First of all, the Red Poppy on 23rd and Folsom is one of my favorite places to see shows in the city. There are not a lot of venues where you can recline on a bed of fluffy pillows while taking in the sounds of a local musician’s electro-jazz interpretations of Radiohead or a modern Turkish and Balkan folk ensemble. Noisy, crowded 500-seat rock shows with $6 beers served out of plastic cups are swell, but these shows are small, intimate, and raw. The Poppy’s calendar is diverse and always interesting. The audience is always enthusiastic and engaged. The shows wrap up at 10pm so they don’t tie up your night.
On top of all this, they pay musicians really well… like 70% of the door well. As a musician, I have consistently made more from a performance at the Red Poppy than at any other music venue in the city and had a better time performing for the smaller and more enthusiastic crowds there. At those rates, musicians could, I don’t know, maybe make a living doing their good work. It makes you wonder: why aren’t there more places like this?
Last year, the city of San Francisco passed legislation for Limited Live Performance Permit which allows small venues to host live performances for a one time fee of $385, without paying the exorbitant cabaret license that is meant for larger concert halls, which costs in the thousands. The Red Poppy is applying for this permit and there will be a hearing about it tomorrow at City Hall. This hearing will be a large factor in determining whether or not they will be able to continue their programming.
The staff expects some opposition from the neighbors, but request that supporters can be respectful and non-combative about their concerns. So if you’re a fan of the Poppy, like I am, consider showing your support at City Hall tomorrow at 5:30pm. There will be a debrief at the Red Poppy 3-4pm. More details on facebook.