Montreal International Jazz Festival, Day 7

jeffbeck350It’s the 30th annual Festival International de Jazz de Montréal. MAGNET’s Mitch Myers translates the action.

Diversity is the key, and world music represents nothing if not diversity. I say this because Montreal’s International Jazz Festival features a lot of world music. For example, in the next few days the Metropolis Ballroom will have hosted King Sunny Adé & Femi Kuti, Alpha Blondy & Olmou Sangare and Burning Spear & Toots And The Maytals. And on Monday, I was lucky enough to catch a rehearsal for the festival’s big Rocksteady extravaganza, which coincides with the showing of the documentary Rocksteady: The Roots Of Reggae.

The Rocksteady film, directed by Swiss filmmaker Stascha Bader, traces the post-ska roots of reggae music to the rocksteady movement of the mid-’60s and features a number of Jamaican music luminaries including Ernest Ranglin, Marcia Griffiths, Ken Boothe, Judy Mowatt and Leroy Sibbles, to name a few. The Rocksteady concert will bring a number of these reggae greats back to the stage, and it was great to see the Tamlins crooning “Stop That Train” and Boothe singing the Desmond Dekker classic “Shanty Town.” Sibbles, an original member of the mighty Heptones, was also on hand, and the singers were backed by a top-notch band of veteran Jamaican musicians. If you like reggae music, this show will be a blast, and the Canadians are hungry for reggae!

While all this rocksteady business was going on, Jeff Beck (pictured) was just a couple of blocks away accepting the first annual Montreal Guitar Show Tribute Award. The Montreal Guitar Show runs simultaneously with the jazz fest, and let me just say that Canada really, really loves its guitars! Beck was patient, soft-spoken and thoughtful as he fielded questions about his amazing career, and it was nice to see the human side of this designated guitar hero. Beck has been hitting his stride the last few years and is playing better than ever, as evidenced on the recent Performing This Week: Live At Ronnie Scott’s CD and DVD. Beck’s two sold-out shows on Monday night at the gigantic Salle Wilfrid Pelletier auditorium were crowd-pleasing affairs. Beck was flawless at the early show, opening with the rousing clarion call of “Beck’s Bolero” and running through a catalog of his great instrumental repertoire. His touring band features monster drummer Vinne Colaiuta, bassist Tal Wilkenfeld and keyboardist Jason Rebello. In case you don’t know, Tal Wilkenfeld is the cutest little lady bassist you’re likely to see (this side of Esperanza Spalding) and was featured in a wild segment where she and Beck play her bass simultaneously. It was fun, and Beck obviously adores her.

Concluding his three-night run as the featured artist of the festival’s Invitation Series, Joshua Redman and his Double Trio put on an ambitious, well-conceived performance at the Théâtre Maisonneuve, which is a far larger venue than the Gesù where he’d played the previous two nights. This was an event, as the band has only played together onstage a few times, and Redmond was totally in control of this all-star ensemble. Flanked on his right by bassist Larry Grenadier and drummer Brian Blade, and on his left by bassist Reuben Rogers and drummer Greg Hutchinson, Redman played tenor and soprano with great intensity. He led the band through a series of breathtaking performances, shifting through different combinations of his master musicians and drawing tunes from the recent Compass. Clearly, Redman and the musicians around him are poised to remain at the top of the jazz world for years to come, and they probably will. Nuff said.

Montreal International Jazz Festival, Day 6

lionel-loueke390It’s the 30th annual Festival International de Jazz de Montréal. MAGNET’s Mitch Myers translates the action.

Watching saxophonist Joshua Redman on the second night of his three-gig excursion at the Montreal Jazz Festival, I was struck at how different his demeanor was from the previous evening. At the first show, Redman was quiet and guarded, barely speaking to the audience and running his band through the tunes with tough authority. On Sunday night, however, the talented Redman was upbeat and effusive, thanking the festival for the opportunity to partake in its celebrated Invitation Series, where each night the featured artist gets to play with a different dream team of his choosing. Perhaps that had something to do with Redman’s improved mood, as he’d certainly picked some great musicians to work with, particularly fellow saxophone star Joe Lovano. The two have collaborated many times over the years, and Lovano is something of a father figure to Redman. The Sunday gig was a blazing, saxophone affair with Redman and Lovano trading phrases, playing in unison and generally pushing each other to great heights. Supported by the fantastic Greg Hutchinson on drums, pianist Sam Yahel and bassist Rueben Rogers, Redman and Lovano gave the sold-out crowd some truly exciting jazz. For the encore, they played “Blues Up And Down,” a lowdown tenor battle made famous by saxophonists Sonny Stitt and Gene Ammons.

