So a priest, an 80-something year old African-American woman and a skinny 20-something white guy with a guitar walk into this cafe.. No, this isn’t the beginning of a bad joke. It’s a description of a unique local music showcase at the Undercroft Cafe in San Francisco.
The “Cafe” is actually the basement of St. Cyprian’s church on Turk Street, near USF. Each month, high school teacher and local songwriter Jeff Weathers hosts a showcase of local musical talent here. Past performers include The Pine Box Boys, David Hopkins, Austin Willacy, Amelia Ray and Mia Mustari. Local music fans and other folks from the neighborhood come for the music and for the homemade chili, ribs and desserts. Beer and wine are also served.
At the March showcase, the Pine Box Boys put on a great show. Lead singer Mark Beshirs, aka Les Raww, belted out country murder ballads — some originals and some reinvented traditional tunes. Just try to imagine this scene: the Pine Box Boys singing about someone murdering and dismembering his spouse, while a priest, a group of elderly women and the band’s groupies cheer enthusiastically, interspersed with some gasps during the gruesome parts and chuckles during the light moments. You can’t make this stuff up.
Musically, this showcase can be hit or miss. Some of the performers are great, while others are disappointing. But there’s always enough good music to make it worth attending, and the showcase stands out as one of the most attitude-free and diverse music gatherings in town.
The next showcase is Friday April 23, 2004 at St. Cyprian’s church, 2097 Turk Street. Enter on Lyon, just off Turk. This Friday’s lineup includes: John Lee @ 7:30 p.m., Peter Oliva @ 8:30 and Mario Speedwagon @ 9:30. The show is free, with donations for the musicians strongly encouraged. All ages are welcome. For more information on this showcase, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.