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Thursday, December 23, 2010

Coda Owner Bruce Hanson Says the Recession Killed His Mission Jazz Venue

Posted By on Thu, Dec 23, 2010 at 11:39 AM

click to enlarge coda_sf_1.jpg

Coda, the upscale Mission music venue and restaurant that's played host to the likes of Stevie Wonder, Liz Phair, and some of the city's best jazz musicians, will close its doors Dec. 31, a victim of the tough economic times.

Coda replaced Levende Lounge at 1710 Mission St., opening its doors on August 1, 2009. Owner Bruce Hanson says he knew when he opened that the recession would make it hard to succeed, but that he wasn't expecting the troubles to last this long.

"We knew it was going to be difficult," Hanson says. "No one knew that this was going to be the worst economic time since the 1930s. Had this been a normal recession, we would have come out of it."

The venue booked mostly soul, funk, and jazz, and saw some of the greats of those genres -- both locally and globally -- grace its stage. Hanson recalls the time Stevie Wonder stopped by to play with the Jazz Mafia as one of the most surreal moments of Codas's brief history. "I still can't believe that happened," he says.

Owning a venue taught Hanson a lot of lessons -- most notably, about the local crop of musicians.

"I knew the jazz scene in S.F. was good, but I didn't realize just how deep it is and how good it is," he says. "The music community here is outrageously talented -- but to make the scene thrive, it really does take people making the decision to go out and see live music and spend the money."

Hanson is a guitarist who opened Coda partly so he'd have a place to play -- an idea that turned into a dream after the busy realities of running the place set in, he says. Hanson says he'll go "get a real job" in the new year, but hopes to get back into music down the road.

"It's a very difficult decision," he says of closing. "It breaks my heart and it breaks everyone's heart at Coda."

Coda's last show is a New Year's Eve party featuring Rayband and 8 Legged Monster.
Tell us about your favorite memories of Coda on Twitter @SFAllShookDown, follow the author at @iPORT, and like us on Facebook.

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Ian S. Port


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