The Lionel Loueke Trio also performed on Sunday night, and the Benin guitarist showcased his unique style of African jazz. Loueke (pictured) is an up-and-comer who’s played with everyone from Herbie Hancock to Cassandra Wilson to Santana. He’s a charismatic, distinctive young player, and he had the African fans in the Montreal audience howling in appreciation of his indigenous world/jazz fusion. Loueke’s voice compliments his muted, fleet-fingered guitar style, and although the trio format was a little skimpy for me, it certainly allowed Loueke to stretch out and entertain his fans. He has made a few records as a leader, the most recent being last year’s Karibu.

At the same time as Loueke’s gig in the spanking new L’Astral club, Patrick Watson (the band) was playing just outside on the General Motors Stage to well more than 100,000 people. As predicted, the Canadian band approximated Radiohead/Coldplay proportions with this dramatic exhibition of its theatrical rock cabaret. Frontman Patrick Watson ruled the roost with huge video screens and numerous special effects, including shadow puppets and space-age lighting projected onto the buildings surrounding the site. The core band was accentuated with horns and a string section, backup singers from some Nordic country and special guest vocalists. I have to admit, it really was quite a sight, and the music wasn’t bad either.

Montreal International Jazz Festival, Day 5

joshua-redman3501It’s the 30th annual Festival International de Jazz de Montréal. MAGNET’s Mitch Myers translates the action.

Once again, I’m moved to give credit to the folks behind the Montreal Jazz Festival, as it takes more than music to keep such an extensive celebration running for three decades. The synergy between private funding, municipal assistance, corporate underwriting, old-fashioned capitalism, academia, mass and multi-media, endowments, art, commerce, show-biz, technology and the earnest commitment of countless individuals can really add up to something special if you know what you are doing.

That said, the jazz fest is starting to heat up, and the musicians are all taking their best shots as the artistic camaraderie (and competition) runs high in Montreal. Tenor saxophonist Joshua Redman (pictured) arrived to play the festival’s vaunted Invitation Series, where a single artist plays a number of gigs with different players of his choosing each night. Redman, who first performed in Montreal with his father Dewey Redman back in 1991, brought his young quartet to the Gesù Theater for an early-evening performance. Redman, who is 40, looked sharp, said little, played tenor and soprano, and led his band with authority. Drummer Eric Harland provided a rock-solid sound and pianist Aaron Parks was really something special, playing gorgeous melodies and supportive counterpoint to Redman’s brawny saxophone sound: a very impressive first gig of a three-night stand. Next, he’ll be with a different rhythm section and special-guest sax-buddy Joe Lovano.

The amazing performance of Miles From India was unique and exciting and really had to be seen to be appreciated. What evolved from a studio project with musicians contributing their parts electronically from different points of the planet is now an immense, flesh-and-blood reality fusing Indian music and jazz, specifically the sounds of Miles Davis. Davis used tablas and sitars on some of his ’70s fusion experiments, and the Miles From India band includes his old tabla player Badal Roy and several other Davis band alumni. Trumpeter Nicholas Payton and saxophonists Rurdresh Mahanthappa and Bill Evans were literally surrounded by two keyboardists, three all-star drummers, badass Daryl Jones on electric bass, an electric-sitar player, an Indian mandolinist and four Indian percussionists. Whoa! This was a big, crazy, bruising fusion band playing a wide range of tunes from the Davis songbook.

Of course, I left before the end of the Miles From India show because I was once again running back to the Gesù for another late-night gig, this time featuring drummer Brian Blade & The Fellowship Band. Yes, when Blade isn’t playing all over the world with Wayne Shorter or any of his other side gigs, he leads his own band of young hotshots. Blade is an explosive, exuberant drummer who’s a joy to watch, and his band was tight, tight, tight. Having made six CDs under the Fellowship moniker, Blade has plenty of material to draw from, and the sterling support of pianist Jon Cowherd, bassist Chris Thomas and saxophonists Myron Walden and Melvin Butler would make any bandleader jealous. Blade actually got his own start with Redman many years ago and has grown into one of top drummers on the scene. Watch him go!

