OAKLAND — For more than two decades, Karen Van Leuven and Robert Bradsby threw elaborate neighborhood parties featuring live jazz.
“We’d invite all our friends and neighbors, they would invite their friends, we’d hire a band and close off the street,” Van Leuven said. “He (Robert) would make wine in the garage, I would cook and we’d pass the hat.”
The Oakland couple’s events got so huge, they overpowered the quiet residential neighborhood off Piedmont Avenue. So, in late 2012, the husband and wife created a nonprofit and opened The Sound Room at 22nd Street and Broadway. The cozy 72-seat performance venue in Uptown has become one of the Bay Area’s primo spots to hear live jazz. Unlike Yoshi’s and SFJAZZ, The Sound Room makes it a point to showcase local artists.
“It is a gem of a place and I don’t know that there’s anything else like it, said Christine Harris, the former chair of the now-defunct Jazz Heritage Center in San Francisco and a longtime patron of Bay Area jazz. “You know when you go you are going to hear high quality music. And they also get that there are a number of outstanding musicians locally who need to be supported.”
There’s a mix of jazz, blues, latin, and the occasional Flamenco. The performances are usually Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays.
Kenny Washington performs at The Sound Room on Dec. 15, 2013 in Oakland, Calif. (Courtesy James Barry Knox Photography)
Louise Gigliotti-Lyons, who lives in Rossmoor in Walnut Creek is a regular. Two years ago, for her 80th birthday celebration, she held a fundraiser for The Sound Room, raising $1,500.
“You get to be up close and personal with the musicians and people are sitting together so closely, even with strangers you get to know people,” Gigliotti-Lyons said. “The next thing you know, you’re introducing yourselves, taking down numbers. It’s real neighborhoody.”
Back when the place opened, that stretch of Broadway was deserted. Van Leuven jokes that she could have run down the street naked after a show and nobody would have noticed. But amid a downtown revitalization boom, the area has undergone a major transformation. Rents have soared, driving nonprofits out in droves. Now, The Sound Room must soon relocate to make way for the mega Eastline development. The proposed 1.3 million-square-foot project calls for 388 residential units, retail and commercial space.
Van Leuven said when the couple went shopping for a new space, …
Source:: East Bay – Entertainment