Friday, May 18, 2007

SFWeekly: Best Jukebox in San Francisco, 2007

SF Weekly's "Best Of" issue is out. The honor of "Best Jukebox" goes to... Hemlock Tavern. From SF Weekly:
Yeah, yeah, a great jukebox is eclectic, something for everyone, blah blah blah. But trying to choose the "best" jukebox in a city as full of great bars and amateur music critics like San Francisco is just inviting some hard-drinking know-it-all to say you're full of it. Fortunately, something happened this year that rendered the selection a no-brainer: The owners of the Hemlock Tavern made their charmingly eclectic jukebox entirely free. The music machine at Hemlock's sister bar, Casanova, has been gratis for a while now, but the song selection at the Hemlock is less '60s-centric, ranging from Deerhoof to Black Flag to Buck Owens to Chet Baker. There's a little Beat Happening for twee, and an album of Agustin Lara works for esoterica. Throw in some Jay Reatard, Wanda Jackson, Jimmy Smith, and locals like the Fucking Champs and Deerhoof, and you've got a good reason to dance to the tune of quarters in your pocket.

The problem with the Hemlock is that, on a weekend night, in order to get to the jukebox you have to tolerate an impressively shitty crowd. Like, really bad. And there are a lot of people jammed into the bar. I don't care how many quarters I have jingling in my pocket, it's not worth it. I'd rather wander down the block and cozy up to the bar at Ha-Ra, where I can play jazz vocalists on the jukebox to my heart's content while the grumpiest bartender in San Francisco entertains me with jokes about having sex with his mother. It is nice to know that the jukebox at Hemlock is free. If only I could get to it...

Reader's Choice goes to the venerable Lucky 13 and its eclectic collection of punk, rockabilly, classic rock, and everything in between. It's a jukebox worthy of the honor.

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