Montreal International Jazz Festival, Day 4

wayneshorter350It’s the 30th annual Festival International de Jazz de Montréal. MAGNET’s Mitch Myers translates the action.

As Montreal’s massive jazz festival lumbered into its first weekend, I was blessed with the opportunity to see two living legends on Friday. First and foremost, the Wayne Shorter Quartet returned to Montreal, playing at the large and elegant Théâtre Maisonneuve to an appreciative audience. Indeed, Shorter (pictured) is probably one of the best-loved jazz musicians on the planet, and his legendary status as veteran of the Miles Davis Quintet, Art Blakey’s Jazz Messengers and fusion kingpins Weather Report only begins to explain this grand degree of affection. A true eccentric and marvelous composer as well as a remarkably imaginative saxophonist, Shorter seems to charm everyone with his playful, Zen-like attitude as well as his sterling musicianship.

Shorter’s acclaimed quartet has gone through some changes of late, and this concert marked the appearance of Geoffrey Keezer substituting for pianist Danilo Pérez (who ruptured his Achilles tendon but is on the mend). Shorter has long been accepted into the jazz mainstream and his status as an elder statesman guarantees a degree of indulgence from his fans, but Shorter’s group played an unorthodox set filled with flowing, avant-garde improvisation that challenged his Montreal audience from beginning to end. Compensating for the absence of his longtime keyboard foil, Shorter took the lead on tenor saxophone and drove his group into uncharted territory, trading musical phrases with Keezer, bassist John Pattitucci and drummer Brian Blade and soloing more aggressively than I have heard him do in ages. Playing tenor and jamming nonstop for the first hour of the show, Shorter allowed plenty of space for Keezer, Pattitucci and Blade to showcase their skills. Blade was particularly explosive, dropping bombs to offset Shorter’s arcane saxophone ruminations. Things got bogged down when Shorter finally shifted over to his soprano sax, but the degree of musicianship was so high that the group adjusted to his stop-and-start soprano style. Whether they adjust to Keezer or welcome back Pérez, the Wayne Shorter Quartet will surely be one of the best working groups in jazz. Shorter has had this group for almost a decade and is 75 years old, so catch him now if you can.

I couldn’t stay for the end of Shorter’s concert, because I was once again running back to the Gesù for the theater’s late-night gig, this time showcasing alto saxophonist Lee Konitz. Konitz is even older than Shorter and arguably just as accomplished, but his Montreal appearance didn’t receive a fraction of the attention that Shorter’s show did. Perhaps it’s just as well, as Konitz does not have the resources to keep his own band on the road and played here with international jazz trio Minsarah. While these young players supported Konitz on 2008’s Deep Lee, the band seemed under-rehearsed and was not in the same league as its fearless leader. While there were plenty of solid musical moments, Konitz could not save this gig from drifting into the realm of merely average. This is unfortunate, as he is still one of the best alto players of his generation, a pioneer of cool jazz and an inventive soloist with an amazing amount of creativity. Seriously, the guy played on Birth Of The Cool with Miles Davis in 1949. Maybe next time the Montreal folks can find a better showcase for the many talents of Konitz.

Montreal International Jazz Festival, Day 3

esperanza400It’s the 30th annual Festival International de Jazz de Montréal. MAGNET’s Mitch Myers translates the action.

As I mentioned, the 30th Montreal International Jazz Festival is a sprawling operation of immense scope and volume. It’s not just jazz and it’s not just music, and the entire city gears up for the two-week celebration. The festival organizers have created their own jazz universe, including an art gallery, which is now showcasing the photographs of Herman Leonard—and the esteemed photographer was on hand for the opening. Born in 1923, Leonard is responsible for some of the most memorable, iconic photographs of famous artists like Frank Sinatra, Billie Holiday, Duke Ellington and countless others from the golden age of jazz (1940 through 1960). Leonard’s black-and-white shots have been reproduced all over the world, and his unique use of backlighting inspired numerous photographers. Herman has wonderful anecdotes about his encounters with these artists and is a model of discipline, integrity and joyous enthusiasm. If you aren’t familiar with his shot of saxophonist Dexter Gordon with cigarette smoke pluming around him, you don’t know jazz. Hats off to Herman!

