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photo of joey defrancesco News | Concerts
Live Music Returns to the Bach Dancing & Dynamite Society
"Will the Bach D&D Society continue after my demise? Only time will tell." — Pete Douglas, September 2013

Only little more than a year ago, things were looking pretty grim for the future of live music at the storied Bach Dancing & Dynamite Society in Half Moon Bay. The seaside venue's owner and founder, Pete Douglas, passed away undexpectedly on Saturday, July 12, 2014 at the age of 85, and the network of people who'd surrounded and supported Douglas for countless years was in disarray.

Located on Miramar Beach, midway between San Francisco and Silicon Valley, The Bach — founded by a group of friends who, Douglas once explained, "fancied ourselves Beat Hipsters of the Fifties who looked with Bohemian disdain on any social conformity" — brought a sophisticated, thoughtful and intelligent concert approach to a beachfront setting with the intimacy of a club ambiance. Douglas provided a much-needed alternative to the noisy, smoke-filled urban nightlubs, and he nurtured a distinctive venue in which local and touring musicians could perform with the benefit of a superb sound system and an attentive (some would say devoted) audience. The Bach was a perfect beach experience that reflected the nature of the curator. There was a communal feeling to the Beach House's wood-paneled concert room, which countless musicians proclaimed "the best small venue in the United States."

The venue and its host were virtually inseparable, both in mind and deed, and the eclectic booking policies over the years reflected Douglas' equally eclectic musical tastes. Yet regardless of the headliner on any given Sunday, audiences were guaranteed a brilliant performance. The place was a font of musical joy.

But with The Bach's pater familias no longer present, what wold be the fate of the beach house?

Bach Dancing & Dynamite Society Founder and Patron Saint Pete Douglas

Slowly, determinedly, family and friends soldiered on, and, following a two-day series of benefit concerts honoring Douglas later that year, the popular seaside venue along the often-blustery Pacific coastline went through a quiet phase devoted to re-organization and re-imagining that eventually resulted in the announcement of a four-concert season at The Bach for May-June 2015 featuring Benny Green, Dafnis Prieto, the Marcus Shelby Orchestra with vocalist Tiffany Austin, and the Peter Erskine Trio featuring Bob Sheppard.

Akk four shows sold out almost instantly, and two more four-concert series were soon booked announced for the fall 2015 season (tickets are now on sale):

  • Sunday September 13: The Kyle Eastwood Quintet
  • Sunday September 20: The Mary Stallings Quartet
  • Sunday September 27: Larry Coryell's Passing Dreams Trio featuring Frank Tusa and Vishna
  • Sunday October 4: Yosvany Terry and Baptiste Trotignon: The Ancestral Memories Quartet

Tickets for the second four-concert series will go on sale to the general public on October 2; tickets are on sale now for Bach D&DS members only. Here is the performance schedule:

  • Sunday October 25: The Joey DeFrancesco Trio
  • Sunday November 1: The Anton Schwartz Quintet
  • Sunday November 8: The Mads Tolling Quartet
  • Sunday November 15: Larry Vuckovich's Bay Area All-Stars

All concerts will begin at The Bach's traditional time of 4:30 pm on Sunday afternoons.

Honoring a Legacy

"My father created an incredibly special venue and it would be impossible for me to not continue his legacy," said his daughter, Barbara Douglas Riching, who has assumed the top leadership position at The Bach. "There is no way I could ever replace him or the special spirit that he brought to the house, but we are extremely excited to begin a new era."

Riching will carry on her father's vision of presenting jazz in a chamber-like setting, where both the musicians and audience can share an intimate experience. Said Riching, "We will continue to focus primarily on straight-ahead jazz, but similar to my dad's approach, will occasionally feature classical and other forms of music."

The Mads Tolling Quartet comes to The Bach on November 8, 2015

The Bach Dancing has also announced the appointment of a new member to its board of trustees: Tim Jackson, Artistic Director of the Monterey Jazz Festival and Co-Founder/Artistic Director of Kuumbwa Jazz Center in Santa Cruz. Jackson has already provided invaluable assistance with The Bach's artistic direction, having been a longtime friend of the Douglas family: he first met Pete back in the 1970s and considered him a mentor.

In 1973, Douglas hired a then 19-year-old Jackson, a Santa Cruz resident and aspiring musician, to take tickets at the door. "Pete gave me my start in the jazz world in 1973 and has always been a mentor to me," said Jackson.

"I am extremely glad to be a part of ensuring that the legacy of Pete Douglas continues, and that this wonderful venue continues to offer its best for both audiences and musicians," said Jackson.

"Pete was a pioneer in jazz presenting and presided over one of the longest tenured jazz venues in the country. His passion for quality music and developing audience engagement — or a 'scene' as Pete always said — was paramount and never diminished. He was truly unique and was able to develop a venue that expressed his own personal viewpoint. I will miss that chiseled face with the pipe and Greek fisherman's cap (Etta James called him 'Popeye') and will always remember the spirit he brought to any conversation."

After becoming a registered non-profit for the musical arts in 1964, Douglas began presenting regular jazz and classical programs to the public. National and local jazz luminaries such as Betty Carter, Bill Evans, Stan Getz, Duke Ellington, Count Basie, McCoy Tyner, Bobby Hutcherson, Art Blakey, Cal Tjader, Vince Guaraldi, Etta James, Dexter Gordon, Dizzy Gillespie, Max Roach, Freddie Hubbard, and Milt Jackson, to name just several of thousands, played at the Bach over its 50-year history. Notables in the classical music world such as the Kronos Quartet and Mariano Cordoba performed as well.

For more information about membership in the Bach Dancing & Dynamite Society, or to purchase tickets for upcoming shows, please call 650.726.4143 or visit the Bach Dancing & Dynamite Society website.

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