Vocal Resources

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ba-choral: For choral singers, conductors and others involved in the management and support of choral groups in Northern California. Complements ba-acappella (primarily for small a cappella ensembles), addresses concerns of the volunteer, professional and semi-professional adult and children’s choruses served on the national level by Chorus America, and which, generally speaking, are open to singers from the general public. Topics: notices of concerts, workshops, choral openings/auditions, requests, comments, discussion and sharing of information likely to be of interest. Subscribe via this web page or email to ba-choral-subscribe@yahoogroups.com.


Many thanks to everyone who contributed to this compilation.

Where known, we list specific requirements for a venue. Absence of any comment such as "requires demo tape & press kit" doesn't indicate that one won't be necessary.

General Resources

Open mic shows are a great place for an informal performance. Have a look at The Bay Area Open Mic Calendar (http://www.merde.org/calendar/). [2/26/12: Needs confirmation]

Phil DeBar's Human Voice Show: all groups are welcome to sing on Phil's shows, to publicize gigs, record releases, etc. KKUP is heard well from Redwood City and Oakland south to San Jose, Salinas, and Santa Cruz/Monterey. Contact Phil DeBar:phil_debar@msn.com, (707) 544-8738. [2/26/12: Needs confirmation]

San Francisco

Hotel Utah: Turn of the last century ambiance, full menu. Check http://www.hotelutah.com/booking for booking instructions and information.

Edinburgh Castle: great little room upstairs, seats about 50. Contact: Ray Wilcox, 415-255-8556 (Requires demo tape & press kit.) [2/26/12: Needs confirmation]

Spanganga located at 3376 19th Street, San Francisco. A good space. The blue room is not very big (seats about 40), but has a pretty nice sound system (woofers under the stage). You do have to pay from $125-175 depending on what night you want the room, but there is no percentage on top of that, which is nice. Also, if they like you at your first concert, they may offer you a 'split the house' deal (well, they did for us; no promises) They also host improv comedy, and it is a nice room for that as well. They got into trouble recently for operating w/o an entertainment license, so they have to be pretty careful with the rules for a while. No food or drink allowed (bottled water is OK), and you have to use their amp/speakers. It's a great neighborhood for hanging out in, either for dinner or for drinking and dancing, so promoting the concert as something to do as part of an evening of frippery is a good idea. As an aside, I really like the feel of this space; very counter-culture/squidlist-y (http://www.laughingsquid.org/). Contact name is Sean Kelly. Semi-affiliated with the Odeon (http://www.odeonbar.com/originalindex.html), which would probably be a good place to do a gig if your group was kind of weird (I don't mean "you sing a Weird Al song" weird, I mean "You spend concerts in character as Pirates/Aliens/DOVE, the band of LOVE" weird). [2/26/12: Needs confirmation]

Union Square in SF is a crowded area with a lot of tourists, but it's unclear how the police respond to public performances. (Anyone know?)

The Laurel Shopping Center in Presidio Heights has a wonderfully reverberating central tunnel. Foot traffic is moderate on weekends and the security guards are reported to have been very friendly to a capp shows.

South Bay

San Jose

Espresso Garden: great open mic and gigging venue. [2/26/12: Needs confirmation]

Jazzy Java, a little coffee shop near 85 & Cottle. They have a performance every once in a while. [2/26/12: Needs confirmation]

Willow Glen Coffee Roasting Company on Lincoln Ave in San Jose is a very welcoming little spot to perform on a Saturday Night. This is a nice gig because it pays (we've been getting $100, but I'm not sure if that is a constant amount) plus you can put out a tip basket. However, you are expected to sing from 8-10 with about a 20 minute break, so make sure you can fill this amount of time. Also, while Willow Glen is a nice area, this cafe is towards the end of it and you don't get a lot of walkup traffic. I would reccommend that you be sure you can pull 20-25 audience members on your own (not that hard, it's a free show), preferably ones who will buy some coffee and ice cream. At our last gig there, we had some luck going out into the street about 20 minutes before the concert and telling people about the show. I think if a group spent about 20 minutes from 7:30-8 (he likes you to setup and sound check at 7 anyway), they could probably get a fair amount of walk-ins. Also, the amount of space you get to perform is quite small (we were cramped and there are only 4 of us); I would suggest not using mic stands, as they tend to get in the way. Contact Jay to set up a gig. [2/26/12: Needs confirmation]

Palo Alto

Stanford University - frequent performances by college groups.

