Back in Time to the Hungry i

I had a chance to visit the Hungry i exhibit at the San Francisco Performing Arts Library and Museum recently. I really like the PALM - I saw "Kronos at 30" and "Maestro!," and I really wanted to see "In Character - Actors Acting." It's one of those terrific, almost hidden treasures you find in great cities like San Francisco.

The audio and video stations had some real finds - terrific songs, many by artists I'd never heard of, like Stan Wilson.

One of the photos showed Vince Guaraldi; the caption said he and his trio were virtually the house band at the Hungry i for five years. I love Vince Guaraldi. I wish he'd recorded more; it seems like so little of his music survives.

I loved the letter from Enrico Banducci to Tom Lehrer - it's one of the things that made me wish they would do catalogs of their shows, and include treasures like that.

I noticed books by two of the club's mainstays - Alvah Bessie, who was the sound engineer (and had been imprisoned as one of the Hollywood Ten), and Don Asher, who played piano there. I can't wait to get their books from the library - Asher's Notes from a battered grand sounds great, and Bessie was apparently quite a writer, so I'm looking forward to reading whatever books of his I can find at the library. (The PALM exhibit had a letter from Bessie to Kaye Ballard which was just amazing.)

I love these glimpses into recent history. It's amazing to imagine being able to drop in and hear Miriam Makeba, Woody Allen, Tom Lehrer, or even Dave Brubeck in a tiny club in the heart of 1950s San Francisco.