The stunning SF Jazz Center in San Francisco’s Hayes Valley may look all grown up, but the truth is that they love it when little music lovers fill up their seats. And while they emphasize that all ages are welcome to any show at the center, they throw an extra-special monthly matinee aimed right at families. At half the price and half the length, it’s the perfect primer for budding jazz cats. Read on for all the harmonious details.
Big Names for Little People
Ever since SF Jazz opened its doors last year, they have presented an incredible rotating roster of musicians. Regular shows can be more than 2 hours, with ticket prices ranging from $30–75 dollars. But each month, one performance is shrunk down to a kid-friendly one hour, and tickets are just $5 for kids and seniors, and $15 for adults. These family matinees kick off at 11 am on Saturday, and are more casual and more interactive, but otherwise feature the same talented musicians as the evening shows.
The most recent show took place the third Saturday in October and featured the celebrated SF Jazz Collective playing Michael Jackson—yes, that Michael Jackson. The engaging host even sported her own white sparkly glove. In addition to funny and informative stories and explanations from each musician throughout the show, there was a Q&A period at the end, where not only did in-house audience members get to ask questions, but dozens of families from local Bay Area libraries, where the show was live streamed, got to chime in in real time, via a huge screen in the auditorium. Audience members ranged in age from newborns to octogenarians, and everyone had plenty of patience (and even some humor) for crying kiddies or talkative toddlers.
The After Party
Almost as good as the show itself is the free family workshop that takes place in a smaller performance space right after the show. Only 50 people are allowed in, so it’s a much more interactive and intimate experience, and especially fun for younger kids. The key is signing up as soon as you arrive at the theater, ideally 15-20 minutes before showtime, as the list fills up quickly. For the most recent event, a handful of musicians provided the score for a lively 30-minute dance class, where everyone learned a popular playground dance from the 50s. There were also instruments to try out and plenty of face time with the professional musicians.
Make a Musical Morning of It
SF Jazz is located in the heart of Hayes Valley—a neighborhood filled with kid-friendly shops and restaurants. The upscale Mexican restaurant, South is housed inside the center and is a convenient option, although it’s good to know that it’s a pretty limited menu and there are no high chairs or boosters to be found (but the appetizer quesadillas are the right price and the right size for little bellies).
Across the street is the incredibly family-friendly Grove, with a huge menu, order-at-the-counter easiness and lots of highchairs and changing stations. A short walk up Hayes will land you at Octavia Street, where ice cream, coffee, pizza, pastries, and even a playground awaits. Check out our full family friendly guide to Hayes Valley to plan your perfect morning.
201 Franklin St.
San Francisco, Ca
Have you been to SF Jazz with the family? Tell us about it in the comments below!