1601 Fillmore ~ WEBSITE ~ (415) 673-8000

8:00pm Wednesday 2 May 2007

Prequel: I’m sucking it up and paying five bucks on the off chance that Mr. Bohemian Knuckle Boogie will actually play two trumpets at once before my coach turns into a pumpkin. (Who am I kidding? I’m walking to Fillmore Street. I should be alluding to a broken heel on my glass slipper, if anything…) I’m even taking the chance that I can walk up to the door of the Boom Boom Room at 8:00pm and still have a wing and a prayer (so to speak and a la the Greatest American Hero) of getting in to see the possibility of such a spectacle. That’s right, Kats & Rats (my new take on “Kats & Kittens”, isn’t it precious?), I’m not even out of the second letter of the alphabet and I’m this out of control. Who could have predicted this turn of events…? Anyway, while I have been to the Boom Boom Room before (OK, once before), I do still have questions about the place, which means that you probably do, too. So either join me, or read all about it later and wish you were there! (Oh, and, of course, no May Day bouquets — <sigh>. Feel free to bring me belated ones.)

{Superseded by “Prequel”, above —  Prologue: Sundays are no cover and free music — anyone feel like ending the weekend here with me? And this coming Sunday, May 6, there is a “Hammond B3 Organ stunningly groove oriented dance driven Soul Jazz and funky metered heavy boogie!” trio called Red 19 playing, allegedly for free at 9:30. OK, so that’s a little later than I’d like for a Sunday, and I’m seeing Bebel Gilberto at Bimbo’s the next day with the Girl Posse, which will be an awfully lot of live music in a row for me, but the only other option between now and then is Bohemian Knuckle Boogie, on Wednesday, which is a $5.00 show, and you know how The Hostess feels about paying cover charges, door fees, and “suggested donations” just to get in somewhere and have a drink. (Although it might actually be worth five bucks to see a guy play two trumpets at once.) Anyway, The Boom Boom Room is closed on Mondays, so I can’t even call them to see if “Doors @ 8:00 PM” means they are not open purely for drinking before that, so I suppose we will all have to wait until May Day for a firmer time and date. Which reminds me, back when I was a girl, May Day was the day that we all left small bouquets of flowers on the doorsteps (or in the mailboxes, or on the windshields) of the object(s) of our affection, and so much the better if the affection was undeclared and the recipient(s) got a mysterious surprise at which to wonder. Will I find a bouquet waiting for me somewhere tomorrow? Not too frickin’ likely, but if the Warriors have taken a 3-1 lead over the Dallas Mavericks in the best-of-seven quarterfinal series, you have to admit that anything is at least theoretically possible…}

Afterword: My first thought when I ambled into the Boom Boom Room and perched myself on a barstool and confirmed their hooks, was “Why don’t I come here more often?” The place has a funk-tastic vibe: very 1970’s crossed with speakeasy. They have psychedic blue pseudo-chandeliers over the bar, and candles burning in red glass holders all down the bar and at all the tables. There’s a disco ball, and a small stage at the back with a fabulous red velvet curtain. Even the padded red leather front doors are cool. They play groovy music before the bands start up, too. There’s even a happy hour (which I missed, as usual).

Maybe the Boom Boom Room is just my kind of place. Or maybe the fact that the Boom Boom Room is so vastly superior in atmosphere, noise level, and bartender caliber than the Bar up the street I had stopped at on my way there (hey, I was early and confused about the “Doors @ 8:00PM thing”), but I really did wonder — out loud, even — “Why don’t I come here more often?”

Now, in case you were wondering, “Doors @ 8:00PM” seems to mean that if you get there before that, when they do actually close the above-mentioned padded red leather doors and station a doorman in them (perhaps the one named Bill I met who was happy to be in the Official Photo — hi, Bill!) to collect the cover charge, it appears that you get to stay and see the show for free. At least on $5.00 show night. (Or, at least the night I was there.) This is good information, because the Boom Boom Room takes cash only, and maybe you will have forgotten to stop at the ATM machine first. (Or maybe the person who is supposed to be buying you drinks has inexplicably had a missing ATM card for weeks. Or whatever.)

Stop at the lame Bar up the street notwithstanding, I was early enough to get in for free, and I got down to the business of waiting for the show to start. This was not as fascinating as it might sound, but I did get a chance to sit almost everywhere: at the middle of the bar, at the end of the bar nearest the stage (and the charming VIP booth), at two of the tables (avoid the one second-closest to the stage if possible, there’s kind of a blinding situation from one of the stage lights). I liked the end of the bar the best, but if you want to recline, the tables are the way to go. Eventually, the band showed up and watching them set up and listening to their sound check was pleasantly diversionary. I sort of wished they would just start the show already, but they seemed determined to wait, which I decided I couldn’t really, it being a “school night” and all. Besides, I only saw one trumpet, and as you know I was there to see Mr. Bohemian Knuckle Boogie play two trumpets at once. So I said good-bye to Tiger (self-proclaimed “bartender extraordinare”, and she did produce a pen when I asked some guy texting on his cell phone for one, so I’m not going to aruge — hi, Tiger!) and met Bill on the way out, where there is, I am happy to report, an ashtray.

They could change the music more often, because the third time the same music looped around it was starting to get a mite old. That, and I’m pretty sure it’s No Dogs Allowed (unless your dog can play an instrument, don’t even ask). However, if you find yourself on Fillmore Street, it’s worth wandering down to the Boom Boom Room for a round or two. And not only because it’s so much better than the Bar up the street — the Boom Boom Room is actually sort of legendary and deserves to be a destination. I’m definitely going back.

Bathroom Biography:
One for each: “Ladies” and “Gents”. If you are confused, each door is painted with colorful pictures of a couple of each gender (although in San Francisco this might just add to any confusion). The Ladies room is clean enough, a bit dark, but there’s plenty of toilet paper (even though none of it might actually be in the dispenser). Bottom line: go for it. You’ll walk past the backstage door and maybe it will be open and you’ll get invited in!

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