It's going to be the West Coast home of New Orleans' Preservation Hall Jazz Band, as well as a new, mid-sized live music venue and restaurant in the center of the Mission. And it's called Preservation Hall West at The Chapel or, when the jazz band isn't in residence, simply the Chapel.
The long-in-the-works club at 777 Valencia will open with a weekend of concerts by the Preservation Hall band, Elvis Costello, Buddy Miller, Steve Earle, and Allison Moorer starting Oct 4, its owners have announced. And yes, that weekend was chosen to take advantage of the largesse of big-name talent in town for Hardly Strictly Bluegrass.
Despite its name and status as the West Coast home for the Preservation Hall band -- which will come out for three to four residencies per year -- owners say the club plans to have an open booking policy. Its next show after the first weekend is Brooklyn folk-rockers Woods, L.A. garage-psych staple White Fence, and the weird local folk of Magic Trick on Oct. 17. While the opening weekend shows range in price from $30 to $150, tickets to the Woods show are $15 each.
The building is a converted mortuary built in 1914, according to Tracey Buck, a spokesperson for club owner and local restaurateur Jack Knowles. And the club is named, of course, after the mortuary's chapel -- whose 40-foot ceilings have been renovated to become the live music room. There will also be a "casual grill" and a restaurant with an outdoor patio, but it will initially be serving light bar fare, with a full dinner menu from chef Matt Colgan to arrive in early 2013.
The place is a joint project of Knowles and Ben Jaffe, creative director for the Preservation Hall in New Orleans. Buck says the owners aren't sure yet of the exact capacity, but expect it to be several hundred.
"We believe the Mission is now to San Francisco what North Beach and the Haight have been to the city's cultural history," Knowles says in a statement. "We want 777 Valencia to become part of the heart and soul of the Mission neighborhood."
As for why the Preservation Hall Band chose S.F. instead of, say, another, larger California city as its West Coast home?
"The connections between San Francisco and New Orleans are evident: we are two of the most unique cities in the world and we share so much in common, it felt like the next obvious evolution for Preservation Hall," Jaffe says in the statement.
As several local blogs have noted, the project appears to need a considerable amount of work before renovations are complete. Buck acknowledged this, but said she's confident the place will be ready to host the Preservation Hall band in about two weeks.
"I think they're going to be pleasantly surprised on Oct. 4 when the doors open," she says.
Check out the full schedule of concerts at the Chapel.