Michael Paravyno’s efforts to find a permanent East Bay home for his Birdland Jazzista Social Club have seemingly come to fruition. Here’s some of the background, as noted in a recent Chronicle piece.
Founded in 2010, Berkeley Birdland started as gatherings of Parayno and a few friends to eat Filipino barbecue and listen to jazz. Over the next two years, it morphed into weekend concerts held in Parayno's garage. Parayno handed out barbecue to his friends as well as strangers drawn to the music from the North Berkeley BART station across the street. He also charged a door fee to pay his musicians for one-night gigs – and according to musicians, he paid well.
Birdland's good times quickly ran into trouble. Over the years, Parayno amassed several fines for allegedly obstructing the sidewalk with his shows and for serving free food to the public without a permit. Parayno said he eventually owed the city $40,000.
That turned out to be a tiny road bump in Parayno's plans. He took a sojourn from Berkeley in 2012 to set up Birdland workshops in Manila, Bangkok and Jakarta, creating a global franchise founded on music and barbecue.
When Parayno returned to the Bay Area this year to set up a home base, he immediately set his eyes on Oakland – specifically Longfellow, a blighted neighborhood with strong historical roots in the African American community.
Forced to shutter the Berkeley location, Paravyno announced this spring he was searching for a spot in Oakland. And, I am happy to report, Birdland Oakland has taken root at 4318 Martin Luther King Jr. Way.
While its website speaks of a late-August “grand opening,” be aware that there’s music on the schedule already. Friday night, you can check out the double bill of GG Amos Blues Band and James Smalls, while on Saturday it is Citizens Jazz and guests including by bassist Caroline Chung, along with the Brian Juarez Jazz Trio.
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