Serving the San Francisco Bay Area New Music Community

The Back Room
1984 Bonita Ave
Berkeley CA 94704   
The Story Behind The Back Room

On April 16, 2016, local musician Sam Rudin opened a new music venue in downtown Berkeley called The Back Room, which honored his vision to recreate the cozy ambience of the original Freight & Salvage, a beloved Berkeley music venue dedicated to acoustic music.

Every East Bay music lover of a certain age knows that the beloved 420 seat concert hall started out as a tiny 87 seat room, stuffed with thrift-store couches and great music. The Freight’s overwhelming success and resulting expansion have been celebrated by all, but there are some who miss the living room intimacy that allowed lesser-known musicians to make their mark, and better-known players to get up close and personal with their fans.

Rudin, known for his rip-roaring solo piano wizardry as well as his band of jazz and blues veterans (Hurricane Sam & the Hotshots), describes his venture as a small space (100 people max), with great acoustics and comfortable seating, that showcases the musicians with respect and appreciation.

The Back Room welcomes all acoustically-based genres, including jazz, blues, folk, bluegrass, Americana, and more, and is an all-ages venue.

•The Back Room is not a place for food. Oh, we have a few packaged snacks for sale, but nothing that needs to be heated, sliced, or served.

•The Back Room is not a place for drinks. Of course we have water and soft drinks – we don’t want anyone to go thirsty. And adults are welcome to bring their own adult beverages with no corkage fee — we’ll even supply the glasses. But we can’t sell any alcohol, and we don’t really want to.

•The Back Room is a place with comfortable, upholstered furniture that may remind you of your own living room (assuming, of course, that your living room is filled with a few dozen thrift store mismatches.) Seating, as it happens, is very important to us, because we want the folks here to be completely relaxed, and happy, and ready to listen.

•The Back Room is, as the logo says, an intimate place for music.

Now, we like loud, sweaty rock as much as anyone. But we are a small place designed for a smaller sound. We offer a wonderful ambience with brick walls, a high vaulted wooden ceiling, and a Steinway Grand piano on stage.

Upcoming Events:
Thursday, December 21 2017 8:00 PM
Sheldon Brown/Ben Goldberg Quartet, featuring Michael Vatcher

Michael Vatcher is coming to town! After decades of work on the vanguard of the Dutch improvised music scene, he’s moved to NY, which means he’s more likely to be showing up on the West Coast . . . which means that Bay Area groups like Sheldon Brown/Ben Goldberg Quartet can take advantage of him. This is a very good thing!

Sheldon and Ben have been making music together in a variety of groups for almost 25 years. They formed a quartet, Papa’s Midnight Hop, in 1988, which performed their own original material, and have played together as members of Clarinet Thing (led by Beth Custer and also featuring Harvey Wainapel), Darren Johnston Quintet, Touch and Go (led by Vijay Anderson) and Goldberg, Brown Anderson Trio, and, of course, many of Graham Connah’s amazing large ensembles. More recently they’ve formed a quartet to perform the music of Herbie Nichols and Thelonious Monk.

California native Michael Vatcher, now residing in NY, quickly progressed from hitting household furniture to taking vibraphone and snare drum lessons as a child. During his many years in Holland, Vatcher played with such groups as the Michael Moore Quartet, Tristan Honsinger Sextet, the Martin Altena Ensemble, John Zorn, The Ex, Roof (with Phil Minton, Tom Cora, and Luc Ex), and Van Dyke Parks.

Rounding out the quartet is the fabulous Miles Wick, recently returned from NY to enrich the Bay Area scene.

They’ll be playing original pieces, music of Herbie Nichols and Thelonious Monk, with a large dose of improv.

Sheldon Brown - Alto Saxophone, Clarinet, Bass Clarinet
Ben Goldberg - Clarinet, Bass Clarinet, Contra-Alto Clarinet
Miles Wick - Bass
Michael Vatcher - Drums and Percussion

Tickets are $15 and are available at the link below, or you may purchase your tickets at the door the night of the show. Doors open one half hour before show time. We accept cash only at the door (ATMs are nearby).

The Back Room is an all-ages, BYOB (for those 21+) space, dedicated to (mostly) acoustic music of all kinds. You are welcome to bring your own adult beverage with no additional corkage fee. If you need more information or have any questions, please call us: #510-654-3808. Thank you for your support!  More...