Amoeblog

70-Year-Old Buck's Oakland Laundromat Remains Direct Link to City's Rich Musical Past, But For How Much Longer?

Posted by Billyjam, March 14, 2016 10:57pm | Post a Comment

"In 1959, 1960 James Brown dropped off the original Flames in Oakland and he left them." "Louis Jordan was here all the time."  "Slim Jenkins was the premiere club in Oakland in the '50s." These nuggets of Bay Area music history are among the many sprinkled throughout a typical conversation with lifelong music loving 70-year-old Oakland native Charles Presley, who everyone knows as Buck. This particular conversation (hear the full 10 minutes in the clip below) is one of countless engaging ones that I've had over the past two plus decades of stopping by the North Oakland coin-op laundromat this music fan owns and operates. But it could be any conversation with Buck who loves music and loves to talk music. And his conversations are always from the historical perspective of his beloved hometown of Oakland, CA.  Buck loves all good music from soul and jazz to gospel, but blues and rhythm and blues, the music he grew up on, remain his favorite sounds. Most new laundromat customers' conversations are inspired by the the overhead soundtrack of RnB and soul grooves Buck plays from CD collections or the music-themed DVDs he might play on the overhead TV screens. Doing laundry at Buck's is never a dreaded chore, so long as he's there.
 
As heard in the audio interview clip below, once Buck starts reminiscing he goes off on detailed lists of artists and shows at long gone Oakland clubs back in the '50s, '60s, and '70s, most notably Slim Jenkins Cafe at 1748 7th Street that operated from the '30s through the '60s. It was just one of several businesses owned and operated in West Oakland by the Louisiana born Harold "Slim" Jenkins who was such a successful businessman that he earned the title of "Mayor" of West Oakland. Buck fondly remembers those times like he clearly remembers the very first records he ever bought and heard. One of the first records he remembers hearing was the 1951 single "Sixty Minute Man" by The Dominoes.  He caught most acts in Oakland clubs, but for some he'd travel across the Bay Bridge. Most often those would be jazz shows. In 1961, he got to see Miles Davis playing San Francisco's Black Hawk. The famed jazz club, located in the Tenderloin on the corner of Turk and Hyde, operated from 1949 through 1963. 

Continue reading...

Main Attrakionz Promise "A Real Celebration" At Their Amoeba Berkeley In-Store (June 30) In Support Of "808s & Dark Grapes III" (Vapor)

Posted by Billyjam, June 29, 2015 05:51pm | Post a Comment

For Main Attrakionz' anticipated Amoeba Berkeley in-store this week (on Tuesday, June 30th at 5pm) in support of their brand new 808s & Dark Grapes III (out that same day on Vapor), the prolific Oakland hip-hop crew's Squadda B promises a most memorable show that will be "a real celebration of everything we've been through since Carter Middle School." North Oakland's Carter Middle school is where the rapper/producer born Charles Glover is referring to. It was there that he first met up with his partner in rhyme, Damondre Grice (aka rapper Mondre M.A.N.). From that point on, at the young age of 12-years-old no less, it has been quite a ride for the inseparable, prolific, pioneering pair.
 
From the get go, the two go-getters tirelessly entered every local talent shows they could find. Over the following years they would win a lot of them too. But more importantly they learned and grew from their experiences that would help pave the way for a career that, for the artists who are only now 24-years-old, has already been quite accomplished. They've recorded a shitload of music (approx 15 full-length projects, although only two albums, including the new one, are commercially available), worked with such artists as Danny Brown and A$AP Rocky, been credited with being among the chief architects in creating the alt rap psychedelic hip-hop sub-genre of "cloud rap," and landed a deal with Neil Young's Vapor Records, to name but a sampling of their accolades to date.
 

  Main Attrakionz "Ain't No Other Way" (Vapor, 2015)


The Town Part III: Remedy Coffee, Oakland and Proud

Posted by Billyjam, August 3, 2010 02:11pm | Post a Comment
Remedy Coffee, Oakland, CA
It may not even have been open a full two months yet but already Oakland's Remedy Coffee at 4316 Telegraph Avenue (between 43rd St & 44th St) in the ever evolving Temescal district has the warm & comfortable feel of a local cafe that has been there a lot longer than just seven weeks. The friendly and attentive Todd Spitzer is the owner of Remedy and I instantly knew I liked the guy and his new business when I first went in and saw him proudly sporting a T-shirt that read Live in Oakland. Love in Oakland. Love Oakland, and, between preparing individual servings of fresh coffee, he was changing the record on the turntable (yes, a vinyl player!) behind the counter.

That was about four weeks ago and in the short time since, business has quadrupled for Remedy -- and for good reason. It's a welcoming, very spacious, well lit environment with a variety of seating options (high stool counter, sofa level, & standard cafe table inside and out), excellent coffee (they specialize in light coffee), free Wi-Fi (unblocked under Remedy Hearts You), great music selection and nice bass-y speakers well positioned up high, excellent art on the wall (artist Cathy Lo currently), plus numerous cool curiosities such as a Pacific Bell phone booth right when you walk in the main door. The back patio is still to open, but it will soon. The clientele (many of whom arrive by bike) is a nice wide mix of people from The Town: musicians, DJs, artists, students, blue collar workers, OPD, young, old, straight and, gay. It's open Monday to Friday 7am to 6pm and weekends 8:30am to 6pm.

Before opening Remedy, which is right next door to Flying Yoga, round the corner from a cluster of Korean restaurants known to many as Little Korea, and down a block from Rent-A-Relic, Todd had a coffee cart set up right outside. With help from friends, he slowly but surely over a period of year worked on getting his business off the ground. He carefully crafted the interior of Remedy, which is modern without being cold or alienating. I recently caught up with Todd to ask him about going from cart to cafe, light roasted versus dark roasted., Oakland as a place to live & work, the meaning of the Remedy logo, and, of course, music -- inviting him and his staff to submit their all time Top Five Albums lists. The staffer descriptions are all Todd's.

Beirut
Taylor King (Almost lead barista and art curator) Top Five:

1) Jethro Tull Thick as a Brick