Find ways to support homegrown talent

My readers pointed out the obvious to me this week.
My readers pointed out the obvious to me this week. Such as the way I could have ended my column last week, the one about how going to St. Louise Hospital was like a visit to the Land of Oz. After I was released, they tell me I should have ended with Dorothy’s magical phrase, “There’s no place like home …”

This is my lament for the local musician. There used to be many more clubs, pubs, restaurants, and coffee houses showcasing our local talent. Long-time local jazz and blues guitarist John Garcia tells me that he used to be able to make a living playing five to six nights a week just here in Gilroy alone. Now he struggles to find decent gigs. On a recent Friday night, my husband’s new haircut inspired him to go out on the town, rather than staying home to become one with the couch, as is his usual tendency after a long work week. Looking for some local entertainment proved challenging. We were not in the mood for a karaoke evening mouthing the lyrics to songs like “Hotel California,” (which can be fun at places like the Beehive Room), or to participate in the Country Western line dancing at Gaslighter’s Music Hall. Once upon a time there were many small venues for local musicians, not just the few we have now, such as Krazy Koyote or The Claddagh. Garlic City Coffee on Fifth Street used to have a regular schedule of local musicians, and so did First Street Coffee Exchange. My hope is that the new owners at First Street will continue in this Gilroy tradition and support excellent local musicians, such as guitarists from Gilroy Guitar Gallery, etc.

Speaking of First Street Coffee Exchange, things were very lively there this week as they installed new cabinetry and upgraded the premises. You might want to stop by and enter the free turkey holiday drawing. You need not be present to win, and starting Nov. 18, five turkey winners will be drawn each day. You can also specify a particular charity for the turkey to go to, if you’d prefer. The new attraction of wireless DSL capability brings Gilroy into the 21st century with its first “cyber café.” You can bring your laptop to First Street Coffee, order your favorite brew, connect to the Internet, and do your computer work (or play games) while getting comfortable in the relaxed local atmosphere. Hats off to The Wild Rose for featuring a wide variety of musical talent and to The Claddagh Irish Restaurant and Pub for all they have done to provide a venue for local musicians, including the once a month open mic and the Irish music sessions at 6 p.m. on the third Sunday of each month. Speaking of favorite brews, I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but the decaf at Garlic City on Fifth is the best in town. And that includes – yes, I’ll say it – Starbucks. Garlic City on Fifth is the only way to go.

While munching on seismic dogs at the Earthquake Country Pub on Hollister’s main drag (San Benito Street), my husband and I also enjoyed the sampler set of beers on tap, which is an excellent deal. The handcrafted beer is brewed right there on the premises with fresh malted grains and selected fresh hops. We had the Earthquake Pale Ale, Earthquake Porter, Survivor Stout, Kit Fox Amber, Seismic Ale and an Amber Apricot, which had a deep spicy fruity flavor to it – six tumblers, 36 ounces of beer in the sampler, all for just $7 – you can’t go wrong. For those who wish for drinks without an alcohol content, the handcrafted sarsparilla takes you back in time with its distinctive and delicious tang.

I was pleasantly surprised to discover that the Earthquake Country Pub has live entertainment scheduled for every Friday and Saturday night throughout November, including the acoustic rock of Larry Elrod, the jazz and blues of John Garcia, the jazz of Les & Mike, the old western music of Cisco Jim, the new age rock of Gene Castillo, the acoustic soul of Mike Annotti, the folksy sounds of Courtney Blackburn on guitar, etc. For more info, call (831) 637-7074. John Garcia has played behind the scenes with Paul Simon and B.B. King; last Friday night he was solo on his Gibson guitar, singing classics like Blue Suede Shoes, Proud Mary, Mystery Train, Sunny, As Tears Go By, and some songs from his own CD, including a bluesy tune called, “Happiness and Love.” Catch him again on November 29 at the Earthquake. I’m hoping for more venues to open up in the future here in Gilroy, so that our talented local musicians like John Garcia, will stay here and play, instead of being forced to go on the road so much. Let’s find ways to support and showcase more of our own local talent right here at home in Gilroy. “There’s no place like home …”

Kat Teraji’s column is published every Thursday in The Dispatch. You can reach her at [email protected]

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