I caught a rehearsal by Quebec-based recording artist Patrick Watson. Patrick Watson is the name of the band, but the band is led by singer/musician Patrick Watson. They are popular up here, and I think they are supposed to be like a Canadian version of Radiohead. The band will be playing a big free outdoor concert here on Sunday and will be accompanied by a string section, horns, special guests and special effects. This is going be a mammoth spectacle, and the locals are going to be out in full force. Still, I wonder if these guys can break in America. Check out their new album, Wooden Arms, and see what you think.

Just to keep things down to earth, I walked over to the Metropolis Ballroom to hear Susan Tedeschi and her band open for Chicago bluesman Buddy Guy. Tedeschi was in total command, singing in a strong, urgent voice and playing the heck out of her guitar. This is roots music, pure and simple, and her mix of blues, soul and gospel continues to evolve. Tedeschi’s band plays a solid version of Southern rock, but they all could loosen up a little bit more and have some fun with these great tunes. And Tedeschi should engage them even more. I only saw a half-hour of Guy, but I can pretty much tell you that there’s no other 73-year-old on the planet that can play blues like Buddy. He was wailing—I mean wailing—on the guitar and really knows how to please crowd: singing, screaming and picking the blues, doing shtick with the audience and letting his band strut their stuff. Tedeschi has been opening for Guy for years, and she should take a few more lessons from the master!

I left the Guy show to run back to the Gesù for a late-night gig by Esperanza Spalding (pictured). Spalding has a buzz going, as the singer/bassist has played with Prince and performed for President Obama. It’s not hard to see why. Spalding is a lovely, petite young woman with a huge afro-styled hairdo and a most charming demeanor. The Gesù gig was totally sold out, and Spalding had the crowd eating out of her hand. Literally dwarfed by her massive double-bass, Spalding scatted, crooned, jammed, joked and jived jazz in a soulful, modern style. While she treats her band with loving camaraderie, she’s clearly the star of the show. I can’t say that I loved the music, but Spalding’s winning enthusiasm is hard to resist and I understand the interest. Verdict: She’s a very promising young artist on her way to much wider appeal, and when her chops (both bass and voice) catch up with the rest of her act, look out!

Montreal International Jazz Festival, Day 2

luciana-souza400It’s the 30th annual Festival International de Jazz de Montréal. MAGNET’s Mitch Myers translates the action.

The Montreal International Jazz Festival is a large, amazing beast spanning 13 nights and showcasing talented artists from all parts of the globe. With loads of world music, soul, funk and rock ‘n’ roll as well as top-notch jazz, the festival is impressive for the huge number of free outdoor events that are geared to satisfy the Canadian public while hardcore jazzbos scurry from one indoor gig to another. I missed the opening night’s concert with Stevie Wonder, but well more than 200,000 people braved the rain to see Wonder’s show, which was chock full of jazz charts, old Motown favorites, a Beatles tune and a loving tribute to Michael Jackson. Rumor has it that Wonder got paid a half-million dollars for the gig—not bad for a night’s work.

Easing into the cosmopolitan scene, I went to Club Soda and caught a set of duets by Brazilian vocalist Luciana Souza (pictured) and acoustic guitarist Romero Lubambo. The intimacy between Souza and Lubambo was impressive and should lead many to Souza’s wonderful duet CDs. Singing in Portuguese and English, Souza embraced the songbook of Antonio Carlos Jobim, Pablo Neruda’s poetry and a couple of jazz standards. Lubambo, who lives in the United States, is probably the most in-demand Brazilian guitarist working today—his jazzy arpeggios were delicate and sometimes reminiscent of guitarist Joe Pass, but his sound is still distinctly Brazilian and uniformly excellent. Souza and Lubambo played in perfect tandem, mirroring each other with romantic grace.

I also enjoyed a late-night set at the wonderful Gesù Theatre, featuring French pianist Baptiste Trotignon with an American band that included sensational saxophonist Mark Turner, trumpeter Jeremy Pelt, bassist Matt Penman and drummer Greg Hutchinson. While Trotignon’s style is a little too passive for my tastes, the improvisational strength of his group elevated the ensemble performance to a serious art form. Turner, who’s still recovering from a very serious injury to one of his hands, played remarkably, as did Pelt. This group of young all-stars is going to be around, individually if not collectively, so keep your eyes on them and watch the future of jazz unfold.

Much more from Montreal in the days to come—au revoir!

