ART FOR YOUR SAKE: The sun-charred air is so hot it looks like the bright yellow mural on the outside walls of the DPC Café has melted onto the sidewalk. Entering through the back door, the air is cooler as you pass beneath a halo of birds, flowers and barbed wire. Art is everywhere, inside and out, at the two-month-old cafe at 546 N. Stone Ave.
You can order everything from a caffeine fix to bagels and Cracker Jacks and a hummus plate at the counter, which is covered with pieces of mirror and colored glass. And you can get a free order of live music on Friday and Saturday evenings from the stage wedged in the corner of the café.
The DPC Café, as you may have already guessed, is closely aligned with the Downtown Performance Center. It sits on the northwest corner of the same block the all-ages performance center occupies.
Café owner and co-manager Bruce Momich says he's been working on the renovation of the building for two years. Part of the purpose of the place is to take some of the overflow of bands from the Downtown Performance Center.
"There was a need to do something with a smaller stage," Momich says. "I would say 85 percent of the shows over there are for under 100 people. When the shows are under a hundred people, under 50 people, which a lot of shows are, that space is too big--it's not intimate enough."
The café provides a creative outlet for performers unable to draw a crowd big enough to make it worthwhile to open the relatively cavernous Downtown Performance Center. There's also a wide-open policy on who gets to play the café--anybody who wants to, that's who.
"I leave it up to the performer," says Nadia Hagen, the volunteer booker of musical artists and visual art. "I want this place to be an open forum. The focus is on people being able to present their music and just share it. It's not a commercial thing, so I don't have to worry about it being palatable."
The performers don't get paid to play but they do get free coffee and, if the crowd fills up a good portion of the 38-person capacity, they get free food, too.
If you're getting the idea that the DPC Café isn't about making money, you've struck gold.
"One of the ideas is to provide inexpensive food to the customers," Momich says. "Another is to give a place to kids who really don't have a place to go and to try to inspire them to get involved in things, community things...A feeling that they're a part of something."
As he talks about the teenagers who frequent the café, a boy with disheveled hair walks in carrying a dusty backpack.
"As an example, this guy who just came in is homeless," Momich says. "He doesn't have a place to go. That's not my focus, to deal with all their problems, but I'll let them come in here and hang out. They come in and draw, they write poems and do all kinds of stuff. If they get off of the streets for just an hour, they get out of that paranoid mind-set they have wandering the streets."
Of course, anyone can walk through the doors and absorb the art coming at you from every wall. The cafe is open from 4 p.m. to 3 a.m. Monday through Saturday and from 7 p.m. to 3 a.m. on Sunday. There's never a cover charge, even when musicians take the stage.
This Thursday, guitarist Andy Gardner (of Wise Folk Malcontent) brings his band Sissy to the DPC Café. They'll play from 8 p.m. to 10 p.m.
On Friday, June 9, the Downtown Performance Center, 530-B N. Stone Ave., is having a benefit for the café featuring Stuck, Feast Upon Cactus Thorns and Spillblanket. Admission is five bucks.
PORK BACK: Billy Bacon and The Forbidden Pigs are roots-rocking back into town with a new album, The Other White Meat.
Former Blaster Dave Alvin produced the disc featuring Eagles' guitarist Joe Walsh, accordion maestro Chris Gaffney, blues diva Candye Kane, steel guitarist Lee Jeffries and Alvin on acoustic guitar--all accompanying The Pigs on various tracks.
The best cut is the least traditionally Pig-like: Bacon's Beatles-turn called "You Don't Know." Trembly minor-chord progressions get a gentle stranglehold on your heart the way Lennon and McCartney used to do 30 years ago.
Walsh works a slide up and down his guitar on a reverb-washed remake of Creedence's "Tombstone Shadow."
Tennessee Ernie Ford's trademark corn is brought back to life on "Hogtied Over You," with Kane doing a Hee-Haw vocal duet with Bacon.
Don't you Pig fans worry, there's plenty of juking, jiving, blues-born rock and roll here, too. Unfortunately, none of it captures the feel of a live Pigs show.
You can get that this Friday night at Club Congress, 311 E. Congress St., when Bacon and the boys do two sets of their dance-abilly. The opening band, San Francisco's quirky folksters, Ed's Redeeming Qualities reminds some of the bizarre kids in Brave Combo. Admission is five bucks.
LAST NOTES: Béla Fleck and The Flecktones return for another concert at the Temple of Music and Art, 330 S. Scott Ave., on Friday night. See the music feature story for more information.
Southern Culture On The Skids flings chicken and white trash rock and roll at the audience at the DPC on Saturday, June 10. Al Foul and The Shakes and The Fells open the concert. Admission is $4.
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