Sunday, March 2, 2008

Sheba Piano Lounge

We met Tony playing his congas on the street near Pier 39 thanks to Emily’s unique people skills.

“Oh man I gotta take a walk,” he said after an especially fiery series of thumps. “Naw, I’m only serious.”

When we asked him his name, he gave told us about his dad instead, the famous Curtis Mayfield. Which maaaay or may not be true. (More on the not true side). As he went on about the clubs he plays in on the weekends and offered to get us into any of them for free.

Immediately interested, Emily got his phone number after which Tony put his phone back in his pocket and said, “Call me about 15 times; I’ma put it on vibrate.”

Followed by his catchphrase, “Aw, I’m only serious.”

Three of us met up with Tony later on that evening at the Sheba Piano Lounge near Geary and Fillmore. Apparently, we picked the right night to go to that lounge, because a bunch of purportedly famous musicians showed up.

The “best piano player in northern California” (according to Tony), Ricardo Still was there, as well as the “best dancer in northern California,” Cash. Pete Escovedo came by after his show across the street was over, and there were other musical luminaries that I didn’t recognize.

That was an intense night. The crowd there was mainly older; late 30s to early 40s, I’d say. But they were hopping. There were, however, a couple of younger people there: specifically the talented Antonio, a Mexican who's trying to make it as a musician but works at a restaurant called the Grubsteak to pay the bills, and his Caucasian girlfriend, Fancy.

They were both very drunk.

I had my ACP press pass on to get into the club, and eventually Ricardo Still’s publicist came over and asked if I would be willing to send her some pictures. We exchanged contact info, and I’m going to see if I get some mullah in exchange for my images. Unfortunately, most turned out to be sub-par.

After things wound down, Tony walked us to the bus stop, and we talked until the bus came to pick us up. He’s a pretty lonely guy; 47 years old and never married. If the recent movie-biographies about older musicians (e.g. Ray or Walk the Line) are any indicator, he didn’t exactly have an easy time of it as one of Curtis Mayfield’s supposed 14 children.

He was a cool guy; it’d be interesting to spend more time with him and find out what his daily life is like.

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