Live Review: Sinner’s Salvation!, Philadelphia, PA, June 30, 2009

burlesquegroup420“I love when people tell me I look like a monster!” squealed Athena Onatopp before taking the stage, squeezed into a creamy latex dress dotted with black tassels. Onatopp, the MC for the Sinner’s Salvation burlesque/rock/sideshow event at Fishtown venue Kung Fu Necktie, kept the crowd screaming for more as Olde City Sideshow shocked and made even the strongest stomachs shiver with its display of pain-inducing instruments. Danny Borneo (a.k.a. the Human Blockhead) pounded a rusty nail—the tamest of the various instruments of torture used—into his nasal cavities while Reggie Bugmuncher swallowed swimming goldfish with a smile. The Hellcat Girls stepped in to bring the color back to the audience members’ pallid faces with a blend of Vaudeville comedy, burlesque glamour and ‘60s grindhouse. From new-mom bombshell Candy to fresh-meat burlesquer Rose, the gals entertained the crowd before Olde City Sideshow re-emerged for another performance involving eyelids and an iron (“instrument of domestic torture!” screeched Athena) and a handmade contraption dubbed “the barbed-wire bunk beds.”  “We do believe in unicorns and rainbows, but nothing you see here tonight is magic or gimmick,” Athena assured us. Next to take the stage were rockabilly freaks Sasquatch And The Sickabillys, with frontman David “Sasquatch” Caetano channeling a mean Johnny Cash melded with hardcore metal. The high-energy, grizzled trio toe-taps to Cash’s “Jackson” one minute and then blows the drink out of your hand with a Metallica cover that leads into a 30-second bit of semi-silence during which Sasquatch repeatedly smacks himself in the face and mutters obscenities before busting out of the post-lobotomy stupor with hardcore thrashing. Caetano elegantly described it as “Filthadelphia rock.” Just your average Tuesday night in Fishtown.

—Cristina Perachio

Live Review: The Feelies, Chicago, IL, June 29, 2009

feelies550The Feelies took the stage at the Jay Pritzker Pavilion in Millennium Park on Monday night, playing their first Chicago gig in 18 years. While even more time has passed since the group’s post-punk guitar shtick first reigned in 1977, the little old band from Haledon, N.J., started out rocking hard and only picked up speed as the night progressed, strumming away the years and playing many old favorites in front of thousands.

The weather cooperated nicely for the outdoor show, making it the perfect summer evening for Millennium Park’s free concert series. Bill Million was the penultimate rhythm guitar hero while Glenn Mercer blazed on leads—and the double drumming of Stanley Demeski and Dave Weckerman pushed the beat (and bassist Brenda Sauter) into bouncing, droning overdrive. “Punk never sounded so innocent,” said one observer.

After a blistering 70-minute set that included familiar tunes such as “Deep Fascination” and “Too Far Gone,” the band encored with a cover of R.E.M.’s “Carnival Of Sorts (Box Cars),” its own rave-out “Fa Cé-La” and the Velvet Underground’s “What Goes On.” Then, with the overtime clock ticking loudly and a huge throng of dancing fans crushing in the front of the Pritzker stage, the band returned for an accelerated version of the Rolling Stones’ “Paint It Black.” Word to the wise: Catch the Feelies’ upcoming shows in Hoboken, just so you can say you were there.

—Mitch Myers; photo by Jerry Goldner

Live Review: David Byrne And DeVotchKa, Morrison, CO, June 20, 2009

david-byrne-22

What’s different about David Byrne in 2009? His suit fits. The notorious image from Stop Making Sense of Byrne in the big-and-tall suit, undulating like a used-car-lot figurine, is burned in the brains of the YouTube generation. These days? He’s that weird guy with white hair who curated a stage at Bonnaroo two weeks ago. Thankfully, neither of these preconceptions was visible at Saturday’s show at Red Rocks, where Byrne played to an audience who more than likely bought original Talking Heads releases on vinyl.

Known mostly as a “newgrass” and jam-band hub, Colorado has seen a recent wave of indie-leaning acts, highlighted by Denver’s own DeVotchKa. The foursome came dressed for the occasion in matching black suits, save tubist/bassist Jamie Schroder in a black polka-dot dress and red cardigan. Singer Nick Urata crooned in usual fashion over the tribal-orchestral beats supplied by the rotating violin, accordion, tuba, stand-up bass and drums behind him. As made famous by the opening credits of Little Miss Sunshine (for which DeVotchKa played the score), “The Winner Is” was a crowd favorite.  The group closed with a raucous European polka jam that sparked droves of uninhibited Coloradans to dance in their rows, Fat Tire cans in hand.

