The first event of the new year in the free Concerts at the Cadillac series will feature Pam Coates, one of the Tenderloin’s most treasured and valued musicians. Geoffrey Grier, leader of the Tenderloin-based San Francisco Recovery Theatre, has described Coates as “A siren of song, sensibility and syncopathy.” The San Francisco Recovery Theatre, which has also performed in the Concerts at the Cadillac series, supports recovery through musical expression, performance, and supportive solidarity. The program will also include special guest vocalist Benn Bacot, known as “The Bass of the Bay.” The backup combo for these singers will be led by Dave Austin on piano, along with Chuck Bennett on bass, Bob Blankenship on drums, and Rick Brown on trombone. Both Coates and Bacot have performed for San Francisco Recovery Theatre productions, as have all of the participating instrumentalists.
Coates’ background in theater is as strong as her jazz portfolio. She spent five years with the Royal Shakespeare Company. Her roles spanned the history of drama from William Shakespeare’s Richard III to David Mamet’s Speed-the-Plow. In her work for the San Francisco Recovery Theatre, Coates sang with Bacot in Grier’s adaptation of George Gershwin’s opera Porgy and Bess, abbreviated to a one-hour duration. This was an impressive undertaking; and, as can be seen above, the Concerts at the Cadillac performance has been preserved as a video document.
Like other performances in this series, this will be a one-hour concert, given in the lobby of the Cadillac Hotel (380 Eddy Street at the corner of Leavenworth Street, a three-block walk from where that major landmark of jazz history, the Black Hawk, used to be). It will take place on Friday, January 15, at 12:30 p.m. Austin will play the Patricia Walkup Memorial Piano, the hotel’s meticulously restored 1884 Steinway Model D concert grand. All Concerts at the Cadillac shows, dedicated to the power of great music to uplift and inspire, are offered free of charge by the hotel as a gift to the people of the Tenderloin. The Cadillac calls itself “The House of Welcome Since 1907;” and all are definitely welcome to this free jazz opportunity. Those who follow this site regularly know that, due to problems with the electrical system, the Cadillac Hotel had to confront the harsh possibility of being closed this past fall; but, thanks to a highly successful fundraising effort, both the hotel and the free jazz concerts are still with us.