By Dave Pehling
SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) — Popular Mission District club the Chapel on Saturday hosts its first socially distanced concert on its new outdoor stage with the Red Room Orchestra playing a benefit dinner show to help save some of the city’s financially struggling live music venues amid the COVID-19 shutdown.
The concert that marks the return of live music to the Chapel and its sister restaurant Curio (which reopened back in mid-June with a new chef and menu) and is aimed at raising money and awareness about the plight of Bay Area venues that are part of the Independent Venue Alliance. The organization was born in the spring as the COVID-19 pandemic first emerged to shut down businesses.
Operators from landmark San Francisco venues like the Bottom of the Hill, El Rio, the Rickshaw Stop and the Chapel all banded together in order to amplify the cause of these key cultural hubs that have received little assistance from either city or federal government officials.
All IVA venues are currently closed and will likely remain shuttered until the final phase of COVID-19 business reopenings. Some are speculating that live music performances, even on a smaller scale, may not happen this year.
The christening of the Chapel’s new outdoor stage with this special seated show including prix fixe dinner will feature session veteran and keyboard/trumpet player Marc Capelle leading a stripped-down line-up of his soundtrack focused ensemble the Red Room Orchestra. Tickets for the socially distanced benefit show with proceeds going to the IVA are $250 for a table for two and $450 for a table for four. Masks are required.
The longtime leader of the all-star R&B revue Marc & the Casuals, Capelle in recent years has found more and more time taken up by his newer, more ambitious project. The Red Room Orchestra was initially formed in 2017 to pay tribute to the music featured in “Twin Peaks,” the surreal television show by iconic director David Lynch that saw a revival with “Twin Peaks: The Return” on Showtime that same year.
Lynch’s unique cinematic creations have always put music in the spotlight, from the singing Lady in the Radiator from the director’s 1977 debut and the bizarre visage of Dean Stockwell lip syncing to the Roy Orbison hit “In Dreams” in his Oscar-nominated breakthrough Blue Velvet through his use of both ’50s and modern rock in Wild at Heart and Lost Highway during the ’90s. Lynch made music a cornerstone of “Twin Peaks” and its 1992 cinematic prequel Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me, collaborating with his longtime composer Angelo Badalamenti on original songs like the hit “Mysteries of Love” sung by Julee Cruise (who would release a full album of Lynch/Badalamenti tunes and appeared in both the series and film).
After an initial more stripped-down performance at the Chapel bar at the behest of the venue’s general manager Fred Barnes, Capelle gathered a high-powered group of San Francisco musicians including Dirty Ghosts guitarist Allyson Baker, Persephone’s Bees guitarist Tom Ayers, drummer Todd Roper (Chuck Prophet, Cake), bassist Peter Straus (the Dwarves), percussionist Larry Mullins (aka Toby Dammit, who has played with Iggy Pop, the Residents, Swans and Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds), singer Karina Denike (Dancehall Crashers, NOFX, the Cottontails), violinist/vocalist Dina Maccabee and saxophonist Tom Griesser (New Morty Show, Brass Monkey, the Cottontails) to play the music of “Twin Peaks” and more Lynch-related offerings at the music venue, taking the stage with an expanded group that was christened the Red Room Orchestra in front of a packed house for a transporting night of atmospheric music.
The positive reception of that show would lead the group to make a number of acclaimed appearances at San Francisco festivals over the past three years. Performances at the SF Sketchfest, Outside Lands, Clusterfest and the San Francisco International Film Festival found the group delivering the music of “Twin Peaks” with cast members from the show as well as songs from the soundtracks of films by Wes Anderson (Rushmore and The Royal Tenenbaums), Paul Thomas Anderson’s Boogie Nights and the Cohen Brothers’ classic, The Big Lebowski.
On Saturday, the Orchestra digs deep to perform classic tracks from “Twin Peaks” alongside music from another Lynch creation, the dark and twisted 1990 family drama Wild At Heart that includes everything from big-band swing (Glen Miller’s “In the Mood,” the Casa Loma Orchestra’s “Smoke Rings”), ’50s rock (Elvis Presley, Gene Vincent) and Bay Area rock crooner Chris Isaak. Selected music from Fire Walk with Me, Blue Velvet and Eraserhead will also be featured. The pared-down version of the group includes Capelle with RRO stalwarts Baker, Ayres and Straus, Larry Carr and special guest Kelley Stoltz.
The Red Room Orchestra
Saturday, August 15, doors 6 p.m., show 7 p.m. $250-$450