Leo’s Would Bring Some Needed Live Music Into the Temescal

March 28, 2014

Culture, Streets


Ever since I moved in to the Temescal I have lamented how few live music options there are in North Oakland and South Berkeley. What makes many cities like Austin and New Orleans so enjoyable is the plethora of diverse and live music options that span genres and generations. I’ve always been a regular at La Peña Cultural Center (where I served on the board for 8 years) and I enjoy an occasional outing to Avonova House Music series and 57th Street Gallery, but my dreams for a full out place with local and eclectic acts will be answered in part if Leo’s can get its permits from the Planning Commission on Wed, April 16th, 6pm at the Planning Commission Meeting in City Hall.

I recently toured the new building with owners Jason Perkins and Michael Conners and I was delighted by what I see: a small cafe, a clothing store and a cozy, all-wood intimate space for the music. The building is pretty ugly and non-descript from the outside but they have opened up the ceilings and used the recycled wood to create a place that will be a neighborhood hang for lots of local groups. And these guys have lots of experience as they run the successful Brick and Mortar in SF and The New Parish in the Uptown. Plus they really care about the neighborhood and are already helping me out with producing the Leo’s stage for the Temescal Street Fair on July 6th.

The only thing that stands in their way is for the ridiculous insistence that they provide lots of off street parking for the development. There already is a parking lot next door whose spaces are mostly used for daytime customers at The Wine Mine and Mariposa Bakery plus lots of street parking. Do us all a favor: Show up on April 16th 6pm (2nd item on agenda so probably 6:30pm) and speak out at the Planning Commission to support this new addition. Or write the Planning Commission in support.


  • Leo’s 50 year music history will be honored by keeping the same name and preserving the music tradition. The music played will be diffused since the sound will face the direction of the freeway.
  • RETAIL – Men/Women’s urban clothing store called Density, patterned after original store on Valencia Street in SF. Open 12 to 7 pm
  • CAFÉ – initially hours will coincide with music venue and serve sandwiches and salads.

Windows will be added to the currently  stark building and its own storefront entrance and eventually will be open for lunch and dinner 7 days a week with a yet to be announced restaurant partner.

  • PARKING -Chevron and Caspar’s after hours? although I think this is unnecessary
  • COMMUNITY INVOLVEMENT – New Parish promises to work with Idora Park group to improve/maintain freeway overpass
  • SECURITY – Ample lighting, security cameras and staff, providing additional eyes and ears

About Karen Hester

Karen Hester is a community activist and events coordinator who lives in North Oakland in Temescal Creek Cohousing. Her event productions website is hesternet.net. She lives and breathes the fight to stop more billboards in Oakland and started ScenicEastBay.org

View all posts by Karen Hester

3 Responses to “Leo’s Would Bring Some Needed Live Music Into the Temescal”

  1. joey brite Says:

    I wish I could be more excited about the idea of a live music venue in Temescal proper, but I’m unmoved. Why? Because I help promote the only non-profit music school, concert venue & rental facility right next door in Rockridge, Musically Minded Academy. We’re 6,000 square feet of some magical listening room space, sound proof rehearsal space, educational workshop space aimed at musicians & artists, summer camp space, free movies on random Sundays (‘MOVIE DAZE’), & so much more, and we struggle to gain the community exposure that we need to support us each and every month.
    I’m not one to view the world in a glass-half-empty manner, but I do see that the economy has been and continues to be just too challenging to barely support MMA as well as the 57th Street Gallery as it is. Avonova rarely gets more than a handful at any concert, so that’s one more example of how difficult it’s been supporting live music in the immediate area on any regular basis. Musicians who perform at any venue locally are mostly ‘paying-to-play’ and it’s a model we at MMA are trying desperately to break.
    Adding one more live music venue I feel would just add to the challenge of existing venues staying afloat amidst the competition of the downtown Oakland offerings as well as our Berkeley music venues.
    I DO miss Leo’s as a music retail space though that used to satisfy the multitudes of musicians in the Temescal area and beyond, and with the closure of Best Music Co., I miss it even more.


  2. Karen Hester
    hestekaren Says:

    Thanks for writing Joey but I do think there is room for more music, especially as the owners already have a great track record and it will be a club space as well as a listening room but hey I wish we all support the local music scene, especially MMA!


  3. rachylou Says:

    Eh, have had to walk thru the Leo’s throng twice already so far. I have my choice of partying yipsters – Leo’s or Kingfish. It’s unpleasant. I can’t wait for the first drug bust at Leo’s. That will be fun.


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