Sunday, August 16, 2009

2362 San Pablo Avenue, Berkeley, CA-The Blind Lemon


The Blind Lemon was the first folk club in Berkeley, and one of the first on the West Coast. It was founded by Rolf Cahn, a German by way of Cambridge, Massachuessets, who was an accomplished guitarist. The club was opened in 1958, and served coffee and folk music, literally setting the stage for what was to come. Cahn would later found The Cabale Creamery, an important early 1960s Berkeley folk club, a few blocks away at 2504 San Pablo.

This photo was taken on August 11, 2009. The typewriter repair business at the site seems to have closed some time ago. The building is even smaller than it appears in the photo, a narrow building that is not particularly long.

9 comments:

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  2. I was a bartender at the Lemon 1966-8 and lived briefly in the apartment behind. It was a chessbar with chessclocks and boards when I began but Doug? and I began substituting rock music for classical and catering to a noisier crowd. Ray Gilbert owned the bar at that time. We had several happenings with poetry, light show and music there. A long time ago.

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    1. do you have any memories of John Muir, Rolf Cahn or Barbara Dane from those days? would love to discuss.

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  4. Does the name Les Fairbanks ring a bell for any of you Blind Lemon folk? He's my dad and co-owner sometime in the late 50's but don't see his name in any of the references I've found about the club. A pretty young lady began flirting with him as he tended bar and, fast forward, that's how I'm writing to you about him and the club. Any info would be helpful and a kick to learn. Btw- he's still alive and kicking! Thanks

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    1. It doesn't ring a bell to me but I'm interested in anything related to John Muir, who was friends with Rolf Cahn, who probably new Les?

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  5. My friend Margaret (Maggie) Rebhan was very much a fixture at the Blind Lemon and I was introduced to her there. The music was as good as the Russian peruski (sp)

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  6. The Blind Lemon was operating as early as 1955. As I recall, Joe Glickman, an √©migr√© from Harbin, was the owner. He made great pirogis and would spend weekends driving through Sonoma and Napa to stock up on cheap but delicious wines which he would sell for as little as $1 per bottle. An informal group of 4-10 or so of us would meet there almost every night to play mainly guitar and banjo. Most names are lost in my declining memory but one played increasingly good flamenco and his best buddy was a helicopter pilot studying for a graduate geology degree at UC Berkeley where most of us were teaching or grad students. It was still going strong with the same owner in April ’57 when we left the Bay area.

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    1. Rolf was a flamenco guitarist perhaps that was him? Did you know John Muir or Felix Rosenthal? Irving Shapiro? thanks.

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