Sitting in Berkeley's Freight & Salvage Coffee House before the music starts, you can almost imagine yourself in a union hall getting ready for a few songs by Pete Seeger. The place has that kind of pedigree: old-school progressive politics, acoustic stringed instruments, folk-adelic, decidedly anticommercial. It doesn't even serve beer, so prepare to get high on muffins and java or else sneak over to the Acme on San Pablo for a quick one. But the music's the thing, and the Freight has hosted the best, everyone from John Renbourn and Teresa Trull and Martin Pahinui to R. Crumb and Gillian Welch and Townes Van Zandt and Iris DeMent and even Dana Carvey (he did an open mic in 1999). But now the Freight is steadily gearing up for a move into new digs.
Sometime in the summer of 2008, the almost-forty-year-old nonprofit music club will open in a newly constructed, bigger location in downtown Berkeley, across from the Berkeley Rep on Addison Street - thanks to the support of such well-heeled folk fans as Bay Area mega-investor Warren Hellman, who, along with musician and festival organizer Danny Carnahan co-chairs the Freight's New Home Committee. So it's not all shoeless hippies in folkieville. The proposed 20,000-sq.-ft. venue, ideally located close to the Downtown Berkeley BART stop, will include a 480-seat performance space, a place for classes and workshops, an archive of folk and traditional music, a retail space, and a cafe. So pack up your guitars and dobros and head down that dusty road, feelin' good. The Freight is on its way.
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