Streetcorner Singing - Lytton Plaza, outside of Pizza My Heart, is a good spot to draw a small crowd, esp. in the summer. Weekend nights typically see a lot of foot traffic, and being near Stanford the crowd is young and lively.

Mountain View

Dana Street Roasting Company at 755 West Dana Street. Contact the Ower, Nick Chaput at 650-390-9638.

We love this place. There is no stage, but there is a pretty large space and you get a wall behind you, so you can hang a banner or put out an easel or whatever. On Friday/Saturday night, the walk-up traffic is great from people killing time between dinner and waiting for the Limelight/the Salsa place next door to open. They don't pay officially, but they've given us $50 to start our tip basket each time we've been there. We did do one weekday performance there. It was OK, but there were quite a number of people trying to work (they have a wireless internet connection) who just seemed kind of annoyed. [2/26/12: Needs confirmation]

Jumpin' Java, café on Castro Street, has had a cappella performers (call ahead). [2/26/12: Needs confirmation]


[Near San Jose, Campbell has a promising, if not fully realized, historic downtown area.]

Orchard Valley Coffee Roasting Company ñ on the corner of Campbell Avenue and First, or Second, or Third. Live bands perform there in the past, and it was a nice scene. A bunch of singers wouldn't be unwelcome, though they might not get paid. It is internet-savvy: a couple of web terminals available to rent for surfing. [2/26/12: Needs confirmation]

East Bay


Freight & Salvage Folk Coffee house, very nice venue with up to approx. 400 seats. Variety of music, including folks, bluegrass. Major local a cappella groups perform there on a regular basis. Contact Steve Baker 510-548-7603. (Please don't send unsolicited demo tape; call first.) [2/26/12: Needs confirmation]

Ben and Jerry's on Oxford (just below UC Berkeley campus) - informal. Drop by and ask permission. If people mention they are there for you, you get some portion of the profits. They also have nights where they do fundraisers. [2/26/12: Needs confirmation]

Pasqua Cafe on Center near Oxford - informal. DeCadence reports that Pasqua let them put out a "hat" for donations. [2/26/12: Needs confirmation]

La Val's Subterranean, 1834 Euclid Avenue near Hearst. Cozy downstairs venue of popular pizza restaurant has a variety of shows, including a cappella. [2/26/12: Needs confirmation]

Anna's Place, 1801 University Ave, (510) 849-2662. A wonderful little café with a tiny stage that features live music on the weekends (maybe even during the week). There's an open mic night ($4 cover) on the first two Tuesdays of each month. She's hosted monthly performances by the Irrationals, a local a cappella group, and would presumably welcome others. The focus is on jazz, blues & Broadway music. There is a $5 minimum purchase expected. [2/26/12: Needs confirmation]

Streetcorner Singing

- UC Berkeley's Sproul Plaza is a great place for an impromptu set. At Bancroft and Telegraph.

- Telegraph Ave. in Berkeley - can be very noisy, but is crowded and welcoming to street music

Codornices (sp?) Park at Euclid and Eunice has a great tunnel for singing, though this is more of a "for us" performing venue. It's at least 50' long, running under Euclid, with the entrance viewable from the basketball court.

Albany (right next to Berkeley)

St. Alban's Episcopal Church, 1501 Washington Ave. (at Curtis), Albany, CA 94707. Contact Deby Beeler at 510-525-1716 Tues/Thurs. One block north of Solano Ave. Their Parish Hall is small, probably seating about 100 people if they're friendly, and has really nice acoustics. The sanctuary seats 132. It's very inexpensive ñ group Flying Without Instruments reports they usually give the church $100 or $125, "but if you're really broke, they'll accept $75." The church also requests that you offer a maximum of 6 comp tickets to church staff. If you send them flyers in advance, they will put them out for you in their lobby to advertise the concert to their parishioners. There's a full kitchen in Parish Hall. This is a popular venue with the Early Music crowd, and the church staff are extraordinarily nice. [2/26/12: Needs confirmation]

Emeryville (right next to Berkeley)

Border's Books will consider a cappella. Venue not as great as Palo Alto, but you can get a good crowd. Acoustics bad if you sing indoors there. [2/26/12: Needs confirmation]

Walnut Creek

The Musician's Coffee House [2/26/12: Needs confirmation]

