Enter Bird and Beckett on a Friday night and you’ll find a scene you won’t see anywhere else in San Francisco. Old friends greet each other and pour cups of wine as they maneuver through bookshelves. Jazz musicians warm up on a small, cozy stage in the back. Books are crammed into every possible corner, spilling out from their shelves into piles on the floor.

San Francisco is home to many renowned independent bookstores, but Bird and Beckett’s focus on music and the community is particularly notable. Established about 10 years ago, this Glen Park bookstore solidified its commitment to local culture by founding the non-profit Cultural Legacy Project. The project seeks to “present, document and archive the creative work of significant living writers and musicians in the San Francisco Bay Area, for a neighborhood audience and future generations.”  In addition to weekly jazz programs, the Cultural Legacy Project presents poetry readings at the bookshop and publishes a literary review called AMERARCANA.


Several regulars rotate on the Friday night jazz stage, and the night I attended featured the Chuck Peterson Quintet, swinging some classic jazz tunes. Vocalist Dorothy Lefkovits joined the group on stage a little later for  Ain’t Misbehavin’  and other standards:

Peterson, a saxophonist, helped get the original jazz series rolling in the early days of the bookshop, and he shared an easy familiarity with both his fellow performers and audience members.

To learn more about the Friday night jazz schedule and other events at Bird and Beckett, visit their website or just drop on by the bookshop! If you attend, make sure to help support the musicians with the suggested donation of $10 per person.

Bird and Beckett Books and Records [Map]
653 Chenery Street
San Francisco

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