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Music Calendar

Mazurka Madness plays from 10:15 AM - 12:45 PM on the 1st and last Sunday each month (with a few exceptions).
Basically, I play at the Saloon on the first Saturday every month from 4-8, at the Caffe Trieste in San Francisco on the first and last Sunday morning every month (with a few adjustments), and at the Caffe Trieste in Berkeley on the first and 4th Monday every month.  I sit in with some other players from time to time, and I'll post those gigs as they come up.

Music Notes

Caffè Trieste San Francisco

Sunday, January 1, 2017, will mark 5 years of Mazurka Madness playing at the Caffe Trieste in San Francisco on Sunday mornings.  Click here for a picture and some info.  I'm fortunate to be able to play the piano with some very gifted musicians in this group, including Julie Smolin on violin, David Wise on bouzouki and occasional piano, and Gus Garelick occasionally on mandolin.  

NEW: I recently had a professional transcription of Matteo Casserino's 'Silent Fountain' record created, and I have uploaded the mp3's as a .zip folder on the Matteo page.  These are a great way to get an introduction to the Italian mandolin tradition.

The Saloon San Francisco

I play at least once a month at the Saloon, San Francisco's oldest bar. I play keyboards there with a blues band called the Jukes on the first Saturday of every month from 4 PM till 8 PM. 

The Jukes features the noted blues singer/harmonica player James Faifua. James is a big fan and protegé of blues legend Marion "Little Walter" Jacobs (1930-1968) and of course he loves James Cotton's music as well.  One friend of mine calls us the 'forgotten blues' band since we play a lot of older blues tunes that many might have missed.  

 For a few years, I played there with Johnny Nitro and the Doorslammers on Sunday nights.  Sadly, Johnny passed away in February, 2011, and he is sorely missed.  Johnny performed there every Friday and Sunday night for about 20 years or so, and he was one of the funniest musicians around, in addition to being a great guitarist.  His motto at the Saloon was "if you've had too many, have two more!"   Johnny also sagely advised us to "keep drinking triples till you're seeing double, feeling single, and getting in trouble."  The funniest part was that Johnny hadn't actually consumed any unhealthy substance for the past twenty years or so.  I put together a compilation of many of his favorite sayings from some live recordings I made, and you can check it out here

The Saloon has music every night, but Saturday afternoons and Sunday afternoons and evenings are very comfortable times to feed your inner dive bar.

The Saloon is located at 1232 Grant Ave (near the corner Columbus Avenue) in San Francisco's North Beach neighborhood (415 989 7666).

The Saloon was featured in the motion pictures Twisted and Just Like Heaven. Johnny Nitro's song Trouble ("I've got trouble with my girlfriend, and that trouble is my wife') is featured in the former film, and Ron Hacker performs in the latter during the fight scene with the half-ghost Reese Witherspoon.  It may not be the most elegant of venues, but it has great acoustics and an incredibly authentic blues bar feel.  I also spent a several years playing with the band Blues Power (on on alto and tenor sax) on Sundays from 4-8 (they are still there and they are they are great if you like the sound of a tight horn section, harmonica, and searing blues guitar). 

Parking for the Saloon and the Caffe Trieste in San Francisco

If you come to the Saloon or the Trieste, the easiest way to park is to use one of the lots on Vallejo Street between Powell and Stockton. Just take Broadway from either Van Ness or the Embarcadero (Bay Bridge), and then turn North on Powell (that’s a left if you’re coming from Van Ness, and a right if coming from the Embarcadero). Go 1 block down Powell to Vallejo and turn right, and there will be two parking structures, one on either side of the street.

Caffè Trieste Berkeley

I'm at the Caffè Trieste Berkeley the first and fourth Mondays of each month from 7-9 PM.  Dates are above, or you can look on their calendar .
The group is called Caffe Acustico, and includes Matt Vuksinich, Iona Ali and Bob Rizetto on mandolin, Tom Romero on guitar, and myself on piano. 

The Caffe Trieste Berkeley (now called Cafe on San Pablo) is located at the corner of Dwight and San Pablo in Berkeley (take the Ashby exit from I-80 and make a left on San Pablo Ave.). We play traditional Italian tunes we learned at the Caffè Trieste in North Beach (which happens to be right across the street from the Saloon). The folks who set up the Caffé Trieste in Berkeley managed to do a wonderful job of recreating the character of the original Caffé Trieste in North Beach (thanks to Papa Gianni for that!), and our music seems to fit the setting perfectly.   www.caffe-on-san-pablo.squarespace.com/

Matteo Casserino Memorial Site

I was a close friend of mandolinist Matteo Casserino for the last several years of his life.  I have digitized a collection of his old tapes here

Brief Bio: I grew up in Silver Spring, Md, and then went to college in the Boston area and and grad school on the west coast. I wrote Mastertype in 1981, which was an early educational software success on the Apple II (and several other platforms afterwards), since it taught typing on a personal computer in a uniquely fun manner.

I think MasterType was the first program to succeed at being an entertainment, educational, and commercial success all at once. There were other great successes later on during that era (my favorites are listed here). I don't think there have been as many really fun educational titles since then (the Sim series being an exception), though many notable efforts continue.

Currently, I reside in San Francisco, CA.

I still do some programming. My latest project is described at Doublekeys.com. It's a handy utility that I hope eventually helps some people (myself included) avoid repetitive stress injuries.

I've also done a lot of digital audio (secure mp3 downloads and handheld interactive museum guides) lately. I program in C++ for Windows using MFC and the Standard Template Library, for those familiar with such things. I also did a lot of Mac programming in the late 80's and early 90's.

I have an interest in the history and philosophy of mathematics and physics, including quantum physics of late. For some reason, I'm fascinated when scientific theories profoundly change our perception of reality, and it happens in a lot in quantum physics and relativity. Of course, reality is only different in these theories because their domain is either subatomically small (quantum mechanics) or intergalactically large (most of relativity), but it is different enough that it could easily affect what your definition of "is" is.

I used to play piano with the group Mattinata de Matteo at Caffe Trieste in San Francisco's North Beach neighborhood on Saturday mornings, but I stopped doing that in May of 2004 due to a wrist problem. I played there just about every Saturday for the 5 or 6 years starting in 1998, and it was really fun, especially in the beginning when it was just Matteo and myself. I was really fortunate to get a chance to play with a musician like Matteo; there are few experiences that can compare to playing with someone of that caliber. Matteo passed away in November, 2001, and I still miss the sound of his mandolin.

Many of the Saturday group members now play with me at the Caffe Trieste in Berkeley.

I've created a little tribute site for Matteo. Click here for matteo mp3's and charts

Contact Information

For booking information, call me at or send me an email at
Click here for matteo mp3's and charts
Click here for my other groups.