Birdland Jazz finds a new home at Café Yesterday

Birdland Jazz logo. Photos: Eric Arnold

Late last year Michael Parayno, the founder of arguably the hippest garage jazz club and barbecue joint in town, was having some serious run-ins with the city — as first reported on Berkeleyside.

Parayno was operating a very popular supper club, then called the Multi Culti Grill and Birdland Jazz, out of his Sacramento Street residential address across from North Berkeley BART. Almost 150 people commented on the three posts we wrote about his situation, the vast majority in support of his underground music venue.

The first time Parayno was busted by the city for code violations he simply reinvented his Friday night soirées as a private party, the Birdland Jazzista Social Club, much in the manner of the SF Underground Market in San Francisco. But in the end both much-loved events were shut down this summer by their respective cities for various zoning infractions. In Parayno’s case, he was cited for code violations, twice.

Nothing if not persistent, Parayno, who has developed a loyal and vocal following among both music lovers and jazz musicians, has relocated his jams to the nearby Café Yesterday on University Avenue, a quirky new addition to the neighborhood that is run by two SoCal refugees with music and movie backgrounds.

The café is best known for its wide-ranging breakfast cereal bar, though it also sells standard coffee house fare like salads, sandwiches, and cookies — in addition to Frosted Flakes, Lucky Charms, and Cocoa Puffs.

Michael Parayno, founder of Birdland.

The move came about because Parayno is a regular at the nonprofit, community-oriented café’s open mic nights on Thursdays. When the owners heard about Parayno’s plight, they promptly offered up their space; Birdland was back in business six days after shutting down.

An unofficial “soft launch” kicked things off on on August 6th with the GG Amos Blues Band, and the Billy Buss Quartet. (Buss is a graduate of the Berkeley High Jazz Ensemble.)

The food plays second fiddle these days; it’s more of a potluck scene with people, including Parayno, bringing food to share and the café selling tea, coffee, and pastries.

The Bird Man (Parayno is know for his birdhouse designs) is grateful to have a new home and extra help to keep the club going. Still, he says, it’s hard to top the garage band nights, a sentiment echoed repeatedly in the comment section of this East Bay Express story, where performers and attendees alike lament the passing of the old birdhouse venue.

“There is nothing quite like Birdland in the entire Bay Area that I know of. It is not, per se, a club, bar, or an establishment,” wrote Robin 616. “It is a gathering place where the art of music is shared with the community in an atmosphere of mutual respect and admiration. It is where kindred souls gather to be soothed, uplifted, inspired, rejuvenated, recharged and restored. Music from all over the world is played here.”

Still, the show must go on. Birdland Jazz on Sacramento Street is a thing of the past. The future for the music meet-up may well be found at Café Yesterday. Parayno certainly hopes people swing by to find out.

Birdland Jazzista Social Club is at Café Yesterday, 1122 University Street (@ San Pablo) on Friday, August 26 – Grupo Falsa Baiano, 8:30 p.m., Clifford Brown’s Brewing Company  11:00 p.m. Saturday, August 27 – The Adrian Gormley Ensemble  8:30 p.m., Nerio Degracia Mambo Jazztet 11:00 p.m.

Sarah Henry is the voice behind Lettuce Eat Kale. You can follow her on Twitter and become a fan of Lettuce Eat Kale on Facebook.

Related:
What next for the Multi Culti Grill and Birdland Jazz Club [12.10.10]
Must-haves: A couch in the garage, a grill in the driveway [12.13.10]
Birdland Jazz and Multi Culti Grill: Update [12.17.10]
Out In Berkeley: Mo’Fone — distilling the essence of funk [06.30.11]

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  • lauramenard

    How is he planning on honoring membership for those that paid the yearly dues?

  • http://www.webhamster.com/ The Sharkey

    Glad to see him finally move his operation to a real, legal location instead of trying to operate a night club out of a garage in a residential neighborhood.

    There are so many empty storefronts in Berkeley that there’s no reason for anyone to try to run an illegal club in their garage.

