Best Traditional Music Venue: Grooviest bluegrass gigs

Freight & Salvage Coffee House

1968 was a momentous year. Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated, Richard Nixon won the White House, Tasmania abolished capital punishment — and the Freight & Salvage Coffee House opened on San Pablo Avenue, becoming a well-loved venue for traditional folk, jazz, blues, bluegrass, worldbeat, and gospel music in the midst of a culture gone crazy for psychedelic rock. Also known as the Berkeley Society for the Preservation of Traditional Music, the Freight’s shabby chic contributes to its charm. In this nonsmoking, alcohol-free venue, patrons can enjoy desserts and snacks in their seats while listening to such artists as local bluegrass fiddler Laurie Lewis, husband-wife guitar duo Robin and Linda Williams (of Prairie Home Companion fame), Native American flutist Mary Youngblood, or Irish music singer Melanie O’Reilly, to name only a few. There’s change in the air: A new home for this Berkeley institution is in the works, right in the center of Berkeley’s Downtown Arts District. But trust that the folks at the Freight will keep their passion for traditional music.

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