Bolivian Surprise – Peña Pachamama

8 12 2008


When I was in college back in Ohio, I went to a performance one night and my world got blown open. I’d never heard anything like Sukay before – they were a Bolivian band that had so much spirit and energy and played instruments I’d never even imagined. I loved it so much that on my college student budget I brought home three albums. (Yes, albums. Be quiet.)

Imagine my surprise when years later I ran into the same band here in San Francisco. Except that now they are not only a band – brother and sister team Eddy and Quentin Navia run Peña Pachamama, a unique, intimate supper club in North Beach that serves traditional Bolivian dishes alongside raw, organic cuisine and fantastic live music by gifted artists from around the world. A typical week looks like this:

slyWEDNESDAY: New World music – Latin, Flamenco, Mediterranean

THURSDAY: Traditional flamenco music and dance

FRIDAY: Hot Cuban music

SATURDAY: Sukay (Yes, THE Sukay!) – World music and dancing celebrating Carnaval throughout a different Latin country, Bolivia and the Andes, Cuba, Spain or Brazil

SUNDAY: Early show – open floor world music dance groups; Later show –  Middle East music and dance

Going to Peña Pachamama is a unique experience. It’s like getting on a boat – once you’re in the door, you’re just along for the ride. It’s a San Francisco – er, Bolivian – experience I recommend for everyone!  Like Robin Williams said, Peña Pachamama “is the kind of place even the Amish would dance.”



30 06 2008

Sorry – I have to do this. It’s not a great San Francisco place, or a hot tip, or even an event you can go to. It’s an event that already happened. But I gotta tell you about it!

Last night I went to see Charo perform. Yes, she’s still alive and looks 20, and even makes jokes about it. Here are some words for her: phenomenal, iconic, bold, crass, fun, funny, cute as hell, seasoned, heart-felt, kitschy, talented, and mostly, a master showperson. She had some of the best costumes I’ve ever seen. She had every single person at Herbst Theater in the palm of her hand.

Charo has gone back to her roots. As a child and teen, before she came to the US at age 16, she studied classical Spanish guitar with master Andres Segovia. Now that she has her own empire, half her show is dedicated to her flamenco guitar performance. She’s good!

What childhood icon do you want to see perform at Herbst Theater?