    If he can get the backing, the Shattuck Avenue SPATS location would be perfect for something like Birdland Jazz. It’s already zoned correctly, most of the furniture and fixin’s are still there, and all he’d really need to do is give the place a dusting and install some amplifiers.

    http://www.yelp.com/biz/shattuck-avenue-spats-berkeley

  • http://www.webhamster.com/ The Sharkey

    Glad to see him finally move his operation to a real, legal location instead of trying to operate a night club out of a garage in a residential neighborhood.

    There are so many empty storefronts in Berkeley that there’s no reason for anyone to try to run an illegal club in their garage.

    If he can get the backing, the Shattuck Avenue SPATS location would be perfect for something like Birdland Jazz. It’s already zoned correctly, most of the furniture and fixin’s are still there, and all he’d really need to do is give the place a dusting and install some amplifiers.

    http://www.yelp.com/biz/shattuck-avenue-spats-berkeley

  • http://www.webhamster.com/ The Sharkey

     I believe he’s planning on continuing to ignore the citations and keep operating the club.
    At least that’s what the Facebook page for the place suggests.

    http://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=281605201855490

  • Akmonday

    what happened to spats? It’s been empty like that for years, it’s creepy.

  • http://www.webhamster.com/ The Sharkey

    I’m not really sure. As far as I know it’s been closed since about 2007, which is extremely sad. It’s a perfect location for something like this. Not too far from BART, plenty of space, zoned for business, and I believe it has an approved commercial kitchen. Nearby Triple Rock is constantly packed, so it should be easy to draw a crowd. Plus it isn’t in a residential neighborhood, so it wouldn’t be subject to the same rules & regulations as the current garage location.

  • Andrew

    Nice idea! I’d love a Jazz venue in North Berkeley.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_V6KQTJGAQAZXMNEIKG5LM2IHZU Tizzielish

    The Sharkey:  did you actually read what the Facebook page you linked to says?  It clearly states that the club will be operating at the new venue on University.  He is not ignoring the citations. He is trying to keep doing the same thing in a legal venue.

  • http://www.webhamster.com/ The Sharkey

    Ha ha! I was just in the middle of editing my post to correct my mistake when you replied! :P

    I guess I’ll leave it now, because your reply wouldn’t make any sense if I made the correction.

  • Kim

    Yay for Cafe Yesterday–my favorite place these days.  Best sandwiches ever!

  • http://www.webhamster.com/ The Sharkey

    Actually, it looks like the property is currently available for sale or lease:
    http://www.loopnet.com/Listing/17245048/1974-Shattuck-Ave-Berkeley-CA/

    The building is 5750 square feet on a 5291 square foot lot and
    has been seismically retrofitted. The front of the building are setup
    with 2 lounge areas and a dining area, the back area includes a large
    banquet room with an openable atrium roof and direct access to the
    public parking lot. A mezzanine area serves as office space and storage.
    This is a complete and full service bar restaurant setup; commercial
    kitchen, 2 bars, 2 walk-in refrigerators and much more.

  • Papaparayno

    hi Laura, the folks that paid can still attend the jazz parties at Cafe Yesterday with free food, nonalcoholic drinks. I’m turning over the music program to them in October with all my jazz contacts so it won’t be a problem. The membership was $20 which included their first entry and bbq before and all the money went to the musicians anyway.  So you can still attend at Cafe Yesterday till the end of the year Laura. No worries.

  • Paparayno

    Sharkey…Old birdland has been retired. I will only use that now for just private parties for a few of my friends and berkeley high jazz kids to do rehearsal and jam session for the kids. New Birdland will be under Cafe Yesterday starting October. I need a break from 20 months of partying and bbqs. Do come by..

