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Dolores/Duboce Café Owner Plans Music


Photo Courtesy of Rachel Herbert

Bossa Five-O plays at Dolores Park Cafe, which has music Fridays from 7:30-10 p.m.

Rachel Herbert on cafe life and live music in the Castro

Wendy: First of all, congratulations on your new cafe: Precita Park Cafe. Of course, you also own two Castro locations: Duboce Park Cafe and Dolores Park Cafe. When did you acquire them, and what prompted you to bring music into your cafes?

Rachel: I opened Dolores Park Cafe in 1997. In 2000 my friend Deborah Pardes approached me about doing a singer/songwriter series. We started out having [it] once a month, and Deborah kept that up for a couple of years. She knew just about every talented musician in the city at the time. It was a lot of fun. Katherine Cole took over after Deborah. Eventually we went to once a week because there was enough interest, and a lot of musicians wanted a place to play that was not a bar or night club. I do the booking now and Deb and Katherine come and play once in a while. Both have moved onto bigger things.

Wendy: How do you go about selecting the artists that come to play at your cafes? Do you seek them out, or is there a submissions process, or is it a bit of both?

Rachel: I go to shows, and I get a lot of people contacting me via email or word of mouth. When I get an online inquiry I check out the artists by listening. Sometimes I book them without ever seeing them live or meeting them. I can usually hear that they are good. Most of the time the music speaks for itself, even if the recording quality isn’t perfect.

Wendy: What styles of music do you look for? Are there any limitations at all, regarding levels of amplification, or otherwise?

Rachel: Well obviously we can’t accommodate punk or thrasher style. We had a thrasher jazz band once, which I loved, but it was a bit too loud. Beyond that, anything goes, as long as the music is good and the artist can bring in a crowd. We’ve had everything from Christian Rock to hip hop to bluegrass to stand up comics. Literally, anything goes, as long as we respect the neighbors.

Wendy: What is your vision for the coming year, in terms of entertainment in your venues?

Rachel: This year I would like to keep going with as much local original work as possible. My favorite stuff is usually pretty raw. I love anything that has true grit and soul...where the artist is taking a chance and putting themselves out there.

Wendy: All of your cafes are situated next to parks, which is lovely. Tell me about your obvious affinity with nature, and what initially led you to look for locations ‘on the green’?

Rachel: Parks are an important part of our lives as urban dwellers. [They] provide a beautiful respite from the urban sprawl. And beyond providing a setting where we can take a break, hang with friends, or dream a little, a park is a truly democratic space where everyone is welcome and community is created. My hope is that people can have a similar experience at my cafes. The cafes are meant to create community and to mirror the park experience with the added elements of art and food. We all need community and food and art - it’s an important part of life. Especially in the city.