Like every element of his set, Byrne’s entrance was carefully choreographed. The 57-year-old took the stage at the stroke of 9 p.m., leading a parade of white-clad musicians and back-up singers. Generously offering to forego his customary pre-show babble (he told us this through two minutes of pre-show babble), Byrne opened with a lush version of “Strange Overtones.” It was the first of several songs off of last year’s Everything That Happens Will Happen Today with Brian Eno, quickly followed by the heaven-reaching “One Fine Day.” Throughout the set, Byrne was sporadically joined by three interpretive dancers. In the usual style of his live show, their moves seemed to exist independent of time or contemporary culture. But, in the end, that’s a large part of what David Byrne is. Old, but not really. Corny, but still somehow cool. At one point late in the performance, Byrne led the ensemble in a choreographed “sitting” office-chair routine, complete with a high-speed rolling slide across the diameter of the stage to conclude the song.

The natural acoustics of Red Rocks boded well for Byrne and his 10 stage performers, with warm reverberating bass tones and vocals that seemed to carry miles away from the hills of Morrison. The audience contributed to the late-show appearance of power duo “Once In A Lifetime” and “Life During Wartime,” the latter releasing a bottled-up dance blowout in the aisles. Byrne returned for three encores, the first of which included Al Green cover “Take Me To The River.”

—John Hendrickson

David Byrne And Brian Eno’s “One Fine Day” (download):

DeVotchKa’s “You Love Me” (download):

Live Review: Shellac, San Francisco, CA, June 18, 2009

shellac5550b

And, lo, there came a time upon the land, soon after the reign of Nirvana, when many rock bands took on names found on the labels of empty containers that filled the dumpsters of industrial construction sites. And among the hardiest, yet most confounding of these to some, was the group known as Shellac.

I sampled (and eventually discarded) the wares of many of the noisy new bands I found in the pages of MAGNET when I began writing for the mag in early 1995. Chokebore, Unsane and the Jesus Lizard all eventually fell by the roadside. But Shellac‘s 1994 album, At Action Park, turned out to be a keeper. There was something brutally honest about that record, cut by famed alt-rock engineer Steve Albini on guitar, bassist Bob Weston and drummer Todd Trainer. Fifteen years later, here was the same trio back on the prowl. I donned hard hat and eye protection, slipped a six-pack of earplugs into my pocket, grabbed my lunchbox and headed off to the job site.

I’d seen one of Albini’s previous combos, Big Black, at San Francisco’s I-Beam in the summer of 1987, and since my ears only recently have stopped ringing from that very loud night, I knew what I was in for. But there comes a time when you’ve had it up to here with eccentric, bearded neo-folkies. You have to get your brain laundered. As expected, Shellac’s show is a no-bullshit affair: no chatter between songs, no choreographed stage moves. With lyrics all but indecipherable, Albini’s vocals could have been the shrieks emanating from the nearest urban gunshot-wound emergency trauma center. The only concession to planned hysteria tonight is the set’s opening sequence, with Trainer pointing a drumstick to the heavens to conduct a slow-motion slide into the first tune, whose thundering opening chords after this brief pantomime are a real sinus-clearer. There was one song intro that hinted at the minor-key, surf-guitar pyrotechnics of Dick Dale. Other than that, it was pure Albini, a man who may look like a tax accountant, but has your H&R Block dude ever twiddled knobs for acts that range from PJ Harvey, Cheap Trick and Joanna Newsom to the Pixies, Superchunk and Dirty Three? Toward the end of the set, Weston asked for questions from the packed house. The only good one was: “Is Todd still sponsored by Calvin Klein?” to which Weston answered, “No, but he’s getting blown by Christy Brinkley.”

Almost every time I walk around the faux-painted marble columns inside the ornately Edwardian Great American Music Hall (built in 1907), it reminds me of the Barbary Coast joint where Clark Gable and Jeanette McDonald rode out the first shocks of the legendary 1906 earthquake in the 1936 film San Francisco. After a night of Shellac at its most punishing, it looks like the old club might be good to go for another 100 years.

—Jud Cost