Folk Ways and Means After nine months of fund-raising, a nonprofit organization recently bought Berkeley's Ashkenaz world and folk club. The organization -- about a dozen former staff members and volunteers calling themselves the Ashkenaz Dance and Music Community Center -- bought the building from the family of founder and owner David Nadel, who was killed last year by a disturbed patron. (Nadel asked a customer to leave during a concert. The man left, but returned and shot Nadel after the bar had closed. Police have identified a suspect, but believe that he fled to Mexico after the shooting.) The Center formed after Nadel's death to keep the club operating and to maintain the building's role as a community center says board volunteer Suzy Thompson. "We wanted to keep Ashkenaz going," says Thompson. "But the Nadels didn't have an interest in running a club. We knew we had to buy it to continue David's work." Nadel, who opened the venue in 1973, prided himself on creating a diverse music club that would feature acts from all over the world, sponsor myriad fund-raising nights, and teach dozens of styles of folk dancing. The $365,000 needed to purchase the San Pablo property was secured through a combination of low-interest loans from Community Bank of the Bay and numerous Ashkenaz benefit shows over the past year. Despite the generosity of many former patrons, the funds didn't come easy. Thompson says that until recently it looked as if they would not be able to raise enough money. "We weren't sure if we were going to pull it off," says Thompson. "The bulk of the donations didn't come until just a few months ago." Raising the money was only half the job. Thompson says the real work is to ensure that Ashkenaz lives up to its past. "The building is old and still needs a lot of repair work," says Thompson. "We need to hire a manager to make sure that the quality of the entertainment stays high and reflects the diversity that David always wanted. It's going to take time, but for now we're breathing easier knowing that the building is secure." (R.A.)
Shop Talk "No one's doing rock 'n' roll shops anymore," says Jet, the angular, bald-headed, and last-nameless musician who owns just such a store. "Nowadays, it's all hip hop or electronica shops, or, in Upper Haight, hippie joints trying to relive the Summer of '67. There's nowhere to get rock or punk memorabilia, or just a place to find out what's happening in the local rock scene." That leaves Jet fighting a one-man crusade. Nine months ago, he opened Rock and Roll San Francisco in the Lower Haight. Although he admits he's barely squeaking by, Jet's selling several services that rock geeks desperately need. Along with classic posters and T-shirts of bands like the Clash, the Misfits, and Kiss -- especially, Kiss -- RRSF also carries local CDs and essential rock 'n' roll attire like studded belts, leather pants, and, for the ladies, skintight, leopard-patterned miniskirts. Jet also provides a space in the back for touring bands to jam (and for his own outfit, the Evils, to practice), and fosters one of the few shops around that actively promotes local groups. The store's appeal might be a little nostalgic, but Jet says that's really what he's after. "Hey," says an ingenuous Jet, "I just wanted to create a shop that reminds you of your high-school bedroom." (Dave McCoy)
Critic's Corner Riff Raff waves goodbye to parting SF Weekly Arts Editor Bill Wyman. Also known as Riff Raff correspondent B.W., the ever-ebullient Wyman co-founded and helped shape this column. We'll miss him, his bemused giggle, and his office full of toys. We wish him the best.
Riff Raff riffraff: Robert Arriaga (R.A.), Johnny DiPaola (J.D.P.), Jeff Stark (J.S.), Silke Tudor (S.T.), and Heather Wisner (