SAN FRANCISCO’s BEST ●Attractions●Performing Arts
Most of these venues have an admission fee.
Biscuits & Blues 401 Mason St./Geary St., 2 blks. from Union Square. Spicy Southern cooking--including fried chicken and the famous namesake biscuits--is dished up along with hefty portions of the blues in this intimate subterranean venue. Sundays bring on family-friendly jazz and a dinner special with all the fixin’s.
A Chanticleer Christmas Men’s chorus annual event.
Donald Pippin’s Pocket Opera At various Bay Area venues. Bright and witty, this talented troupe skillfully performs sometimes dramatic, sometimes hilarious, but always enjoyable opera that is easy to understand. One of these performances is a great introduction to opera for anyone. Though most shows are appropriate for children, some are produced especially for them.
The Fillmore 1805 Geary Blvd./Fillmore St., near Japantown. Beginning with its first show on December 10, 1965, this legendary auditorium was the place to hear music in the ‘60s. Locals Janis Joplin and The Grateful Dead became huge here then. Under the direction of rock impresario Bill Graham, shows presented the biggest of the big back in the day, including Jimi Hendrix, The Doors, and Otis Redding. Business manager for The San Francisco Mime Troupe at the time, Graham organized that first show as a bail benefit for the group. He was famous for commissioning posters for every show played at the venue, and those creative posters are now popular collector’s items.
After closing and then being operated under other names, The Fillmore reopened in 1994 and since then has hosted current big groups such as Smashing Pumpkins and Green Day. This historic ballroom now generally books more modest acts, and you canreserve a table for dinner if you want a balcony seat.
Lamplighters Music Theatre Performances at Yerba Buena Center for The Arts, 701 Mission St./3rd St., South of Market. This company has produced and performed light opera and musical theater—particularly Gilbert & Sullivan—since 1952.
Old First Concerts 1751 Sacramento St./Van Ness Ave., in Old First Church. An innovative program of outstanding music is presented year-round in this acoustically superb 1911 church.
San Francisco Conservatory of Music 50 Oak St., Civic Center. Some of the many musical programs scheduled here are free.
San Francisco Gay Men’s Chorus Formed on the night Mayor George Moscone and Supervisor Harvey Milk were slain at City Hall in 1978, this group now has more than 200 singers and performs internationally.
SFJAZZ Center 201 Franklin St./Fell St., Hayes Valley. When designing this new jazz venue, careful thought was put into giving it the stature of a concert hall but with the informality of a club. Sight lines are excellent, sound is tonally balanced, and seats are comfortable (their arms have a drink holder). Featuring a kind of corrugated aluminum look in greys and blacks, the room gives off a cool vibe. This is the first free-standing building for jazz in the U.S.
San Francisco Opera 301 Van Ness Ave./Grove St., in War Memorial Opera House, Civic Center. This is the nation’s second-oldest opera company (the oldest being the Met in NYC). The room has excellent acoustics, with the upper balconies reputed to be the best spot.
San Francisco Symphony 201 Van Ness Ave./Grove St., in Davies Symphony Hall, Civic Center. In addition to classic programs, the symphony presents special “Music for Families” www.sfskids.com. concerts designed to introduce children to classical music, and a July “Summer in the City” concert series that showcases classical favorites as well as Broadway and popular music.
The annual Black & White Ball fund-raiser presents a stellar roster of musical dance entertainment--rock, Latin, country, swing, jazz, and more.