``I have very little to do with the clubs,'' Scaggs said of Slim's, opened in 1988, and the comfortably ornate Great American Music Hall, which dates back to 1907. ``It keeps me tuned to contemporary music more than I might otherwise be, but I'm not there a lot.''
Opened in 1988 by legendary R&B artist Boz Scaggs, Slim's is a live music nightclub dedicated to providing the public with excellent service, a congenial atmosphere, good food & drinks, and the finest of American Roots Music--Blues, R&B, Cajun/Zydeco, Jazz, Alternative, and more. Pollstar Magazine has voted Slim's the best nightclub in America five out of the last eleven years, and for the past two years Slim's was awarded Best Bar & Club by the readers of the San Francisco Chronicle. The club is located in the South of Market district of San Francisco, a hub of nightlife in the city. Although parking in San Francisco is notoriously difficult, we have the luxury of having several hundred parking spaces available at a low-cost garage on our corner.
The premises consist mainly of an open floor on our main level. At one end of the floor is our performance stage. At the other end we have a small balcony with table seating for 70 where guests may sit and relax. Our bar runs the length of the floor in an "L" shape. The decor is simple and tasteful, with chandeliers, brick walls, and a bar inspired by the facades of several New Orleans manors. A coat check and additional rest rooms are located in our downstairs level. Slim's is entirely wheelchair accessible.
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Boz explaining the delay in the opening of Slim's Nightclub originally scheduled to open June 23, 1988 with an opening week bill that included Otis Rush (with Scaggs, under the nom de plume of Presidio Slim, sitting in) and Ornette Coleman...
"The escrow didn't close and, therefore, the liquor license and the assets didn't transfer to Slim's, and we were on just a hairline schedule to get open on time anyway, as these things go. I mean, we planned way, way out in advance and gave ourselves a month leeway. We had a month to be finished. I mean, we planned to be finished an entire month to just fine-tune it. And, as things go, we just got right down to the wire. It seemed to me that we were going to make it. Then I left for Japan about 10 days ago and while I was away this thing didn't transfer. And we had to hold up construction; we couldn't construct it - the permits wouldn't allow us to. It just didn't make any sense to commit. We haOpd about $150,000 committed to this particular phase of construction and we just cannot go ahead and do that until we legally have the place. That's what happened. When I came back from Japan it had been delayed to the point that we had an emergency session and decided that we simply cannot open. We had to cancel all the acts. It's just a monumental bummer...It's one of the saddest things that's ever happened to me. I just don't ... I'm heartbroken." - Boz Scaggs
The Great American Music Hall
859 O'Farrell Street
San Francisco, CA 94109
A new ownership group at the San Francisco nightclub Slim's has reached agreement to buy the Great American Music Hall and is expected to take over operations of the O'Farrell Street venue before the end of the year. The Music Hall went on the market in March after its most recent owner, music-oriented Riffage.com, went out of business.
Frank Caufield, senior partner in the venture capital firm Kleiner, Perkins, Caufield and Byers, pulled together a number of investors to fund the expanded operation. Caufield has had a stake in Slim's since he and rock star partner Boz Scaggs opened the 11th Street club 13 years ago.
The new partners include financier Warren Hellman, venture capitalist Roger McNamee (who plays guitar in the rock band Flying Other Brothers) and former Chronicle Publishing shareholder Joseph O. Tobin.
"Even with the downturn in the economy, I've needed two rooms for some time, " said Slim's General Manager Dawn Holiday. "I've been incredibly busy since 1996. Even though I've used outside facilities a lot, a similar-sized room open to all ages has been very important to me."
Slim's runs shows at a variety of locations, including Foley's Irish House in downtown San Francisco and the Noe Valley Ministry, and also books music for the South of Market punk-rock club Covered Wagon.
The Music Hall, built in 1907, has a colorful history as a restaurant, bordello and home to fan dancer Sally Rand in the '30s. Owner Tom Bradshaw opened the venue in 1972 as a jazz club. He sold it in 1991.
The Music Hall has hosted innumerable impromptu performances by Van Morrison, the first HBO special by Robin Williams, and a historic 1975 performance by the Grateful Dead immortalized on the live album "One From the Vault." Holiday said she plans no changes in the Music Hall's programming, although she does plan to upgrade the sound system and lighting.
"I don't think the public will notice the difference," Holiday said. "I don't think I'm going to designate one room as a rock room and the other as a folk room or anything like that."
She also said she expects the public to benefit from lower ticket prices with the two clubs no longer competing for the same acts.