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to a man as being fully at rest,
without a passion,
without business,
without entertainment,

Nothing is so intolerable

without care.
Blaise Pascal


This year’s AES again coincides with what must be the best FREE annual music festival in the country: Hardly Strictly Bluegrass at the Speedway Meadows in Golden Gate Park. We’re talking five stages; dozens of top country, bluegrass and Americana artists and a vibe like no other all weekend for no money. A handful of the performers this year include Plant & Krauss with 2008 TEC Hall of Fame winner T Bone Burnett, Emmylou Harris, Nick Lowe, Steve Earle, Earl Scruggs, Ralph Stanley, Ricky Skaggs, Elvis Costello and Les Paul Award winner Ray Benson fronting Asleep at the Wheel. Visit for performance schedules and directions.
—Barbara Schultz

Close to Moscone


Every major museum in the city offers one free-admission day per month, and if you’re still in town after the show closes, Tuesday, October 7, is your lucky day: The SFMOMA is a block from Moscone—convenient for taking a booth setup break.

Also, don’t miss The Asian Art Museum in Civic Center Plaza, one of the largest museums in the Western world devoted to Asian art; the spectacular new De Young art museum in Golden Gate Park; and the Legion of Honor, which displays a collection of 4,000 years of ancient and European art, in a beautiful setting overlooking the Pacific.
—Sarah Jones


San Francisco is only place other than Berlin that you can experience the world famous Love Fest, and it’s happening over the AES weekend. While the Love Fest goes down during the day while you’re working, there’s plenty of opportunity to keep Love alive at night. If you want the big event atmosphere of a world-reknown club, check out Ruby Skye, which will be featuring the globe-trotting DJs Kaskade(Oct. 3), Benny Benassi (Oct. 4) and Ferry Corsten (Oct. 5) during the AES show. More post-Love Fest revelry can be found not far from the Moscone Center at Temple and Club Six.
—Markkus Rovito, Remix

Close to Moscone


Searching for that “only in San Francisco” experience? Look no further than Asia SF (, a trendy, upscale restaurant/bar/dance club just five blocks down Folsom Street where locals and savvy tourists alike wash down blacked tuna sashimi and sweet tomato-edamame salad with some potent Tyra’s Toyko Tea, served by the lovely and stylish“gender illusionists,” who hop up on the bar once an hour to lip-sync their favorite odes to girl power by the glow of the color-morphing shoji screen walls. On weekends, bring earplugs: Bachelorette parties rule the dance floor…
—Sarah Jones


With its funky rooms, colorful poolside cabanas and hip and friendly staff, the Phoenix Hotel in San Francisco’s seedy Tenderloin neighborhood has served as a haven for traveling rock stars for years, evidenced by the tour buses often outnumbering cars in the parking lot. Inside, the hotel’s posh Bambuddha Lounge (601 Eddy St. at Larkin, is a mellow oasis of cool, drawing hipsters from all over the city looking for dainty plates, signature cocktails and mostly, the DJs that spin into the wee hours.
—Sarah Jones


Possibly the only bar that you can actually smoke in—okay, it’s in the outside beer garden, but you’re still technically in the bar—Zeitgeist is what we affectionately call the “rock/metal” bar. In addition to hosting a gazillion great beers on tap and numerous down-home cocktails, the bar also has 20 guest “apartments” upstairs for overnight or short-term accommodation ($35 a night) for “hook-ups” or too drunk to drive home! Another perk is Port-a-Potties in the beer garden, reducing the long lines for the one bathroom inside the bar. You can eat there, but you’re gonna end up straining your ears as the grillmasters shout your name (no fancy intercom here!) when your grub is up. Oh yeah, motorcycles welcome!
—Sarah Benzuly


No matter how bad you got the blues, there’s a club for you. Just west of Union Square, Biscuits and Blues serves up live music and hearty soul food seven nights a week, in a classy nightclub environment. Recent headliners have included the likes of Roomful of Blues and Lavay Smith and Her Red Hot Skillet Lickers. If you feel more like grooving on a sweaty dance floor, John Lee Hooker’s Boom Boom Room, a “sultry down home juke joint” across town in the Fillmore, also showcases both national and local acts every night, from blues to soul to funk. On the can’t-pry-my-feet-off-the-sticky-floor end of the spectrum, a tiny bar called The Saloon—which also holds the title of San Francisco’s oldest bar—shakes up North Beach nightly.
—Sarah Jones


Specs:It’s not that clean, it’s not that pretty, but tucked into a small alley next to Tosca, across the street from City Lights and Vesuvio, is Specs, a bar for people who like neighborhood bars. More of a blue-collar, waterfront vibe. Memorabilia from the owner’s travels line the walls.
—Tom Kenny


Definitely buy advance tickets for this one-screen movie house, which was deemed a landmark in 1991 and named after the beautiful Golden Gate Bridge. Not your typical run-of-the-mill corporate theater, the Bridge showcases indie films and foreign-language cinema from the 1950s.
—Sarah Benzuly


Each night, way out on a nondescript, fog-enshrouded block of Geary Street in the Richmond district, Tommy’s Mexican Restaurant is hoppin’. And although the hearty food is famously delicious, the real draw is the tiny bar ( There, “pope of tequila” Julio Bermejo holds court, educating the standing-room-only crowd of local barflies and tequila aficionados from all over on the fine subtleties of the 205 varieties of 100% blue agave tequila perched behind him on the wall, ranging from the ubiquitous Herradura Silver to Chinaco Añjeo Black Label at $90 a shot, to the rare Tres-Cuatro-Cinco Añejo, of which only 600 bottles were ever produced. (As for the price, if you have to ask…) Bermejo, who has been featured by the likes of CNN and Time and has mixed drinks for Pavarotti, is eager to share his wealth of knowledge, so don’t be afraid to sample something new—unless, of course, he offers you his homemade habanero-infused tequila…
—Sarah Jones


If the Bambuddha scene (see above) gets a little too “atmospheric” for you…
Head around the corner to the Edinburgh Castle (901 Geary St. at Larkin), a cozy Scottish tavern featuring a generous selection of imported ales on tap and “authentic” fish and chips, delivered in newspaper from the shop around the corner. The pub also hosts a variety of literary and music events, and an ass-kicking trivia night on Tuesdays. For a complete schedule, visit
—Sarah Jones