Photograph by Ronit Taggart
Patio Set: The Hackensaw Boys lit up the Crepe Place stage on Sept. 7.
A New Venue
The Crepe Place opens its patio stage to evening shows
By Don O. Marino
When longtime friends Adam Bergeron, Eric Gifford and Vincent Holguin became the new proprietors of the Crepe Place in late May, they immediately began dreaming up ways to revamp the 34-year-old Santa Cruz eatery, including doubling the size of the bar and closely monitoring the quality of service. For local music fans, however, the most exciting change they've made is undoubtedly the addition of a concert stage in the back of the restaurant. Not only does this stage provide a platform for the jazz groups that play at the restaurant every Saturday afternoon, it also allows for what promises to become a longstanding Crepe Place tradition: evening concerts.
Among the first uses of the new stage were an Aug. 28 performance by folk artists Mariee Sioux, Melissa Nadler and Sean Smith, a DJ set by Andy Cabic (Vetiver, Devendra Banhart) following Banhart's Sept. 6 gig at the neighboring Rio Theatre, and a Sept. 7 show by Charlottesville, Va., country-punksters the Hackensaw Boys. Acts scheduled to play in the near future include Ana Egge, Akron/Family, Matt the Electrician and Dan Bern. The restaurateurs plan to continue hosting concerts until December, at which point the music will cease for the winter and resume in the spring of next year.
Manning the Crepe Place's sound system a Mackie 24-channel board with JBL speakers is John Umnus of Uncle Funky Productions (www.unclefunkypro.com). "He's just the sweetest guy in the world," Bergeron says of Umnus, who also does sound at the Mountain Winery in Saratoga. "He came in and said, 'Oh, I want to help you. I have all the sound equipment here.' And he wired it all up."
Perhaps influenced by the E3 Playhouse's well-publicized battles over noise issues, Bergeron, Gifford and Holguin have chosen to start their shows at 8pm and end them by 10 or 10:30, and with the exception of local "revved-up rockabilly" trio the Chop Tops, who will perform on the afternoon of Sunday, Sept. 21, the musicians slated to play at the Crepe Place all reside on the mellower, folkier side of the musical spectrum. According to Bergeron, this comes not only out of consideration for the Crepe Place's neighbors, but also for its patrons.
"What we don't want to do is create a situation where your regular customers are saying, 'I don't know what to expect there,'" he reasons. "We want to maintain the integrity of what people are used to, because it's almost an institution in town."
Bergeron adds that in overseeing an establishment that's been a part of Santa Cruz culture since 1973, he and his partners strive for a balance of innovation and tradition. "We want to move it on to whatever's the next logical step for 2007 and beyond," he offers, "but we also want to respect what's happened here and give people what they love about it already."
The Crepe Place 1134 Soquel Ave., Santa Cruz. For more information about its entertainment schedule, call 831.429.6994.
Send a letter to the editor about this story.