When, as a young man in 1981, Sam Rudin moved from his native Philadelphia to the East Bay, he quickly fell in love with the Freight and Salvage, Berkeley’s quirky little 87-seat concert hall.
Filled with comfortable thrift store furniture and an informal ambience of appreciative attentiveness, the Freight was a perfect fit for performers of modest renown and acoustically based music.
As a solo (albeit high energy) pianist, Sam’s music fit the bill, and the Freight became Sam’s home base. In the absence of other Freight-like rooms, Sam turned his solo performer attention to the outdoor fair and festival circuit, and later started the jazz/blues band Hurricane Sam & the Hotshots.
Now, maybe it’s all the energy he put into becoming a master piano teacher, or maybe the fair and festival circuit just doesn’t have the right ingredients to nurture a high-profile career. Whatever the reason, despite critical acclaim, 4 CD’s, and a whole bunch of happy audiences, years later Sam was still a performer of modest renown, and he missed that great little room.
As the Freight grew and expanded, ultimately arriving at the gorgeous 420 seat theater that it occupies today, Sam started to feel that maybe it was up to him to recreate that wonderful small space. No longer a young man, it would be his late-life adventure.
Eventually, he found the perfect spot: a beautiful space with brick walls and vaulted wood ceilings right by the Arts District in downtown Berkeley. As of April 2016, it is open for business, complete with the requisite thrift store furniture.
The space is actually the back room of a larger building, so of course it is called The Back Room, and the tag line on its logo says it all – “an intimate place for music.”
The site, at 1984 Bonita Ave., also functions as Sam’s teaching studio, so if you’re looking for “The Piano Lessons You’ve Always Wanted,” now you know where to find them.
For more information, please visit Sam’s website here.