  • Paparayno

    bro, it wasn’t a night club but a party, fyi. You should have come and enjoyed 18 months of partying. It felt like a club..at least the garage but it is still a garage party no matter how you slice and dice it. Clubs sell food and drinks. We had free food and non alcoholic drinks provided by neighbors and myself. Birdland was never about me, brother. It was about the musicians, the artists, my students who also checked it out, the berkeley high school kids who played there with the support of their parents, my neighbors. I was not really that a big part of it save I owned the garage. It was a party and it was effortless due to the folks who contributed their talents, labor, and time. Come visit the new birdland. As for the wealth, it was a “gift” from the Wall Street Ponzi scheme years ago that many of us fell victim to. I can operate it as a business but then the musicians would get screwed like many music venues who pay their musicans by door cover; hence you pay to play by getting 100 of your friends to come and pay the cover at the door or play for tips like a beggar. No thanks. Jazzistats are patron of the arts. Anyway a house party is more real. Music belongs in the house, the neighborhood, in the community like many countries and societies in the world. I doubt many folks in other societies say to themselves “Hey, let’s go to a venue to listen to music” when you have uncle Joe with a guitar or cousin Susie with a set of pipes that could entertain the neighborhood. In the Philippines, I grew up with live music in my house every day since I had lots of relatives including my mother who was a vocalist for a pop/jazz band who would sing every day in the house.

  • Paparayno

    Spats is cool, but then you would institute a cover charge and drink minimums just to pay the musicians. Music is dead in berkeley. Only live music after 11pm is Ashkenaz and Down Low on occasion. Why do you think most if not all cal students head to Oakland and SF for entertainment?

  • Paparayno

    Support Cafe Yesterday, the owners/volunteers who run it are great and generous people: Ryan, Tyler, Damon, Josh, Kat, Sola, Suzie, and Michael all do a great job running the place with all smiles. They will be the inheritors of the Birdland Jazzista Social Club, Berkeley Chapter.  There is already a Manila Chapter that I started four years ago called Birdnest and another one opening in Manila called Birdloft which will have acoustic loft parties later in December. So when you think of Birdland, think music and supporting our local musicians, sharing food with each other, and just a place to hang out with your neighbors. It’s not about me, although I always end up getting interviewed; but do read the comments on the East Bay Express artitcle and Fast Company and Forbes about birdland. 

  • Bruce Love

    Dig it.   Thanks.

  • lauramenard

    Thanks Birdman,

    good luck,  we need more affordable community based arts, dance  and music .

  • http://www.webhamster.com/ The Sharkey

    Whatever you want to call it, you had large crowds blocking the sidewalk and drinking alcohol out of open containers in public, with amplified music and large crowds from 8pm-2am.

    http://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.128891687159494.20455.120845071297489

    Why would the musicians need to get screwed if you moved into a real, legal space?
    Sell food, sell cocktails. No need to screw your musicians.

  • http://www.webhamster.com/ The Sharkey

    Why? You don’t need that to pay the musicians now.

    Buy or lease Spats, and then operate it like a regular for-profit bar Sun-Thurs, and then have it be a jazz club on Fri/Sat.

    Do it right, and the profits you make selling drinks can cover the rent, employee pay, and pay the musicians.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_V6KQTJGAQAZXMNEIKG5LM2IHZU Tizzielish

     I would withdraw my comment, The Sharkey, but then you response would not make any sense so, like you, I’ll leave my first comment about this small misunderstanding as is.

  • Nick Mamatas

    Why don’t you do it then?

  • Nick Mamatas

    Why don’t you do it then?

  • http://www.webhamster.com/ The Sharkey

    I have neither the money, nor the connections, required to start such an enterprise.
    Mr. Parayno clearly does.

  • http://www.reellifewithjane.com/blog/ Jane Boursaw

    Garage jazz club – that’s awesome. I used to play in a garage band here in Michigan, but I’m thinking they’re a little better than we were. :-)

  • http://www.reellifewithjane.com/blog/ Jane Boursaw

    Garage jazz club – that’s awesome. I used to play in a garage band here in Michigan, but I’m thinking they’re a little better than we were. :-)

  • Ericlowin

    We paid our annual membership at the door of the old location..and it closed the next week!  We would like to attend the new venue but are not aware of any schedule. Please reply or advise to ericlowin@gmal.com  thanks