grand penthouses and are moving up from the Peninsula to the city.

• Actress and social crusader Susan Sarandon toured and purchased; superstar Gwyneth Paltrow stopped by for a look.

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Conjuring a musical moment

ROCK & ROLL impresario Bill Graham helped launch a new era in both music and performance when he began presenting shows at the Fillmore Auditorium in the ’60s. He also helped launch a new art form by commissioning artists to create posters to promote and commemorate the shows, a practice that continues today.

MORE: The art of the Fillmore

Survival of the fittest

PACIFIC HEIGHTS HEALTH CLUB has always been a harbinger of the times. The club, at 2356 Pine Street, just off Fillmore, opened in 1984 to men only. The entranceway was plastered with a 12-foot tickertape — a nod to owner Ken Lapan, who was also an attorney and stockbroker. Members were given free half-hour massages — and attendants opened the lockers and handed out towels. There were only six health clubs in all of San Francisco then.

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A sign — and a promise — outside Pacific Heights Health Club.

In 1990, David Kirk, a former fitness trainer and sales manager at the club, bought the place, refashioning the front to include an all-women facility. It wasn’t  until 2002 that the exercise spaces were combined and members of all genders were allowed to sweat and roam freely.

In the late ’80s, John Kennedy Jr. set many local hearts atwitter when he worked out in the club while he was staying in the neighborhood. It was around the same time he was named People magazine’s “Sexiest Man Alive.” (He also reportedly benchpressed 225.)

In 2004, Kirk sold the club to Amy Lang, a refugee from the corporate world. The place retained its quirkiness, including a weight room with a retractable ceiling for al fresco fitness. Under Lang’s stewardship, locals soon regarded it as a place they could slip in to work out without designer workout wear or already-bulging biceps.

This month, Lang announced still another metamorphosis of the club. She’s doing away with yoga and Zumba classes and focusing on small group training and Pilates — a combo she hopes will attract the burgeoning crowd of residents in the “50 and older” range.

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The Grabhorn brothers were master printers

A plaque at 1335 Sutter Street notes the building’s history.

A plaque at 1335 Sutter Street notes the building’s history.

LANDMARKS | BRIDGET MALEY

Brothers Edwin and Robert Grabhorn founded their Studio Press in 1916 in Indianapolis. They moved to San Francisco in 1919, and a few years later their enterprise formally became known as Grabhorn Press. During that time, California was becoming a hub for small, craft-driven print houses. The Grabhorn brothers soon became among the state’s most respected specialty printers.

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