Broadway Plaza Shopping Center. The Center is outdoors, with walkthrough plazas. Michael Barkley reports of his old barbershop group's impromptu show: "the people loved us. Eventually the person in charge of signing up such talent for the Center approached us and thanked us for our efforts and invited us back whenever we wish." [2/26/12: Needs confirmation]


A summer concert series at the Todos Santos Park (The Edlos, SoVoSo and the Whiffenpoofs have been there in the 1999 season). It's a mid week lunch venue. The contact is Jim Ocean. [2/26/12: Needs confirmation]

The Willows is a shopping center to consider. There's a gazebo that people perform at. (Jim Ocean may be the contact.) [2/26/12: Needs confirmation]

North Bay

Mill Valley

Sweetwater: great venue, good walk-in traffic. Contact Sharmon? 415-388-2820 between 1:30-4:30pm. (Requires demo tape & press kit.) [2/26/12: Needs confirmation]

Santa Cruz and South

Santa Cruz

Kuumbwa Jazz Center: not cheap and often must be booked well in advance, but it's a great spot with a good sound system. One group reports that with six months notice you could be invited to sing in their Friday night series, which means they pay for the venue fee, and split the door. [2/26/12: Needs confirmation]

Poet and Patriot - open Mic Saturdays 4-7. [2/26/12: Needs confirmation]

Places that might be open to a cappella shows: [2/26/12: Needs confirmation]

  • The Crepe Place - late night and Sunday brunch live music
  • Rosie McCann's Irish Pub and Restaurant - nightly live music
  • So Say We - acoustic only and not if there is a performance in the Dance Gallery that they share space with.
  • Moe's Alley - Blues bar
  • The Ugly Mug - coffee house

Mobo Sushi - very small stage, bring your own sound system, very bad acoustics, but live music almost every night of the week! [2/26/12: Needs confirmation]

Pacific Cultural Center, 1307 Seabright Ave, Santa Cruz, CA 95062. Contact Gayatri at (831) 426-8893. They charge an hourly rate for their hall and additional rooms. There is an additional charge for Sound equipment, lights, custodial (if you plan on having food or drink) and Set up and Take down of chairs. You may also set up and take down yourselves, and one group reports providing their own sound equipment because PCC's is reportedly not very good (7/1999). The cost is not too high, however it does add up. The hall holds approximately 250 people, and the acoustics are fair. The event needs to be over by 10pm. There is limited parking. [2/26/12: Needs confirmation]

First Congregational Church, 900 High Street, Santa Cruz, CA 95060. Contact Sharon Richards at (831) 426-2010. The First Congregational Church is a nice place to have a large event. The Sanctuary holds approximately 400 people. The seating is in pews and the hall has good acoustics. They also have additional rooms that hold from 50 - 250 people. They charge for their rooms and Sanctuary per day or evening use. The event needs to be over by 10pm. They have a kitchen that can be used for an additional cost. SCATS uses this venue for their annual Acappellafest. There is plenty of parking. This venue is somewhat costly. [2/26/12: Needs confirmation]

Streetcorner Singing:

  • Anywhere on Pacific Garden Mall
  • The Boardwalk
  • Municipal Wharf - has a stage area


Streetcorner Singing:

  • Capitola Mall also has entertainment on weekends, especially in December
  • Capitola Village - Art and Wine Festival


Don Quixote - Mexican restaurant [2/26/12: Needs confirmation]

Ben Lomand

Henfling's Firehouse Tavern [2/26/12: Needs confirmation]

Way East Bay (Davis/Sacramento area)


Palms Playhouse [2/26/12: Needs confirmation]

Fox and Goose [2/26/12: Needs confirmation]

A Cappella Festival - Varsity Theatre, Feb 2000 [2/26/12: Needs confirmation]

Sudwerks [2/26/12: Needs confirmation]


Fox and Goose [2/26/12: Needs confirmation]

Sudwerks [2/26/12: Needs confirmation]


Dvora Yanow runs a series (mostly folk) in San Jose, and they once hired Artisan. They have an email mailing list and may be interested in doing other a cappella shows. Contact: DYanow@csuhayward.edu [2/26/12: Needs confirmation]

Jim Ocean is the main contact for most alternative music booking in the Contra Costa Area. [2/26/12: Needs confirmation]

Carolyn Stark is the President of SCATS (Santa Cruz Acappellafest and Talent Showcase), which presents a cappella shows throughout the Central Coast. Email her at cjstark@cats.ucsc.edu [2/26/12: Needs confirmation]

Send us your additions, updates, etc!