Keystone Korner

Keystone Korner was a jazz club in the North Beach neighborhood of San Francisco, which opened in 1972 and continued operation until 1983. Many live recordings were made at the club.[1] Jessica Williams was the house pianist for a number of years.

Keystone Korner
Keystone Korner 1982.jpg
Odean Pope in front of Keystone Korner, 1982
Location750 Vallejo Street
San Francisco, California
United States
Coordinates37°47′55″N 122°24′34″W / 37.798586°N 122.409374°W / 37.798586; -122.409374Coordinates: 37°47′55″N 122°24′34″W / 37.798586°N 122.409374°W / 37.798586; -122.409374
OwnerTodd Barkan


In 1969, Freddie Herrera bought Dino and Carlo's Bar in the North Beach section of San Francisco. He changed the name to Keystone Korner, a reference to Keystone Cops, because of its proximity to the Central Police Station on the opposite corner of Emery Lane.[2]

Keystone Korner began as a topless bar, but quickly changed direction when songwriter Nick Gravenites convinced Herrera that live music would bring in more customers. The strength of the music scene in San Francisco allowed Herrera to book young musicians who would go on to stellar careers. Patrons filled the club to hear new talents such as Saunders and Garcia, Elvin Bishop, Neal Schon, Boz Scaggs, and The Pointer Sisters. Herrera's success made it possible to move across the San Francisco Bay and open a larger room, called Keystone Berkeley.[3] He then sold the Keystone Korner to Todd Barkan who converted the nightclub from a popular rock venue to an internationally famous jazz club.[4]

Barkan paid $12,500 (equivalent to $80,977 in 2021) for the Keystone Korner in 1972, and hired prominent jazz musicians to play there. Early gigs by performers including Sonny Rollins and Art Blakey established the Keystone as one of the best jazz clubs in the nation—a reputation that continued to build as musicians Miles Davis, McCoy Tyner, Bill Evans, Betty Carter and Stan Getz appeared on its stage.[5] Faced with economic challenges Barkan was forced to close the Keystone Korner in 1983.[6]

In 2019, Barkan and Michelin-starred chef Robert Wiedmaier re-launched the Keystone Korner in Baltimore's Harbor East.[7] Bassist and bandleader Ron Carter and his trio with guitarist Russell Malone and pianist Donald Vega opened the club on April 30, 2019.[8]

Live recordingsEdit

Todd Barkan, left, proprietor of Keystone Korner jazz club, San Francisco, and drummer and leader of the Jazz Messengers, Art Blakey, at Keystone Korner. December 27, 1979.


  1. ^ Whiting, Sam (October 10, 2011). "'Keystone Korner' documents jazz club". San Francisco Chronicle.
  2. ^ McNally, Dennis (2003). A Long Strange Trip: The Inside History of the Grateful Dead. Three Rivers Press. p. 399. ISBN 978-0767911863.
  3. ^ Feinstein, Sascha (2012). Keystone Korner: Portrait of a Jazz Club. ISBN 978-0253356918.
  4. ^ Selvin, Joel (1996). San Francisco: The Musical History Tour. Chronicle Books. pp. 38–40. ISBN 978-0811810074.
  5. ^ Sloane, Kathy (2011). Keystone Korner: Portrait of a Jazz Club. Indiana University Press. pp. 2–7. ISBN 978-0253356918.
  6. ^ Chinen, Nate (February 28, 2013). "Summoning a West Coast Spirit". The New York Times. p. C1.
  7. ^ "Keystone Korner Club Revived in Baltimore". JazzTimes. Archived from the original on 5 April 2019. Retrieved 24 March 2020.
  8. ^ "Calendar". Archived from the original on 26 April 2019. Retrieved 24 March 2020.

External linksEdit