Walk the Line
Roots music hot spot put up for sale by owner
CAFE BOOKED SOUTH BAY, NATIONAL MUSICAL ACTS
San Jose's Espresso Garden & Cafe, Silicon Valley's best club for acoustic roots, bluegrass and Americana music, is up for sale because owner Judy Hackett plans to move to Wisconsin to help care for her mother.
Against difficult odds, in a city that has fewer live music venues than some towns a tenth its size, Hackett has consistently filled the 200-seat club on Bascom Avenue with national acts as well as upcoming Bay Area groups.
Performers have included the We Five, Peter Rowan, Byron Berline, Jimmy LaFave, David Grier, the Cowlicks and Fred Eaglesmith.
``It's been a great run,'' said Hackett, 51, who has managed the club across from Valley Medical Center for almost eight years. ``I hope someone buys it who loves this music as much as I do.''
If the club closes, roots music fans will have to travel to Berkeley or Santa Cruz for similar lineups of acts.
Hackett and her husband, Gene, 55, owned a cafe in South San Jose off Branham Lane and bought this second, larger one, as a place to host the music they love.
With little advertising, they managed to fill it nightly, utilizing Web sites and newsgroups focusing on eclectic, authentic music that often gets overlooked in larger night spots. It was like a slice of Austin in the heart of Silicon Valley.
Shows are booked through April, when the current lease runs out. Hackett says she is asking $175,000 for the club, and if she doesn't get it, will close the doors when the lease runs out.
``You are liable to catch anyone from John Renbourn to a 5-year-old singing `Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer,' '' she said in July, when the club was featured as a Mercury News Hot Spot. ``There's not a lot of money, but there's a lot of heart in it.''
Her husband will stay in town to manage the club while Hackett travels to Wisconsin. She is throwing a big final bash Dec. 16, featuring her own band, That Jazz Band, in which she sings. Admission will be $15, with food provided.