In partnership with the San Francisco Examiner
The Bach Dancing & Dynamite Society is a legendary live music venue that presents music at the Douglas Beach House on Miramar Beach in Half Moon Bay, California. It is a nonprofit organization that has been presenting Sunday afternoon headliner jazz, classical, and world music since 1964.
Located directly on the beautiful San Mateo County coast’s Miramar Beach, just 35 minutes from San Francisco and 40 minutes from Silicon Valley, the Bach brings a concert approach to a beachfront setting, with the intimacy of a club ambiance. There is a communal feeling to the Beach House and Concert Room, a room that brings the musicians and audience together in a special way. According to the musicians who have played there throughout the years, the Bach is “the best small venue in the United States.”
It all started in 1957 when Pete Douglas, the founder bought a rundown “beer joint” to live in with his then wife and young daughter Linda. The family now including three daughters, ran the beer joint as the Ebb Tide Café, living in the back. Because of its perch overlooking the ocean, and Pete’s hospitality, musicians began jamming there, sometimes until the sun came up. The name of the venue was inspired by one of these late-night jams when one memorable evening Pete was playing Bach on the record player and partygoers were dancing and setting off dynamite at the beach below.
In 1965, Pete built a 3-bedroom two story house abutting the beer joint, and the year afterward began the Sunday concerts which were literally in his second floor living room, where cedar planked walls are still adorned with offbeat art, metal sculptures, stained glass, and a movie poster prominently showing, “Rebel Without a Cause,” starring James Dean and Natalie Wood. The Bach Society became increasingly popular, and in 1971 Pete added a more formal concert room with a balcony, good acoustics and a bar seating area.
The Bach briefly closed after Pete passed away in July of 2014. Pete’s middle daughter, Barbara Douglas Riching, succeeded him as president of the society. “My father created an incredibly special venue, and it would be impossible for me to not continue his legacy,” said Riching at the time. “There is no way I could ever replace him or the special spirit that he brought to the house, but we are extremely excited to begin a new era.” With the re-opening of the Bach, Riching has carried on her father’s vision of presenting jazz in a chamber-like natural setting, where both the musicians and audience can share an intimate experience.
Musicians who have played at the Bach include such luminaries as Betty Carter, Bill Evans, Dexter Gordon, Stan Getz, Max Roach, McCoy Tyner, Bobby Hutcherson, Art Blakey, Etta James, Milt Jackson, Eliane Elias and Joshua Redman to name just a few. In addition to jazz, such notables in the classical music world as the Kronos Quartet and Mariano Cordoba played at the venue. The Bach has been listed consistently as one of the “Great Jazz Venues” in DownBeat magazine.
The venue is open to the public and reserved tickets may be purchased online at bachddsoc.org. Patrons may bring their own food and wine and come early to enjoy the decks and ocean views (Sunsets are incredible too!). Memberships are also available for preferred seating and other benefits and donations are encouraged, but the very best way to support the Bach is to buy a ticket and come experience it!
Bach Dancing & Dynamite Society
311 Mirada Road | Half Moon Bay, CA 94019
Concert info: 650 726-4143, option 3